As published in the Record Journal, Sunday May 1, 2011
Last Wednesday evening, the Wallingford Town Council Budget Workshop had to do with reviewing some of the contributions that the town makes to various agencies that provide all manner of services to the residents of town. I came away – as did the Town Councilors – with a heightened appreciation of how the staff and volunteers of all these organizations impact this town and everyone lucky enough to live here.
I have previously made comments about two of them: the Spanish Community of Wallingford and Wallingford Center Inc. I would like to devote this column to updating you on Wallingford Center’s plans and activities. But before I move on to that, on behalf of board president Patricia Cymbala and executive director Maria Harlow, I would like to thank everyone who attended or otherwise participated in SCOW’s Wines of Latin America fundraiser. Your financial and community support of the agency and its mission means more than words can express.
Now on to Wallingford Center Inc., whose mission is to promote the downtown of our community, the simple philosophy being that a thriving downtown area is critical to the success of the entire town. Most of our funding is provided by the town, and we raise additional money through fundraisers, donations and merchandise sales. It’s a busy organization run by an irrepressible, enthusiastic, creative, organized and effervescent executive director named Liz Landow. Here are just some of WCI’s events that the people of Wallingford can look forward to this year: Gardener’s Market: This is a creation of the Wallingford Garden Club, but WCI has assumed responsibility for it this year. It will begin July 16th and run through September 17th every Saturday morning from 9am to noon at Johanna Fishbein Park. There are approximately fifty produce, bakery, craft and plant vendors, as well as a few downtown merchants invited to showcase their business each week.
It has become a mini-Celebrate Wallingford event where people come down not just for the opportunity to purchase items but to meet up with other members of the community. The nonprofit downtown organization Dry Dock will be selling breakfast sandwiches and coffee as well.
Summer Festival and Sidewalk Sale: another new and creative idea from our executive director that will take place from Thursday, July 14th through Saturday, July 16th. The event will highlight shopping opportunities at all the downtown businesses with a “Passport to a Weekend Getaway” giveaway, wherein a shopper will be given a “passport” to be stamped by each participating merchant. When the passport is filled, it’s entered into a drawing for a weekend vacation.
Celebrate Wallingford: this is WCI’s premier annual event. It will take place on October 1st and 2nd. Dozens of craft vendors and food vendors participate. Over thirty civic organizations and town departments will have booths. There is a special area for children’s activities, musical entertainment all weekend and a Health Walk co-sponsored by the YMCA and Wallingford Health Department. Wallingford businesses will also be there with displays. Thousands of people have enjoyed this event for the past twenty-five years.
Holiday Stroll: coming up on Friday, December 2nd for the third year. Downtown merchants open their doors for the evening, inviting people in for refreshments, shopping and giveaways. Last year, over $2000 in gift cards were raffled. Downtown restaurants have special menus and prices available. The popularity of this event is growing rapidly, and is turning out to be another wonderful opportunity for the residents of town to meet friends and celebrate the season. Wallingford Center exists to make sure that our downtown is viable and vibrant, and these events are put on to that end. But in a larger sense, events such as these yield a much larger result: everyone that attends not only will learn more about the heart of our town, but also will experience what it is that makes people so proud to call this home.