Attendance down, optimism up at October Tour

Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 8, 2011

By Nathan Hardin
Hundreds took to the streets on Saturday, some dressed in period clothing, as the 36th annual OctoberTour hit full stride.
Ten locations on the tour dating from 1770 to 1928 were open to visitors, most of them being homes located in the West Square Historic District.
About 25 painters, some associated with Plein Air Carolina out of Salisbury, could also been seen around the historic homes Saturday afternoon.
Artist Gina Strumpf from Charlotte said Salisbury is one of several locations that artists are gathering as a part of Oil Painters of America to paint on location. The painters were participating in the OctoberTour 2011 Paint Out.
“It couldn’t be a better time to be out,” Strumpf said.
Although from Charlotte, Strumpf said she hasn’t spent much time in Salisbury, but plans to return.
“I’m very impressed with your community,” she said. “It’s a beautiful little secret here.”
The tour will resume at noon today. It ends at 5:30 p.m. Tickets costs $20.
David Post, interim executive director of the Historic Salisbury Foundation, didn’t have the ticket sales available Saturday afternoon, but he said sales were down.
“I think we typically have between 1,500 to 2,000,” tickets sold, Post said.
Post said he thinks the sales are down in most part because the economy has made it difficult for those outside of Rowan County to travel to Salisbury.
“That’s pretty much a national trend,” Post said. “People don’t have the finances to travel as far.”
Ticket sales at the Arthur Reynolds House, which is open to the public for the first time, stood at 670 on Saturday.
Post, who took over as the interim executive director in July, said OctoberTour accounts for about 40 percent of the Historic Salisbury Foundation’s fundraising.
“It’s our biggest event of the year,” Post said.
The Foundation also relies on membership and rentals for fundraising, Post said.
“The bread and butter, though, is the tickets,” he said.
But some at the tour said they didn’t noticed a drop in the attendance from previous years. Others said they believed there was even more energy this year.
Suzanne Jones, house manager for the Charles Torrence House at 428 W. Bank St., said organizers tried to log the number of visitors, but were overwhelmed by the number of people lining into the home.
“The lines have been coming in all day,” she said. “It’s been a steady stream.”
Gene Krueger of Salisbury, who was at the event, said the tour seems to gain more “magic” each year.
Kathleen Dunn said she was impressed with the Old English Cemetery on the tour.
“Somebody put a lot of research into it,” she said. “I thought it was a nice mixture.”
Post said the Foundation is working on two ways to expand “outreach and get more involved in education.”
One way, he said, was an application for a grant to teach about 8,000 Rowan County eighth-graders about some of the historic landmarks in the county.
Post also said the Foundation is working on a scholarship program that would reward students for their work on a project about Rowan County history.
Contact reporter Nathan Hardin at 704-797-4246 or