By Nancy Varekamp | CNews Editor
COVID-19 changed many plans. But it hasn’t changed the enthusiasm of businesses and other organizations on Alberta Street this summer.
“I figured it would be a slow summer,” reported Ann Griffin, Alberta Main Street executive director. “Instead, it’s turned into a crazy, busy, fun one. We’re calling it ‘The Summer of Alberta.’”
Stores, galleries and restaurants have pulled together to keep the community entertained and engaged.
For instance, Last Thursdays can’t call for street closures this summer. So they’ve gone virtual. And they occur every Thursday in August.
“We celebrate the artists, galleries, musicians and other performers – online – all summer long,” Ann said. Virtual art lessons welcome students of all ages.
Also online are artist highlights, studio visits, gallery tours, show openings, artist interviews and, yes, sales.
“Our partnership is pulling off quite a feat,” she said. Involved are Sabin Community Development Corporation, Alberta Artworks, Blind Insect Gallery, artist Bobby Fourther and Alberta Main Street.
For people who stroll the sidewalks, Alberta Art Works continues to provide a map for DIY walking tours of the murals. Download it from AlbertaArtWorks.org/ art-map.
Bunny with a Toolbelt and Green Bean Books are offering an all-new map. This one helps you locate animals that appear in art along the street. Download the Tour of Animals Map, at BunnyWithAToolbelt.com/animal-art-tour or pick up one at either store at 1722 and 1600 N.E. Alberta Street.
Saturday, Aug. 8, was to be the traditional Alberta Street Fair that draws 26,000 diners, shoppers and audiences.
“This year, it’s ‘Alberta Street Fair in the Air,’” Ann explained. “We’ll livestream two performances from Alberta Rose Theatre. The auditorium seats will be empty, but the audience can stream on any device anywhere.”
Check AlbertaMainSt.org/signatureevents/street-fair-in-the-air-2020 for additional plans and sponsors.
Finally, business owners are finding ways to move some of their activities outside their brick-and-mortar venues to increase social distancing. There may be single- or multi-block plazas before the end of summer. Those would close affected blocks of Alberta Street to vehicle traffic so businesses can make use of the space.
A few have already received city approval to use the parking spaces at their curbs to form Street Seats.
Alberta Main Street’s own Street Seats space at 1722 N.E. Alberta St. is available through the end of September to businesses owned by people of color. Call Ann at 971.275.6240 to inquire.
Nancy Varekamp is semiretired from her career in journalism, public relations and – her favorite work engagement – writing and editing targeted newsletters.