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All-American Saturday Night Out draws crowd, good times to downtown Spencer

SPENCER — Laurie Wilson didn’t sleep much on Friday night.

The co-owner of The Old 97 Kettlecorn Company was too stressed about the coming evening, when she was hoping a crowd of people would descend on downtown Spencer for the All-American Saturday Night Out.

“I’m the one that stayed up all night worrying if people were going to come,” Wilson said.

Wilson’s worries were put to rest when a flood of people showed up to enjoy food trucks, vintage cars, music, games and more during the first event hosted by the town of Spencer since the Hometown Holiday Drive-In in December. Under a blue sky and comfortably warm weather on Saturday evening, people walked up and down Fifth Street, stopping at food trucks like Mambo on Ruedas or grabbing a beer from Morgan Ridge Railway Brewery & Eatery.

“This is what I wished it would be, but I was not expecting there to be this crowd,” said Wilson, who watched the evening unfold while dishing out bags of kettle corn.

The entire event was organized in about five weeks after Spencer Alderman Sam Morgan and Spencer’s event committee approached Wilson about hosting something downtown.

“The whole idea was to get more life back into the town,” Morgan said. “We’ve lost so many businesses over the years and so many people have moved away. We just wanted to do something to help attract attention back to Spencer in a positive way and for everybody to just have fun.”

When Wilson was asked by Morgan to ask other food trucks like if they would be interested in attending, the response was impressive.

“We do shows and we’re usually booked a year in advance. Pulling this off was nothing short of a miracle,” Wilson said. “We had a meeting one night and by the next day, I had all the food trucks booked.”

In addition to food trucks, the event had an inflatable obstacle course that children climbed on, a mobile gaming truck, cornhole, a live DJ and a beer garden.

For Wilson, who was born and raised in Spencer, the event represented an opportunity to help the community connect.

“When I was growing, businesses were thriving,” Wilson said. “Now that the demographics have changed, we don’t know each other. We wanted to do something big to draw everybody out so we can meet people. I’ve already met four new neighbors.”

While Wilson was making new connections, Barry Medinger was reforming old ones.

“I’ve seen a lot of friends I haven’t seen in 50 years,” Medinger said. 

Medinger and his wife Lorna, both Salisbury residents, took in the evening’s events while seated in front of his vintage car. It was one of many parked in and around downtown Spencer during the All-American Saturday Night Out.

“We’ve had every car here imaginable today, from dune buggies to trucks, sports cars, exotic cars, custom cars,” Morgan said. “We’ve got all kinds of stuff and I couldn’t be happier.”

Jeremy Nason, who lives in Salisbury, brought his wife and two kids to the All-American Saturday Night Out.

“It was about community and family time with my kids in a safe place,” Nason said. “I heard there was going to be funnel cake, games and music. Spencer doesn’t do a lot. So when they put something together, I wanted to come support.”

Morgan said he hopes the All-American Saturday Night Out will serve as a “springboard” for the town to host other, similar events. The town’s event committee, he said, is currently working to organize plans for the holiday season.

“We’re going to have a winter fest the first two weekends in December,” Morgan said. “We’re going to have a German marketplace, and we’re going to build cubicles and put them on Park Plaza like they do up in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. We’re going to have all kinds of crafts, winter jams and jellies, brats and turn it into a real festival and a tree lighting.”

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