Organizers hope to see flowers, bicycles, visitors
By Michael Turton
Cold Spring business owners met last Monday evening, Feb. 25, at Hudson Valley Outfitters to hear details of a plan to organize a weekend street festival as a complement to an already planned international bicycle event. Saturday, May 4, and Sunday, May 5, will see the two events combine for what organizers hope will become an annual tradition — and a boon to the local economy.
“Pedal Into Spring” is a new event being organized by the Cold Spring Area Chamber of Commerce in partnership with Putnam County Tourism. A street festival with a theme centered on spring flowers and plants, it will fill Main Street sidewalks with tents, tables, music and activities throughout the weekend.
That Sunday, the Putnam Cycling Classic will return after making its debut last fall. This year’s event will have a distinct international flavor, as cyclists from around the world will compete in a Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) race, part of its World Championship Tour. Cold Spring will be the only U.S. community to host a UCI race in 2013. Other far-flung host locales include Australia, Brazil, Italy and Hungary.
Pedal Into Spring will focus on bringing visitors to Cold Spring as a boost to local business. Main Street shop owners will be given first crack at setting up a tent in front of their own businesses. Chamber members will be offered tent rental at cost while non-members will pay an additional fee.
“We want Chamber members to pay as little as possible. And as an added value they will get an ad in the journal” being printed for the festival, said Chamber President Vinny Tamagna. “We’re putting a stake in the ground to build on; we’re going to transform Main Street into something spectacular,” he said. Tamagna challenged business owners to help make the festival a success. “We have to bring people here; get creative with your business; do something to attract cyclists’ families.” With organizers of the Putnam Cycling Classic hoping to welcome as many as 500 cyclists, the family, friends and spectators they bring with them could easily surpass that number.
Teri Barr, owner of Hudson Valley Outfitters and coordinator of Pedal Into Spring, reinforced Tamagna’s comments. “We don’t want to bring in outside vendors,” she said. “We want you to move your businesses out onto the sidewalk.”
Putnam County Tourism has developed a marketing plan to publicize the weekend’s events. Tourism Director Libby Pataki said that sponsors are being actively sought for the event and that the printed program being planned promises to be a “nice, thick journal.” She said ad sales are already taking off.
Local businesses specializing in flowers and plants will be encouraged to set up a tent on Main Street. “Who won’t buy flowers on the weekend before Mother’s Day?” Tamagna asked. He said the new event is already generating enthusiasm within the chamber and that “10 to 12 new members” have joined in the past two weeks.
To accommodate cyclists who come to town, bike racks will be set up in various locations along Main Street. And while serious cycling will be a key ingredient on Sunday, kids and their less-speedy bikes will also be a part of the weekend festivities. “Scoop the Loop” will draw upon a time-honored tradition in Cold Spring. Kids of all ages will be invited to decorate their bikes and take part in a ride from Dockside, “scooping the loop” at the bandstand. Katie Robertson, event organizer, said that prizes will be awarded for the best decorated bikes.
Ray Fusco is organizing the Putnam Cycling Classic and is also charged with ensuring that the two events complement each other.
“We want something we can reproduce and drive business to Cold Spring. We have to ensure that the two events are harmonious — traffic, parking, everything,” he said. “We need everyone involved and included. If we do it well, it will be a wonderful template for a fall event.”
While last fall’s bike race ruffled the feathers of some business owners who felt that closing Main Street may have hurt business more than it helped, a number of measures are being taken to ensure that isn’t the case this spring. Main Street will remain open throughout Saturday and Sunday and will be the hub of activity for Pedal Into Spring. Cyclists who drive to Cold Spring will be asked not to park in the center of the village; instead they will be requested to use Metro-North and other peripheral parking areas, leaving Main Street parking for visitors not involved in the race.
Last year, cyclists had their post-race meal at Cathryn’s Tuscan Grill near the center of Main Street, but this year their meal will be hosted at St. Mary-in-the Highlands, catered by The Chalet on the Hudson.
Shuttle vans will transport visitors from parking areas at Metro-North and the Butterfield site with Haldane School serving as a third parking area if needed. And this year the bike races, which include a 79.6-mile and 37-mile circuit, will avoid Main Street. Cyclists will begin at Dockside and end on Fair Street with the revised route steering clear of Main Street-based Pedal Into Spring activities.
A logo for Pedal Into Spring has been created, combining the weekend’s two main features — spring flowers and cycling. Colorful bicycle sprockets in the shape of flowers creatively illustrate the weekend’s dual identity.
In concentrating on events in the spring and fall, the chamber has opted not to sponsor the Summer Sunset Concert Series this summer. For the past several years the series has provided free, live music at the Cold Spring bandstand on Sunday evenings throughout the summer.
Business owners who want to reserve a tent or who need information about Pedal Into Spring should contact Barr at Hudson Valley Outfitters.
Photos by M. Turton