By Jef Rietsma
Blessed with perfect weather, a jovial crowd and family-friendly attractions, the inaugural ‘Burg Days of Summer event June 14 got the series off on the right foot, village officials said.
“This is a phenomenal night …what’s been created here in Vicksburg has been nothing short of awesome,” village President Tim Frisbie said. “Jim Mallery, the village manager, his ideas, his progressive thinking from a social standpoint, bringing families into an environment where they feel safe, are safe and welcome. It’s just so rewarding to see this.”
Standing at the corner of West Prairie Street and Michigan Avenue, Frisbie smiled as he observed families eating together, children lined up at an inflatable climbing structure and live music at two downtown venues.
“This is everything we could have hoped for and it’s exciting to think we have eight more Wednesdays of fun after this,” he said.
The ‘Burg Days of Summer features a number of food trucks, live music on two stages, kids’ attractions and plenty of other draws for people of all ages. Frisbie said the downtown social district was created in part to complement events such as ‘Burg Days.
Mallery said the key to ‘Burg Days and all that went into planning it is establishing a family-oriented event. As Frisbie did, Mallery scanned the two downtown streets and confirmed what he saw is exactly what he envisioned when ‘Burg Days was just a concept.
“I see people with smiles on their faces, interaction with our retail establishments – the clothing stores, the flower shop, the restaurants – just look around 360 degrees and you see kids of all ages, parents, grandparents, strollers and most importantly, smiles,” Mallery said. “We want Vicksburg to have a great reputation and continue this every summer as long as we can. In fact, we want Vicksburg to be a place where neighbors become friends … that’s our goal.”
Mallery said $26,000 of the $40,000 budgeted for the summerlong series is being covered through grant money.
Vicksburg resident Alexandra Chambers, a Centennial neighborhood resident, said she lived in Vicksburg for five years, left for two years then returned about five years ago.
She said the village’s Facebook page did a nice job promoting the June 14 ‘Burg Days event. She and her three children – Kennidey Williams, 9; Lilly Williams, 6; and Elijah Williams, 2 – especially enjoyed the kids’ games.
“These are the kind of events that make me glad we moved back to Vicksburg,” she said. “It’s a community that looks out for its residents and wants to make it a nice place to live. No regrets about moving back.”
Portage residents Rady and Laurie Adams joined their Vicksburg-area friends, Jim and Pat Moiles, for a bite at the Village Hideaway.
Like Chambers, Laurie Adams said they found out about ‘Burg Days through the village’s Facebook page and were eager to see if the event would live up to its hype.
“We know there are some good places to eat in Vicksburg, and we thought it would be a good idea to come here and eat and see what all is going on,” she said.
Jim Moiles added: “Vicksburg is a beautiful community and something like this gets everybody out, it helps the business in town, it’s just a real nice get-together. I know they’re doing this weekly and I have no doubt we’ll come back again.”
‘Burg Days of Summer will take place Wednesdays through Aug. 16, though the series will take the night off July 5. Music acts will perform from approximately 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. on two stages – one on Main Street, the other on Prairie Street.
Meanwhile, Erik Ragan, a Vicksburg resident, brought his wife, child and dogs, Tucker and Poppy, to the event. He said dog-friendly gatherings are always fun to patronize.
“It’s fun, the music is a nice touch and what a beautiful night to be outside,” he said.
By Jef Rietsma