YELLOW SPRINGS, Ohio (WDTN) -Dave Chappelle has been hosting a pop-up comedy series titled, Dave Chappelle and Friends: An Intimately Socially Distanced Event since May in Yellow Springs.
Wirrig Pavillion has been hosting the series that features 4 to 5 celebrity guests and entertainers, and between 100 to 400 guests.
“Who would think that David Letterman would be here? Who would thought that John Stewart would be here…It’s fascinating times,” said Yellow Springs resident and business owner Dino Pallotta.
According to Greene County Public Health, Chappelle’s team requested special permission for these events that were approved by Governor DeWine. Attendees of the events say temperatures are taken, mask requirements are enforced, and guests are seated 6 feet from each other in groups of two.
The shows have drawn hundreds more visitors from across the country to Yellow Springs. Local business owners say business is now booming even more than before the pandemic slowed revenue.
“We’ve definitely seen a major increase in sales. We had our best month in July that we’ve had since being in business. I think there’s a lot of contributing factors but the main ones being the [comedy] shows,” said Danyel Merson, owner of Wildflower boutique.
“Now you’ll get people that are going to the show…customers that are [going to] the show grab a bite to eat then roll over [to the pavilion] so that’s been a help for everybody,” said Pallotta.
However, it has recently become a topic of discussion in the village because the Miami Township Zoning Director has determined the events violate local zoning laws. Richard Zoph, zoning director, says Wirrig Pavillion is zoned as an agriculture or residential facility, which means that business and commercial events cannot take place.
Mershon also says the shows have been a bright light in the darkness of the pandemic.
“It’s been extremely hard for businesses to survive right now during the pandemic and to find a reason to laugh and to smile [Chappelle] has brought all of that to our town,” she said.