The Municipality of North Grenville is partnering with the Old Town Kemptville BIA and the Kemptville Farmers’ Market to host a downtown promenade event on Sunday. Mayor Peckford says they were inspired to create the downtown event because they know people are staying closer to home this summer and are looking for new and different ways to experience their community, while keeping social distancing and public health protocols in mind.
“We wanted to create an event, or an experience, where people rediscover some of the restaurants and patios and other businesses in the downtown core, while also doing it in a leisurely and fun way,” she says. “We thought working with the BIA and capitalizing on the Kemptville Farmers’ Market, which has been successfully going now for a number of weeks, was an interesting way to do that.”
Prescott Street, from Reuben Crescent to Reuben Crescent, will be closed on Sunday from 9am-4pm, to allow for North Grenville residents and visitors alike to wander the downtown and explore all that it has to offer. The actual promenade event with be held from 10am-3pm, to allow for set up and tear down.
Along with the usual downtown businesses, the street will be filled with other local artists and artisans, with everything from fibre products to ceramics and pottery. My Local Markets, which represents a lot of local farmers and makers in the area, will also have a presence. Several local musicians will be located throughout the downtown, playing acoustic music, to entertain passers by and add to the atmosphere of the downtown promenade experience.
Executive Director of the Old Town Kemptville BIA, Deron Johnston, is happy to have a very active mayor and council who had the appetite to help organize and promote such an event in the downtown. He hopes it brings some much-needed attention to the downtown, which, from his perspective, is full of assets. “I keep thinking back to the round table I had for BIAs of Eastern Ontario and that introduction of people to the downtown,” he says. “I remember that group couldn’t believe what a great downtown we had.”
Mayor Peckford feels that, in these COVID times, the downtown offers a lot of safety and enjoyment to the community. Compared to other small towns in the Ottawa area, which can get quite congested on the weekends, downtown Kemptville offers the space for people to enjoy the community while maintaining physical distancing. “By closing the street we are allowing for more seating options and giving families a bit more room to stretch their legs,” she says.
Even though Prescott Street will be closed in the downtown core, there will still be plenty of parking at the Library, B&H, or at Riverside Park. “The street closure portion is very minimal compared to the footprint of the promenade,” Mayor Peckford said.
Owners of Geronimo Coffee House, Luc Vincent and Scott Godwin, say they are cautiously optimistic about the downtown promenade event. “It will be interesting to see how it takes shape,” Scott says. “I hope it does well for tourism.”
The Mayor also wants to emphasize that this is just one way that the Municipality is trying to support local businesses, both in the downtown and the wider community. “North Grenville is working hard to put our community on the map,” she says. “We’re trying a number of things to increase our visibility.”
The hope is that this event will help bring new energy to the downtown. Mayor Peckford believes that the visibility of the downtown needs to be amplified, and that COVID-19 has provided the opportunity to create an experience that many people are hungry for right now. “I think we have a compelling experience to offer,” she says. “You are missing something if you don’t come downtown.”