DDA calendar includes beer garden pop ups, new events

Randy Bruce for State Rep

Several of this summer’s popular Rhythms in Riley Park concerts will include a new feature sure to be popular with craft brew lovers.

On Monday, Farmington city council members approved the Downtown Development Authority’s (DDA) 2020 events calendar, which adds pop up beer gardens to three of the Friday night events. While logistics haven’t been finalized, the area used may be around the ice rink chiller pad on the southeast side of the Walter Sundquist Farmington Pavilion.

Rhythms in Riley Park
Rhythms in Riley Park draws big crowds on Friday nights from June through August.

DDA Director Kate Knight said a local group researched the idea with a field trip to Bill’s Beer Garden, which operates seasonally in a business parking lot in downtown Ann Arbor’s west end.

“They have lots of families who attend, and pets are allowed,” Knight said. “It’s not a regular bar scene, it’s more Midwest cultural norm.”

“It really seemed like a scene straight out of downtown Farmington,” said council member Maria Taylor, who participated in the field trip.

Knight said Farmington Brewing Company, a downtown Farmington business, has offered to help with logistics, but other operators are also interested. Service will begin shortly before the music starts and end when it stops – and with any luck, patrons will want to keep the party going.

“We are hoping it will encourage patronage of downtown restaurants,” Knight said.

The DDA will also add a September-October Friday night event at Riley Park this year. Knight said the DDA will partner with the Farmington Community Library for “soft” programming, which may include bonfires and outdoor movies.

“We’ve noticed that people are still coming to downtown Farmington on Friday nights (after the concert series ends),” she said. “It’s a cultural draw, it’s a gathering space.”

Mayor Sara Bowman asked about ensuring the park is ready for the Farmington Farmers & Artisans Market, which runs Saturdays, 9 a.m.-2 p.m., from mid-May to the end of October.

“We’ll have the park shined up and ready to go at the end of the night,” Knight said, adding that the DDA does not rely on volunteers for maintenance.

Here’s the approved list of 2020 dates for downtown Farmington events:

  • NEW Public Art Event – February 22, 7-9 p.m., at Salon Legato
  • Ladies Night Out – Thursdays, 5-9 p.m., April 23 and November 12
  • Art on the Grand – Saturday and Sunday, June 6-7
  • Rhythms in Riley Park – Saturdays, 7 p.m., June 5-August 28 (Beer Garden pop-ups June 12, July 10, August 14)
  • Lunch Beats concerts – Wednesdays, 12-1 p.m., June 3-August 26
  • Harvest Moon Celebration – Thursday-Saturday, October 17-19
  • Small Business Saturday – November 28

To learn more, visit downtownfarmington.org


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