Arizona Department of Transportation’s decision to ban parking on both sides of Beeline during the July 4th Arts and Crafts Festival created a town-wide stir that drew complaints from vendors, visitors and sponsors.
“ADOT thinks they can come in and destroy our events and unless we are able to stop them, they will destroy the events,” said longtime Strawberry resident Christy Powers, also a member of the Mountain Village Foundation that hosted a pancake breakfast at the festival.
The ADOT ban disallowed parking 30 feet from the center of Beeline on both sides of the highway for about a 100-yard span in front of the Pine Community Center where the festival was held.
Since the inception of the summer holiday festivals decades ago, those areas have been prime parking spots, especially for the elderly and the handicapped.
Without those locations, drivers scoured town searching for a parking spot.
The post office turned into a popular site, but the influx of cars, trucks and RVs prevented many Pine residents from picking up their mail for two full days.
ADOT’s ruling also said Beeline could not be obscured by vendors who in past years had set up shop on both sides of the highway where they’d hock fry bread, hot dogs, drinks, paintings, sculptures and novelty items.
Vendors, along Beeline and in the community center, were furious.
“They were very unhappy and most of them said they wouldn’t come back,” said Powers. “The whole thing stinks.”
The first inkling Pine-Strawberry Arts and Crafts Guild members had the restrictions were going to be implemented came during a meeting more than a week ago with ADOT officials.
“We were told there had been five or so complaints over several years from people passing through that they were delayed going through Pine,” Powers said.
In addition to the Arts and Crafts Guild having to restrict parking, they also set up flashing message lights at both ends of town warning motorists to slow down.
Gail Jones of the Arts and Crafts Guild realizes that people were upset, especially the street vendors, but revealed the guild will working to rectify the situation before the Labor Day show, “We are hoping all issues are resolved soon.”