CHATHAM—The Chatham Business Alliance is hosting SummerFest in the village Saturday, July 11. Organizers plan to have sidewalk sales, information tables staffed by not-for-profit organizations, live music and a photography contest. Events will go on all day, rain or shine.
The village has been the site of major road and storm drainage work for the past two years. The state and its contractors expect to conclude the project this fall, but construction has definitely been a challenge for stores. Main Street was closed to traffic and completely dug up for much of spring 2008. This summer Main Street is open, but work is being done on both ends of town, causing delays for drivers getting into the village.
“I don’t feel the construction stopped people from coming [to the village]” said Gina NeJame, owner of Chatham Makes Scents. She said people have been navigating around construction work on state Route 295 and Hudson Avenue.
Ms. NeJame said her store and five others in the village have made up coupons for discounts. Her neighbor on Main Street, Wendy Taylor, who owns Clock Tower Toys, said she’ll be doing a deal on one brand of toys, hoping to sell off enough at SummerFest so that she can order new stock.
Ms. Taylor’s store sits at the south end of Main Street nearest the railroad tracks, and she says she has seen cars backed up at the crossing waiting because of the road work. She also said she’s noticed the streets are emptier. “People have said: I do everything to avoid town,” said Ms. Taylor.
On the other side of the street, Kathy Stumph of Chatham Kids said this Saturday’s SummerFest should see about 19 non-profits setting up information tables at the event. Among those groups are the Austerlitz Historical Society, Chatham Democrats, Columbia County Habitat for Humanity, Columbia-Greene Humane Society, Columbia Land Conservancy, Equine Advocates, Ghent Reformed Church, League of Women Voters, Leni Singerman, the Mac-Haydn Theatre, St. James Youth Ministry, and the Chatham Film Club.
As for business, Ms. Stumph said, “For me, it’s been okay.” Her current store is a new business, so she’s trying to get the word out.
“Once I recover from all the [national economic downturn], I’m going to be fine,” she said. She and Ms. NeJame also mentioned that with the good weather over the holiday weekend, more people have been coming out to Main Street.
For the photography contest, the competing photos will be posted in the hallway outside The Bagel Café and American Pie. Chatham Police will offer fingerprinting for kids and Imaguration, a kids store and indoor playground, will host a Character Meet and Greet from noon to 2p.m.
The Knights of Columbus and the Payne AME Church will serve food, while the Rotary Club will sell drinks. From 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Kinderhook Bank will provide refreshments, giveaways and a drawing for a $50 gas card at the branch in the old railroad station. In front of Ralph’s Pretty Good Café the Mac-Haydn Theatre children’s group will perform from 11 to 11:30 a.m., followed by the Varriales from 11:30 to 1 p.m. and A Refracted Now from 1 to 3 p.m.
“This is a big day for everyone—visitors, the residents and the merchants,” said Barbara Peduzzi, co-president of the CBA, in a press release. “It’s a nice day to take a leisurely stroll through our shops, enjoy coffee with your neighbors and learn about the community.”
For more information visit chathambusinessalliance.org.