Downtown Bristol hosts Fair and Arts Festival this Saturday

Day-long block party is the second in a series of outdoor events planned for 2021 on State Street

By Christy Nadalin
Posted 5/13/21

The Bristol Merchants Association (BMA) held its first event of the season last month, under slightly gray and chilly skies. Nonetheless, there was enough enthusiasm among organizers and attendees to …

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Downtown Bristol hosts Fair and Arts Festival this Saturday

Day-long block party is the second in a series of outdoor events planned for 2021 on State Street

Posted

The Bristol Merchants Association (BMA) held its first event of the season last month, under slightly gray and chilly skies. Nonetheless, there was enough enthusiasm among organizers and attendees to make up for the weather.

“I would say the event was a win,” said organizer Ariana Pezzullo, owner of Vantage Point Realty. “It was nice to get outside and be sociable.”

“The State Street events are always a great opportunity to enjoy downtown and this one was no different,” she said. “The weather could’ve cooperated a little bit better, but it’s April so we take what we can get. We were fortunate to have volunteers from the Health Equity Zone there to educate and distribute proper PPE, and amazing vendors who weren’t afraid of a little rain to decorate the street with their talents.”

The next BMA event is scheduled for this Saturday, May 15, when the business group hosts the State Street Fair and Arts Festival. Chris Vitale, Bristol’s economic development coordinator, expects State Street will be looking sharp, with winter’s tents taken down and the Jersey barriers replaced with nice granite blocks.

“Last year, when we created the temporary outdoor dining permit, safety was our top concern,” said Mr. Vitale. At the time, Jersey barriers were the answer. Then late last fall, the state kicked off its “Take it Outside” initiative, which gave money to help business that could, move some of their commercial activity outside. It was that same funding stream that provided tents, lighting, and propane heaters to restaurants throughout town. The catch: the money had to be used by the end of the year. Bristol took that as an opportunity to purchase granite blocks that can be used as barriers for outside dining, and repurposed for many of the events around the July 4 holiday.

“Coming out of hibernation, we’ll be replacing the existing barriers with the new granite ones, and businesses are allocating some money to flowers and other plantings,” said Mr. Vitale. “For now, those temporary outdoor dining permits are being renewed and expected to extend through summer, pending decisions being made at the state level.”

Holly Dirks, a contributing artist with the Hotpoint Emporium, is in charge of coordinating the May 15 event. “I have 42 artists and 4 bands lined up, which is 10 more artists than when we did this in September,” she said. “As before, we’ll be following all COVID protocols.”

“It’s going to be great, and that much bigger,” said Ms. Dirks.

The event will be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, May 15, and the venue will expand from the State Street block between Thames and Hope streets, to Rockwell Park on Thames Street.

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