Thrill-seekers take to slackline for unique view of Concord’s Market Days

  • Marc Catino, 32, of Concord walks across the slackline suspended over Main Street in downtown Concord on Friday at the city’s 44th Market Days Festival. Catino had never slacklined before. Jacob Dawson / Monitor staff

  • Marc Catino, 32, of Concord, made it halfway across Main Street on a slackline before losing his balance. The slackline set up as part of the Market Days Fesitval in downtown Concord on Friday.  Jacob Dawson—Monitor staff

  • Another participant of the slackline at the Market Days Festival in downtown Concord Friday made it all the way across the almost 100 foot span between the two rooftops.  Jacob Dawson—Monitor staff

  • Guillaum St. Denis, a staff member for Over the Edge, tests out the slackline suspended over Main Street in downtown Concord on Friday, as part of the Market Days Festival. Jacob Dawson / Monitor staff

  • Over the Edge staff member Guillaum St. Denis tries balancing on one foot almost 50 feet above Main Street during the Market Days Festival in downtown Concord. Jacob Dawson / Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Published: 6/23/2018 10:35:58 PM

Marc Catino, 32, of Concord hovered three stories above Main Street on a thin line because he said it was something he had to do.

Catino had never used a slackline before, but that didn’t stop him from trying to walk across Main Street from above during Market Days Festival in downtown Concord on Friday.

“It was intense,” he said. “You don’t really know how much strength it takes to walk across.”

Catino said he was sitting in his doctor’s office when he checked Facebook and saw a live stream for the slackline event. After the appointment, he paid the $89 to participate, signed a waiver, strapped into his harness and walked up the three story building to cross the street between the Gondwana Divine Clothing Company and Capitol Craftsman.

The slackline itself was suspended about 50 feet off the ground, with a distance of about 100 feet between rooftops. Participants had 15 minutes to walk across.

Catino said he would definitely go slacklining again.

“Maybe after I build up some upper-body strength,” he said laughing.

The equipment was provided by Over the Edge, a Nova Scotia-based company that hosts slacklining and rappelling activities for nonprofits, corporate team-building and other events. Over the Edge has raised more than $70 million for nonprofits since its inception in 2008, according to its website.

All this high-flying excitement is only one part of the 44th Market Days Festival. The three-day long event brings dozens of vendors and musicians to downtown Concord each summer. The slackline event came to Concord for the first time this year.

Intown Concord organizes Market Days and Executive Director Michelle Motuzas Johnson got on the slackline herself.

“Slacklining was a lot of fun,” she said. “I’m not afraid of heights.”

Motuzas Johnson said the idea for a slackline came about when events and outreach coordinator for Intown Concord, Kate Fleming, talked with Concord-based slackliner, Dan Walsh. His slacklining caught Fleming’s attention at a different event last summer, she said. Walsh said how much he wanted to perform his tricks on the rope at Market Days, and Fleming was the one to make it happen.

Motuzas Johnson said the best part of the annual jubilee is the exposure for Concord-area businesses. Through the years, the festival has evolved with changes to the downtown.

“I think it brings a lot of exposure, especially with the new, beautiful Main Street,” she said. “All of our merchants get to be seen by people who would not normally think of coming up here.”

Many of the vendors included in the programming are locally based and the festival provides them opportunity to showcase their offerings in a more open setting. In addition to the slackline, Motuzas Johnson said the Capitol Center for the Arts took over the South Stage to host a “first class” concert series.

“I know the city wants us and other organizations to host more events, and we’re really working on it,” she said. With all the manpower required – almost 200 volunteer spots – it’s no easy task to host Market Days. Motuzas Johnson and Fleming said they have worked full-time toward planning, and have been since January.

The only thing preventing Concord from hosting more events like the three-day Market Days, is the number of hours and volunteers that it requires, Motuzas Johnson said.

“It’s finding the organizations that have the manpower and the resources to be able to do it,” she said. “We love doing this, and that’s what we’re good at, and we really want to try to incorporate more of them.”

(Jacob Dawson can be reached at 272-6414, ext. 8325, or on Twitter @jaked156.)

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