By Allison Collins
BAINBRIDGE – The Bainbridge Chamber of Commerce and its affiliate ReUnite Committee hosted the third annual Summer Fest Saturday, with an estimated 1,500 attendees enjoying a flea market, on-street vendors, live music, food, free fun for kids and more.
This year’s festival, organizers said, featured a revamped format, planned since March.
“We’re really pleased with it this year,” June White, committee member, said. “We changed the time … and attendance has been better because of weather and the fact that we collaborated with vendors in the park. That’s been good for them and good for us.”
In addition to park vendors, White said, the festival drew 26 merchants and makers downtown.
Also improved this year were Summer Fest’s no-cost children’s activities. Kids enjoyed expanded offerings, including a free photo booth, hands-on time with critters from the Ross Park Zoomobile, water balloon games, visits with Elsa and Moana and a dunk tank.
White credited the addition of event chair Sue Marshal, who worked previously as a co-chair for downstate county fairs, with growing the kid’s options specifically.
The event began, White noted, after proceeds from a bowling tournament fundraiser were used to purchase speakers for Bainbridge’s downtown streets.
“At that time,” she said, “we thought, ‘Why not do a street fest to thank the community and put the speakers out at the same time?’”
Bainbridge Chamber President and ReUnite member John Payne said, in its tenure, the festival has grown to be beneficial for all, but especially local businesses.
“At its peak, I’d say it’s brought in about 1,500 people who wouldn’t be in Bainbridge and, if the average person spent $10 here, that’s a good chunk of money coming into the community,” he said. “And, it exposes people to the shops in our community.”
Payne added that Summer Fest and other yearly chamber-backed events function as an extension of the group’s larger mission.
“One of our themes with ReUnite is to try to convince businesses and people in our area how dependent we all are on each other,” he explained. “The idea has sunk in a bit now, and people realize that we better support what we’ve got here.”
The event was sponsored by Fidelis, the Cortland No Smoking Coalition, Bainbridge House Bed & Breakfast and Bainbridge Can Redemption.
Upcoming Bainbridge Chamber of Commerce events include Thursday night’s business after-hours at Bob’s Diner, doubling as a 48th anniversary celebration for Payne’s Cranes; a July 29 golf tournament, for which teams may still register; and Bainbridge Days on Aug. 31 and Sept. 1.
For more information, find “Bainbridge Chamber of Commerce” on Facebook or visit bainbridgeny.org.