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 Community members gather at Riley Park in Farmington for the Downtown Development Authority’s Friday night concert series, Rhythms in Riley Park.

Community members gather at Riley Park in Farmington for the Downtown Development Authority’s Friday night concert series, Rhythms in Riley Park.

Photo provided by the Downtown Development Authority


Beer garden and new events among Farmington DDA 2020 programming

By: Jonathan Shead | Farmington Press | Published January 21, 2020

 The 2019 Harvest Moon Celebration saw a record-high attendance. Pictured, members of the Northville Folk Band play at the celebration.

The 2019 Harvest Moon Celebration saw a record-high attendance. Pictured, members of the Northville Folk Band play at the celebration.

File photo by Donna Agusti

FARMINGTON — Record-high attendance at events like Rhythms in Riley Park, the Harvest Moon Celebration and the Lunch Beats concert series, as well as requests for more fall programming, has given Farmington’s Downtown Development Authority momentum to add more to its 2020 calendar.

New events on tap this year include a summer pop-up beer garden, Fall Fridays and a public art event in February.

Pop-up beer garden

After DDA officials and other city officials took a field trip to Bill’s Beer Garden in Ann Arbor last August, they knew they wanted to bring a pop-up beer garden to Farmington.

The new beer garden will accompany three Rhythms in Riley Park concerts — one a month — June 12, July 10 and Aug. 14. The beer garden will remain open 6-9 p.m. during the Friday-night concerts and will be stationed on the south side of the Sundquist Pavilion.

“We knew we wanted to create a space for this type of programming and an opportunity just to see what would happen,” DDA Executive Director Kate Knight said. “We feel like we have the buy-in and support, and we have enough energy and momentum with the success of our other downtown events to see what happens.”

While many of the details surrounding the new amenity are still being deliberated, Knight’s goal with the new beer garden is for it to be collaborative with the businesses and bars already offered in downtown Farmington.

“Our preference is to not be an operator. We’d like to create the space and open it up for public-private partnership,” she said. “We are not interested in becoming bar operators, but we are interested in bringing folks downtown. We love the idea of creating space and providing a public cultural amenity where people can come and enjoy the concert, and then possibly roll out for dinner to our restaurants downtown.”

Currently, Farmington Brewing Co. and other local businesses have expressed their support and interest in being a sponsor or vendor.

Several members of City Council responded positively to the idea, including Council member Maria Taylor who attended the field trip.

“It really seemed like a scene straight out of downtown Farmington, so I’m really glad we’re bringing it (here),” she said.

 

Fall Fridays
In the past year, DDA officials have noticed that people don’t stop gathering in Riley Park once the summer is over. Downtown Farmington and Riley Park have become a “natural gathering spot” for many residents, Knight said.

Whether it be just a warm bonfire to sit around, an outdoor movie on the big screen or a Harvest Moon-style program for children, there are opportunities to expand the DDA’s offering that Knight wants to take advantage of.

Fall programming will be hosted 7-9 p.m. on select, to-be-determined Friday nights in September and October. The Farmington Community Library may also partner to provide programming.

 

Public Art Event
The DDA wants to hear residents’ thoughts and opinions about public art at a new public art event coming to Legato’s Salon and Spa 7-9 p.m. Feb. 22.

Knight said the event is focused on “increasing people’s awareness of public art” and giving them the opportunity to cast their vote on “prioritizing the next public art project downtown.”

The event will be open to those 21 and older. Cocktails and appetizers will be on tap alongside public art for viewing. Tickets are available at downtownfarmington.org, and at KickstART Farmington, Legato’s Salon and City Hall.

 

Returning events
Alongside new events, the DDA will be bringing back beloved staples.

Ladies Night out events will be held 5-9 p.m. April 23 and Nov. 12; Art on the Grand will return 10 a.m.-7 p.m. and 11 a.m.-5 p.m. June 6 and 7, respectively; 13 total Rhythms in Riley Park concerts will rock out 7-9 p.m. Fridays June 5-Aug. 28; the Lunch Beats series will return with 13 total concerts noon-1 p.m. June 3-Aug. 26; the Harvest Moon Celebration will be held 6-11 p.m. Sept. 17-19; and Small Business Saturday will run 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Nov. 28.

On top of events hosted by the DDA, Knight said she is open to hosting more produced events — one example being VegFest, which will return for a second year.

Sundays and weekdays are currently the best options, Knight said, for organizations looking to host an event in downtown Farmington.

“We do have room on the calendar. Anyone who would like to reach out and bring a great event downtown just needs to contact us, and we’ll help you make it happen.”

For more information, visit downtownfarmington.org.