It’s official: Summer is here, and many long-awaited summer activities are happening in Meriden.
The annual Lions Club Duck Race and car show was held at the Meriden Green and hundreds of families turned out. It was a picture-perfect, sunny day as people enjoyed the music, cars, food, and other vendors.
One of the Lions Club members remarked that he sensed some people were having a positive change of heart about our downtown when they venture there to experience it for themselves. That’s good news for Meriden.
The following weekend the first Summer Twilight Music Series kicked off with the #9 Beatles Tribute Band. The concert was a resounding success with a record attendance of over 500. Series organizers Carrie Teele, David Grodzicki, and Steve Robichaud have planned an exciting music series for the entire Summer on Friday and Saturday nights at the Green amphitheater featuring a variety of musical presentations (and it’s free).
The signs are up around Meriden for the opening of the Meriden Farmers Market season kicking off on Saturday, July 7, from 8:30 am to noon at the Meriden Green (on Pratt St. near the fire station). The season will run for 16 consecutive Saturday mornings through October 20. Our hardworking Meriden Farmers Market committee has been busy planning events for the season.
As always, the market will feature locally grown fruits and vegetables (picked fresh in the morning) along with a wide variety of offerings including fresh-baked bread, custom crafts, and an assortment of other vendors. Once again there will be live music every week and three theme days (July 14, September 8 and October 20) that will add children’s amusements, games, and prizes and some new surprises.
Five-star chef and owner of My City Kitchen, Kashia Cave, as well as other chefs, will be on hand for theme days and provide cooking demonstrations of healthy recipes and food tastings from the fresh produce on hand at the market.
Once again, the farmers market will be the site of the free children’s lunch sponsored by the Meriden Board of Education. Any child (regardless of income level) is eligible for a nutritious lunch that will be offered from 10 am until noon. Last year we served between 80-100 children (and we’re hoping to double that number this year).
A new market program this year is the “Double Dollars Program” that will provide increased purchasing power for families using food subsidy programs. This will make fresh produce more affordable and allow for more nutritious meals for their families. Local foundations have been very supportive of this program making it possible through their funding.
The Meriden Farmers Market will have the grand opening event (the first theme day) on Saturday, July 14. We are hoping for a big turnout to take advantage of the array of fresh produce, children’s amusements, DJ, children’s games and prizes, face-painting, food tastings, food trucks, and other local vendors.
Many who have attended the market tell us we have one of the best farmers markets in the region — especially on theme days. There is something very special about the market on the award-winning green (17 awards to date, and counting).
With thick green grass underfoot, rhythms from acoustic guitars, and the camaraderie of people enjoying the outdoors, we are fortunate to have something so truly unique and remarkable in our center city. Also, with the recent completion of Meriden Commons I with 75 apartments soon to be followed by Meriden Commons II and new apartments and townhouses at the site of the former Record-Journal building on Crown St., we will be approaching a critical mass of city dwellers to spur economic growth and development. In addition, the opening of the new transit center and commuter rail line connecting New Haven, Meriden and Hartford will bring additional vibrancy. We are really starting to see the rebirth of our downtown.
I urge everyone to join in on the action downtown. Come to the farmers market and the Twilight Music Series, visit the new restaurants, or just come to walk the paths along Harbor Brook. You might even try the commuter rail to New Haven or Hartford. Talk up the positive things happening in Meriden with your family and friends.
Be part of the city’s resurgence. It’s your town.
Michael S. Rohde is a former mayor and city councilor of Meriden.