Out on Fifth | Photo by Kayli Thompson | The Wright State Guardian
The Out on 5th event in the Oregon District completed its last weekend for 2020 on Oct. 25. Local businesses and those who attended see it as an opportunity for the city to come together during the coronavirus pandemic.
This event began Labor Day weekend when the city of Dayton closed off East Fifth Street in the district. This continued each weekend between Sept. 4 and Oct. 25, and attendees could shop around at each business, visit vendors who were set up on the street and witness performances.
Opinions of the event
Treasurer for the Oregon District Business Association Natalie Skilliter, who also lives in the district, has a positive opinion of Out on 5th as both a business owner and a resident.
“As a resident, it’s wonderful,” said Skilliter. “It’s just really a fun way and a really unique scenario for our little corner of the universe to be able to open up a little bit more with the pandemic especially.”
Skilliter co-owns the Corner Kitchen, which is located on the corner of Fifth Street and Wayne Ave., with her husband. The restaurant had to shut down in March due to Gov. Mike DeWine’s restrictions, and opened back up in July with a different business model. However, the Skilliters closed the business again to spend time with their child and to protect their staff and will be reopening again soon.
When Out on 5th started during Labor Day weekend, the Oregon District saw a massive audience attend the event.
“Even though we had big crowds, closing the street allowed us to continue to maintain social distancing and really serve more people than we ever would be able to, especially with the limited capacities,” said Skilliter.
Wright State University alumnus James Sedan heard about the event through a Dayton Daily News article and often drove by the festivities.
“I noticed a lot of small businesses getting tons of foot traffic, which was great to see,” said Sedan. “There was plenty of chalk art on the ground as well. I’ve heard nothing but good things about it.”
The Oregon District Business Association worked closely with the Downtown Dayton Partnership, the city and other stakeholders to efficiently shut down Fifth Street. The partnership helped them and the businesses work with liquor control to get extra seating.
“What happens is your liquor license is confined to your physical footprint, and we were able to work with the liquor control to extend a lot of our bar and restaurant patios,” said Skilliter.
Dublin Pub owner Steve Tieber also had a positive reception to Out on 5th, describing it as, “epic.”
“The event was full force and was unlike anything I have ever seen,” said Tieber. “There were at least three restaurants dining either on the streets or on their patio. It was the closest we had gotten to being ‘back to normal’ since COVID started.”
Problems encountered during Out on 5th
However, problems with crowds arose during the event. During one instance, a lightsaber competition was started in the street. This caused new performance guidelines to be implemented for businesses, including that all musical performances had to be acoustic and that no bands could include more than two people.
These restrictions were put in place to prevent crowds and to keep performers from being disruptive. Another dilemma showed up because of Gov. DeWine’s mandate for alcohol sales to cease at 10 p.m.
“One of the problems inherently that we’ll run into is that all of the bars close at the same time,” said Skilliter. “When the bars close, you’re going to have everybody from those establishments coming out to the street at once.”
Luckily, when that problem appeared, the crowds dispersed quickly.
Support for more events
The Oregon District Business Association surveyed their members to gauge interest in holding the event again and received an extremely positive response.
“It was overwhelmingly supportive of Out on 5th coming back in the warm months, so the spring, summer and fall, on the weekends next year and hopefully indefinitely,” said Skilliter. “A lot of businesses saw this as a really unique feature for the Oregon District. Out on 5th was initially a reaction to COVID, but hopefully, moving forward, we can see it as a great benefit for the city.”
Sedan is interested in attending Out on 5th if it returns next year.
“I didn’t think much of it when I first heard about it but after seeing the reviews and how fun it all looks, I would definitely love to attend the next one,” said Sedan. “Dayton is such a beautiful city that really provides for its citizens, and this is just one example.”