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Jenny Dewar is executive director of the Better Bennington Corp.

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Summer is here and events are cropping up everywhere!

Now that people feel they can once again gather and enjoy each other’s company, Bennington feels alive with all kinds of activity. At the Better Bennington Corporation, we are all in full-speed-ahead mode having launched our part of the summer festivities with Mayfest.

Mayfest planning takes months, and event planning is not for people who expect that things always go smoothly. We had 85 vendors in place for that event and then came the threat of bad weather – not just rain, but wind, hail, and storms! We watched the weather daily, hourly, every 15 minutes. A rain date is not practical with all the logistics and moving parts involved in such a festive day, so all we can do is hope. We lost 12 vendors due to the weather threat and their positive COVID tests within two days of the festival and had three no-shows. Those things happen.

None of this dampened our spirits and determination that the show must go on and the weather would hold, and that is exactly what happened. The weather report changed as the day progressed. Vendors were happy. Merchants were happy. The crowds seemed to be enjoying themselves. When the monsoon blew in with a vengeance at 4 p.m., we called the festival and the vendors packed up quickly while Nik Segura continued to play his keyboard. Within an hour, Main Street looked as though nothing had happened.

My assistant, Kaiya, and I found our groove during all of this and shifted immediately into Thursday Night Live the following week. With Mayfest under our belts, we are ready to tackle the rest of the summer. So, what does that include?

Thursday Night Live: The lineup can be found on the BBC website’s event page at www.betterbennington.com/events.

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Sixteen additional incredible performances will be coming your way.. Mowgli’s Satyrdagg brought over 100 people to Merchants Park on June 2. With 11 people on stage, they gave an electrifying show. We upgraded the event the following week with colorful banners and several vendors for the Taconic Chamber Quartet (plus drummer!) The threat of bad weather drew a smaller crowd, but those who came out were given a beautiful treat of both classical and pop music thanks to five state-of-the art musicians playing under blue skies as the clouds disappeared. Starting on June 16, we closed a part of Pleasant Street to accommodate vendors (thank you to Stu Hurd and the Select Board for their support) and hosted the outstanding Planet Kniffen for a large enthusiastic crowd.

Midnight Madness: On July 21, you will find specials, discounts, and more with our shops staying open from 7 p.m. to midnight.

Town-Wide Tag Sale: On July 24, downtown Bennington welcomes buskers of all ages and genres to entertain you while we incorporate downtown into the successful town-wide tag sale in both Bennington and North Bennington, in partnership with both libraries. We are excited to offer a communal space for those who prefer not to have the sales at their own homes. School Street will be full of people selling household items, clothing, and more that they no longer use.

We are co-sponsoring a few events with The Vermont Arts Exchange, QueerConnect, Hemmings Cruise-Ins, and the United Counseling Service. The Pride Parade and Block Party were held on June 26. We’ve planned three more Cruise-Ins on Main Street/School Street! Good weather will draw out upwards of 250 novelty vehicles to display and show off. UCS is gearing up for their marathon 5th Annual Super Hero 5K, and VAE has invited Alex Torres to return to Bennington and lead us in a joyous concert of Latin music. Food trucks and dancing will accompany this party on Aug. 27.

Finally, we are really looking forward to launching Harvest Fest on Oct. 8. Think “Mayfest” but with more of a nod to novelty foods, lots of activities for kids and adults, and of course, more music! We are excited to dedicate one area to the farmers and vendors who will be represented by the Bennington Downtown Market when it opens in a few months. Merchants Park will be utilized by closing Pleasant Street to traffic and adding more food trucks along that street to help the flow. If you have an activity you would like to host, give me a holler.

See you Downtown!


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