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Turners Block Party needs new host

  • Recorder file/Peter MacDonald<br/>Models in the recycled fashion show parade down avenue A in outfits made from recycled materials during a previous Block Party in Turners Falls.

    Recorder file/Peter MacDonald
    Models in the recycled fashion show parade down avenue A in outfits made from recycled materials during a previous Block Party in Turners Falls.

  • Recorder file/Geoff Bluh<br/>A group of teenage zombies was featured in a previous year's Block Party parade in downtown Turners Falls.

    Recorder file/Geoff Bluh
    A group of teenage zombies was featured in a previous year's Block Party parade in downtown Turners Falls.

  • Recorder file/Peter MacDonald<br/>Models in the recycled fashion show parade down avenue A in outfits made from recycled materials during a previous Block Party in Turners Falls.
  • Recorder file/Geoff Bluh<br/>A group of teenage zombies was featured in a previous year's Block Party parade in downtown Turners Falls.

TURNERS FALLS — For six years, the village Block Party has flooded the main street for one day in August with food, music, even fire-dancers, zombies and stunt bicyclists, but the party may come to an end unless a new host steps forward.

The current organizers of the massive one-day event that shuts down traffic on Avenue A and brings in crowds from Montague and beyond have said they will no longer be able to continue the event.

Turners Falls RiverCulture founded the event and the Gill-Montague Community School Partnership took on the role of host beginning in 2011.

Partnership Manager Cate Woolner announced the decision in a recent newsletter.

“The Executive Committee of The Partnership has decided that we do not have the capacity to run The Block Party,” reads the announcement. “We hope some other folks will pick it up. People look forward to it and it brings folks into town.”

Kara McLaughlin, Partnership project director and sole full-time employee, said the capacity issue was one of both money and time.

“If we had enough money, we would have hired somebody to take it on,” McLaughlin said.

McLaughlin said the Partnership is not an event-planning organization and with just one full-time staffer and consultants the Block Party was taking up a lot of time.

Funded by a federal Drug Free Communities program grant, the Partnership’s focus is on youth initiatives.

Jared Libby, the event’s fiscal organizer, said last year’s event cost about $2,500 but brought in about $3,500. The budget lists a vendor coordinator, music, sound system, portable toilets and police among costs. The event has fallen under town insurance in past years. Raffles, donations, underwriting and vendor fees accounted for the income.

The budgeted expenses do not include the un-tracked cost of the organizers’ time. Libby said a group of about eight people from service organizations and businesses, paid and volunteer, organized the event.

McLaughlin said some community members have already come forward with interest and more are welcome.

If the Partnership were again backing the event, planning would probably have begun over the winter, McLaughlin said.

The Partnership has vendor lists, other planning information and a few hundred dollars left over from last year’s event to help with what would be the seventh annual Block Party.

“We think this is a really valuable, really fun community event that we would like to see continue,” McLaughlin said.

The Block Party typically spreads to side streets with some nearby business owners staging concurrent events to take advantage of the sudden pedestrian influx.

The Block Party and Franklin County Pumpkinfest in October are frequently cited in the positive column by business owners when discussing the pros and cons of doing business in a downtown still partially cut off by ongoing renovation of the Gill-Montague Bridge.

You can reach Chris Curtis at:
ccurtis@recorder.com
or 413-772-0261, ext. 257

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