published Sunday, December 2nd, 2012

MAINx24: Something for everyone draws crowds to annual Chattanooga street fair

Kirsten Turner pedals her Big Wheel through a wall of ribbon during a race just off Main Street on Saturday afternoon during the MAINx24 festival. The 24-hour festival celebrated the art, music, and food of Chattanooga, and included local vendors, artists booths, performers, and activities for children and adults.
Kirsten Turner pedals her Big Wheel through a wall of ribbon during a race just off Main Street on Saturday afternoon during the MAINx24 festival. The 24-hour festival celebrated the art, music, and food of Chattanooga, and included local vendors, artists booths, performers, and activities for children and adults.
Photo by Jake Daniels.

Get just the right photo and win

Let others share your MAINx24 fun by entering the Times Free Press Photo Contest being held to highlight the 24-hour festival that began Saturday on the Southside.

Enter a photo you snap during the festival by going to timesfreepress.com/mainx24. You have until 11:59 p.m. next Sunday to enter.

Entry opens the way for you to win gift certificates to a number of Southside businesses.

Armed with 370 sheets of paper, a brush and a slimy mixture of flour, sugar and water, artist David Ruiz transformed a brick wall on East Main Street into a tall black-and-white mural.

Ruiz dipped his brush in the homemade, biodegradable glue, spread it on a small section of the wall, stuck a sheet of paper on it and added more paste on top. Each sheet molded to the wall, and together the papers created the big picture -- this year's MAINx24 T-shirt design and logo.

Ruiz spent about 14 hours filling the wall with plastered paper. The mural could stay up for as long as eight months or as little as a week, he said.

"With a pressure washer, it's 100 percent removable," Ruiz said. "It offers an alternative for public art that doesn't have to be here forever."

The annual MAINx24 festival on Chattanooga's Southside kicked off Saturday morning and featured a variety of events, ranging from a pancake breakfast to adult finger painting to pseudo sumo wrestling.

Friends Katie Oliver and Shelby Pleasant suited up in big, inflatable sumo suits Saturday. They faced off in front of a loud crowd at 509 E. Main St. and tried to wrestle each other to the ground.

"It was hot and sweaty, but it was fun," Oliver said. "Try everything once, right?"

Pleasant said she had a hard time moving around.

"I felt like a turtle lying on my back on my shell, rolling around and trying to get up," she said.

"That's because you were on the ground the whole time," Oliver shot back with a laugh.

Both Oliver and Pleasant live in Chattanooga, but Joni Moffitt drove six hours from Greensboro, N.C., to experience MAINx24 this year.

"My best friend moved out here a couple years ago, and my husband and I decided to come out for the weekend," she said.

She visited the chili cook-off, watched the parade, tried her hand at finger painting, cheered for the Big Wheels race and spent some money on souvenirs.

"It's awesome," she said. "I would love to replicate something like this in Greensboro."

MAINx24 is organized completely by Southside residents and merchants and is designed to showcase the neighborhood's varied offerings.

Southside resident Julie Kurtz-Kunesh brought four of her five kids to East Main Street for the pony rides, face painting and bicycle rides.

"I think it's a wonderful event," she said. "It's so close to where we live that it's even more exciting. We didn't have to fight to get down here."

She added that it's her first trip to MAINx24, and she's glad the event brings more people to the Southside.

Jean Huddleston, manager of Planet Altered, an arts studio and gallery at 48 E. Main St., said her shop is much busier than normal during MAINx24.

"As part of a collective of businesses on the Southside, we are thrilled to have people come out," she said, adding later, "We're really hoping that people will realize the Southside is growing and fabulous."

The gallery sells fair trade items and donated all of Saturday's proceeds to charity, Huddleston said.

By 4:30 p.m. a large crowd had gathered to watch Ruiz paste up his second mural. He wore a hot pink shirt and worked quickly, pausing now and then to tell crowd members to wave at his time-lapse camera while a band played in the yard next to him.

The smaller mural would take about two hours to complete, he said.

Hixson resident Kim Feisley said Ruiz's mural-making process was exactly what she pictured.

"We wondered earlier how he does this," she said. "Then we saw him out here doing it and thought we would stop and watch."

She and her husband planned to spend a few hours on East Main Street, she said.

"We just like walking around and seeing what's going on," she said.

about Shelly Bradbury...

Shelly Bradbury covers police and crime in Chattanooga and Hamilton County for the Times Free Press. She's been with the paper since 2012, working first as an intern and then as a business reporter. She is from Houghton, New York, and graduated from Huntington University in Huntington, Indiana, with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and minor in management. Before moving to Tennessee, Shelly previously interned with The Goshen News, The Sandusky Register and The Mint ...

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