Community events in abundance

The Ridgway Main Street program and the Ridgway-Elk County Chamber of Commerce are looking forward to several events during the spring and summer."Ridgway Main Street and the Chamber are partnered together on our retail tours, tours of the specialty shops in the downtown area, usually by foot although some of it can be driven," said Michelle Bogacki, Main Street manager.The wine and herb festival will be May 4 from 5-9 p.m. in downtown Ridgway."It's wine-tasting and food-tasting, and in the past couple of years we did a herb that you could plant," Bogacki said. "Now we're actually going to use the herb in some foods or if the retail shop carries dip mixes and stuff, we will promote some of the items that they sell in their stores. "It helps get the 50-mile radius [population] or further to come to Ridgway and spend the afternoon typically. We've also done the First Friday initiative where hours are extended on Fridays so we put this event on the first Friday of May."First Friday, an initiative geared toward enticing downtown merchants to extend Friday evening hours, has gotten off to somewhat of a slow start."It was a slow-moving thing and a lot of our stores already do extend their Friday hours, it's just trying to be cohesive and put forth a good effort to market each other," Bogacki said. "I think with April coming up and Good Friday, that falls on the first Friday of April so that should be a little better. "Once we get it started and going into May with the tasting tour, that should help get the initiative moving."Stores partaking in the First Friday initiative are usually open until at least 7 p.m."I hope that it helps with the restaurants," Bogacki said. "Lent is in place right now so a lot of the restaurants are doing fish fries-- I'm anxious to see as we get into the summer months what will spark something different, be it the concert series or the extended hours, and we hope that it gets new customers into the area."I think the concert series does help bring people into town but I don't really know if they frequent the local retailers. It certainly gets people into town and what I'm finding through the Welcome Center is that people are coming into the town; they're coming for the Rendezvous and then I'm finding that they want to come back."For Bogacki, this year's Rendezvous was a memorable event."The Rendezvous was very successful and the new location worked out very well," Bogacki said. "It took a great deal of planning but, overall, I thought it was quite successful. It really brought the community feel back."It really did get people back into the stores and we're very fortunate because of our specialty shops. They take care of their product line and marketing, and just the window designs-- it's definitely an attraction all in itself. Once they're in the stores, I'm finding from the customer base that they're just so impressed with what we have to offer-- the specialty gifts, the art."Bogacki called the week's weather a blessing."That really helped," Bogacki said. "There was a lot of planning with everyone and the county [officials] to address the needs for the parking and the everyday operation of the Courthouse and the Courthouse Annex, and the businesses located on Center Street. "After we made them aware of what it was going to be, at first some were alarmed because of weather concerns and parking, but we were fortunate with that first piece of staging to put those various satellite locations in place and then wrap the Courthouse, South Broad Street, Center Street, and Court Street. It really wasn't that bad and then we got the weather with rain on Thursday, wind on Friday and the blizzard on Saturday. We had a test of all climates."Pick up a copy of the Tuesday, March 27, 2012 edition of The Ridgway Record for more.