For decades, a group called the Andover Business Center Association has existed to welcome businesses to Andover. A name change came in 2013, but the group's mission remained the same — to promote and improve the quality of town businesses.
The organization now known as the Andover Business Community Association is calling it quits — and that puts the annual Andover Day celebration in jeopardy.
Throwing the Andover Day shindig that takes up all of Main Street requires a team effort, from coordinating with local government and the police and fire departments, to booking entertainment, to setting up tents for 200 vendors. The vendors and other participants provide festival food, kids activities and live music for the thousands of people who attend the event.
"Volunteers and committees have fallen on the shoulders of two individuals, and it's just too much for us," said Phyllis Riordan, commercial client agent for the Fred C. Church insurance company who is still listed as the business association's acting president. "After the death of my husband in 2018, my life direction and focus have shifted, and unfortunately it's not with the community that I love so much, Andover."
The other individual Riordan referenced is Ted Teichert, a member of the business association since the 1970s who said he feels sad that the group has disbanded.
"I've always helped out with the group over the years, but the membership has kind of dwindled," said Teichert, whose father opened a sporting goods store in Andover in 1959. "When people don't want to show up at meetings and take part, it's frustrating. Phyllis and I can only do so much."
For nearly two decades, the organization has hosted the grand-daddy of all local family events — Andover Day, the huge block party held on Main Street. The group's departure from the event could put a stop to the fun.
"We don't know what will happen to Andover Day. That is a question for the town manager's office," Riordan said. "We have offered to supply details on behind-the-scenes planning to whomever would take it over."
One thing is obvious: The task of hosting a celebration that has lured 10,000 people in the past will take a group effort.
"We need community partners. We need to talk to the downtown businesses,'' said Ann Ormond, director of business, arts and cultural development for Andover. "I think this is an opportunity to bring people around the table and to collaborate because the town can't do it alone."
One business owner ready to step up is Mimi Queen, owner of Sweet Mimi's Chocolates on Main Street, who refuses to accept the idea of a year without Andover Day.
"We need it, we want it, we love it," said Queen. "They can't do away with it. We need it for the town."
"If there was another board elected and other community members were interested in taking over the association,'' Riordan said, "Ted (Teichert) and I would be very happy to see it continue.''