When I first moved down to Cleveland my assumption was that there was absolutely nothing to do after business hours, let alone on the weekend. And a clerk at the motel we stayed at the first night here confirmed exactly that. Yet the real story is different. As I’ve shown in previous posts, there is more to this small town than meets the eye.
For one there is trivia night at a local bar. Now I don’t go every week. But after nearly three months of playing by myself a friend here (who was guest hosting) introduced to me to some of her friends and I actually got to play with other people. Even when there was no one else, Teach for America comes to town every year in June and July which provided ample opportunity for random conversations.
There is also the Cleveland-Bolivar Young Professionals whom I’ve mentioned before. A sizable portion of their membership seems to be people who are not from the Delta. So the group has been a good place to meet folks like myself who came here from elsewhere. And as it turns out there are more of them than I initially thought. Delta State is the main employer, but the USDA has a research complex a bit south of Cleveland and TFA brings a small, but steady stream of people in every year.
Lastly, the town itself has a number of festivals scattered out the year. Some, such as Otherfest, are tied in to the local music scene. There are a few others that aren’t, such as Octoberfest. While these events only happen once every few months they provide something to look forward to and are a good way to spend a Saturday afternoon.
Of course there are some things a small town can’t offer. There is no mall. The nearest movie theater is almost an hour away and only has six screens. Many of the businesses close by early evening and for the most part only chain stores are open on Sundays. So there are times when Netflix is my best friend. Thankfully the local internet provider, Cable One, provides a 50 Mbps connection at only $50 a month.
But my point is that when living in a small town you really have to put yourself out there. You’ve got to talk to people at work, neighbors, and get plugged into the community. The internet won’t help much, you have to do things the old fashioned way. But any town big enough to have a college will have something to do on the weekends.
However what town dwellers consider entertaining may not be what city folks consider a good time. For example one can spend quite a bit of time sitting outside talking with a neighbor. Likewise, church groups are a major source of social activity in some parts of the country (although I do not go to church myself). So some adaptation is required. But ultimately there is something to be said for sitting back and relaxing a bit.