Downtown Washington Inc. is gearing up for its spring season of events — one of the busiest times for the organization.
“As the weather gets warm, we get busy hosting many of our signature events,” said Bridgette Kelch, executive director.
“Our volunteers and committees have been hard at work planning these activities for several months now and we’re very excited to roll them out,” she said.
Two early events that the downtown group is helping to promote, but are actually sponsored by the Downtown Merchants Committee are a Spring Shopping Open House March 9-11 and the first of four Thirsty Thursday events March 15.
“The merchants will be shaking off winter and debuting their spring merchandise for the open house,” Kelch said. “Thirsty Thursdays is always a fun-filled night of shopping, sipping and enjoying all that downtown has to offer.”
Participating stores will stay open later during Thirsty Thursday — from 5 to 8 p.m. — and customers can enjoy wine, beer and other treats while they shop.
A total of four Thirsty Thursdays are planned — June 21, Sept. 20 and Nov. 8.
Downtown Washington Inc. will again offer several haunted walking and wagon ride tours this year.
The first one is planned for Friday, April 13, at 6 p.m. It will feature a three-fourths mile guided walking tour, and includes a beverage of choice at the final stop.
“Participants will see inside three of downtown’s haunted locations,” said Kelch, adding more tours are planned for April and May and again in September and October.
“We will partner with Wine Country Wagon Rides again, which was very popular last year,” she said.
The cost for the April 13 walking tour is $20. Advance registration is required and tickets can be purchased online.
Post Office Stomp
The annual Post Office Stomp is set for Saturday, April 14, from 7 to 10 p.m. at the city auditorium.
This event raises money for the downtown post office, which the organization bought and renovated. The post office is operated as a contract postal unit (CPU) and serves as headquarters for Downtown Washington Inc.
“We are trying to stomp out our debt,” said Kelch. “We still have a loan on the building, so this is an important fundraiser for us.”
The Post Office Stomp will again feature Butch Wax & The Hollywoods playing 1950s music.
Tickets will go on sale online March 14 at 9 a.m. Tickets are $20 in advance or $25 at the door, and include two drink tickets. People may bring in snacks, but no outside beverages.
BBQ, Bikes, Blues
Next up, will be the Main Street BBQ, Bikes and Blues April 20-22 featuring live Blues music, a large food court and a barbecue competition, sanctioned by the Kansas City BBQ Society, a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting and enjoying barbecue.
“We changed the name this year, but everything else is staying the same,” said Kelch. “We will have blues bands playing all three days while 50 teams compete for the title of grand champion, along with trophies, ribbons and prizes for the winners.”
On that Saturday, there will be a barbecue tasting event open to the public from 2 to 4 p.m., and the teams will compete for the People’s Choice Award.
Sunday will feature a bike show, with bike owners competing for People’s Choice.
Kelch said a Vintage Market, sponsored by Grace’s Place, will take place the same weekend downtown and will run the same hours.
Sunset on the Riverfront
The first of six Sunset on the Riverfront events will take place Thursday, April 26, from 5 to 8 p.m. at Rennick Riverfront Park.
The monthly outdoor events will be held the fourth Thursday of the month through September.
Sunsets feature live music, along with food and drinks.
“This is always a popular event for us and they just seem to get better and better,” Kelch said. “We will have the full music and food vendor lineup out very soon.”
To celebrate Preservation Month in May, Downtown Washington Inc. will sponsor an Architectural Treasure Hunt.
Participants are tasked with finding specific details on downtown buildings in the historic district.
People who find all of the details will be entered into a drawing to win downtown gift certificates.
Art Fair, Winefest
Also in May will be one of the downtown group’s premier events — the 37th annual Art Fair & Winefest May 18-20.
The three-day event will feature winetasting under the Farmers’ Market, live music, a juried selection of art and a food court with gourmet foods and snacks.
The winetasting hours will be 5 to 10 p.m. Friday and noon to 10 p.m. Saturday. Admission is $15 in advance and $20 at the door, and includes a souvenir wineglass.
Sip and Savor Sunday also will be back where wineries will select one or two of their wines and team up with a restaurant to showcase the pairing.
The Arts Council of Washington will again run the Art Show featuring Midwestern artists whose works will all be for sale. Items will include paintings, photography, pottery, woodwork, jewelry and many other items.
Admission to the art fair is free. Hours will be 5 to 8 p.m. Friday; 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday; and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.
“We have a lot of fun events planned and we hope Mother Nature will cooperate a little bit better this year,” said Kelch, adding most events are held rain or shine.
The committees for each event are always looking for more volunteers. Anyone interested in helping is asked to contact the Downtown Washington Inc. office at 636-239-1743.
Downtown Washington Inc., formerly a merchants committee since the late 1950s, was formed in 1989 when the city of Washington was selected as one of the first five pilot communities for the Missouri Main Street Program.
The organization has maintained its status as a Missouri Main Street Program and as a National Main Street Community to this day.
The group is dedicated to promoting an attractive and financially stable downtown while preserving the historic resources and enriching the community.