Is Second Saturday over?

Some people say Second Saturday is over. Midtown business and gallery owners weigh in.

Sarah Vorn is an intern with SN&R. Nick Miller contributed additional reporting to this story.

If Second Saturday is done, you wouldn’t have thought so this past weekend. Dozens of teenagers lined the wooden boardwalk along the MARRS building at 20th Street, eating pizza and flirting. Zocalo’s outdoor patio on Capitol Avenue was packed. And if you wanted to park your car anywhere on Midtown streets, good luck.

Second Saturday may not be what it used to be, but the art walk hasn’t flatlined yet.

And some Midtown business owners even argue that the event, what with its downtick in partiers, is better than ever.

Jewelry artist Susan Rabinovitz has been an active part of Second Saturday for more than five years. Earlier in 2012, she opened Little Relics Boutique & Galleria on 21st Street, where she showcases artwork and one-of-a-kind handmade jewelry.

“Public drunkenness has thinned out,” Rabinovitz observed. “People are coming down for nice dinners, and they are actually participating in the art walk, which is really cool.”

She said she gets a lot of walk-through traffic on Second Saturdays, and that it’s still a “great pull” for business.

“Even if the crowd is smaller, it generates income,” Rabinovitz said.

Attendance dipped on Second Saturdays when city leaders implemented a curfew following the September 2010 shooting of Victor Hugo Perez Zavala, who was caught in a deadly crossfire during the art walk’s after hours. Now, street closures must end and musicians and vendors must wrap up by 8 p.m.

“They seem to be breaking it up at 8:30, 9 o’clock,” said James Wells, general manager going for seven years at Pete’s Restaurant & Brewhouse on the popular corner of J and 20th streets. “I know it’s to keep people safe, but we would appreciate it if it was later, like at 10.”

The curfew has had its impact on businesses’ bottom lines. Shop owners along J Street and in the Handle District, near L and 18th streets, told SN&R that Second Saturday was once their best sales day of the month.

“The earlier they break it up, the less business we get,” explained Wells. “A lot of businesses bank on the money we get from that day; it fixes our sales for the month. It’s our busiest day.”

Despite his disagreement with Second Saturday’s curfew, Wells said that he still loves the event. And business has started to pick up again over the past year: Pete’s serves approximately 600 customers during Second Saturday—more than double its average crowd.

City of Sacramento police told SN&R that Second Saturday has run “extremely smooth with no arrests or citations” this year. But city police Sgt. Andrew Pettit did add that “vehicle burglaries are on the rise,” and that “patrons should remember to lock their vehicles and not to leave valuables inside or visible.”

There were resident reports, however, of vandalism after this past weekend’s event.

Meanwhile, gallery owners are pleased with the event’s return to focus on the arts.

Judy Yemma, instructor and membership coordinator at Viewpoint Photographic Art Center on J Street, can attest to the influx of visitors on Second Saturday who are there for the art.

“The crowd has not diminished,” she said. “It has been pretty constant. Yemma said she sees 1,000 to 1,200 people flow in and out of the gallery between 5 and 9 p.m.

Yemma said that Second Saturday is good for the gallery. “It helps get us more known in the community,” she explained.

And, she added, they even sell some artwork.