Summer on Strong kicks off Wednesday in Northampton

Summer on Strong returns to Strong Avenue in downtown Northampton on Wednesday for the fourth straight season. The road is blocked off for dining and music throughout the summer.

Summer on Strong returns to Strong Avenue in downtown Northampton on Wednesday for the fourth straight season. The road is blocked off for dining and music throughout the summer. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

By ALEXANDER MACDOUGALL

Staff Writer

Published: 05-19-2024 1:01 PM

NORTHAMPTON — Strong Avenue in downtown will once again be pedestrian traffic-only beginning on Wednesday, marking the return of the “Summer on Strong” season in the city.

The closing of the street to vehicle traffic is meant to encourage outdoor dining for the various businesses located along the street, such as Homestead, Eastside Grill, and Familiars. In addition, live music performances will take place on select days, although a lineup schedule has yet to be announced for this season.

Summer on Strong launched in 2021 as a way to bolster downtown businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Though it has returned every year since, city officials have been reluctant to permanently change outdoor dining rules to support it, due to planned changes to the city’s downtown next year with the Picture Main Street project, which will expand sidewalk space to allow for more permanent outdoor dining. That project gets underway next year.

Rather, the city has elected to suspend several city ordinances for the event to occur.

Summer on Strong will continue through Sept. 9.

Brewster Court music

In addition to Summer on Strong, additional free live music concerts are planned downtown at Brewster Court, located between the E.J. Gare Parking Garage and Northampton Brewery.

The first such concert there will begin on May 30 with Ian St. George and the Chris Jennings Band, and will last until Aug. 29, with a performance by Soul Magnets.

The concerts, sponsored by the city and Northampton Brewery, are returning the second year after they were met with success last year.

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