A proposal to bring a weekend-long event to Madison Street at the end of next September is being floated within the business community, but event organizers said they’ve already spotted a contentious issue.
The Main Street Redevelopment Association began circulating a survey last week asking business owners to weigh in on the merits of an art fair to be held in the fall of next year. As stated in the survey, a sizable stretch of Madison Street may be shut down during the weekend of Sept. 28, 2007.
This, according to Main Street President Art Sundry, is likely to draw strong reactions from members of the business community.
“If this is not supported, one of the major reasons will be the street closure,” Sundry said.
Organizers are hoping to attract some 75 artists to the event and would cluster their tents along Madison Street beginning at the intersection with Marengo Avenue and ending just east of Desplaines Avenue. According to the survey, the street would be blocked off from 4 p.m. Friday until 8 p.m. on Sunday.
One question on the survey asks whether business owners would support the event if Madison were closed between Circle and Beloit.
Main Street is considering the art fair as a replacement for the Trick-or-Treat on Madison program, which ran for eight years until its cancellation in September. The event was not held this year, and Main Street leaders have taken sharp criticism for the decision.
Sundry said in hindsight Trick-or-Treat on Madison could have been held this year before opting to bring in a new event next year.
“We knew that it would be a controversial decision,” Sundry said. “We thought in general we could do a better job with something else.”
Janet Todd is a co-chairwoman of the Main Street promotions committee and she, too, identified the street closure as a potential stumbling point for the event. However, Todd said she’s aiming for an event that mimics the atmosphere of the Chamber of Commerce’s annual holiday walk.
“That would be my hope, that if we do anything like this, it would be as fun,” Todd said.
Though the immediate fiscal impact would likely be minimal, drawing out families for a weekend of events could expand the downtown’s customer base, Todd said.
In previous downtown events, Sundry said some clusters of businesses have felt isolated from the goings on and by perhaps expanding the venue next year, more businesses will benefit. The art fair already has a primary sponsor in Boulevard Fine Arts, which, according to the survey, would front $3,000 for the costs. Another $5-10,000 would likely be spent by Main Street.
A representative from a marketing firm that has organized art fairs in Elmhurst would coordinate the vendors. Sundry said a decision on the event is expected sometime next month.