Council approves DDA events calendar

By: David Wallace | Farmington Press | Published January 10, 2012

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FARMINGTON — Just as people this time of year start filling in the dates on new calendars and day planners, the Downtown Development Authority has written down its important dates for 2012.

During the City Council’s Dec. 19 meeting, council members unanimously passed the DDA’s events calendar for 2012, and the temporary liquor licenses, street closures and sidewalk shopping approvals to go with them.

“The DDA is excited to bring another year of events to downtown Farmington for 2012,” said DDA events planner Janet Bloom.

“We are in the planning stage for each of our 2012 events, and we do continuous improvement strategies to better the events and our processes from one year to the next,” said Bloom. “Such improvements are moving up our timelines for planning and execution of events. We are a quarter ahead from 2010 and plan to move the planning even further ahead to help with sponsorship strategy and event planning.”

When the weather warms up, so will the schedule of events, starting with the Farmington Farmers and Artisans Market. It will run Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. May 5 to Nov. 17 at the Sundquist Pavilion.

Art on the Grand will return for its third year as a main event June 1-3.

The Rhythmz in Riley Park concert series will take place 7-8:30 p.m. on Fridays June 8 through Aug. 24 at the pavilion.

The Founders Festival will revert to a Thursday through Saturday schedule, instead of last year’s Friday through Sunday schedule. The dates are July 19-21. Rhythmz in Riley Park does not take place during the Founders Festival.

The Harvest Moon Celebration is scheduled for Sept. 27-29.

“We think we finally settled on the right formula for this event,” said Bloom. Over the years, Harvest Moon evolved from a one-night dance to a three-day event incorporating wine and beer tasting, a dance, food from local restaurants and a family harvest day.

The family harvest day concluding the event will start at 9 a.m., but the DDA has yet to decide what time it should end. The family harvest day coincides with the farmers market, but people reportedly wanted the harvest day to continue past its close at 3 p.m. last year.

Trick-or-treating downtown at participating merchants will be Saturday, Oct. 27. It is a Downtown Merchant Association event, but the DDA included it in the events calendar.

Holly Days will be Dec. 1.

“We’re going to back that down to one day for this upcoming year, and that way we’re not spreading our resources over two days. We can do more activity on one day, and that seems to be the top shopping day for folks downtown, so we’re excited to do that, as well,” said Bloom.

Multiple council members praised the DDA’s calendar of events.

“Your calendar is very comprehensive, and I think that’s great for when other organizations or entities coming into town look and see what’s happening. You have a great plan to show them,” said Councilwoman JoAnne McShane.

McShane had one concern about the family harvest day. She didn’t like the sale of beer and alcohol at the 2011 event.

“I really don’t think it’s necessary,” she said. She also said the beer trailers block businesses and take up parking space.

“We’ll take that information and apply that to our planning for this year,” said Bloom.

Part of that planning includes increasing sponsorships. The DDA realized $105,000 in sponsorships in 2011.

“We are adding a 25 percent increase in our sponsor strategy for 2012. We will focus on further developing our sponsor relationships and tailoring programs that meet their individual needs. We will also cast our net wider for new sponsors that want to market in downtown Farmington and to those patrons attending our events,” said Bloom.

“Even in a tough year, you sold over $100,000 in sponsorship, which I believe is a stellar performance, given the economy,” said Councilman Greg Cowley, a longtime DDA board member and past president.

The DDA hopes to reach out and communicate more with businesses concerning the events.

“Our promotions committee has taken the torch to further engage our businesses in the DDA district by working with each of them on our existing events to see how they can better participate, and also create a timely conduit of information exchange between the DDA office and the business owner,” said Bloom.

The promotions committee will create a list of 101 ways for businesses to get involved in the events and will take those ideas and the event specifications to each business.

“I think that’s a good concept, and it’s one of the issues we’ve been struggling with,” said Cowley.

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