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New England News

Pittsfield's 3rd Thursdays Undergoes Changes For 2015 Season

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Jim Levulis
/
WAMC

Pittsfield’s street festivals known as 3rd Thursdays are being revamped this year in hopes of highlighting downtown’s permanent fixtures.Starting May 21st, the festival, which is held six months out of the year, will feature dedicated sections for dining, families and art. In years past it has taken the form of a carnival atmosphere with people milling up and down a half-mile section of North Street. Drawing anywhere from 8,000 to 20,000 people, themes have ranged from baseball to science. Pittsfield’s 3rd Thursday coordinator Shiobbean Lemme says the idea is to slow the afternoon and evening event down and have people enjoy the 20 eateries on the portion of North St. from Park Square to Columbus Ave. by creating a dining zone.

“We wouldn’t want to compete with them,” Lemme said. “We want to encourage this to be a night that they benefit as well. There has never been a shortage of customers during 3rd Thursday in restaurants, but we think that we can enhance their experience, bring it out onto the street and enjoy things right outside their front door.”

No vendors will set up in front of restaurants during this ninth season of 3rd Thursday. Lemme says she expects to cap the number of vendors at 150, a limit that’s already halfway met. Also, the mobile stage that is brought in for bands to perform on will be retired. Instead the renovated Persip Park near the transportation center will serve as the main stage. It will be inside the family or play zone, which will be non-smoking and feature a bouncy house and sidewalk chalk exhibits.

“Let’s take advantage of what we have,” said Jen Glockner, Pittsfield's cultural development director. “We’re embracing what Pittsfield has as far as using it for the main stage, Persip Park, and also all of the parks, the Common is beautiful.”

The second season of Shakespeare in the Park will kick off at July’s 3rd Thursday at the nearby First Street Common, also recently renovated. From St. Joseph’s Church to Maplewood Avenue will be a “create zone” where artists have a chance to show off their work.

“I’m hopefully that with the new season of 3rd Thursday it’s going to reintroduce Pittsfield to so many people,” said Pittsfield Mayor Dan Bianchi. “We’re going to have a wonderful season. We are so hopefully that we’re going to have more vendors and artists displaying here this year.”

Additional focus was placed on partnerships this year. The June and October events will feature mini markets to showcase the relatively young Downtown Pittsfield Farmers Market, which sets up every Saturday during the warmer months. Fundraising walks will be held in partnership with the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the American Cancer Society and the Elizabeth Freeman Center. Ghazi Kazmi of the Whitney Center for the Arts will be offering after parties each Thursday.

“It’s nice to have after people walk around for two hours and then go someplace quiet, an intimate setting to hear music and have a late night,” Kazmi said. “We’ll be open till 10 o’clock with drinks and munchies.”

In order, the 3rd Thursday themes are: Creative Youth, Healthy Pittsfield, Arts Matter, All The World’s A Stage, Walk A Mile In Her Shoes and Harvest Fest.

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