Stepping Away

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After years of making downtown a community destination, Joe Arrowood announces his retirement

Hundreds of yellow ducks floated down White River as thousands of residents and onlookers enjoyed the annual race and festivities Friday night. The idea for the community event came from Joe Arrowood, executive director of Noblesville Main Street, who announced his plan to retire at the end of the year after nine years on the job.

“I’ve probably been thinking about it for a year and it’s just getting the time,” he said. “I’ve enjoyed all the events, seeing people have fun and hearing the people appreciate it.”

Arrowood started as a Noblesville Main Street board member, but was then asked to work part-time as an interim director until they found a new person.

“We hired a secretary and got on our feet and got going,” he said. “When I came here, we had a Street Dance chairperson riding around on a golf cart during the event. The attendance has grown 10 fold. There are more people attending now. There’s no way you could go around now on a golf cart and supervise.”

Jo Ellen and joe Arrowood

At his start, Arrowood said city officials were not pleased with what Main Street was doing. Main Street decorated downtown for the holidays, held fundraisers, and hosted the Upstairs/Downtown tour and annual Street Dance, its biggest event of the year. The organization made a presentation to city officials who suggested Main Street go in a particular direction and hire a director.

“When I was asked to be on the board I thought this organization isn’t doing much. It would have dissolved and gone by the waste side if not for Joe,” said Noblesville Main Street President Gail Nowicki. “Joe’s the reason Main Street is what it is today. First Fridays, Jazz Squared, the duck race, all of these things came under his leadership. He puts in countless hours, as does his wife.”

During his tenure, Arrowood has overseen the growth and development of Noblesville Main Street through the creation and implementation of numerous community events. The Farmers Market also expanded from a humble beginning of a 10-12 vendor event near City Hall, to more than 80 vendors filling the Riverview Overflow Parking Lot on Saturday mornings.

“Main Street is a very important part of downtown. It not only strives to benefit downtown merchants, but also to improve the allure of downtown,” said Arrowood. “Without the cooperation of so many community oriented organizations, including the City of Noblesville and Hamilton County, we could not have achieved as much as we have.”

Meet Joe Arrowood

Residence: Noblesville

Hometown: Johnson City, Tenn.

Education: Science Hill High School and East Tennessee State University

Occupations: Arrowood worked for the Boys & Girls Club for 30 years, including 22 as director in Noblesville. He also worked 15 years as a realtor before becoming Noblesville Main Street director nine years ago. “I’ve always been a servant to the people. I’ve always felt comfortable in that position. I felt I was called to do whatever I did.”

Retirement plans: “Paint the house,” Arrowood joked. “There’s a good possibility I might go back into real estate. All of my licenses are renewed.”

Favorite thing about Noblesville: “The small town atmosphere. You can walk around the courthouse to places to eat. There are so many different things that go on in Noblesville – it’s just a great place to live. It’s almost like Cheers. You walk around and everybody knows your name and glad you came.”

Personal quote: “Things work out the best for those who make the best of how things work out,” John Wooden

Through the plethora of events the Main Street organization brings to the downtown area, it is hard to miss the vibrancy that Noblesville Main Street has generated in the heart of Noblesville.

“The best thing that has come from my time with Main Street is that the Noblesville community knows that Main Street exists,” said Arrowood. “Anybody can come and everybody can come (to our events) and they all seem to have fun.”

While most of the changes made during Arrowood’s time have benefited the community, Main Street made one contentious decision this season – decreasing the number of First Friday events. Typically, the monthly event begins in May and runs through December, but this year’s first event was Friday’s Duck Race.

“I’d like to see First Friday events year-round,” said Arrowood. “I’d like to see different merchants host First Friday’s inside where they can have specials and activities.”

The organization used to host the events year round, but Arrowood said bad weather became an issue.

“It’s all outside and we were freezing to death and people weren’t showing up,” he said.

Jazz on the Square is the Main Street event Arrowood is most looking forward to attending as just a patron, but it’s not his favorite to volunteer at.

“Christmas on the Square is the most fun event we host,” he said. “We freeze our butts off, but the roasting chestnuts, Santa House and kids singing carols give that Christmas feeling. It’s a more happy time.”

Schedule of Events

Noblesville Main Street opened its 2012 season May 19 with the opening day of the Noblesville Farmers Market but there are still plenty of community events planned for 2012:

  • Aug. 11 – Farmers Market (Salsa Dip contest)
  • Aug. 17 – Jazz on the Square: Blue Dorian Jazz Combo
  • Aug. 31 – Jazz on the Square: David Hartman Band
  • Sept. 7 – First Friday: Upstairs/Downtown Tour
  • Sept. 7 – Jazz on the Square: Tom Wright
  • Sept. 15 – Farmers Market (Pet Day)
  • Sept. 29 – Farmers Market (Pie Baking contest)
  • Oct. 5 – First Friday: Fall Festival
  • Oct. 13 – Farmers Market (Fall Festival and Chili Cook-off)
  • Nov. 2 – First Friday: Annual Soup Cook-off
  • Dec. 7 – First Friday: Christmas on the Square
  • Dec. 8 – Holiday Market Fair
  • Dec. 9 – Noblesville Main Street Christmas Dinner and Dance

Times: First Fridays run 5:30 to 8 p.m.; Farmers Markets are 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. every Saturday through Oct. 13; Jazz on the Square is 7 to 9 p.m.; Holiday Market Fair takes place from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.; and the Christmas Dinner and Dance is 5 to 8 p.m.

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