Two new groups are stepping up to get people out in downtown Jamestown.
A new three-day project is coming to Jamestown in June dubbed Stepping Out Days. It's a citywide initiative meant to encourage area residents and visitors to enjoy all that the city has to offer, from entertainment to edibles and everywhere in between.
"We are one city. We might as well act like it," said Vince Liuzzo, Spire assistant director and event coordinator for Stepping Out Days. "Working together as one unit is always more effective. We can all survive on our own, but we can create something much bigger if we work together."
From left, Shawn Sprankle, producer of Love Fest; Vince Liuzzo, event coordinator at The Spire; Dian Peterson, Juneteenth Committee member; Mayor Sam Teresi; Leann Love; Taylor Scott, Jump-Start production consultant; and Angelo Giuffre, executive director at The Spire, stand in the Spire’s new “Studio Metro.”
He said the Stepping Out team started reaching out to downtown business, trying to present the idea of a community-wide initiative to showcase what Jamestown has to offer. The team was able to get virtually every downtown restaurant to collaborate in a united effort to attract patrons to the dining and entertainment district.
The weekend will take place June 14-16 and participating restaurants will offer promotions to guests who present a ticket to a show for that day or proof that they have or will attend one of the events scheduled during the Stepping Out weekend.
Activities during the weekend include The Spire's Jump-Start Summer Showcase, Lovefest at The Gateway Center and Jamestown Juneteenth Celebration at Chadakoin Park. For more information about the event, visit www.spiretheater.org.
In honor of this initiative, Mayor Sam Teresi will proclaim June 14-16 as "Stepping Out Days" and a holiday weekend in Jamestown - an opportunity for all area residents to take advantage of what Jamestown has to offer.
Liuzzo said that he is from Jamestown, but when he recently came back as a young professional, he encountered a sentiment in the community that competition is a bad thing.
"The Jamestown area and especially downtown is one operating unit," he said. "We are not in competition against the restaurants and businesses within our own economy. We're competing with Buffalo and Rochester, and we're losing.
"But, if everyone gets together and shows that they support an idea and not only support it but are willing to contribute to it, it not only helps cross-promote and spread the word to our customers and client bases, but also people who are looking from the outside in will say, 'Wow, that community really gets people on board to pull things off and it must really be worthwhile.'"
He said he hopes the weekend goes well and that they will have cause to approach these businesses in future.
"I can definitely say whether it's under the same name or the same premise, this is an effort that we are going to continue and push," he said.
Jamestown Now is a committee made up of a group of people who were already members of various boards and very active in Jamestown, but wanted to focus on bringing people downtown by having events that are community focused.
"We really wanted to help with event planning downtown. We do this stuff with our boards and jobs, but this is specifically focused on bringing more events downtown while working collaboratively with groups like the Jamestown Renaissance Corporation and the Downtown Jamestown Development Corporation," said Vanessa Weinert, Jamestown Now committee member.
The committee is privately funded and the goal is to have four events a year in the downtown area. It started six months ago and aims to piggyback on other organizations that are downtown and give them the manpower to accomplish things that they may not necessarily have the staff to do.
"What we really want to do is supplement and encourage more downtown Jamestown events," said Weinert. "The more people we get down here, the more businesses we can support in the downtown area.
"We are already seeing a renaissance of downtown with the new apartments. Now we really want to see things that can support those people who are going to be moving in downtown, like a grocery store, and things like that. We're hoping that by bringing more people downtown, we'll be able to do that."
Jamestown Now is teaming up with the JRC for its first event: the Great Jamestown Sauce-Off. The event will be from noon to 5 p.m. Sunday, June 24, in the Winter Garden Plaza on North Main Street. For more information about the committee and event, visit www.facebook.com/JamestownNow.
"We chose (our name) very specifically, because we always hear that Jamestown in the past was great and in the Jamestown in the future will be so great, but we really want to make a point to say that Jamestown right now is pretty great, too," said Weinert. "There is a lot of great stuff happening and a lot of great people trying to do awesome things for the Jamestown area. We want to make sure we recognize that, as well."