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Sales, shows planned

By G. Michael Dobbs

Managing Editor

HOLYOKE The return of sidewalk sales, a new event to take the place of Celebrate Holyoke, and the move of a popular craft fair were all discussed at the May 25 downtown revitalization meeting.

About 20 people attended the monthly meeting chaired by Mayor Michael Sullivan.

Sullivan said he "disappointed to say the least" by the attendance at a meeting to discuss an event to take the place of Celebrate Holyoke. Greater Holyoke Inc., the non-profit developer that had organized the event, announced earlier this year it cancelled the August music and food festival because of lack of profitability, Sullivan explained.

He emphasized the city of Holyoke had no control over Celebrate Holyoke and that Greater Holyoke Inc. was continuing its fall Brew Fest at the Holyoke Canoe Club.

Sullivan said the city is discussing a "place holder" event that would be of smaller scale than that of Celebrate Holyoke. He would like to have the event at the same time the weekend before Labor Day and Veteran's Park has been mentioned as the site of the event. No final decision has been made to the format or location of the event, Sullivan added.

"The city has been left to pick up the ball on this," Sullivan said. "[An event such as this one] takes a year to plan. We'd be hard pressed to do it in three to four months."

He said the new event would have a new name.

Sullivan also said that he has met with representatives of Sisters of Saint Joseph about re-creating the order's long-running fall craft fair in downtown Holyoke and said there was a possibility of bringing the craft fair back for the Columbus Day weekend in 2007. Sullivan envisioned synergy being created between a large craft fair in downtown Holyoke the same weekend as the traditional town-wide tag sales in South Hadley.

He added, though, it would be "nearly impossible" to organize such a craft fair for this year.

Jeff Hayden of the Office of Economic Development conducted a discussion on bringing back sidewalk sales to High Street this summer. The last sidewalk sales were in 1992. Although some of the merchants who attended the meeting expressed their enthusiasm for the event, Sullivan and Hayden both discussed the need to alter the existing city ordinance of a $100 permit per store for a sidewalk sale.

A proposed schedule for the sales would be to have several of them tied into the Thursday Farmers Market.