By Josette Keelor
Old Town Winchester merchants are aiming to make the Loudoun Street Pedestrian Mall the place to be in the city.
With the recent completion of construction along the walking mall, the Old Town Winchester Development Board, in cooperation with Full Circle Marketing and Winchester Parks and Recreation Department, announced Tuesday that it plans to launch its new downtown entertainment schedule this month with a ribbon cutting ceremony set for 4 p.m. May 17 and a re-dedication celebration from noon to 4 p.m. May 18.
Dario Savarese, of Full Circle Marketing, said at Tuesday's press conference that the goal is to offer a new fun vibe downtown and rediscover the walking mall as "an outdoor family room."
"It's a place where everyone can come and see smiling faces," he said.
Along with the new vibe will come a refreshed logo for Old Town Winchester and an influx of downtown events, starting this summer.
Friday Night LIVE events June through August will canvas the walking mall from its south to north ends, Savarese said. Two separate music venues, in the Hable parking lot and in the Cork Street parking lot, "each will showcase different styles of music and feature some of the area's top musical talent," a press packet from Old Town Winchester explained.
Family friendly events and other forms of entertainment will be free to the public on LIVE nights, too.
Food and drink vendors will sell alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. Events will take place from 5 to 10 p.m. June 14, July 12 and Aug. 3. Tickets will be $10 in advance and $15 the day of the event, and tickets will be available at www.showclix.com/event/FridayNightLIVE.
Musical events previously have taken place downtown, but Savarese wants more, and he wants them to be bigger and better. That includes calls for jugglers and cartoonists.
"What I really would like to find is a mime," he said. "I've never seen a mime performing on Old Town Winchester."
Free Movies on the Mall also will resume this summer, on June 20 and 27, July 11, 18 and 25 and Aug. 1 and 15 at the Old Court House Civil War Museum. Just bring a chair and meet at the museum at dusk with a family and friends, purchase snacks from vendors and watch "Mirror Mirror," "Madagascar 3," "Thunderstruck," "Hotel Transylvania," "Brave," "The Lorax," "Journey 2" or "Rise of the Guardians."
The Winchester Parks Recreational Department & Old Town Development Board is seeking a new partner for Movies on the Mall.
On July 3, the Rockin' Independence Eve will offer a family oriented event with live musical talent, activities, and games in association with the Discovery Museum and the Great American Corn Hole Tournament.
A craft beer garden will be available to those of age. Fireworks will follow in front of Mount Hebron Cemetery and within view of Old Town. The event will center at the Old Court House Civil War Museum from 5 to 9 p.m. and will be free.
Family themed events are key to the idea of a community family room, and Savarese announced a Salute the Troops event July 20 that will include a parade and interactive, educational experiences.
"So it's a unique twist to just a parade," he said.
The day will end with the 4th Annual Shenandoah Moonlight Ball from 6 to 10 p.m. at the First Presbyterian Church, 116 S. Loudoun St. The cost of the ball will be $5. The parade at 1 p.m. will be free.
Local breweries, wineries and distributors will be at the Old Town Beer & Wine Festival from 4 to 10 p.m. Sept. 6 and 1 to 8 p.m. Sept. 7. Food vendors, live music and tailgating games also will inspire a fall festival atmosphere. Tickets will be $10 through Sept. 4 or $15 after that.
The Octobeer Fest will honor old-world German heritage with live polka bands and German music, regional breweries and other vendors, crafts, street performers and activities from 4 to 10 p.m. Oct. 18 and 1 to 8 p.m. Oct. 19. Tickets will be $10 through Oct. 16 and $15 afterward.
Old Town Winchester also is sprucing up its website to encourage more interest downtown.
Downtown manager Jennifer Bell said Tuesday that improving upon Old Town's entertainment will be a community effort.
"We really want to support the businesses that are here," she said. Increasing the number of events will provide "even more reasons to come downtown," she said.
It's been a team effort, Savarese said, and "we have a good collective team put together."
It's all part of what he called "unique times in Old Town."
For a detailed list of events or to talk with the Old Town committee about sponsorship, visit www.oldtownwinchesterva.com.
Contact Community Engagement Editor Josette Keelor at 540-465-5137, ext. 176, or firstname.lastname@example.org