MONTROSE – With its funding drastically cut this year, many worried whether Main in Motion could survive. But the weekly summer-long festival in downtown Montrose every Thursday afternoon has not only survived, it has thrived.
The key has been the city’s decision to close off East Main Street for three blocks from Townsend Avenue to Park Avenue, made possible by the Colorado Department of Transportation’s re-routing of part of U.S. Hwy. 50.
It’s made all the difference, according to Main in Motion boardmember Kendra Morrow.
“Now it can really be a family event,” she said. “Parents can enjoy themselves because they know their kids are safe.”
The whole family can also have a good time at little expense, she said, thanks to free events like the climbing wall in Centennial Plaza, which Main in Motion pays for.
Just how it was going to pay for everything seemed a daunting task earlier in the year. The City of Montrose decided to revamp its nonprofit associations and cut funding from the Montrose Area Merchants Association, has run Main in Motion in the past.
In 2009, Main in Motion received $6,000 from MAMA, but this year received only $3,000 from the Montrose Association of Commerce and Tourism, the former chamber of commerce, according to boardmember Juli Messenger. Main in Motion also had to do without $1,500 that it usually received from the Montrose Visitors and Convention Bureau, which has been melded into the new Montrose ACT.
With more than 50 percent of its budget gone and no administrative help from MAMA, the eight members of Main in Motion’s board rolled up their sleeves and got to work, taking vendor and musician inquiries, arranging advertising, and handling all the logistics that go into putting on a street festival.
Messenger, who was the former director of MAMA, said boardmembers have worked long hours to meet the challenge, but closing the street increased the numbers of visitors and vendors alike.
“Every week we’re picking up more vendors, and the ability to close the street completely changed this event,” Messenger said. “We have a great deal of interest from nonprofits and from other vendors that has more than quadrupled this year.”
Next year, the 12-week summer event will expand its HYPERLINK "http://www.maininmotion.com" www.maininmotion.com website to include detailed information for vendors and musicians, as well as registration forms.
“Financially, we’re doing fine,” Messenger said. “We haven’t had any financial struggles this year, which is fabulous considering the economy.”
It costs about $21,000 to put on the Thursday events each summer and this year’s budget was helped by a $7,000 surplus saved up by being extremely frugal the previous year.
More volunteers are definitely needed, however. Messenger said people can stop by the Main in Motion booth the next two Thursdays, or call a boardmember to volunteer. Sitting on the board with Messenger and Morrow are Bob Brown, Krista Montalvo, Phil Ashley, John Trainor, Brenda Metheny, and Yvonne Meek.
Meek said she was amazed at the increase in people attending Main in Motion since the street has been closed off.
“It’s huge and I think tripled at least,” she said. “As far as participation downtown, I’m sure we have from 2,000 to 3,000 a week.” Average weekly attendance last year was about 1,500.
Meek added, “We definitely have more vendors. We have more food vendors this year because we have more space, and more variety with people like Mary Kay and beauty salons setting up spaces.”
The work has been exhausting, overwhelming at times, but the board almost single-handedly pulled off the weekly event, along with the help of many merchants, even though some waited until the last minute, she said.
The Main in Motion board may have been on its own this year, but Messenger said she’s hoping it will eventually come under the umbrella of the Downtown Development Authority, which voters approved this spring, particularly for administrative support.
However it is funded, Messenger said Main in Motion will continue and its success seems guaranteed. Boardmember Bob Brown agreed: “This has been a wonderful thing, way above our expectations with turnout and interest amongst vendors,” he said. “Main in Motion has taken a huge step forward.”
To volunteer or for more information, Messenger can be reached at 970/240-4008.