We are now, officially, one shopping day away from The Lowell Folk Festival weekend–one of Lowell’s greatest shining moments–a monumental weekend long celebration of music, culture, arts, food and people! Stages throughout the city, with musical performers from around the world, provide tens of thousands of visitors to see the very best of this city.
At COBBLESTONES, as many of you know, we have piggy-backed upon that celebration to create our own mini-festival outside our doors–in “our” dead end. Grills and food specials, summer cocktails, a beer garden, and “after hours” live music takes place with the help of a near-doubling of our staff for the weekend–ex employees, family members who fly in from as far as Chicago, friends and friends of friends–we welcome the incredible boost in business–so greatly appreciated in the middle of summer where Lowell businesses struggle to survive financially.
Folk Festival is more than a giant celebration, it is also a great and necessary reprieve for many of us who suffer for the lack of economic comfort as Lowell’s economy lacks the day-2-day representation that businesses in many other cities enjoy. Lowell business owners know what I am talking about. For the rest of you, simply make a list of the restaurants alone that have come and gone through the years. How many can you name? And always, who is next?
Besides the immense amount of planning that goes into such a weekend for us–this year we had the extra pressure of fighting a “first time ever” scrutiny that threatened to shut half of our celebration down! Apparently, previous permission to allow our guests to occupy the far end of the dead end was outside the purview of our permission and license–and somebody “dropped a dime” forcing the city officials to come down on us. We were in a panic! (me were) Thousands of dollars in deposits for stage, band, food, promo, staff–all at risk–as this news was dropped in our lap, ONE WEEK prior to festival. “Is there a fix?” we asked in pain. “Yes”, we were told, via the manager’s office–“Apply for an extension with the license commission.” (One week and counting) One small problem? The head guy at the license commission was on vacation…until ONE hour prior to the deadline to get on the agenda! I don’t make this shit up.
Finally, after 4 1/2 days of bloodthirsty, nail biting, arguing, and maybe 20 phone calls to…everybody… the manager, the law department, friends of city hall, Jesus, Mom…On Tuesday, at 1PM (3 days to festival!!), GM Robin Dupell was given the news that we would be able to extend–with restrictions due to the late application for extension (it’s a long and legitimate story–but damn…the blood pressure!) and the show will go on! Phew. (FYI–We are telling you NOW–there will be a line–thanks to the spray paint can of the notorious tagger, Henri Marchand, and, you folks partying with us MUST RESPECT the line!
We are actually grateful for those in the city who advised, supported and ultimately, albeit, narrowly permitted us to NOT get hurt–after the 22 years we have been building, and counting upon, this great opportunity. Of course, we are MOST grateful to all of the fine folks who make this incredible event happen–The National Park Service, the historic commission, COOL, the City, the sponsors, etc–as we are so proud to be a part of it.
**And, to the “We can’t say who complained” rat…shame on you! Like, who would intentionally try to compromise a 22 year business in downtown Lowell–an example of economic success–in the center of it all?
Hmm….We’ve heard rumors…
(And, put the 1st one immediately to rest by calling our neighbors at The Masonic Center–who were nothing but kind, reasonable and supportive–and we are actually excited about the prospect of a renewed relationship with the folks who we have quietly shared that area with for the past 22 years.) (They being considerably more quiet than we!)
Anyway…Let’s get this festival poppin’ with the cool people! See y’all at Boardinghouse…at City Hall Plaza…at the Dutton St Stage…and at COBBLESTONES all weekend and on Sunday night for the “after glow” party with Hal Holiday and friends! Let’s… “Get it.”