MANCHESTER — While things have cooled since last weekend that saw temperatures climb to the high 80s, it was a tantalizing preview for those ready to leave winter in the rear-view mirror and embrace summer in the Northshire. John Burnham, executive director of the Manchester Business Association, expects it to be another fun and eventful summer that carries the momentum from 2022.
“What’s up and coming for this summer is really exciting,” Burnham said. “We anticipate things being just as busy as they were last summer, which is great.”
Burnham mentioned a couple of events that can be added to the list from 2022. The Dead of Summer Music Festival will be coming to Manchester at Hunter Park in the Northshire Civic Center, from July 7-9. The music series, advertised as family-friendly, is sure to draw lovers of the Grateful Dead, Steely Dan, Tom Petty and more to town, with 13 bands and over a dozen vendors slated for the weekend.
“And of course, you’ve got all the wonderful usual festivals that we have, from the Dorset Theatre Festival, which begins in June, The Taconic Music Fest begins in June, to the Manchester Music Festival that begins in July….”
Burnham said that despite economic concerns impacting travel and spending habits, there was already a big rebound from COVID in 2022, and sees no reason that shouldn’t continue this year.
“We noticed even last summer that things really were stronger, and mainly because a lot of those wonderful festivals and programming returned last year,” he said. “Plus, it was really the first summer that I feel people, post-COVID, were getting out and saying, ‘You know, we feel more comfortable.’”
Looking a little further down the road to September, Manchester will see one more of its festivals return. The Southern Vermont Arts and Crafts Festival will be back from September 15-17, after a four-year hiatus due to COVID.
Burnham said the pandemic caused a bit of shift in the demographics of those coming through town in recent years, but emerging from concern over COVID has tourists starting to pour in from abroad.
“People have kind of changed their travel, even today, where they’re like, ‘If I can drive somewhere and have a great time, I’d rather do that than get on a plane,” he said. “But with having all that programming coming back, it sustains that level of local and regional folks coming to visit Manchester and experience it, but also nationally, and even internationally, as well. We started to see more international folks, especially in the foliage season, coming back.”
Burnham said that he isn’t alone in the positive outlook for the next six months, and that the consensus among business owners in town is enthusiasm over projecting another summer and fall packed with visitors.
“We always talk about labor and housing being our biggest challenges, and those aren’t going away anytime soon,” Burnham said. “But (businesses) are anticipating a busy summer and fall and they’re super excited.”
Burnham advised that the Manchester Business Association website is a great, comprehensive resource for a schedule of events not only throughout the summer, but year round, in Manchester.