Salem’s most popular annual event attracts over 35,000 this year

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Thousands fill Downtown Salem to experience Olde Salem Days.

If someone wanted to capture the essence of the City of Salem in one day, few – if any – events work better than Olde Salem Days (OSD). The concept of the annual arts and crafts festival is simple. “Olde Salem Days is 100 percent a community event that has something for everyone,” Chairman Tony Rippee said. “The vendors are so creative every year and provide products that cannot be bought at any big store.”

Name a vendor and more than likely it was present last Saturday, September 9, throughout Downtown Salem. “What I love most about Olde Salem Days is how reasonable the items are,” attendee Robert Jackson said. “For fifty bucks, I was able to get a nice painting for my dad, a cool sweater for my mom and a sports mug for myself.”

Kevin Drew says preparation for this year’s Olde Salem Days started last fall. “This is sort of a year around event. There are so many man hours from so many people, it really is hard to imagine,” said the volunteer.

It’s not a coincidence, Roanoke County native Justin Morrow said, that Olde Salem Days attracts tens of thousands of people every single year. The father of four says he’s been coming to the event for over a decade and has yet to have a bad experience.

According to longtime attendee Lisa English, the only thing that has changed about Olde Salem Days in 36 years has been the variety of crafters. “Everything else has pretty much stayed the same. The overall consistency is what I love most about this event,” she said.

Patrick Coleman grew up in New York City and said he never heard of Olde Salem Days until he moved to Virginia. He says what he was originally told matched up to what he actually experienced. “My girlfriend at the time (now wife) told me that Olde Salem Days was unlike any event she’d ever been to before and that I would absolutely enjoy myself,” he said. “Saturday was the first time experiencing everything and – as usual – she was right.”

Saturday was also Desmond Hunt’s first Olde Salem Days but the North Carolina native promised his family that it wouldn’t be their last. “My daughter heard about this event on social media and begged her mother and I to check it out,” he said. “I’m glad that she did because we all had a great time and got a lot of cool stuff at a reasonable price.”

Olde Salem Days is Salem’s biggest one-day event by far. “I consider this to be one of the better events in all of Virginia,” attendee Steve Graham said. “I’ve lived in Richmond, Norfolk as well as Blacksburg and I’ve yet to experience anything quite like Olde Salem Days.”

Anyone interested in becoming a vendor next year can visit www.oldesalemdays.com for more information.

“From the Salem Rotary Club, we want to send out a heartfelt thank you to everyone who participated this year,” Chairman Tony Rippee said. “We also want to thank the City of Salem staff for helping to make sure OSD was another huge success.”