Pittsfield’s Third Thursday series begins this week.
The return of the 12th Third Thursday season to Pittsfield brings with it a festive air.
“It’s like a wedding ever month, we say — throwing a big party for thousands of people in the middle of the street, so that’s what we’re really gearing up for," said Jen Glockner, Director of Pittsfield’s Office of Cultural Development. Her office spearheads the monthly street festival, when half a mile of North Street transforms into a space filled with food, dance, and art.
“The height of the season, we have about 150 vendors lining up along the street," Glockner told WAMC. "From ice cream trucks to Berkshire Community College to Berkshire United Way, the Junior League of Berkshire County teaming with Berkshire United Way for their Book Houses.”
It draws out North Street staples as well.
“Ponchos, Brooklyn’s Best comes out, because they want to take part in it as well,” she said.
The initial Third Thursday is focused on the region’s youth.
“We have Kids4Harmony, we have — Pittsfield High School’s going to do some of their Fame production. Reid Middle school — it’s just awesome to get excited about the summer with youth performances,” said Glockner.
Erin Sullivan is the Director for Community Relations at Berkshire Children and Families.
“So, this week at Third Thursday we have our Kids4Harmony program," said Sullivan, "which is an intensive classical music program for social change. They will be performing at 5:40 at the main stage on Columbus Avenue in North Street.”
Between 30 and 40 young people will be playing classical music in the midst of the street festival. The program was inspired by a Venezuelan music education program called El Sistema.
“One of the components of that is having public performance, and what that does is it really helps young people and children to overcome fear, and so just because something’s hard or scary doesn’t mean that they can’t do it," Sullivan told WAMC. "So doing public performances over and over again, really we see an increase in their self-confidence, their self-esteem, their families get really excited to see them performing, and it really just sort of flows out into the community, all that good energy.”
“We are once again partnering with Jacob’s Pillow," said Glockner. “They come out for every month, and this year they have a dance zone on upper North Street, partnering with area dance groups like the Funk Box Dance Studio, Cantarella School of Dance, Breffny Irish Step Dancers, Berkshire Pulse is doing something with them — so the Jacob’s Pillow folks have a kind of headlining performance at 6 o’clock every month in the dance zone.”
“It’s our mission to engage as many people as possible in this amazing art form," said Pamela Tatge, Executive Director of Jacob’s Pillow, in Becket. “We piloted this last year, and it was hugely successful. We were able to see which groups really resonated with people who were just stopping by. What we love is that sense of discovery, that you go to the street festival, you know you’re going to see a food truck, you know you’re going to meet up with a community organization, but you don’t know that you’re going to encounter contemporary dance.”
Jacob’s Pillow will be presenting a swing dance duo called Wild Rhythm from New York City. The Dance Zone is located near the corner of Bradford and North Streets in front of St. Joseph Church. Third Thursday runs from 5 p.m. until 8 p.m.