FLINT, Michigan – Chris Everson is the Johnny Cash of urbanites – he’s been everywhere. As a tour manager for numerous bands, Everson criss-crossed the United States, Canada and even made stops in Western Europe before settling, loft-style, in downtown Flint. In those few free moments on tour between solving logistical problems at venues and reassuring temperamental frontmen, Everson took stock of his surroundings.
“I’ve traveled all over the place with bands,” said Everson, who daylights as the office manager at the Downtown Development Authority in Flint. “I’ve seen what other cities have to offer and I want to bring some of those things to Flint.”
Great events, it seems, is one of those things.
Here’s your introduction to Flint’s newest downtown event: An organic, arts-oriented, music-scene showcasing cornucopia of creativity. If you’re into the whole brevity thing, call it Buckham Alley Fest.
The Birth of BAF
It’s no surprise that the brainstorm than precipitated the birth of Buckham Alley Fest was localized due west of the bricks of South Saginaw Street. Arguably downtown Flint’s most iconic pub, The Torch, has probably been the informal launching pad for many great ideas in the city over the years. It was at the Torch, the center of gravity of downtown’s most famous alley, that Everson and Tracy Brewington began laying the foundation for an alley fest fit for Flint.
Everson said that he and Brewington, who works in marketing for Uptown Developments in Flint, initially lamented that the city needed more events in downtown. They began meeting every week to pour over the logistics of what the event they had floating around in their heads would eventually look like.
“We were just looking out the window thinking about what could happen here,” Everson said. “I mean why not? Why couldn’t we put on a great even right here?”
Brewington said it wasn’t long before a large number of local supporters heard about the idea and offered help. Flint Handmade, a local organization devoted to the nurture and promotion of handcrafting, was among the first. Flint Handmade is taking over the sidewalk next to the Rutherford Parking Structure in Buckham Alley during the event for what it’s calling the First Annual Flint Handmade Craft City.
“That’s how it usually works with truly independent, organic events,” she said. “People were excited about getting involved and lending a hand.”
‘To me, it’s all about people’
For Everson, Buckham Alley Fest will be more than just locally-conceived and produced event. It’s all about showcasing the creative, sometimes eccentric, people of the city – the different folks and their different strokes that make a place in space unique.
“To me, it’s all about people,” he said. “Getting people to show up to be vendors, to sell things, to play in the bands … it’s about people interacting with people. There will be a lot of different things going on to showcase the city for what it is.”
In addition to 10 bands posted on stages at both the north and south ends of Buckham Alley, fest-goers can dive into local eats, wares and be entertained by street performers. Brewington said the event will appeal to downtown Flint’s growing college student population, but the event’s dynamic will be much broader.
“It’s not just about college students and people their age,” she said. “I mean, I’m 36 and I’m going. The demographic we’re trying to appeal to is mixed.”
Everson said the cooperation among numerous public and private organizations has been fairly diverse as well. He did, however, make special mention of the support of downtown businesses.
“I haven’t had a single complaint; all the downtown businesses are excited about it,” he said. “We have a lot of businesses in that corridor and everyone is excited about doing something. You can not only make money, but bring some positive attention to your business and your community. That’s what it’s all about.”