HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) – Summer 2022 comes to its unofficial end this weekend and for downtown Harrisonburg, it was a busy season with many events making their first comeback in years.
“It’s felt really good to bring the community back together and to celebrate being in Harrisonburg and to provide something fun for our communities and tourists to do while they’re here,” Andrea Dono, the Executive Director of the Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance, said.
Thousands of people flocked to the Turner Pavilion for the Rocktown Beer and Music Festival in April and the sold-out Downtown Dinner Party brought people together in May. Both events came back from a hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Best.Weekend.Ever. featured live music, a sip and stroll, and food trucks in June. Block Party in the ‘Burg welcomed James Madison University students back to the Friendly City at the end of August. Both events were able to happen last summer.
“They come back because they love Harrisonburg and they just need an excuse to come here, so it’s really important for people to maintain their connections with our community,” Dono said. “I think people are just hungry for togetherness and for activities to get back into things.”
Events were reformatted so they are all not at the Turner Pavilion or Court Square, but all around the 40-blocks making up downtown Harrisonburg.
This fall there are still plenty of events and festivals to look forward to:
GREAT FALLS — The Downtown Night Market is coming back to Central Avenue on Friday, July 15, 2022 – but with a special addition that is being tested by Get Fit Great Falls.
The event will run from 5 p.m. until 9 p.m. along the 300 and 400 blocks of Central Avenue, and feature craft vendors, art demonstrations, food vendors, live music by Clint Reimann, and more.
For this month’s edition of the night market, Davidson Plaza – the space on Central Avenue with the Charlie Russell statue – is being converted into a space where people can come and enjoy and participate.
It is being done by Get Fit Great Galls and the Building Active Communities Initiative. They are partnering with the market to bring what they call an “active space” to the community.
Kim Skornogoski is head of the initiative and says it’s a one-time event to test out and see how it is received.
She said it will include things such as a ping pong table, giant checkers, and even miniature ponies.
They want people to be able to have a connected space and another opportunity to be active and healthy.
“Starting around noon, we’ll have this space set up to be an active space for people to come use,” Skornogoski said. “If you look at it now or any other day, it’s a beautiful space, but not many people use it except if they’re walking somewhere else. It’s not one that people really come to. So the idea is to transform this space into something that that people will use and ideally use in an active way. We hope this idea can plant a seed.”
For more information about the event, click here or contact Pierce at firstname.lastname@example.org.
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – The look of Santa Barbara’s downtown has been evolving since before the pandemic, but some of the most creative changes are taking place in real time.
They were started during the pandemic with the quickly laid out design to the promenade featuring open-air restaurant areas and outside bars, live music and creative lighting.
In an area between Haley St. and Sola St. cars were eliminated but the increase in bikes and pedestrians has jumped tremendously.
Next up will be an infusion of city and government funds for new lighting strands in about 40 locations and other festive design features, some by the Santa Barbara Downtown Organization, and some by business owners.
Many more plans are in motion along with a long term master plan.
A full schedule of deep cleaning and power washing on a regular basis will be taking place.
The area normally gets a full cleaning after the impacts from the Old Spanish Days Fiesta taking place in early August.
The urgency to capitalize on the summer crowds is apparent as part of the post-COVID recovery efforts. Every first Thursday there is a specially curated night of events, open houses at art galleries and live performances.Tonight’s lineup can be found at: https://www.downtownsb.org/events/1st-thursday
Downtown Organization Operations Manager Erik Krueger said, “this is community. This is everyone supporting each other downtown.” He says the First Thursday events involve businesses over multiple blocks.
“We have 30 venues, a great local band, a market with over 15-20 local vendors,” he said.
A visitor from Boulder, Colorado says in her town, live music in downtown open spaces is a big draw
Patti Miller said, “they have it in one spot. There’s a stage over here all the bands and people dancing and all of that and over here will be your buskers.”
One mom who had a son in the band Glenn Annie says they would love more music in downtown.
Allison Blix said, “he plays a lot around town a lot of venues don’t have stages. So if De la Guerra had a stage he would be here in a heart beat. They have a huge following.”
In anticipation for Old Spanish Days in August, Krueger said “the Downtown Organization will install 120 Fiesta flags up and down State Street. It is a beautiful, beautiful sight to see. ”
He says the downtown members are enthusiastic, “you name it our entire downtown core celebrates with everything they got.”
Border City Boxing Club owner Josh Canty is looking forward to giving local boxers a chance to get back in the ring as Rumble On The River returns to Windsor July 31.
“We had that long drought because of COVID and we got our kids that are just so anxious to get in there and compete in front of their friends and families,” Canty said of the event which was last held in 2019 with former NFL’er Luke Willson appearing as a guest bell ringer.
Canty says they are hoping for twelve to fifteen bouts with fighters from Ontario and the United States on the ticket.
“The key thing is to get our local fighters on, not only from Border City but from Windsor Boxing Club, Bam Bam’s. The other local gyms as well so that we can get the local fervour back up in terms of boxing,” he said.
The Rumble On The River will add to the post-pandemic fervour that is happening downtown.
Renaldo Agostino is executive director of the boxing club and also president of Element Entertainment which brought international DJ Tiesto to Caesars this past weekend.
“The people here deserve the best and I think the best is attainable as long as you wanna go out there and get it,” Agostino said. “And if you can get it why not bring it? We’ve been bringing it to Windsor, especially after COVID.”
Agostino, who also owns Turbo Espresso bar, is a big advocate for downtown Windsor.
“It makes people wanna stay here. It makes people wanna be here. It makes people proud to be here. I’m happy we can be a part of that,” he said.
Brian Yeomans, Chair of the Downtown BIA, feels Agostino and his brother Remo are setting the tone downtown post-pandemic.
“They’ve been happy to help us along the way whether it’s putting up Christmas lights in the winter all the way to putting on these fantastic events that they run,” he said.
Agostino brought a Windsor Spitfires viewing party to Charles Clarke Square last month and says a major event will be announced Tuesday with many more on the horizon this year.
Ward 3 city councillor Rino Bortolin feels events like those along with the farmer’s market, Ouellette Car Cruise in August and festivals help create momentum for the downtown area.
“What you really want to do is build up these organic events that really suit the city and are created by the people in the city and bring people in the city in a general area,” Bortolin said.
New investment is also creating residential space downtown which is giving restaurants like Oven 360 and Vito’s Pizzeria the confidence to open in the core.
“Downtown needs to be a neighbourhood,” said Bortolin. “To be a neighbourhood you need people who live downtown. As long as we can create a neighbourhood where people live as well as events to take place you start to get that good balance.”
A coalition of business and community groups will hold kickoff events in four Long Island downtowns Thursday to help promote their festivals and attractions ahead of the Fourth of July weekend.
Representatives from more than a dozen chambers of commerce, Vision Long Island, Long Island Main Street Alliance, small business owners and civic leaders will join a caravan that will stop in the downtowns of Baldwin, Farmingdale, Kings Park and Riverhead throughout the day.
The group will be urging people to participate in events that will be held throughout the summer and into the fall in more than 70 Long Island downtowns and communities. Those events include festivals, live music nights, outdoor arts exhibits, cultural attractions, and other family activities.
The aim of the effort is to remind Long Islanders that they don’t have to travel, and they can stay closer to home to support local businesses in their communities. The group will also be asking for funding from the state to promote Long Island downtowns, according to a written statement.
Frank Camarano, president of the Nassau Council of Chambers, said Long Island communities have so much to offer and the kick-off marks the beginning of chambers of commerce working together to bring event information to the people.
“Hyper-hyper-local sharing of events on our websites, social media and local publications, both in print and online, will evolve over time into something great,” Camarano said in the statement. “Let’s all support our communities, while having a lot of fun in the process. Shop and play local.”
Joseph Garcia, president of the Farmingdale Chamber of Commerce, said Long Island communities are made up of a network and connection of small business, attractions and events.
“Locally the offerings in our downtowns and communities rival those located a plane, train, and automobile away,” Garcia said in the statement. “By attending local events you support our small businesses and communities. We also call on the state to help in promoting local events and activities to keep the economic engine of Long Island cruising along.”
Connie Lassandro, president of the Riverhead Chamber of Commerce, said the past couple of years of the pandemic were some of the area’s darkest days, but now her downtown is coming alive again.
“Celebrate and have fun at any or all of our summer events including Alive on 25, The Cardboard Race, Reflextions, Paddle Battle, the 46th Annual Country Fair and Octoberfest,” Lassandro said in the statement. “Visit and stay at one of our many hotels and patronize our restaurants, breweries, Suffolk Theater, Long Island Aquarium or just enjoy the beautiful riverfront. Welcome to our downtown, come explore and have fun.”
The kick-off starts at 10 a.m. in the parking lot behind Kitty O’Hara’s at 845 Merrick Ave. in Baldwin. The caravan moves to Farmingdale’s Main Street Village Green at 11:30 a.m.; then stops at the clock tower on Main Street in Kings Park at 1 p.m.; winding up at Grangebel Park on Peconic Avenue in Riverhead at 2:30 p.m.
The coalition is also planning another round of multiple downtown visits next week.
Canada Day in Ottawa typically means fireworks and celebration downtown, but for events and businesses near Parliament Hill, the shadow of the Freedom Convoy still looms over the first in-person festivities in two years.
“It’s been a lifetime and it feels like it’s last week,” Kevin McHale, executive director of the Sparks Street BIA, said of the time that’s passed since the weeks-long February protest and occupation.
McHale said recent protests, including “Rolling Thunder Ottawa” rally, have followed a more traditional trajectory — people come, say their piece and go home.
“I think the bigger concern is what all of the talk of it does for citizens in Ottawa,” he explained.
“The hype that builds around it, that builds concerns, that builds on the anxieties that people have from February. It’s just a lot more pressure on our members to cut through that and it’s very difficult to do so.”
Those fears can quickly turn into one more reason not to visit downtown and stop at a shop or restaurant, McHale added.
The Ottawa Jazz Festival is fielding similar concerns, according to executive producer Catherine O’Grady.
She said attendees and artists have both shared fears about protests, which led to her issuing a statement last week ensuring ticket holders that the event would not be “bullied or threatened by outsiders.”
‘We’re not cancelling our event’
O’Grady said Wednesday that she was drafting another message to performers saying they’ll be safe.
“Good heavens. It’s Canada,” she said. “Why do we have to reassure our artists that are coming from America that they’re going to be safe in the nation’s capital?”
The festival is set to take place during the Canada Day long weekend at Confederation Park, which was the site of a protest supply camp during the convoy.
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When festival organizers originally spoke with the city about support, O’Grady said one of the “initial” reactions from staff was to ask whether they’d consider cancelling.
On Wednesday, following a meeting with police, the producer said she had been assured “every measure” was being put in place to ensure their safety. Police will be on the ground, keeping an eye on access to the park, and suggested making sure all festival trucks were clearly marked as they’ll be stopping vehicles on Queen Elizabeth Drive, she said.
“We’re really relieved to hear all that and of course we’re not cancelling our event,” said O’Grady. “Absolutely not.”
Summer of protests ‘not sustainable’ for police
Police previously said they were aware of the planned protest and were “planning accordingly,” along with Canada Day organizers.
Public safety consultant and former Ottawa police chief Charles Bordeleau said typical Canada Day “taps out” the resources available to police. He suggested the service is likely already reaching out to the RCMP, OPP and others to make sure they have enough officers on hand.
“If you don’t have the resources on the ground to set the tone and to communicate with those that wish to disrupt that this will not be acceptable then you will fail,” Bordeleau said.
Ottawa Morning8:39Veterans 4 Freedom
Several groups — most formed out of the Freedom Convoy — are planning protests and events in Ottawa throughout the summer. Including one that starts today, in the lead up to Canada Day. CBC’s David Fraser explained who’s behind these events – and how police are planning to respond.
Police learned lessons during the convoy, including the need for solid intelligence and the need for boots on the ground, the former chief added, but a summer of protests will be a challenge.
“I think the police service has been clear that it’s not sustainable … because of the number of resources that are required to keep everybody safe,” Bordeleau said.
City is not a ‘soapbox,’ says mayor
Mayor Jim Watson said the city and police are set to hold a press conference Monday outlining their plans for the long weekend.
“My message to people who want to come and celebrate our nation’s birthday is not to be intimidated by individuals who may be coming to Ottawa to cause trouble,” he said after Wednesday’s council meeting.
The behaviour seen during the truck convoy will not be tolerated, Watson added.
“This is not an opportunity for you to use our city as a soapbox for various grievances,” the mayor said. “Let the people of Canada celebrate their nation’s birthday in peace.”
McHale said the February protest was the one time in decades that businesses on Sparks Street closed their doors, but after two hard, pandemic years, that’s not an option now.
He added he’s not overly concerned, though he did have a request for protesters.
“Please don’t scream at people as they’re walking by and interfere in their lives,” McHale said. “That’s all. And if everyone does that, then you can protest and [others] can come and celebrate.”