Downtown Rebound with DCP: Special Events Help Wilkes-Barre Downtown Economy Rebound

Next week’s Fine Arts Fiesta will once again celebrate art, music, food and family fun in the heart of downtown Wilkes-Barre.

It all started 66 years ago with a simple idea of ​​bringing the visual and performing arts to people who otherwise might not have the chance to experience it. What started with a handful of artists and performers has grown into one of Pennsylvania’s top festivals and draws nearly 50,000 people downtown each year.

At a Rockin’ the River press conference, Acting Luzerne County Executive Romilda Croacomo said bringing the community together for cultural events is extremely important because it creates economic development. In the wake of a pandemic that has affected downtowns, including ours, it is more essential than ever to organize events that bring people, life and vitality to our downtown.

Like the original Fiesta planners, our team at Diamond City Partnership (the non-profit downtown management organization) and many volunteers felt that if we created events with live music, food, drinks, art and culture, we would bring people back downtown. A year later, I’m happy to report that we were right.

This time last year, in partnership with Fiesta, we launched our “Sunsets on South Main” (SOMA) pop-up happy hours without knowing if anyone would be attending. As the band began to play, the Midtown Village courtyard was decorated with lighted tables, flowers, drinks from the Susquehanna Brewing Company and Franco’s Pizza. People started coming and they kept coming. The first Sunsets on SOMA drew approximately 250 people to downtown Wilkes-Barre. The events have grown in popularity and so have the crowds.

This year, we’re looking forward to bringing back these community events starting Thursday, May 19, the first night of Fiesta. SOMA Sunsets will take place in Midtown Village on the third Thursday of every month through September, and at the Circle Center for the Arts in October and November. We hope to see you there.

Last week, in partnership with the Sordoni Art Gallery, we hosted our third Cocktails & Culture event as a celebration of Cinco de Mayo. Over 100 guests enjoyed live music, themed appetizers, cocktails and gallery tours – all for $25.

Heather Sincavage, Gallery Director, said, “We are thrilled to see so many new faces at each event as our community celebrates appreciation for the arts. In fact, people are thanking us and saying how great it is to be at events downtown. We are grateful to partner with Diamond City Partnership in this effort.

Downtown Restaurant Week, held in April, was a huge success. Restaurants like Bank & Vine, Cafe Toscana, Jonathan’s, Oyster and Rodano’s have drawn people from across the region for special and generously priced pre-set menu offerings. Keep an eye out for another restaurant week in the fall.

Downtown is also the place to be on Wednesdays from 5-7pm until the end of August for SIPS Happy Hours. Visit Bank & Vine, Boozy B’s, Cafe Toscana, Franklin’s, Oyster, Rodano’s, Senunas and The Down Pour for drink specials.

Princess Elsa will be making another appearance at our Downtown Discoveries KidFest on June 25 at Midtown Village. Last year’s free inaugural event drew over 500 people to see Elsa and Tux, enjoy free treats, face painting, crafts and activities offered by the YMCA, Osterhout Library, services health, fire and city police, and more.

Bob Borwick, vice chairman of the DCP board, was born and raised in Cleveland, has lived in Washington, DC and downtown Philadelphia, and thinks downtown Wilkes-Barre has it all. what it takes to be a great destination. And the events of the last year prove it.

“The turnout we’ve had at downtown events over the past year demonstrates that the community is hungry for cool cultural events, especially ones that involve music,” he said. “We invite the community to come to our events and experience all that downtown has to offer – music, art, culture and great restaurants, from casual to fine dining. It really has it all. »

DCP is grateful to our public and private sector partners who care so deeply about the future of downtown. You can also help. By joining us at our various special events, you are also contributing to economic development and investing in the future of our downtown and our region.

Visit us on Facebook and Instagram at @DowntownWilkesBarre for more information.

Susan Magnotta is Director of Marketing and Development at Diamond City Partnership.

David H. Henry