The Andover Townsman
---- — The town’s biggest block party of the year is a little more than a month ago and organizers say excitement for Andover Day is building momentum.
The fifth annual event — a community celebration and business showcase filled with food, fun and entertainment — is set for Saturday, Sept. 7, starting at 10 a.m.
Organizers are expecting the 2013 installment to draw “record participation and attendance,” with thousands packing Main Street, which gets shut down between Elm Street and Punchard Avenue for the festivities.
As of late last week, 97 businesses had already secured a tent and the vendor areas around TD Bank, CVS, Bank of America and old Town House/Main Street had been sold.
“I can’t believe the amount of interest that this has gathered through the Merrimack Valley,” said Peter Caruso, president of the Andover Business Community Association, which hosts the event. “There’s so much enthusiasm and so much excitement. Quite frankly, I’ve never seen any event in Andover garner so much enthusiasm since I’ve been here.”
To accommodate the growing demand, organizers have expanded the vendor area to include Park and Barnard streets, extended the available space around the Andover Town House to go along both sides of the building and added an additional food court area along Chestnut Street, event co-chairwoman Kathleen Bates of the ABCA said in an email.
Bates said based on the interest so far, she’s expecting more than 150 businesses and community partners will be joining in the fun this year, surpassing last year’s total of 129 tents.
In addition to the vendors, amusements provided by Fiesta Shows will fill Andover Village Square and Andover Historical Society’s weekly Farmers Market will expand out onto Main Street near Punchard Avenue for the day.
The main and second stages will include local and regional music, dance and theater. Real School of Music, which expanded into Andover this spring with a new location in Dundee Park, is overseeing the entertainment.
Caruso said the event’s appeal is expanding beyond Andover, with businesses from Newburyport, southern New Hampshire and throughout Essex County looking to set up tents to display their wares.
With attendance growing from 6,000 the first year to about 10,000 last year, Caruso credits the event with bringing families from Andover and the surrounding communities to the downtown “not only to experience the Andover businesses, but also to get a taste, a true taste, for the Merrimack Valley.”
Lawrence General Hospital and Stop & Shop have signed on as this year’s Diamond Sponsors.
Merit Tukiainen said Andover Day sponsor slots have all been filled and the event budget is on target. Tent spots for vendors and food booths, however, are still available.
The ABCA is a membership organization consisting of and managed by companies in downtown Andover. It aims to assist members with broadening their reach and to promote and enhance the business climate downtown. Members say they are committed to working together to make Andover a great place to shop, eat, work and live. Proceeds from Andover Day support that effort.
To learn more about participating in Andover Day or to keep updated on developments, visit www.andoverday.com or check out the Andover Business Community Association on Facebook.