The town of Middlesboro, Kentucky has been hit by a struggling economy for years. To fight that, the town set up an "impromptu" street fair, filled with temporary stores and restaurants. The goal is to show people businesses can still thrive. John Henry
This weekend, more than 100 people from 5 states traveled to a small town in our area, with the focus of changing its future.
Their mission give Middlesboro, Kentucky an impromptu facelift.
The group Discover Downtown Middlesboro organized a "Build a Better Block" event. The idea, which first took place in Dallas, encourages locals to temporarily small parts of their town to influence even bigger change in the future.
Bell County residents, teamed up with groups like Americorps and the University of Kentucky, to restore buildings like the old Park Theater. Between Friday and Sunday, they also took empty spaces and built pop-up parks.
Website: Discover Downtown Middlesboro
Discover Downtown Middlesboro Executive Director Isaac Kremer said volunteers even created about 10 small businesses just for the event. Some of those stores were placed in vacant storefronts.
Kremer said the move will show some of the town's old structures still have potential.
"What we did was we approached the owner and we said we have this great idea how we can help fill your buildings and get some tenants in there to show the possibility for all of these spaces," he said.
"Discover Downtown Middlesboro" raised more than 10,000 dollars this weekend to advance its revitalization efforts.
Facebook Page: The Exploration Center
It used part of those proceeds to create an "Exploration Center" where children are encouraged to do things like role-play and create crafts beside their parents.
The person who owns the building where the center is located leased the property to Discover Downtown Middlesboro for free over a six month period.
"It's really for creative and exploratory play," Chrissy Kremer of Discover Downtown Middlesboro.
Isaac Kremer said the Build a Better Block event will likely take place again in Middlesboro.
He said he believes Middlesboro will be able to build up on its success.