Friday, August 5, 2011

Small Towns With Big Events

This week is the Sturgis motorcycle rally in South Dakota. When we visited the Black Hills on a family vacation circa 1994, we stopped and ate at a restaurant there. It's a sleepy, picturesque little place with around 7,000 residents, if memory serves me. During the biker event more than 500,000 converge and show their colors there.

It reminds me of the time a swarm of bees flew down Cambridge Lane and decided to make the McAvoy's mailbox their new home. One minute the place has a single bee every two hours. Next thing you know it's a chaotic clump larger than a watermelon, and vibrantly alive. Eventually the pro bee-remover came in, found the queen and led the swarm away. Sturgis is something like that mailbox.

Last weekend another small town celebrated a big event... the Parke Street Wine and Art Faire in Alameda, California. When a town of 25,000 suddenly takes on an additional 75,000 residents for two days... well, it has to be interesting. I am guessing some people bail out, but others may just look forward to a weekend of doing a local walkabout with friends while holding long-stemmed wine glasses.

Wine and art... hmmm. Nice combination. My experience with art openings suggests that wine and art is akin to soup and sandwich, love and marriage, horse and carriage. You know the drill.

As for big events in small towns, I'm sure the disruption drives some folk away for a couple weeks. Then, as things subside the former equilibrium returns as things get back to normal.

This week's stock market plunge is akin to that kind of disruption. Like the Sturgis Rally, people have been talking about it for months as a convergence of events has been taking place and debts came due. Unlike the motorcycle rally, it's not so easy to get out of town for a couple weeks till things get back to normal. I don't think anyone really knows where the global economy is headed because I don't think there's anyone steering the ship.

My advice: get yourself a glass of wine, go enjoy some art, and keep your eyes off Wall Street. And have a nice weekend.

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