Planning begins for next fall JC, community block partyThe success of last year’s College Community Connections Block Party is firing up the committee to host an even bigger third annual Rock the Block event in downtown Jamestown.
The success of last year’s College Community Connections Block Party is firing up the committee to host an even bigger third annual Rock the Block event in downtown Jamestown.
CCC Committee co-chairs Lisa Hicks and Gary Van Zinderen said there were 60 booths and probably 3,000 people who attended the block party last August. Along with the 60 businesses and organizations with booths last year, there was a waiting list of groups wanting a spot so they, too, are included in this year’s invitation to save the date of Aug. 26.
“We had a great turnout last year. And we had a great cross section of community businesses, local organizations and churches,” said Hicks, who represents the community through the Jamestown/Stutsman Development Corp. “We’re looking for a diverse group again this year.”
The block party introduces first-year students at Jamestown College to the community at a street fair-type event on First Avenue. It features booths of local businesses and organizations serving up games, food, giveaways, conversation and prizes, with the radio stations providing music at both ends of the blocked-off street.
“It’s targeted to the first-year students, but we really want to bring all our students and the community together,” said Van Zinderen, who represents the college. “A booth is an opportunity for me as a business or organization to raise awareness about what I’m doing. It’s not just students there, it’s community members too.”
“So it’s a good marketing tool,” Hicks added.
The block party occurs during the first week of classes at Jamestown College. Led by Dr. Robert Badal, president of the college, the 300 first-year students will walk down to First Avenue between First and Third streets wearing their block party T-shirts. Van Zinderen said last year upperclassmen showed up for the party as well.
“We’re finding out the students appreciate that it’s fun, a good time and they discover there’s a lot happening in Jamestown,” he said. “Usually, when they arrive students only know Applebee’s and Wal-Mart. This shows them everything in between.”
Hicks said the college athletic teams have been invaluable in making the block party a success. They help set up and tear down for the event. They also run errands for the booths during the party.
“They’re really great,” Van Zinderen added.
The new students have to visit each booth to learn about what’s in Jamestown. Along with getting their “passport” stamped, they usually get free items such as food and drink or giveaways. These students are also eligible for prizes.
“We didn’t need to purchase prizes last year because groups and businesses donate so many things,” Hicks said.
The booths are as varied as the businesses and organizations. Hicks said last year a popular booth was a woman giving upper body massage. There was also a cooking booth.
“And someone brought racks of clothes in a boutique-type booth,” Van Zinderen said.
“Everybody’s got fun things going on,” Hicks added.
This is a family event so there are bounce houses and barrel train rides, with free food and drink for everyone. There are also food vendors selling their wares. Hicks said she is hoping the new mayor and City Council will agree to participate in the dunking tank, which she said is “always a big draw.”
Brochures will be going out in June with a July 31 deadline for a booth at the block party. But Hicks said it’s first come, first served for booth spaces, so early registration is encouraged. There is no charge for booth space.
Although the event is fairly low-cost, Hicks and Van Zinderen said they do need donations mostly to cover the expense of printing and T-shirts.
To donate or register for booth space, call Hicks at 252-6861 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Van Zinderen can be reached by calling 252-3467, ext. 5563, or e-mailing email@example.com. Both would prefer e-mails.
“This community is so giving and they make it all possible,” Hicks said. “This is one event you can have an awesome time and leave your purse at home.”
Sun reporter Toni Pirkl can be reached at (701) 952-8453 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org