This Sunday, the 15th annual Summer SOULstice returns to Main Street for a day of live music, shopping, restaurants and bars. The 2015 SOULstice features 24 bands on six different stages located on streets off of Main Street, as well as accompanying sidewalk sales from some merchants and an entertainment area for children.
What has become a summer tradition began in 2001 as an idea to use the area’s outdoor spaces to provide entertainment for visitors to Main Street’s Farmers Market. Gary Gordon, the Executive Director of the Main Street Business Association, recalled the festival’s humble beginnings of a “six or eight channel amp with two speakers on poles.” As the event has grown, said Gordon, organizers are always searching for ways to improve it. One goal is to better engage with social media. This year, visitors can enter an Instagram contest with a chance to win a bike by taking and uploading their photos.
The feedback from merchants and residents living near Main Street has been mostly positive, said Gordon. Some merchants who participate in sidewalk sales report two or three times the normal amount of business during the SOULstice, while others report that they do not benefit as much from the festival’s demographic. However, the day long festival is about more than sales. “It’s not just about doing great business,” said Gordon, “It’s about bringing people to [Main] Street so that they can have a good time and will come back.” The SOULstice has become a community event, said Gordon, and for many people in the community “it’s just a good afternoon in the summer.”
“Ultimately, we want to grow the event so that it is continuous from the southern end of main street to Pico,” said Gordon. However, such growth will be hindered unless the event can attract bigger sponsors. Larger sponsors are often turned off from the event because Main Street itself is not closed, said Gordon. In addition, estimating the number of visitors to the SOULstice is difficult due to the many entrance and exit points. An accurate headcount can demonstrate to sponsors the exposure they get by supporting the festival.
For this year, at least, Main Street will remain open. Only Pier Street and Kinney Street will be closed off. Visitors are encouraged to park at the beach or Main Street parking lots. The event will run from 1 – 7 p.m.