April 24, 2008

New Logo gives insight to new view of Main Street Franklin

Logo subtly illustrates new view of Main Street

When I got a press release recently from the Heritage Foundation/Downtown Franklin Association about this weekend's Main Street Festival, a colorful new logo immediately caught my eye.
Under a blue sky are three typical Main Street buildings, except that they are portrayed in orange, yellow and purple. In front of the buildings are three silhouette figures: a musician with a guitar, a couple at a sidewalk table and a woman carrying a shopping bag.
The new logo, designed by Julian Bibb Jr., recognizes a new consciousness on Main Street and includes images of Main Street activities that weren't even legal just four years ago.
The fight over propriety on Main Street goes back years. Street vendors have been banned at least since the 1960s. I've never seen a musician with an open guitar case on Main Street, except during festivals.
The most contentious image on the logo over the years has been the second one — the couple at the sidewalk table — in part because some tough codes regulations have banned merchandise, planters and benches from the public space in front of shops, but mostly because of the debate over the public consumption of alcohol.
That debate really heated up in the late 1990s when one alderman sought to ban all alcohol from all downtown special events. That effort ended up instead as a compromise, severely restricting beer sales and consumption at the Main Street Festival and the Franklin Jazz Festival.
The tide started to turn in 2001, with the first Wine Down Main Street event. Patrons moved from shop to shop tasting different wines.
In 2004, McCreary's Irish Pub became one of five downtown restaurants to put tables on the sidewalk in violation of city codes. Aldermen followed with a law regulating sidewalk dining and requiring a city permit.
In 2005, Mellow Mushroom added to the beer presence outdoors. Also that year, downtown merchants circulated a petition urging the city to relax a number of restrictions, such as allowing street musicians and sidewalk sales, in an effort to create a "more lively" downtown.
Also in 2005, the Brew, Stew & Stroll event — an Irish-themed beer tasting event now known as Feile Franklin — made its debut. Subsequent events have added Irish Whisky sampling to the event.
The objective of all this change, of course, is represented by the third figure on the logo, the woman with the shopping bag. Attracting people downtown more often keeps the shopping district top of mind. Weather permitting, there will be thousands there this weekend. And there will be a beer tent.

No comments: