It had been talked and joked about many times over the course of the past year regarding how the Inn Street Artisans Revival was born. So, in my own words, here is the full story;
After the release of the now infamous ‘Inn Street Blues‘ Newburyport Daily News article on August 2, 2015, (The day before the last day of the festival) Dennis Palazzo made his way down to Inn Street on a Public Relations Mission. Here is when I had an opportunity to engage him regarding some of my concerns.
What Dennis hadn’t realized at this point was that I had many years of pent up frustration regarding what I, and many others, had come to view as an over commercialized and over corporatized Homecoming event. One that had strayed off its original vision for years, and after having one of the worse Yankee Homecoming events in recent years, I was ready to unleash my fury. Unfortunately, or fortunately in hindsight, Dennis was my target, as well as a few others who were ready for a public lynching.
Of course, the biggest beefs (pardon the pun) were the very presence of a McDonalds Kiosk on Inn Street. But that wasn’t all. It was the overall inconsiderate and pompous attitude of the kiosk itself, parked right in front of a local restaurant, as well as its ‘theater ropes’ blocking and cordoning off a section of Inn Street itself. I mean, who do these people think they are?
They had come to the wrong city, and the wrong street in America, and the people of Newburyport made it known. Dennis Palazzo, on behalf of the Yankee Homecoming Committee, had made a mistake. On top of some other bad judgments in the placement of food vendors on Inn Street, and the utter lack of consideration for the existing ‘art vendor’ (and I might add, the ONLY art vendor on Inn Street), had reached a boiling point. This was it. I had had enough, and I was about to make known that this was the ‘Straw that broke the YH corporate sponsored back’.
Perhaps a different time, a different person, and different circumstances, a different result may have occurred. But I have said many times over the past year and have given much credit for how it was handled. Many would like to credit me for bringing about the Inn Street Artisans Revival, but, I really feel that the real credit was the level of professionalism that was demonstrated by Dennis Palazzo. Dennis didn’t have to be down on Inn Street that day. He could have stayed away and coward in another safe zone of the city. But he didn’t. He came down to Inn Street and met his accusers head on. As a matter of fact, he even went one step further. After our initial discussion he set up a ‘community meeting’ and invited anyone that had a gripe to come a vent and discuss their issues. In hindsight, none of what was to happen after the initial conversation between Dennis and I mattered. Because none of what was to happen after that was going to change anything that was discussed and proposed during that initial conversation.
To the best of my recollection, here’s how the conversation went:
I could tell I had pushed Dennis to the point of physical retaliation. I could see it in his eyes. Perhaps if we were in a different place and a different time he would have hauled off and punched me. As I have joked many times, I am fortunate, as well as Yankee Homecoming on a whole, that he refrained. Personally I was grateful he didnt, as I was to find out later that Dennis was a black belt in Karate. I may had never gotten off the ground. Instead, after all my complaining and grievences had been aired, and probably due to his professional training in the martial arts, Dennis asked the one question that changed everything;
‘Do you have any better ideas John’, he asked?
My response that was about to change history of the Yankee Homecoming on Inn Street in Newburyport was then given.
“Well Dennis, seeing that I am the one and only artist down here on Inn Street for the past ten years, and I have had a lot of time to think about it,….it just so happens that I do.”
It was then I proceeded to tell him of my idea of replacing the commercial and corporate vendors located on Inn Street with a more local, arts and crafts foundation. I then asked what motivates him to do what you do with these vendors? His answer was the most honest and obvious. “Money.” he said. We need to pay for the festival and this is the only way to do it. I told him I understood that we need to pay for the festival, but it was here in which I disagreed on how. I asked him on how much he got from the outside commercial and corporate vendors. He then told me.
I then said, what if you were to be able to raise that much money from a more local arts and crafts based venue? He didn’t think it was possible,….but, he liked the idea and was willing to think about it.
Dennis showed up at my cart the next day, Sunday, August 3rd, the last day of the 2015 Yankee Homecoming. He said, you know John, I took up the idea with my wife last night. She thought it was a great idea. She said, ‘Dennis, how come you never thought of that’?
The rest was to become history. I’ve said it many times since. Dennis also states in the following video, ‘My Mother always taught me to make a positive out of everything”. We all make mistakes. It always comes down to what we do with them. We can learn and correct them, and grow, or we can stay in denial, and allow our egos to lead us astray.
Dennis and I made a deal that afternoon on Inn Street. I told him I would give him a year of my life and organize the Inn Street Artisans Revival on the condition that I had full control over who participates and NO commercial or corporate outside vendors would be involved. We shook hands, and he said if it doesn’t work out then we go back to the way it is and no one says anything.
He also said, “If it does work out and you pull this off, Ill make you a banner and we will hang it from Market Square”.
I will continue to make post regarding the ISAR, as well as videos. I will also be doing a ‘Post Revival’ summary regarding the economic and public success of the Revival as well as some of the ‘Post Revival” disappointments.
Please stay tuned.