Thousands came out to Front Street to celebrate the recent Smyrna Depot Days, held at the end of September. The event highlights small business, offers a beer garden, has great food from local food trucks, and provides music from up and coming talent on two stages. This year it boasted more than 100 booths, many of them representing small local makers.
“This event was started 14 years ago to just try to get small businesses out there and attract people so they can see what small business has to offer,” said Molly Jennings, a member of Smyrna Independent Merchants Association (SIMA), one of the sponsors of the event. “But this year we have more small home businesses represented, like this lady who just paints and paints. I am so happy for her. I am seeing all kinds of people leaving with a piece of her art.”
Celebration Records, owned by Mark Henes, provided the talent for the Performance Stage that sits at the end of the old train depot, from which the event gets its name. And Carpe Artista, another of the event’s sponsors, once again offered great musical talent on the stage in front of their café.
Henes began working with Carpe Artista a number of years ago, but he has started promoting new talent. Now he does artist development, marketing, promotion, public relations, booking and management. He introduced many of the young musicians he works with to the community through the event this year.
“The Historic District is the heart of our community and the perfect setting for residents to gather for family-friendly events,” said Smyrna Mayor Mary Ester Reed, representing the third partner in the creation and management of Depot Days. Family friendly activities included face painting and mini train rides. The face painters transformed many children into everything from butterflies to Spiderman.
Booths representing local churches, dentists, banks, insurance agents, and lots of artists and crafts people filled the streets. There were soap makers, sign makers, fine artists, craft makers and much, much more.
Tiffany Hoffman and Ron Mendoza had a booth that drew the eye because of the old records with bat shapes cut out of them hanging from the roof of their tent. They carried an eclectic stew of items that they upcycled.
“Our shop is called ‘Back to the Future’ because we like to take old things and make them into something different. Like rings made out of old watch parts.”
Said her partner of the eye-catching old records, “We like music. We like recycling. We like bats.”
Another booth sold unique laser cut signs made out of steel sheets. The duo behind the booth will custom make a sign for a home or a business, but their most eye-catching items came from the world of Harry Potter. They offered a wall hanging of Hogwarts castle and another of the Harry Potter logo.
“My father cut industrial sheet metal signs for 30 years,” said company co-owner Andrew Polinsky. During the pandemic shutdown, he decided he wanted to learn how to do it. Now his wife Kaylyn creates the designs and he does the cutting. They started just making signs, but now they create handrails, gates, furniture and much more.
Summit Sports Center based in Nolensville also made an appearance at the event, offering a show put on by some amazing gymnasts and tumblers. On the lawn in front of the Depot a very talented group of young men and women flew through the air and landed on a series of mats.
Although there was plenty to keep visitors entertained, the biggest draw was the great food. There was barbecue, Jamaican, shaved ice, Italian ice, and lots of great Southern food. Some of the restaurants on Front Street were serving specials in outdoor café settings, too.
On the Friday night before Depot Days, there was a Classic Car Show hosted by Smyrna Parks and Recreation, as well as a wine tasting sponsored by Smyrna Divine Wine and Spirits. Proceeds from the sale of tickets to the event will be donated to a local non-profit organization.
When the event was over and the sun starting to fade, organizers were sure to hear Mayor Reed say, “Congratulations to everyone on another successful event!”