More local events to look forward to this summer

Go ahead an mark your calendar, because the Chamber of Greater Springfield  hopes the warm weather will bring with it opportunities to revisit some of the local favorites that people had to miss out on last year. 

The start of April will bring with it the official kick-off of monthly First Fridays in Downtown Springfield, during which many local restaurants and businesses have sales, highlight menu items, and offer drink specials, says Camaren Sloan, events manager for the Chamber.

The Chamber will also be using Bandwango to create Digital Experience Passports that visitors can explore using the app, so Downtown visitors no longer have to worry about leaving their paper passports at home. More information about the digital passports will be available soon.

You can also check out a shortened, smaller version of the Market at Mother's that previously happened throughout the winter months at Springfield's own Mother Stewart's Brewing Company. The 2021 version will have fewer vendors and be condensed to Saturdays from noon to 3 p.m. in April only, starting April 3, Sloan says. 

"We'll hopefully have some live acoustic music and food trucks for brunch, and they usually do a beermosa and mimosa on Saturdays," she says. "There will be local meats, eggs, baked goods, as well as coffee and more."

Visitors can expect about 10 vendors, which Sloan says will be spread out more within the brewery than in past years.

"It's nice to have something that we can look forward to, and we think that now we can do it safely, especially with the weather being nicer," Sloan says. 

First Fridays will officially kick off that same weekend on Friday, April 2. 

"First Fridays are unique in that they allow businesses to offer their own themes, discounts and entertainment as part of the larger event," says John Kelly, the Chamber's downtown events programmer. "As the weather improves, we will look to activate other spaces on First Friday’s – including National Road Commons – for live music and entertainment.

"It’s a great way for people to experience our downtown with the entire family!"

The Springfield Farmer's Market will kick-off the first Saturday in June and run through the last Saturday in September, from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. each week.

Though there was a market last year, Sloan says it felt a little different because of the COVID-19 restrictions. She says this year's market will continue to follow whatever health regulations are in place during market months, but that attendees can expect more of a "normal" market feel in 2021. 

"Last year it was hard to gauge the market to other prior years, but the vendors still did really well," she says. "It went well because of how well everyone adapted to the changes and the tremendous community and sponsor support."

This year, the plan is to host about 30 vendors, still outdoors between COhatch – The Market and The Heritage Center

"The Farmer's Market is great because it always has provided a great community environment where you can interact with people maybe you wouldn't interact with normally," Sloan says. "Everybody comes together over one thing, which is supporting small local producers, and they're also able to get healthy local food at an affordable cost, so it just feels like a win for everybody."

Also looking into June, the Chamber is busy planning round two of IndieCraft, a festival that first kicked off in 2019 and had to be put on the back burner during 2020. 

IndieCraft is a festival focused on indie music, craft beer and foods from Springfield, Dayton, Columbus, Cincinnati, and more locations. Event planning is still in the works, Sloan says, but the organization is hopeful COVID-19 regulations will allow it to go forward come June. 

Though the crux of the event will still be at Mother Stewert's, Sloan says there's a possibility of expanding outside the brewery campus to use the space at National Road Commons, if needed.

Also in the works for this year are DORA Days, which will promote Downtown visitors taking advantage of the Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area, where alcoholic beverages are allowed outside. 

"We're looking at doing several throughout the summer to encourage people to try new restaurants, try drink specials, grab something to-go and walk around downtown to check spaces and enjoy parts of Downtown they forgot were even there," Sloan says.

Overall, Sloan says the Chamber's hope is that both local residents and visitors will enjoy and appreciate having events to look forward to and a reason to get back out and explore.

"We want people to have something positive to look forward to after such a closed up winter and a closed up year," Sloan says. "Being able to get out and interact with people in the community and see that it's so alive. It's still moving. It's still growing, and there's still a lot of really great things happening – we just haven't been able to see them because we've all been inside a little more."

Read more articles by Natalie Driscoll.

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