NEWPORT CITY – On Saturday, Sept. 24 downtown Newport will be the hub of a festival celebrating the most colorful time of the year – fall. Phil White and Chris Johansen, representing Vermont’s North Country Chamber of Commerce, pitched the idea of a foliage festival to the city council Monday evening.
White said the plan is to organize a foliage festival in the place where Vermont's foliage starts, the Canadian Border. The festival part of the Northeast Kingdom Fall Foliage Tour will start on Monday, Sept. 26.
“Our hope, ultimately over the course of the next five years, is to coordinate with Island Pond, Barton and Jay,” said White. “Have them do something on Sunday and have us do something on Saturday.”
Festival activities include music by the band The Perfect Train Wreck and a bounce house.
“I think it will be pretty simple this year, because we don’t have a lot of time to do it,” said White. “The point is to get started.”
White and Johansen said they hope the festival will eventually turn into a major event in the city.
The Chili Fest, the Newport City Recreation’s craft show and the Memphremagog Arts Collaborative poetry reading are also taking place on Main Street at the same time. There are no plans to have a beer tent. However, Main Street restaurants already serve alcohol.
Andy Cappello, director of Newport Parks and Recreation, is pleased with the idea.
“From the parks and recreation point of view, the more the merrier,” he said. “With these types of events, if there is more for people to do, there are more reasons for them to come here and spend time downtown.”
The council also approved Cappello’s request to close Main Street on Monday, Oct. 31, for a Halloween celebration. Activities will include trick-or-treating at the stores, vendors, and other activities in the street.
Earlier in the meeting, council members approved a request to replace several trees on Pleasant Street.
City Manager John Ward said the trees are “pretty badly beat.” Ward is not sure if the city will replace the trees this fall or next spring. Each tree will cost about $350 to $400 each, Ward said.
“We have the money to do it in our road construction [budget],” he said.
The council also approved the 2012 rates for the Newport City Park and Recreation Department. Cappello said the rates generally increase three percent. However, some rates increased more than three percent.
“A good example of that are the tennis rates,” said Cappello. “We raised those pretty dramatically.”
The department raised the tennis rates after looking at what the city earns compared to what it spends.
“We need to fix that,” said Cappello. “Our rates were far lower than anyone else as far as offering tennis lessons and time on courts.”
Last year, the charge for a child to use the courts was $11 and the new charge will be $30. Cappello said there is not a reduction program for low-income children, but it is something he would like to implement.