Downtown Live and the First Friday ArtWalk for August featured tremendous diversity in downtown Ashland as classic cars sat and shined while runners paced themselves, musicians tuned into the crowd, poets read their latest selections and artists drew attention to their efforts until the sun set on the horizon.
The third annual Night Moves 5K Race generated tangible excitement as runners stretched or took preliminary laps as they awaited the starter’s pistol at 7 p.m. Within the pack, the challenge between businessman Bob Hammond and seven-year-old Chris “Bear” Compston held the attention of many at the finish line, who were pleased with the duo’s finish times divided by a four-second margin with victory going to the more youthful racer. Hammond and Compston challenged each other as part of the Amy for Africa project, an ongoing effort by the younger competitor’s mother, Amy Compston, who also served as the grand marshal for the event.
Aaron Stevens was the first to cross the finish line, ending with a time of 17 minutes and 25 seconds, edging out second place runner Joshua Riley, who completed the 5K course through downtown Ashland in a few seconds under 18 minutes.
Dani Craig, whose father and Ashland Main Street executive director Danny Craig was the last runner seen leaving the starting area, was the first female to cross the line, scoring an impressive 22 minutes, three seconds.
Scores of classic, custom and antique vehicles lined Winchester Avenue, with a nice selection of motorcycles and other two-wheeled rides on nearby 15th Street.
Remarks from appreciative passersby ranged from, “It’s got a 302 in it,” to “I used to have one exactly like it, only it was a year older ... and a four door, and a different color ... and an automatic.”
Standing out among the collected model years of Mustangs, Camaros, Corvettes, Chevelles and Cadillacs, Lew Dunn’s 1964 Studebaker Avanti drew appreciative whistles from those who recognized the vehicle’s distinctive styling.
“It hadn’t been out of the garage in three years until three hours ago,” Dunn said, explaining he was fulfilling a promise to friends by bringing the rare car out for a bit of display time.
Passing by a vintage Olds Dynamic 88, a man said to a friend, “I love those Crager wheels,” just as the bass beat provided for a group of zombified dancers began to echo down the avenue. Drawing a considerable crowd to the corner of Winchester and 15th Street, more than a dozen members of the Fallsburg Haunted House Dancers performed a dance to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” and later posed for pictures with audience members who appreciated their often elaborate makeup work.
Members of the band Spilt Nixon attracted a crowd at the start of the evening’s 5K run and kept the audience at the edge of the stage for the rest of the evening with a Les-Paul-fueled selection of primarily hard rock songs, often featuring the notable guitar skills of Rodney Crisp on the right side of the stage. Inside the Pendleton Arts Center, musician Dennis Watts was joined by his wife, Andrea Prince, who recently opened her studio within the arts center.
Working quietly in another studio, potter Jennifer Hamilton concentrated on the task at hand while greeting visitors. “I am trying to perfect my school jewelery,” she said, explaining she creates items for fans, alumni and students at each of the area’s schools.
At The Lamp Post Cafe, a gathering of poets and writers took turns sharing their words during an evening which also shined a spotlight on the visual art created by Joe Tingler, who attends adult training classes at A Brighter Future. Liam Eddy of the Tri-State Writer’s Block said the group hosts an open-mic session at the cafe during each First Friday.
“We do poetry and there’s usually also music and art,” he said, explaining the group is open to new members and welcomes anyone who wants to get involved.
TIM PRESTON can be reached at