Downtown Bowling Green

Firefly Nights announces a Halloween-themed encore festival

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Even after a wet start to the evening, the more than 200 people who were around at the end for Friday’s Firefly Night festival, still wanted more music from the closing act Freight Street. So the local folk-rock quintet, fronted by Boo Lee Crosser with singer Flannery Murnen, drummer JP Stebal, bassist Devonte Stovall, and violinist Kathleen Schnerer, obliged. This was to have been end of the three-event community festivals for the season. But organizers also have an encore planned. The businesswomen who spearheaded and organized Firefly Nights in downtown Bowling Green announced at the end of the night that there will be one more festival this year on Oct. 19. The October event will feature the same mix of music, food, kid activities, and shopping, only with a Halloween theme. Working with Downtown Bowling Green, the Firefly Night fest will take the place of downtown treat or treating. Mary Hinkelman, director of Downtown BG, said that the festival was a way to continue the trick or treating while adding more activities both for youngsters and the whole family. Kati Thompson, one of the Firefly founders, said the idea came up through discussions by the organizers. Hinkelman responded favorably to the possibility, and suggested using it to replace downtown trick or treating. With about 2,000 kids taking part last year, the event is becoming unmanageable, she said, with kids having to wait in long lines to get their treats. They then approached the city about the possibilities of staging another festival, which requires closing Main Street in downtown off to traffic. City officials approved. In announcing the event, Thompson said: “Don’t worry we’ll still have plenty of treats for the children, but we’ll combine that with fun for the entire community.” What Halloween activities will be offered and how the treat or treating will be handled is still being discussed. Possibilities include hayrides, a kiddie parade, Halloween and fall themed activities, doughnuts and cider, and even a costume contest for children and adults. Thompson said details will be forthcoming. The Oct. 19 Firefly Nights festival will be held 6-10 p.m., same as the summer events. Friday’s event got off to a soggy start with a downpour shortly after it began. Festivalgoers sought shelter under awnings, and in shops and restaurants. Laura Wicks and Gayle Walterbach, two of the founders,…

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Firefly Night ready to take flight on Friday

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Let the dancing in the streets in downtown Bowling Green begin. After months of planning, the Firefly Nights street festivals are ready to make their debut Friday, June 15, from 6 to 10 p.m. on Main Street. The initiative’s first official event was a 5K run and walk in May to help raise funds for the festivals. Friday Main Street will be closed with stages for music on either ends, a beer garden, vendors and food trucks, kid’s activities, and downtown businesses ready for customers. This will be the first of three one-night festivals planned for the summer. Firefly Nights was the brainchild of a group of downtown women business owners – Stacie Banfield owner of Mode Elle, Kati Thompson of Eden Fashion Boutique, Gayle Walterbach of Coyote Beads, and Laura Wicks of Grounds for Thought. They’ve been joined by others including Amy Craft-Ahrens, who used her expertise from years with the Black Swamp Arts Festival to help with vendors, and Michelle Elson, who booked the bands. Now the effort is ready to go, abetted by a favorable weather forecast. “I am very excited and a little bit nervous,” said Wicks, “but mostly I am really looking forward to celebrating summer with everyone in downtown BG. I think it is going to be a wonderful party!” Earlier this year when the event was announced Thompson stated the goal: “We want to foster a diverse, neighborly and lively atmosphere in downtown BG. That’s the intent and sole focus.” Main Street will be blocked at the intersection of Court Street to the intersection of Washington. East-west traffic will continue to flow along Wooster Street. Bandstands will be located on either end with altering acts. Performers booked for Friday are, in order of appearance: Boo Lee Crosser, Sam Dell, Chris & Shellby, and Amelia Airharts. Downtown shops are staying open until 10 p.m. Sam B’s, Flatlands, and Qdoba will be serving patrons on the sidewalk and others are encouraging take-out orders. Several food trucks will also be on hand: Eric’s Ice Cream; Poppin George’s Kettle Corn; Roe’s Concessions; and Weenie Dogs Vendors signed up are: All Things Beautiful Bath & Body; Black Sheep Shack; Blanquility; Charming Oak; Exhale and Create; Happy Place Felt Boutique; Gilead Candle Company; Jamber’s House of Color; Krueger Sew Crafty; Michelle Adler; Portrait Art; PreshGoods/WoodStout; Staeble Studio A…


Peach Peony shop pops up in downtown BG

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Since graduating in 2012, Ashley Hughes has returned to her old haunts in Bowling Green to shop and eat out. On one trip the Bowling Green State University graduate in tourism and event planning noticed an empty storefront. She didn’t see a vacancy, she saw an opportunity.  Last weekend Hughes opened Peach Peony Co. at 140 N. Main St., just as the shop’s namesake flower were blooming. Hughes reported a good opening weekend, but she won’t pop back up again until June 15 in conjunction with the first Firefly Night event. Hughes sells a variety of crafts and home decor products to appeal to all the senses. She has candles, foodstuffs including jerky, signs, cards and more including her own handcrafted dreamcatchers. While she stocks merchandise that appeals to all ages, her target market is college students and recent graduates. “I saw the opportunity here in BG to tap into the younger crowd,” she said. “They definitely appreciate the handmade quality and shopping small.” She set the time’s she’s open to their needs. Her hours will be coordinated with Flatlands Coffee next door, staying open well into the evening, including until 10 p.m. on Firefly Nights and in the Friday and Saturday of the Black Swamp Arts Festival. Hughes knew that she was only going to be open a few weekends this summer, and when she learned about Firefly Nights, that persuaded her to make those the weekends. Starting Aug. 15 she’ll be open every weekend with her grand opening scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 25, during move-in weekend. Hughes sometimes organizes her own shows – she had one in Upper Sandusky earlier this month and has another one planned for November. Her recent show included 45 vendors and food trucks. She also sells her wares at fairs around the state, Columbus area this weekend and then Cincinnati. She’s participated in vintage markets hosted by Bowling Green shop Painted Clover. She mixes in some of the merchandise from the shop. Hughes is still adding to her merchandise mix.  She has some screen-printed apparel coming in. The clothing will have Bowling Green and Ohio themes. Hughes was making dreamcatchers while attending BGSU. Her sorority sisters were so enthusiastic that she launched an Etsy shop. “I was always interested in arts and crafts and grew up going to arts and crafts shows,”…


Firefly Nights appeal granted for liquor at downtown events

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green’s first Firefly Night led hundreds of people downtown last week. Now the event will give those drawn downtown something to drink. City Council voted Monday evening to grant an appeal for a liquor permit for future Firefly Night events. According to Assistant Municipal Administrator Joe Fawcett, the state requires city councils to approve selling of alcohol on public property. So the request was initially rejected until council could act. Now it will be up to the state to act on the liquor permit request. Council’s approval was met with applause from those in council chambers Monday evening. Prior to the vote, a pitch for the liquor permit was made by the four women downtown business owners who have organized the Firefly Nights – Stacie Banfield owner of Mode Elle, Kati Thompson of Eden Fashion Boutique, Gayle Walterbach of Coyote Beads, and Laura Wicks of Grounds for Thought. The organizers created a non-profit group for the purpose of offering food, fun and entertainment in the downtown every third Friday during the summer months of May through August. The first Firefly Night, which was held last Friday, attracted more than 200 participants in a 5K run. The events are designed as Main Street festivals, with the street shut down from Court to Washington streets, with traffic being able to cross Main on Wooster Street. The events offer kids activities, shopping, live music at both ends of the festival, and food trucks in the future, Thompson said. “We’re a group of passionate small business owners,” Thompson said. “We believe a strong downtown can breathe life into a community.” Thirty merchants in the downtown area have signed up to help sponsor the Firefly Nights, she said. “We want to see our businesses grow,” plus attract new ones, Thompson told council members. But without a liquor permit during the monthly events, people will have to remain inside businesses if they want to consume alcohol. The permit would allow people to purchase alcoholic beverages and enjoy the entertainment out in the streets, she said. The plan is for beer and wine to be sold at all of the festivals. Organizers have talked with police and fire officials, who supported the permit request. “We really believe we have something special in downtown BG,” Thompson said, noting that the hundreds of people who…


Downtown Bowling Green hopes to avoid gas pains at summer events

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Columbia Gas officials gave assurances Monday night that the installation of new gas lines in downtown Bowling Green would not interfere with the summer fun. The $1.3 million project to lay 7,500 feet of plastic pipe is scheduled to begin June 4, and continue until early September. It will extend down Main Street from Clay down to Lehman and Ordway. The existing metal pipes will be replaced by plastic pipes. The project is part of an ongoing effort by Columbia Gas to upgrade its service. The gas service will go from about a quarter pound of pressure to 50 pounds of pressure. “That gives us not only a safer pressure to keep water out of the lines, it allows for homeowners and residents to use more gas appliances,” said Raquel Colon, an external affairs specialist for Columbia Gas. “You’ll have more capacity to have more gas come into your home.” This will include generators for businesses, said Jim Simon, project leader for Columbia Gas. “This project will be a lot of open cut, there’ll be a lot digging, not boring as we’ve done in the past,” Colon said. “What we’re doing is a lot of digging, and it will be a little dirty but the goal is a much safer distribution of gas.” Alex Hann, who is site and logistics chair for the Black Swamp Arts Festival as well as being active in other downtown events, asked about what provisions would be made for the five events already planned. On the downtown calendar are the new Firefly Nights on the third Fridays of June, July, and August, the Classics on Main car show on July 7, and the weekend long Black Swamp Arts Festival, Sept. 7-9 as well as the weekly farmers market. Representatives for all the events were in attendance. Simon said he was aware and sympathetic to the concerns. He lives in Bowling Green and attends the arts festival. “Our goal is to make it as safe as possible.” Hann said he was concerned about tripping hazards as well as conditions that make the area less accessible for those in wheelchairs or with limited mobility. Simon said that unlike in the past where the company has completed large sections of project before going back to do restoration, for the BG work they will do either permanent or…


BG trims fat off proposed food truck ordinance

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Some of the leftover crumbs from the food truck discussions were tidied up by Bowling Green City Council Committee of the Whole Monday evening. The ordinance allowing food trucks to operate in the city will be ready for City Council to vote on at its next meeting. The decisions made Monday evening favored making the ordinance the least restrictive as possible – with the understanding that if a problem occurs, council will then handle the issue. But council member Bill Herald, who was head of the committee tackling the food truck issue, brought up several issues that weren’t addressed in the ordinance, just to make sure they should not be included. In most cases, the Committee of the Whole preferred to keep the recipe for food trucks as simple as possible. For example: Trucks in the downtown area Herald noted that the ordinance did not require food trucks in the downtown area to have “visibility triangles.” Council member Sandy Rowland reminded that the goal was to “keep the regulations as free as possible. Those are things we can change as we live through the implementation.” Council president Mike Aspacher agreed that council can “adjust as needed,” when problems arise. If a food truck were to park in an unsafe location, the city will discuss the problem, Municipal Administrator Lori Tretter said. The city has a history of working with people and coming up with solutions that are agreeable. “We really do try to employ diplomacy,” she said. Hours and days of operation Herald pointed out that the ordinance does not limit food trucks to certain days or hours of operation. Aspacher said the city’s goal is to not place such limits. “My feeling is we should not do so,” he said. Council members Rowland and Bruce Jeffers agreed. Several food vendors have attended city meetings to explain that they only set up on days and times when they can get plenty of customers. Appeals process for those opposed to food trucks The proposed ordinance allows food vendors to appeal if their permit request is denied. However, there is no appeal process for the public if the permit request is granted, Herald said. This addition would allow more freedom to the process, he said. Jeffers agreed. However, Aspacher and Rowland saw no need for the appeal language. “I…


Garden Group helps brighten up downtown BG

From DOWNTOWN BOWLING GREEN The day started out with lightening, thunder and a deluge of rain as the flowers were being delivered this morning by Sue Wolf and her people.  Over 1000 colorful healthy plants grown especially for Downtown Bowling Green by Wolfs Blooms and Berries, arrived at 6 a.m. Dedicated to the task, they were not able to avoid getting a little soggy.   More than a dozen members of the BGSU Women’s Garden Group meet at Grounds for Thought for complimentary coffee and donuts before starting on the planting of the flowers.  These women, some who are master gardeners, have volunteered to do this annual planting day for many years. They also tend to the pots throughout the season, trimming and dead heading the expired blooms.  They were all happy to be greeted by a few rays of sunshine as they set out down Main St. Mary Hinkelman, Managing Director of Downtown Bowling Green said: “We are so grateful.  So much goes into having the wonderful flowers that we have in our Downtown. We just can’t thank the community of Bowling Green enough for the donations to help us continue this service and our thanks continue to all who are involved in the growing, planting and care of the flowers.” The hanging baskets will be delivered and hung tomorrow to complete the planting project.  Be sure to take a stroll though the Downtown and enjoy the view.