PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The longstanding summer street festival Third Thursday returns this month.
The event is held throughout the summer on North Street. The city's main thoroughfare is completely shut down and filled with vendors, food, music, and entertainment. It brings thousands of people to the city's downtown every third Thursday of the month from May until September.
"We are always thrilled that the first Third Thursday in May celebrates the youth," said Director of Cultural Development Jennifer Glockner.
Glockner said May's event will feature performances from an array of youth groups and the Lichtenstein Center for the Arts will be featuring some 200 pieces of art created by students in the Pittsfield Public School system. Those will be coupled with about 75 vendors, including a number of different food options.
The first even also features a new event: a dance contest. Glockner said Jacob's Pillow will be holding the dance contest, which is open for anybody to participate in, in front of St. Joseph's Church. The winner will receive $250 in cash.
"It is going to be very community oriented," Glockner said of the contest, encouraging people of all ages and abilities to enter the contest for free. "Jacob's Pillow adds excitement to Third Thursday."
The first one is sponsored by General Dynamics and the company is not only sponsoring it but will be also be participating.
"General Dynamics, they're out here with booth doing interactive engineering demonstrations, which are really cool," Glockner said.
The kick-off event also features Berkshire Pulse drummers, Berkshire Yoga Dance and Fitness, miniature train rides from Roaming Railroad and about 75 different vendors, a number Glockner said will increase in the next few days as it approaches.
"We encourage people to come out and officially kick off the summer season," Glockner said.
The first event in May often catches people by surprise, she said, after taking the winter off but as the season goes on it builds.
June will be themed for health and will feature the Green Mile road race. The July event is focused on food and drink, when organizers try to bolster those options and encourage downtown restaurants to have seating in the street. In August, North Street will be filled with various trucks on display for the Touch a Truck themed event. And the summer wraps up in September with the annual Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event, which this year will also include a performance from Whiskey Treaty Road Show.
Each event throughout the summer offers a few new things and a few returning things. The events from 5 until 8 p.m. are held rain or shine.
Glockner said that while the events, vendors, and themes have been moving and change, the original concept of closing down North Street and filling it with entertainment and food remains as popular as ever. This is the 13th year of Third Thursday.
"It is an awesome display of the community," she said. "It is so popular every year."
The street fair first began in 2006 paying homage to the city's history. In the days of General Electric, workers would get paid on Thursdays and then fill the downtown going from shop to shop that evening. That had been long in the past and the street fair was eyed to bring that same energy to North Street.
Then the vendors were only on the sidewalk and the road remained open. A few years later, the popularity of the event led to the closure of the main road. The event saw some re-tooling over the years but nothing dramatic. And now, the event enters its 13th year.
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