Saturday, December 20, 2014

Third Saturday crowds growing; help still needed

8/20/2014

Music, food and the arts can bring people and they certainly worked in tandem Saturday evening at Ottawa’s Haley Park, southeast corner of Second and Main streets. The Ottawa Main Street Association treated the public to the nostalgic sounds of the Bop Daddies — a Topeka band featuring Ottawans Robbin Kerth and Mark Paquette. The classic rock concert featuring music from the 1950s and 1960s was sponsored by the City of Ottawa/Ottawa Municipal Auditorium. Previous entertainers were sponsored by Norris Insurance and Front Row Sports among others. Attendees obviously enjoyed the music, free ice cream courtesy of Take It Outdoors, free popcorn courtesy of downtown bar Stuara, dancing and opportunity to socialize. Organizers were pleasantly surprised by the crowd, which continues to grow each month. Though it was a warm evening, the beautiful park setting presented an attractive and welcome environment to enjoy the offerings.

The third Saturday event — now in its sixth month — is gaining momentum. Energy and enthusiasm are evident as well as variety in both music and art offerings. It is exciting to think what it could be with even more engagement from the public and more downtown businesses. A new name may make it more memorable. Perhaps The Main Event – the Third Saturday of each month or something else that conveys the goals of the event.

Music, food and the arts can bring people and they certainly worked in tandem Saturday evening at Ottawa’s Haley Park, southeast corner of Second and Main streets. The Ottawa Main Street Association treated the public to the nostalgic sounds of the Bop Daddies — a Topeka band featuring Ottawans Robbin Kerth and Mark Paquette. The classic rock concert featuring music from the 1950s and 1960s was sponsored by the City of Ottawa/Ottawa Municipal Auditorium. Previous entertainers were sponsored by Norris Insurance and Front Row Sports among others. Attendees obviously enjoyed the music, free ice cream courtesy of Take It Outdoors, free popcorn courtesy of downtown bar Stuara, dancing and opportunity to socialize. Organizers were pleasantly surprised by the crowd, which continues to grow each month. Though it was a warm evening, the beautiful park setting presented an attractive and welcome environment to enjoy the offerings.

The third Saturday event — now in its sixth month — is gaining momentum. Energy and enthusiasm are evident as well as variety in both music and art offerings. It is exciting to think what it could be with even more engagement from the public and more downtown businesses. A new name may make it more memorable. Perhaps The Main Event – the Third Saturday of each month or something else that conveys the goals of the event.

The Ottawa Main Street Association hopes to offer free arts and entertainment options to keep people in Ottawa and, hopefully, to spend money in historic downtown with local merchants too. Some local merchants have tied in to Third Saturday events but a more concerted effort would yield even better results for merchants, restaurants and attendees alike. Of course, a growth in attendance brings along other customary expectations. One of those expectations is public accommodations for restrooms.

One thing that would have made it better is a public restroom. While some businesses still were open during the 3:30 p.m. (ice cream social) and 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. concert a public restroom – even a one stall unisex restroom – would have been a good addition. Too often communities veer away from these kinds of decisions simply because of the cost of maintaining the restroom and avoiding vandalism. However, those obstacles shouldn’t stop a number of institutions – the city, Ottawa Area Chamber of Commerce and Ottawa Main Street Association immediately come to mind – from working jointly to construct a public restroom(s) for the benefit of the public in attendance at these events and others.

Obviously one restroom wouldn’t suffice for big events, such as the Ol’ Marais Car Show and other big events but it certainly could provide some needed relief for others frequenting downtown stores and special events, especially after most retailers with public restrooms have closed for the day. The next live show, on Oct. 18, will be Ottawan Dave Bailey and The Barnyard Boys. It is the perfect time to enjoy some local arts and entertainment hospitality while also socializing with old and new friends and neighbors.

Jeanny Sharp,

editor and publisher

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