NORTH ADAMS - The return of the three-day Solid Sound Festival in June could be "a real boon" for local store owners and restaurants, as it kick starts the summer tourism season on June 21, but only if the business community is ready.
To help local business owners prepare for the upcoming season, the North Adams Chamber of Commerce, Mass MoCA, MCLA's Berkshire Cultural Resource Center and the city held a information and brainstorming session Monday night at MCLA Gallery 51.
"The hope is we'll really get some feedback from all of you," Jonathan Secor, MCLA's director of special programs, said. "There's all of these things happening on Main Street this summer, but how does that help all the businesses, the restaurants and the coffee shops?"
Mass MoCA Communications and Marketing Director Jodi Joseph urged local restaurateurs to be prepared for more that 5,000 people arriving and staying the city and surrounding towns during the Solid Sound Festival weekend.
"We will have food vendors on our campus during the festival, but only Lickety Split will be serving breakfast during the festival," she said. "What that means is that every egg and muffin in town will be eaten. We'll have people who will leave [Mass MoCA] to have sit-down meals. We've heard in the past that local restaurants have run out of food.
In addition to being prepared to feed the festival- goers, local shop owners are being encouraged to stay open later.
"We're also looking for residents who are willing to rent out a room or their house for the weekend," Joseph said. "The Solid Ground campsite is sold out- 385 campsites. We're directing people to AirBnb.com. What we're seeing is that as soon as something is listed, it's rented."
DownStreet Art will kick off the night before the Solid Sound Festival, on Thursday, June 20, with a block party and gallery openings.
"We'll have new gallery spaces open in the downtown this year, but we're really focusing on our DownStreet Thursday openings on the last Thursday of each month," Secor said. "Instead of having another late night during Solid Sound, we're encouraging the ticketholders to come a day early and celebrate our first opening with us."
He said that what was learned from the late night block party in 2011 was that Wilco fans weren't looking for more music and entertainment.
"They poked their heads in a few stores and went to get drinks," he said.
Focusing on the monthly openings is important, Secor said, emphasizing that businesses will need to be open during the celebrations and encouraged the owners to offer specials and promote the evenings on their Facebook pages as well.
City Councilor Keith Bona, who co-owns Berkshire Emporium & Antiques, said that business owners and their employees having common knowledge of what's happening and where is just as important as social media and posters.
Veronica Bosley, the city's director of tourism, said the knowledge of local individuals will be tapped this summer through a volunteer program, "Talk to a Townie," that will launch at the Solid Sound Festival. Volunteers will be stationed at events, armed with information and shirts that read "I'm a local. Ask me a question."