By REBECCA WEBSTER
Recorder News Staff
In just a few weeks, thousands are expected to come together on Main Street in Amsterdam for the Third-Annual Spring Fling.
The original Spring Fling idea came from the Neighborhood Associations, said Amsterdam Mayor Ann Thane.
Each of the first few years the volunteers took the helm of the event and brought 3,000 people to the streets the first year and 5,000 people last year.
"It was perfect because we have been trying to revitalize the downtown and the businesses have invested their money and their energy to succeed in our downtown," Thane said, adding later that they deserve the public's patronage. "Calling attention to the area and drawing that many people to the businesses is just good for everybody."
This year, Robert von Hasseln, Director of Community and Economic Development, developed the Spring Fling with a committee of volunteers.
"I think you'll see it's evolving," von Hasseln said. "It's changing into more of a street festival."
The first year there were essentially arts and crafts in a fair-type setting, von Hasseln said, but more and more pieces have been added each year.
This year will feature more food vendors, more informational booths about local organizations, a motorcycle show, and a free car show. Eighty vendors in total will be there to share their goods.
"It's one of the only ones around here that's free," von Hasseln said of the car show. "You drive in and you're in the show. That will be in the parking lot on Market Street that's across from the hotel."
Pro wrestlers will walk the streets meeting residents and signing autographs and more entertainment will accompany the day out, with live music happening on Main Street and a DJ playing different decades-style music on Market Street.
And while the day will be a way for local residents to come out and enjoy and afternoon with their neighborhoods, von Hasseln said it is also a way to draw out of town people to Amsterdam.
"It shows off that we're trying to do something with our downtown," he said. "It's designed to sort of show off us to the rest of the world and give them a reason to come here — the car show, the motorcycle show, the vendors, the food, the beautiful buildings — and let them take away that things are ongoing here, that it's an interesting place to go and it's not far away."
Economic development and revitalization of communities is a multifaceted approach, Thane said.
"You've got to keep working on cleaning up your community and offering recreational opportunities for kids and families. You've got to spotlight your businesses. You've really got the take a comprehensive approach," she said.
Between the pedestrian bridge, expansion of Riverlink Park, Main Street Improvements, the train station relocation and the traffic repatterning, Thane said it is all being done to redevelop the downtown as a pedestrian-friendly social core of Amsterdam.
And the Spring Fling helps the showcase that, von Hasseln said.
"As it grows we're adding new features to it so that in addition to people getting used to it happening always the same time every year, they're looking forward to it, knowing each year they're going to see something new."
The Spring Fling runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.