CHATHAM – Downtown Chatham will come alive each week with music, activities and special events in a new festival debuting Monday, July 2.
“Mondays on Main” will feature live bands performing outdoors at various locations along the downtown business district from 5:30 to 9 p.m. Each of the eight Monday nights through Aug. 20 will feature a different theme, and businesses are being encouraged to hold special events and promotions that reflect the themes.
“All the businesses are getting involved,” said Jenn Allard of the Chatham Merchants Association, which is sponsoring Mondays on Main. Although it has some parallels with the popular Port Summer Nights, held Wednesday nights in Harwich Port, Mondays on Main is more about getting the businesses to work together to bring visitors and residents into downtown Chatham in the evening.
“We think what we've put together is different enough from Harwich, and for people visiting for the week, there's plenty of opportunities to visit both towns,” she said.
In the past several years, businesses have noticed traffic lessen downtown during the evening hours, Allard said, so the merchants association brainstormed ideas for attracting people to shops and restaurants. Friday night is busy enough with the Chatham Band concerts, and the TD Bank summer concert series happens Wednesday nights in Kate Gould Park. Monday seemed the best time to focus the downtown-wide event.
Monday nights are usually slow, “even for busy Chatham downtown,” Selectmen Shareen Davis said at Monday's board meeting. She said she was pleased to see the event spread throughout downtown.
“I've heard lots of buzz about it already, from a lot of local people as well,” Davis said.
“It just seemed like fun,” added Steve Wardle of Forest Beach Designer Goldsmiths, another organizer of Mondays on Main. “Everyone was into the idea so we're giving it a whirl.”
From the rotary to the Chatham Inn at 359 Main, businesses are planning events such as trunk shows, special promotions and partnering with local nonprofit organizations to raise awareness, Allard said. The theme of the first Mondays on Main on July 2 is the Fourth of July, and bands and entertainment will be featured at the parking lot at the Bistro on Main at 593 Main St.; at Mahi Gold Outfitters at 465 Main St.; and at Forest Beach Designers Goldsmiths at 436 Main St. Other locations where musicians will perform during subsequent Mondays on Main include Chatham Hardware, Yankee Ingenuity, the Cape Cod Five Bank, Muller Associates and the Break Room.
Bands booked for Monday include Andrea, the Judge and the Sinners and Night Train. Bands for subsequent weeks have not yet been announced, but Allard said a booklet advertising each week's acts will be available at the chamber of commerce downtown information booth, and the weekly roster will be advertised in The Chronicle. Each week there will also be face painting for kids and entertainment such as jugglers and magicians.
Special theme nights include July 23, Chatham Anglers Appreciation Night, with players from the town's Cape Cod Baseball League team appearing; and First Responder Night Aug. 6, which will feature emergency vehicles for kids – and adults – to explore.
Other weekly themes are Jazz Night, July 9; Throwback Night, July 16; Country Night, July 30; Classic Rock Night, Aug. 13; and Fun in the Summer Sun, Aug. 20
As this is the first year of the event, it's hard to gauge what attendance might be. A memo given to selectmen Monday estimate that several hundred people will visit for the event, but since the activities will be scattered throughout downtown, people will flow along the street and not crowd one location at a time.
Selectmen voted to approve an entertainment permit for the event.
“Hopefully it will hit a home run,” said Selectman Jeffrey Dykens. “I bet it will. We'll give Harwich a run for its money.”