Friday, August 08, 2008

mama mia! 40,000 downtown during fest


according to people affiliated with the Greater Youngstown Italian Fest, almost 40,000 visited downtown during the three-day festival.

stretching throughout downtown youngstown - the neighborhood the whole city shares - were people of all races enjoying the rides, the music, the food and the fellowship.

I mean, this place was really jumping. The biggest outdoor gathering in the downtown in a long, long time.

Three days of no rain and comfortable evenings helped push attendance I'm sure, but events like these makes one say:

"we're back, baby"

but while you're here to see the photos of the espresso and biscotti tent,

as well as the bands' uniforms,

the adoration of the blessed virgin,

and sculpture amid skyscrapers . . .

. . . here is a question to leave you with:

one of the discussions overheard during the weekend included if the festivals like this one should stay downtown, or move a few streets over to the Chevy Centre were there may be more space, less having to close streets, and not the immediate need to set up and take down right away.

What do you think about this?

Should these festivals stay downtown, even with the benefits of moving them to another spot? Why?

Leave a comment please . . .

after you watch this video (which at the end shows proof of the rehabilitation of the Realty Building into downtown housing)


Tyler said...

Hadn't thought of it. Central square has such tradition. However, it would be nice to have traffic flowing while we simultaneously had a festival on. I guess I could see moving it.

The funny part was seeing the Friday morning traffic trying to find their way through the downtown streets and being blocked at every turn by the cones and rides. There could have been better signage alerting folks where they would find dead ends.

That first picture is great!

crissy said...

Well....since you asked...having the festival downtown makes it seem more accessible, at least to me. That may not seem logical and I can see how the traffic issue would be problematic especially on Friday, but although we didn't make it down last weekend because of other commitments but we were entertaining the notion in an abstract way. I am fairly certain we would not have considered it had it not been the street fair atmosphere. It just would seem so much more contained and out of the way in the Chevy Center.

Jim Russell said...

How much of the CBD could be a dedicated pedestrian only zone? I have in mind a year-round farmer's market like you can find in downtown Seattle and Philadelphia, but a place festival ready and where knowledge workers like to mingle during the weekdays.

Why can't downtown Youngstown be the City of Festivals?

Christopher Barzak said...

I agree with Jim. I think I've said for the past couple of years, the more festivals, the better. But they do need to be planned and promoted. Some of the festivals we've had haven't been well-defined, or well-promoted. So that does have to be a consideration. The Italian Festival has a built-in audience/market. Other festivals could as well. A year-round farmer's market would be a splendid idea. Well, except for during winter. :)

Tyler said...

Speaking of winter, we've got a lot of it. What kinds of festivals can we have during the winter months?

Mike Prelee said...

The festivals should definitely stay downtown to bring exposure to the new businesses and get folks used to the area again. I could see utilizing side streets, though, or even the area around the Chevy Centre.

Phil Kidd said...

I think the question is phrased in a confusing way. Just as a point of clarification, the festival - even if moved to the Chevy Centre grounds or somewhere else other than Central Square - is still downtown. The problem is locking down Central Square from Phelps to all the way to South Ave (the main traffic passage way) for 4 days in the middle of summer. That is becoming increasingly difficult to do largely in part because of the increase in general downtown circulation/traffic that we have experienced in the last 3 years. More folks are working downtown. More resturants are open for lunch and dinner. In addition, next year we may also have to consider the residential factor as one of our buildings in Central Square may be developed by that time(maybe). If so, do these folks who are paying butt-load of money want 40,000 people down below them partying it up for 3 days from 11am-11pm? As the guy in charge of downtown event operations, these are the types of questions I must consider.

My suggestion would be to begin the festival from Market or Phelps St. on W. Federal and run it all the way to Symphony Place, creating one large, walkable street fair on on our main street. Now that portions of the tree-lined medians have been removed, the large entertainment tents can be strategically placed throughout. This gives a much better walkability to the event while highlighting the bulk of our entertaiment/dining venues. Additionally, it opens up Central Square to traffic for all 4 days. If logistically possible, I see this as an ideal senerio.