Pittsfield Cultural Board Plots Farmers Market, Street Fairs for 2013

By Andy McKeeveriBerkshires Staff
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The Cultural Development Board discussed increasing the frequency of their meetings because of the multiple events the group hopes to put on in 2013.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Various city leaders are looking to bring a large farmers market to the downtown.

According to Director of Cultural Development Megan Whilden, there are multiple people — including representatives from Downtown Inc. and the city government — who are in discussion to bring a market back to the city after the Allendale Plaza one stopped a few years ago.

Whilden brought the idea Thursday to the Cultural Development Board, where she received full support of having the market on the streets in front the First Street Common on Sundays.

Whilden said there are other location ideas being discussed, such as in the Dunham Mall.

"We want a real destination market," Whilden told the board. "It'll be like 'the thing you do' on Sundays."

Whilden envisions a "festive" market that would be highly advertised and draw large crowds. Sundays appear to be the best day to tie in with churchgoers and Whilden voiced support for the First Street location because it would be more accessible and visible, utilize the newly renovated park and link neighborhoods.

"We just spent a lot of money on the Common and a lot of people don't go there," said board Chairman Andy Kelly.

The board jumped at the idea and made suggestions such as including live music or other performances. They hope to reel in support from vendors who currently sell at the farmers market at the Berkshire Mall in Lanesborough.

Whilden said she'd like the Alchemy Initiative to take a leadership role in operating the market.

But a farmers market is not the only thing the Cultural Development Board is eyeing for 2013. The board is also looking to start a street fair on Elm Street, with the goal to move beyond North Street and into the city's neighborhoods. The board also mentioned fairs on Tyler Street and Wahconah Street.

"I think it would nice to do more in the neighborhoods," Whilden said.

Another idea being discussed is a chalk art festival, that could be either downtown or in the neighborhoods. These fairs would be additional to Third Thursdays, 10X10 Upstreet Festival and First Fridays Artwalks.

Third Thursdays was again successful in its sixth year despite a melee on the first night, which board members called a "teachable moment." The first year of the Artswalks also were considered successful, with Berkshire Money Management's Art Bucks yielding 34 art sales for just short of $15,000, Whilden said.

Also in 2013, the board will be using a $20,000 state grant to study the city's artists space. From rehearsal space to theater to studios, a consultant will inventory the city's current space, available space and the demand. In the end, the city will know if it needs to develop more and where it could be done.

Also, 2013 is the 150th anniversary of the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, whose attack on Fort Wagner in Charleston, S.C., was the basis for the movie "Glory." The Rev. Samuel Harrison of Third Street became the regiment's chaplain not long after. His former home has been restored and the city may be the focus of a statewide celebration of the regiment, Whilden said.

Tags: artswalk,   farmers market,   

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