Walking around downtown Johnson City Thursday night, Givens saw an ax-throwing competition being set up, so that’s exactly where he went Friday afternoon when the festival officially got started.
“This is a blast, I saw this set up last night and I was like, ‘I’m definitely showing up for this,” Givens said.
Givens, who hasn’t thrown axes before, said it wasn’t “too difficult if you’re coordinated,” and made a few jokes at the expense of his friend who was also throwing.
“Let’s watch her and see how hard it is when you’re not (coordinated),” he quipped with a laugh.
She stuck a near-bullseye right after he said that, so who won in the end is up for debate.
Givens was just one of many out enjoying one of Johnson City’s premier festivals in the streets of downtown, and said events like the Little Chicago Downtown Music & Arts Festival were a “key” part of the city’s culture.
“It’s key (to have festivals like this),” Givens said. It’s great for small businesses, it’s great for the community to get together and just enjoy the summer.”
One of those small businesses, Mona Lisa’s Gelato, was set up near the Nelson Stage at the far end of East Main Street.
“I think it’s pretty important to shop locally, and that’s what this festival’s all about — local folks,” Alyssa Fisher, who was behind the gelato cart, said.
Fisher also noted the nice weather, as the rain stayed away Friday — though temperatures approached 90ºF late in the afternoon.
Several families and children tried to beat the heat by slingshotting water balloons at each other at the festival’s “Water Wars” game — with mixed results. One mother and daughter got in the launchpad, and had a misfire, causing the balloon to explode on them, which yielded some yells of surprise.
No matter how people chose to spend their time or beat the heat at Little Chicago, the festival seemed to have found a home in the hearts of Johnson City residents.
“It’s a chill vibe, just having fun,” Givens said.