© Eric Sparling-Amherst Daily News
Amherst’s downtown financial institutions will be duking it out Friday in a chili challenge. Diana Bacon (from left) and Teri Porter from Scotiabank, Gary Tower from RBC, Scott Peach from TD, Laura Hicks from Community Credit Union and Sarah Boss from CIBC will be spearheading their respective company’s efforts to win the ‘best chili’ title at the Downtown Amherst Street Party.
AMHERST – It’s a clear goal.
“We are determined to make downtown Amherst a destination,” said Michele LeBlanc.
The business owner is the chairperson of the committee hosting the downtown street party Friday, from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
“Entertainment is flat-out all day…,” said LeBlanc.
Nine acts are scheduled, including Random Pylon, Cool Water, and Mike Blakeney and Friends. King Street will be a kid zone, with attractions such as face painting and a petting zoo, and Church Street has five food vendors confirmed. Eighteen additional vendors have booked tables for the party, and a beer tent will open at 6 p.m. And the banks in town will compete in a noon-hour challenge
“The five of them are going to (be) serving up mean bowls of chili,” said LeBlanc.
The party is the result of efforts by the Downtown Festival and Events committee, a sub-group of the Downtown Business Advisory Committee (formed this summer to represent the business community to council).
LeBlanc said the original intent of the event was a second recognition of the downtown transformation that’s taken place. The fire on Victoria Street has made it a chance to also recognize the hard work of the community’s first responders, according to the co-owner of McCully Market.
It may be early days to declare this first party by the committee – which also includes eight “great, great business volunteers” – an annual event. But LeBlanc said a version of it may happen again next year, possibly as part of another event.
The chairperson said the committee is looking at creating festival events for 2013, as part of a broader strategy to improve the downtown economy. She said other priorities include increased marketing of the town’s core and more signage, as well as lower taxes. Amherst has higher taxes than almost any other comparable community in the province, according to LeBlanc.
“How can we reduce that?” she asked.
She also felt the sizeable surplus the town enjoyed this year may be an opportunity to give taxpayers a break.
The street party goes sun, clouds or light rain.