Downtown Sherman Now hopes to continue a tradition of strolling the square this October. Representatives with the group said they are planning to hold the annual Stroll on the Square Wine Stroll for 2020 with precautions put in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The announcement comes after the group canceled its annual Craft the Night Away event, which was scheduled to take place this weekend, due to safety and health concerns.
"Right now we are working to make this a really comfortable and safe event concerning COVID(-19)," Downtown Sherman Now Executive Director Karen Tooley said. "Even if it is limited, people are still going out, they are still going to the grocery store and they are still going out to the doctor. What is it about those businesses that make people safe. So, we are trying to implement some of those protocols."
The wine stroll historically has featured more than a dozen downtown businesses hosting tastings of wine and food from local wineries and restaurants. For 2019 about 19 businesses served as stops along the strolling route.
"Of all the event that happen in downtown, the wine stroll is the one that gets people through the business doors and makes a real solid impact on their sales that night and moving forward."
For this year’s event, Tooley said strollers will be required to wear masks when they entering into any of the businesses. Ticket holders will also be provided a gaiter-style mask when they sign in for the event.
Sign in itself will also me modified to allow for social distancing in 2020. While it traditionally has been held inside Kelly Square, organizers are now splitting it between three outdoor locations to further spread people out.
Other steps include hand sanitizer stations, markings for social distancing and capacity limits on some high-traffic stops, Tooley said.
"We think people will go into a business and... they get their wine and they walk outside with their group, and they are outside sipping their wine and listening to music," Tooley said.
The decision to move forward with the wine stroll comes after the decision to cancel this year’s Craft the Night Away, a downtown event, also held by Downtown Sherman Now, focused on beer rather than wine.
Tooley said the decision was made after it was discovered that the permits for the event through the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission would require Downtown Sherman now to enforce mandates from the Governor’s office regarding COVID-19 protections, including mask wearing. In event a violation, the group could be penalized, including the TABC barring them from hosting future events.
The same requirements would not be put in place for the wine stroll, however. Tooley attributed this in part to the differences in size for for the events.
While Craft the Night Away was anticipated to bring about 2,000 people into Sherman’s center, the wine stroll will be capped at 450 tickets. Likewise, the wine stroll will be spread out over a six block area where Craft the Night Away would be confined to just two blocks.
"One of our biggest complaints is that people say nobody came but we know they did. It just doesn’t feel crowded because it is so spread out."
Michael Hutchins is the local government reporter for the Herald Democrat. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.