Salisbury’s 3rd Friday goes to the, well, you know…

Gill Allen and Kathryn Saller White look on as Madelyn Benn 
feeds Sandy during 3rd Friday’s ‘Dog Days of Summer.’ 
Photo by Tony Russo

Each 3rd Friday seems to attract more people than the last. And although that can’t possibly be true there always are plenty of folks Downtown enjoying the event, participating in the event and people watching. This month, they also were dog watching. 
The Dog Days of Summer theme brought out plenty of people with their dogs, but also plenty of vendors, artisans and nonprofits many of whom count on the event to provide them as much with exposure as with income. 
Lauren Alfes is among them. Her business is making custom stationery- cards, invitations, notes, etc. Coming out to 3rd Friday allows her to sell her stock items, but more important for her, it allows people to take one of her business cards and eventually be directed to her etsy shop. This aspect of 3rd Friday is peculiar because it drives local business on the Internet. 
Alfes is by no means the only person selling Etsy products in real life on the Plaza. Jewelry, crafts and works of fine and folk art can be found up and down the plaza.

Andrew Heller, a local author, was on the plaza selling books from his young adult “Samuel Smythe” series. Joined by Dylan and Logan Case who were keeping him company and helping hawk books, Heller said that 3rd Friday was a great way to get out word not only for his current books, but also to stir interest in his forthcoming Samuel Smythe and the Mystery of the Urbane due out Sept. 25.
Having a table at 3rd Friday is the closest thing to direct marketing most of the artists and artisans can afford. The town provides the space and the opportunity, and the art community provides the rest. Many of the people who are attracted to the 3rd Friday project are the very people who buy fine and folk arts and crafts. People who are interested in the place as much for economic reasons (they know how important it is to keep as much money in the community as possible) and for aesthetic ones (you’ll never get a better deal on original art than you will directly from the artist).
Thor and his friend Jena Melvin of Milford at August’s 3rd 
Friday ‘Dog Days of Summer’ event.  Photo by Tony Russo
Nonprofits thrive for many of the same reasons. Rawan Osman, a member of the James M. Bennett High School Marching Band, was in the shade (such as it was so close to sunset) hawking LORA discount cards. The Locally Owned Restaurant Association each year participates with many of the local schools, offering annual discounts to people who purchase a card in support of the school.
Often it is a percentage off, half-price appetizer or the like. Something worth the cost of the card to the purchaser and therefore all the more valuable to the school. Osman said this is one of the band’s biggest fundraisers and helps send the band to competitions all over the region. 
Aside from selling the cards at 3rd Friday, the band members have to go door-to-door to raise money. This is just easier and clearly more fun.
Osman brought a number of dog treats, which kept her popular among the stars of the show and gave her an opportunity to make her pitch to that many more people. 
In fact, you couldn’t go far at 3rd Friday without coming across a nonprofit giving away dog treats to the dogs that wanted them. And that pretty much was all the dogs. 
Madelyn Benn, whose mother works for the recently-opened Tri Community Mediation, was making friends with lots of pups right in front of the nonprofit’s table. Tri Community Mediation grew out of a statewide initiative to provide specialized mediation services and training. 
Of course there are plenty of people who just come Downtown to see what is going on and enjoy an evening out. Dog trainer Mitch Fletcher was among them. Oddly without any of his own dogs, he strolled the plaza with his wife Andrea and daughters Cali and Reese. 
Fletcher trains dogs at his home, but he is something of a specialist. Often he will take a dog into his home and train it for several weeks before sending it back to its owners. Once he has trained the dog, he also provides boarding services, but only for graduates of his program.
Although the event seemed to suggest that he would do well to get in a little networking, Mitchell mostly was there for the night out, which he totally had.
This story originally appeared in the September edition of the Salisbury Star. These photos and more are available on the Tony Russo Flickr page.
Tony Russo
Tony Russo has worked as a print and digital journalist for the better part of the 21st century, writing for and editing regional weeklies, dailies and several destination websites. In addition to having documented everything from zoning changes to art movements on the Delmarva Peninsula, Tony has written two books: Eastern Shore Beer (2014) and Delaware Beer (2016). He lives in Delmar, Md. with his wife Kelly and the only of his four daughters who hasn't moved out. Together they keep their dog and cat comfortable. Follow him on Facebook and at @Ossurynot on Twitter.
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