SIDNEY — Updates on downtown Sidney, about how businesses have weathered the last year, events scheduled for 2021 and the future of downtown Sidney, were discussed during a YP Connect Sidney Alive live event Thursday afternoon.
Amy Breinich, Sidney Alive executive director, spoke during the Facebook live event, along with Kristen Arnett, YP Connect board member/Sidney Alive administrative assistant.
Sidney Alive is non-profit organization tasked with downtown revitalization. YP Connect, an extension of the Shelby County Chamber of Commerce, is designed to aid young professionals.
Breinich reached for the best words Thursday to articulate how the COVID-19 pandemic effected downtown Sidney businesses. The first six months were very challenging for businesses. The majority of businesses were able to receive some help from the government. Unfortunately, some did not, but with community support, not one downtown business closed due to the pandemic.
“This community really, really showed the love during this time. Little did we know what the impact (the pandemic) would be going forward. Wow. Just wow. A lot of our businesses, when this first happened; it was scary,” Breinich recalled through emotion and tears about the pandemic.
“Our business owners, they put their heart and soul and money into these businesses. And some had just started and hadn’t even been open a year yet, and this happened. And several others that were planning to open, and everything just kept getting delayed. It is a strong, emotional, mental toll that it takes on you. And I can’t believe we are still dealing with the ramifications of this.”
Many of Sidney Alive’s 2020 planned events in the downtown were negatively impacted by the pandemic. Large community events were cancelled or greatly altered. Events scheduled for 2021 in the downtown have been scaled back and are still in a wait and see type of situation, as the health order guidelines and restrictions are still in place.
The city of Sidney’s Bicentennial celebration and Sidney’s inaugural Music & Arts Festival, large events both originally set for 2020, were not held. Those events in 2021 will again not occur as planned.
Downtown 2021 events are as follows:
• Easter egg hunt (revised)/coloring contest — happening now through April 1 — eggs are hidden in downtown participating businesses’ window displays. Coloring contest information available at Sidney Alive.
• Kentucky Derby Affair on the Square — May 1.
• The Great Sidney Farmer’s Market — May 29 through Oct. 9, from 8 a.m to noon on Saturdays.
• Music & Arts Festival — June 18-19 — WOBA (Western Ohio Bicycling Adventure), a scaled down version of GOBA (Great Ohio Bicycle Adventure) bicycling event, will still be part of the festival, but the festival will be smaller than future festivals.
• National Night Out — tentatively set for Aug. 3 — Public meets law enforcement officers.
• Amazing Downtown Race — hopefully in August — Teams race through downtown for a chance to win prizes.
• Open Air Dinner on the Courtsquare — tentatively set for September.
• Paddles, Pedals and Pints — Sept. 11 — event highlighting the river way; to be held on the levee.
• Boos and Brews Festival — Fall festival set for mid October.
• Annual Chocolate Walk — Mid to end of October
• Murder/Mystery Dinner — End of October
• Holiday Shop Hop — Beginning of November
• Grand Illumination — Nov. 24, the Wednesday before Thanksgiving — kicks off holiday season.
• Winter Wonderland Parade and Christmas of Yesteryear — Dec. 4.
In terms of the future of downtown Sidney, Breinich said a revitalization plan has just been completed. The goal is to get downtown to compliment Sidney’s industry, be able to draw talent to the area and help grow the city and county economic health.
“The vitality and vibrancy for the downtown area is key to the Sidney and Shelby County’s well being. There is no greater economic tool than lots of people in the downtown,” Breinich said.
The revitalization plan includes re-branding, improving downtown aesthetics, adding more food and drink establishments, redeveloping downtown areas and vacant properties and strengthening the connection to the river, among other goals.
For more information, visit Sidney Alive’s website at https://sidneyalive.org/ or Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/downtownsidneyalive or by calling 937-658-6945. Young Professionals can be reached at 937-492-9122 https://www.facebook.com/ypconnectshelbycounty
Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.