WELCH, WV (WVNS) — A piece of history in McDowell County gets a new purpose.
The parking garage located in the middle of Welch is the first municipally owned parking garage in the country. Now, it finds new life, serving as an open market for artists and vendors to offer up their creations to the community.
“To create something that the public goes ‘this is great we wanna participate,’ something that vendors can make money at,” said Kris Blankenship, the owner and operator of Giant Games.
Each weekend people can come to the top two floors of the building to play games, buy art, and learn something new. The new open market comes from the partnership of Kris Blankenship, a vendor, and artist, Tom Acosta. They said they want to help the city of Welch grow.
“We want to kinda share both of our ideas and talents and try to make a difference,” said local artist Tom Acosta.
Blankenship graduated from Pineville High School, and Acosta graduated from Jaeger High School. Blankenship and Acosta both left West Virginia to follow their dreams. Blankenship owns and operates Giant Games, and for more than 40 years, worked events as big as the March Madness tournament. Acosta travelled to showcase his art.
The two met at a festival before the pandemic began, and after seeing all of the fairs and festivals cancelled by COVID-19, they decided to bring one right to their own backyard; not only to benefit the community, but the vendors who rely on these events.
“We’ve lost 50 festivals this year and 100 decorating jobs because of Covid. How many people around here have lost their fairs, their county fairs, their state fairs, flea markets or wherever they might be setting up? If we can create this so that people can bless their family and take care of them, then we have done a good job,” said Blankenship.
The grand opening is Friday, October 2, 2020 at 8 a.m. Social distancing guidelines will be enforced.