The two events were planned by the Dumas Downtown Association to go together, though they were separated by several hours Saturday. The clean up effort in the morning was supposed to improve the appearance of sidewalks buildings, and some of the streets downtown, and the Sip and Shop event later that evening would show off the work and promote downtown as a destination for business. Unfortunately, with Texas Panhandle weather, planning outdoor events can be tricky. Panhandle residents, though, seem to take things in stride.
"The clean up went great," said Dumas Downtown Association Executive Director Irene Delgado. "We cleaned for three and a half hours. We cleaned up a lot of weeds and dirt. We were out there a while. Everything is looking better." Delgado was joined by members of the Moore County Sheriff's Office, Moore County Juvenile Probation, the Dumas High School Art Club, downtown business owners and volunteers, including Dumas Mayor Bob Brinkmann, City Commissioner Michael Barr and others. They scraped old decals off windows, swept dirt and debris from gutters and sidewalks, pulled weeds, and chopped out rogue trees that were growing up on parking lots. They also set up the benches and planters that the association was able to purchase with grant money to give Dumas Avenue a more welcoming appearance. People from Cultivate, a local garden store, got the flowers and other plants started. They have agreed to take care of them throughout the year. There was a general consensus among those who saw downtown after the clean up effort was finished that the effort had been a success. "I couldn't believe they were out there sweeping like that. It looked better," said Kathie Fuston, a board member of the Dumas Downtown Association who saw the work.
Later that night, the Sip and Shop event began in the newly-spruced up downtown area. There were over 30 vendors from Dumas and Amarillo set up in the parking lot to the north of the old Phillips and Son building that is now being remade into the Toppled Turtle, a microbrewery and pub. They were offering a variety of wares for sale from salsa to clothes and decorations. Food trucks lined the closed off 7th Street offering gourmet sandwiches, steaks, and other foods and drinks. Elsewhere in the downtown area, businesses that are normally closed Saturday evening had opened at 7:00 pm for business. They were offering shoppers drinks and refreshments, as well as their normal goods. They were supposed to be open until 9:00 pm.
For the first half hour things looked great, despite the darkening, ominous clouds moving in from the west. With so many other events cancelled this summer because of COVID, a lot of people turned out Saturday evening and appeared to be enjoying themselves. The clouds kept getting darker and closer, however, and around 7:30 pm, rain started that quickly turned Dumas Avenue into a lake and sent people running for cars and seeking shelter under awnings and in open businesses. Water eventually rose to the front doors of several businesses along Dumas Avenue. The Sip and Shop event ended abruptly as vendors scrambled to pack up their soaked goods and escape the flood.
Delgado remained undaunted. "I thought it went great. We got a lot of wonderful feedback from it. Everyone was excited to be out. I had a lot of people tell me it felt good to have the community all together again. It wasn't ideal to have the rain and the storm … but everyone had a good time." She added that the new plants survived the storm more or less intact.
Delgado said all of the vendors from Saturday would be back on September 12 for the Ears and Beers Festival that will take place downtown from 2:00 to 9:00 pm. Delgado is hoping for good weather.