Bunt Resigns as Tourism Director
Rod Bunt, right, leads the Fall Foliage Children's Parade in 2009. The director of the city's office of tourism for the last decade resigned Thursday.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Rod Bunt quit abruptly Thursday as the city's director of tourism and cultural development.
Mayor Richard Alcombright said he and Bunt had spoken Wednesday and the parting was amicable. Bunt submitted his resignation effective today.
"I wasn't shocked, he wasn't shocked," said the mayor, who added that Bunt was planning to pursue opportunities in the private sector. "I'll miss him, he's a great guy."
Bunt told the North Adams Transcript, which broke the story earlier this afternoon, that his annual salary of $34,160 hasn't moved much since he was hired in 2001 and he "had some irons in the fire."
The former WNAW morning show host was named director for the newly created office in 2001 by former Mayor John Barrett III. He oversaw events and promotions in the city including the annual farmers' market, Winterfest and the Fall Foliage Festival.
He told the Transcript it wouldn't be fair to the city to hold the post while looking elsewhere. Bunt said he would be available to help the new director transition into the job.
"Rod's been the events guy for the city for 10-plus years," said Alcombright. "He's done a lot of things and grown a lot of events. He's been kind of the feet on the street for us."
Bunt reportedly also resigned as director of the annual Fall Foliage Parade, according to an e-mail sent from parade sponsor Berkshire Chamber of Commerce to the Parade Committee.
His name was removed from the city's website by Thursday afternoon. The mayor's administrative assistant Lisa Loomis is listed as the contact and will be the liasion to the chamber.
A call to Bunt on Thursday has not yet been returned.
With a summer season filled with the Food Festival, the return of Wilco and a giant Zumba dance fundraiser on Main Street for the annual Relay for Life, the position won't go vacant long. Bunt's departure, however, will give the city an opportunity to re-envision the job's responsibilities and write a "carefully crafted" job description, said the mayor.
That will mean searching for someone with a marketing and branding background, and possibly experience in business and the arts, to coordinate with the city's cultural and business groups. The mayor expected to post the position within the next week or so.
"I fully intend to fill the position," said Alcombright. "There are a lot of events that are in a sense city events that you can't bump off onto the private sectors."
Community Meeting Set for Lift Ev'ry Voice
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — MCLA Gallery 51 is hosting a panel discussion and community meeting on Thursday, March 3, about the countywide Lift Ev'ry Voice summer arts festival.
Joining festival steering committee Chairmen Shirley Edgerton and Don Quinn Kelley will be Mayor Richard Alcombright.
The meeting starts at 6:30 at the Main Street gallery.
The monthlong festival will celebrate African-American history and culture both in the Berkshires and around the world. It will be held June 19 to July 2, and local cultural and civic organizations and businesses are encouraged to be part of it by planning appropriate programs.
Gov. Deval Patrick and first lady Diane Patrick of Richmond are the honorary co-chairmen. Many of Berkshire County's cultural and civic organizatinos will be programming events as part of Lift Ev'ry Voice, including Tanglewood, the Colonial Theatre, Barrington Stage Company, Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, the Clark Art Institute, Berkshire Theatre Festival, Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival and the Upper Housatonic Valley African-American Heritage Trail.
The festival kicks off with a Juneteenth celebration on June 19 and ends with Berkshire County's only traditionally African-American neighborhood festival, the Gather-in, on July 23 in Pittsfield. Other notable events include world premiere plays at both Berkshire Theatre Festival and Barrington Stage Company; Earth, Wind and Firehttp://www.earthwindandfire.com/'s 40th anniversary World Tour at Tanglewood, and a Youth Day at Mass MoCA.
Lift Ev'ry Voice founding partners include the Berkshire Visitors Bureau, the Women of Color Giving Circle, the City of Pittsfield, Upper Housatonic Heritage, the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, Greylock Federal Credit Union, Massachusetts Cultural Council, and the Women's Times.
For more information visit www.liftevryvoice.com.
|Tags: African-American, festival|
Winterfest Comes and Goes
Sarah Smith spoons up the winning lobster chowder her husband, Sandy Smith, made for Winterfest.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Hundreds roamed the downtown on Saturday looking for some good chowder.
More than a dozen restaurants and food service providers participated in this year's "Chowder Hop" with locations set up from Marshall to Eagle streets. There were no surprises this year; all the top chowders have won in the past. But surprisingly, there was little overlap of the judges' and People Choice selections.
This year's winner was Gramercy Bistro for its lobster chowder, the first time the restaurant's taken a title since it won People's Choice in 2009. The chowder had just the right flavor, consistency and appetizing look to make it the favorite of all three judges.
The judges — Mayor Richard Alcombright, City Councilor Lisa Blackmer and me, iBerkshires Managing Editor Tammy Daniels — were also impressed with the catfish chowder served up by Gramercy's new sister eatery RUB. Of course, they were both made by chef Alexander "Sandy" Smith.
Coming in second was The Hub, which took third last year, followed by North Adams Regional Hospital Dining Services. Both offered up creamy, traditional clam chowders with plenty of clams, potatoes and vegetables. The Hub's chowder was once again made by Matt Schilling and the NARH's by Jon Charbonneau, who last picked up a third in People's Choice in 2008.
We decided to give an honorable mention to Valerie Schwarz of the Berkshire Food Project for her spicy but not-too-over-the-top corn and clam chowder. Schwarz and kitchen manager Adam Quimby were having their own little competition by serving up two varieties at First Congregational Church. Sorry Adam, yours was good but we liked Valerie's better.
The People's Choice winners couldn't be more different: Gringo's got the most votes, a real coup for David Nicholas who reopened the Tex-Mex eatery in Adams this past fall as Gringo's Firehouse Cafe.
More pictures here.
Perennial favorite Boston Sea Foods took second and Aramark Services of Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts was third.
Voting was done by ballot; ballots and maps were available at each location. They could be dropped off on Holden Street, where NARH and Red Herring were set up with the SteepleCats and Boy Scout booths.
"People were really taking time to make out their ballots and drop them off," said the city's tourism director Rod Bunt. "We had a decent amount of votes."
"It was a pretty nice spread," he said of the results of the 222 ballots that were submitted. "Other people got respectable votes, too."
Garnering enough votes for honorable mentions were Petrino's, Big Shirl's and NARH. Petrino's Cafe ran out early, but it was the easiest to find: Mark Petrino set up a table right on the sidewalk outside the cafe.
"If I could predict a nice day, I'd say for everybody get out on the street," said Bunt.
It was a nice day, compared to the some we've had this winter. Similar to last year, a severe storm swept into the region on Friday but left in time for Saturday's event, with exception of a few snowflakes for effect.
Last year, the event was moved to Main Street from St. Elizabeth's (St. Anthony's) Parish Center to encourage more outdoor activities and downtown traffic.
Dozens were lined up during the afternoon for a horse and carriage ride around Main Street; stores and eateries were offering specials, there were places to get hot cider and chocolate and, if you were sick of chowder, Girl Scout cookies and ice cream.
Ice blocks were carved into flowers and squirrels and people and First Congregational Church offered a guided tour of its beautiful stained-glass windows.
A list of all the activities and restaurants can be found here.
Good Grief, Charlie Brown! You're a Winner
|Doug and Manna Mason of the Party Place on Eagle Street hold up the gift certificates they won for the best-dressed holiday window. We caught them at supper in the new Desperados.
The Hometown Holidays' best-window contest resulted in not two, but three winners on Thursday night.
Manna Mason of the Party Place on Eagle Street won a night for two at the Porches and dinner at Gramercy Bistro for her Charlie Brown Christmas-themed windows.
The judges (Mayor Richard Alcombright, Rep. Daniel E. Bosley and Mass MoCA director Joseph Thompson) were quite taken with the fetching illustrations on the Party Place that were painted like stained glass. Thompson in particular liked the three-dimensional effect created by the grids inside the windows.
That's about as evocative as the judges were about the more than two dozen businesses and shops that decked their halls — and windows — with cheery and bright displays. Alcombright did step into nearly every open storefront to at least say hello. (Though our boasting over our own lovely windows fell on deaf ears.)
After the judges perused the windows, pointing out particularly interesting pieces, they graded each display based on creativity, effort, holiday festivity, wow factor and overall look. The Party Place was followed closely by I Got Goodies in second and Petrino's Cafe in third.
The runners-up, however, didn't lose out. They were the favorites of the more than 60 shoppers who voted; possibly their proximity to each other played a role, but the wins were well deserved. Both shops have some serious eye candy in the windows, literally in I Got Goodies' case.
Colleen Taylor of Taylor's Restaurant graciously offered a second gift certificate so both Mark Petrino of Petrino's Cafe and Janice Esoldi of I Got Goodies received a prize for People's Choice.
"It was definitely a success," said Jonathan Secor of MCLA's Gallery 51 and the Berkshire Cultural Resource Center. "It's a beginning ... It was great to see the lights and all the effort and everything. ... It looks like there's life on the street."
Janice Esoldi of I Got Goodies and Mark Petrino of Petrino's Cafe won People's Choice.
|Tags: Hometown Holidays, shopping, contest|
Quiet carolers are caught midnote in the iBerkshires window.
Anyone who's been downtown lately has noticed the spirit of the season on full display.
Storefronts have been blazing with lights, decorated with trees and Christmas balls, snowflakes and Santas, giant nutcrackers and all kinds of interesting merchandise.
On Thursday night, downtown shoppers will have the chance to decide which is the best.
The decorating idea sprang up during meetings held earlier this fall by downtown merchants to promote the "Buy Local" campaign locally. (Members pointedly reminded those on the "shady side" of the street to dress up, too. And we have, just you see!) To encourage participation, the group decided to create a contest for the best window and offer a prize.
Judges will be perusing the city's best-dressed windows at this week's Hometown for the Holidays event on Thursday night to select the storefront with the best holiday spirit. Since judges' choices rarely please everyone, downtown patrons will decide the People's Choice.
The contest is part of the Hometown Holidays events that kicked off with the tree lighting on Thanksgiving Eve and has continued on the traditional Thursday shopping nights. Merchants and restaurants have been offering specials and discounts; the Mystery Shopper has also returned after decades of absence to lure shoppers downtown with the promise of gift certificates.
This Thursday, celebrity judges Mayor Richard Alcombright, Rep. Daniel E. Bosley and Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art Executive Director Joseph C. Thompson will be peeking in windows of participating businesses around Main, Holden and Eagle streets beginning at 5.
The judges will announce their choice at 6 p.m. at Petrino's Cafe. The winner gets a night at the Porches and dinner at Gramercy Bistro.
Then the public gets to weigh in. Local stores and volunteers with the Berkshire Cultural Resource Center will have contest forms available beginning at 5; get them back to Petrino's by 6:45 for the People's Choice winner to be announced at 7. The winner gets dinner for two at Taylor's.
While you're downtown, don't just look at the windows, step into the shops and check out the merchandise. Most stores will be open until 9 so there's plenty of time after the contest to circle back to that must-have item.
|Tags: Hometown Holidays, shopping, contest|