Yellow flags along South Main Street are announcing the near arrival of Springtime in Columbiana.
The flags on the new light poles were put up recently by the Tourism Bureau for the annual two-day event that begins at 10 a.m. Friday.
Bureau President Larry Deidrick said more merchants are participating this year and some new additions include an open air French Market at the First Christian Church and a Diamond Dash around town.
He and Springtime in Columbiana Committee Chairwoman Barbara Farrand described the French Market as similar to a flea market, with a theme.
The market will be set up in the Grace Church Parking lot and include demonstrations by area quilters for the "Airing of the Quilts."
A quilt show will also be held at the First Christian Church on Cherry Street and more than 70 quilts are expected to be on display.
The annual event sponsored by the Tourism Bureau is an opportunity for local businesses to host open houses and sidewalk sales while street vendors offer crafts, food and other items.
"Every year we seem to recruit more and more of the dealers and stores downtown," Deidrick said. "I think it's going to be a lot of fun."
Farrand explained the yellow flags were chosen to "celebrate" spring and draw attention to the new and improved South Main Street.
"We are trying to make it attractive and a celebration of our new look," she said.
The city obtained a grant and spent some of its own money on the road and sidewalk enhancements there last year. Included in the project were all new light poles and decorative trees.
Businesses along the street will soon be receiving four-foot-wide balloons in the form a sunflower to display in front of their stores in preparation for, and during the event, Farrand and Deidrick said.
"The town is going to look a lot different," Deidrick said.
Another new addition is the Diamond Dash, made possible through the donation of a half-carat diamond ring valued at $3,800 from M.D. Diamond, he said.
Ten stores are participating in the contest in which shoppers are supposed to find a specific word in each store. Once the 10 words are found, the shoppers must put them into the specific phrase and call a phone number to be eligible for winning the diamond ring, he explained.
Participating stores are M.D. Diamond, Bargains Unlimited, L&J Odds and Ends, Unique Changes Boutique, Heart of the Country, Dutch Tulip, Dutch Cupboard, Dutch Village Inn and Bo's Pet Shoppe.
Mainstays of the event include a birdhouse decorating contest, the Box Lunch hosted by the Women's Club from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and a herb sale at the club from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. both days.
The "Discover Columbiana" raffle is also back again and features a prize package worth more than $1,000.
Deidrick said money from the raffle helps pay for the flags and other decorations made available by the tourism bureau.
The tickets are $5 and available at area merchants already.
More information, including entry forms for the birdhouse contest, is available online at www.tourcolumbianaohio.com/springtime-in-columbiana.html.