Brittney Burns – Staff Writer

After taking over Appalachian Ace Hardware on the west side of town. Cortney and Josh Patrick wanted to work with their fellow business owners to bring a unique event to that part of town to help shape the downtown area’s identity and let the community put faces behind the businesses serving the area. Last year marked the first Westside Merchant Block Party, and with its success in the first year, the merchants are once again working together to host a customer appreciation event on the west end of town.

The second annual block party is sponsored by Curtis TV, Appalachian Ace Hardware, Fox Mercantile, Macon Rental, and Lazy Hiker Brewing Company, with all Westside merchants being welcome and encouraged to participate.

“We want to give back to our customers and let them know that we appreciate them choosing local businesses over box stores or internet ordering,” said Josh Patrick. “We are a close knit community which runs on us supporting them as much as them supporting us. As for Ace personally, we have spent the last year remodeling, moving inventory around, and adding the garden center so we appreciate everyone being patient with us during this process and remaining loyal customers.”

This year’s event will feature a kids obstacle course hosted by New Vision Gymnastics, along with a firetruck, and other children’s activities. For the adults there will be games such as corn hole and the unveiling of a beer called the “Westside Wit” from Lazy Hiker.

Lazy Hiker, along with the other Westside businesses have come together to brew a beer that not only supports the community but also raises awareness for what they have to offer. It is being called the“Westside Wit” and is a traditional style Belgian Wit with flavors of orange peel, coriander and a touch of spice.

“We will be releasing the beer the day of the event on June 10,” said Alex Carrion, Taproom Manager for the Lazy Hiker. “A portion of that day’s proceeds will be donated to both the Tastinger family and CareNet.  Lazy Hiker Brewing decided to participate in the event for a second year because we strive to support and be a part of our community, not to mention the great response and turnout from last year. The Westside businesses have teamed up to have a customer appreciation day and also show Franklin what the west end of town has to offer.”

The event will also feature free food, and lots of give-a-ways donated by local businesses. For the second year, Tony Curtis, owner of RadioShack will be the DJ for the day-long block party and will be playing music for everyone in attendance.

Chris and Amanda Shaw, owners of Macon Rental wanted to help host the event again this year to showcase all that Franklin has to offer.

“Chris and I, along with my parents,  love our community and want to thank you for supporting our business and for those who don’t know Macon Rental Co., we love this chance to introduce ourselves,” said Amanda Shaw. “Outreach is not only an important thing for businesses to do for our community but it’s also important for our hearts. Being in small business is challenging at times and this helps us get back to the core of why love Macon County, the people.”

For Nick Potts, owner of Fox Mercantile, the annual block party gives the town an identity and helps to bolster the economy and market the businesses involved.

“My hope is that West Franklin can be a smaller version of West Asheville,” said Potts. “When I was a boy, I remember people calling West Asheville ‘worst Asheville.’ It was kind of run down and behind the times, but people saw potential and revived it. I can see opportunity in old things as do many people, so that is my hope for West Franklin – a kind of a restoration – similar to restoring that old Camaro from 1967. “

The block party is just one way to reach the community and revitalize the west end of town, according to Potts.

“These types of events are crucial in the community to bring people together and make them realize we aren’t just here to make money,” said Potts. “We truly enjoy connecting with our customers and living with them as neighbors, not just acquaintances. We want our community to prosper and we want to see everyone grow in this community, so being involved in these sorts of things is crucial for growth and outreach. We need to give people reasons to choose Franklin as a place to live. There’s plenty of other cool towns, but Franklin stands out because of its people, natural resources, cultural history, and its sense of community and we hope that native Maconians, visitors and those who relocated here all see that. It’s also a way for us to give back, and this year we are going to raise money for the Tastinger family and CareNet, both of which have touched many lives here locally. It’s the little things in life that mean the most, and this may be small, but I think we all find joy in doing them.”

Cortney Patrick and Amanda Shaw said that Franklin is growing and building on that momentum, the possibilities are endless. “I think the future looks great,” said Patrick. “We have dedicated business owners who are looking to make the Westside vibrant again. We hope to continue to give back to our town in more  ways than just this event as Franklin is the town we love.”

“The future of the Westside is exactly what we make it,” added Shaw. “If we continue to grow our businesses and gain support from the community we can do nothing but thrive. I see nothing but good.”

The block party starts at noon and goes until 3 p.m. After the block party, the Lazy Hiker will continue the celebration with their anniversary party with live music in The Yard.