Columnist Sarah la Cour: Downtown entertainment for all ages

Friday, July 13, 2018

Ice cream for breakfast. Art in the afternoon. Musical evenings. Movies all day!

It’s amazing how much food, fun and entertainment for all ages are yours in downtown Amherst this July. The ice cream for breakfast part is awesome for anyone, of course. On Sunday mornings, Breakfast at Barts is a super place to start that lazy day with the family.

From there, it’s on to any number of things to stay cool indoors or get hot dancing or playing games in the parks.

To stay cool, you can head to the Amherst Cinema which is hosting a fabulous array of movies, including documentaries about the painter Vincent Van Gogh and African musician/race equity advocate, Miriam Makeba, known as “Mama Africa.”

The Jones Library has a terrific series of programming for children, teens and adults that can keep you busy every day of the week. They are also offering free lunch on Tuesdays from 11:45 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. for children under 18 after the morning programs.

For those lovely summer evenings, there is the BID’s own Downtown Beats: Summer Music Series. Thursday evenings at Kendrick Park will feature some of our best local talent starting July 19 with the always popular, Grammy Award-winning Mister G. For the young, this is a fabulous chance to imitate an alligator or squirrel. For everyone else, it is heartwarming to watch. He will be joined by In the Nick of Time.

The following three Thursdays, you can continue to dance or chill with many of our favorite bands. July 26 features ReBelle and Shokazoba; on Aug. 2, Flathead Rodeo and Colorway join us; and Carinae and a special guest close our series on August 9.

On Friday nights, July 20 and Aug. 17, we have once again collaborated with the Amherst Community Band at Sweetser Park. Always entertaining and educational, Director Tim Anderson provides the historical back story prior to each musical selection. Sitting in a lawn chair, sharing a take-out meal from a favorite downtown eatery, facing our historic fountain and Town Hall, it doesn’t get much better in the summer.

Unless you want to make art! Judie’s Art Bar has two regular painting programs this month and is also featuring a program called “Create and Play with Clay.” For adults who want to try painting or ceramics in one easy session, this is the place for you. If you are looking more long-term, Joy Art Space is our new downtown location for private lessons.

And speaking of art, Amherst BID is thrilled to be a co-sponsor of the Cross Town Contemporary Art Exhibition curated by the University of Massachusetts. A series of large, outdoor sculptures created by local artists, as well as those nationally recognized, are on exhibit from the UMass campus, along the green space on North Pleasant Street and into Kendrick Park. They are intriguing, reflective, and thought-provoking.

There is also a super-sized boccie court in Kendrick that is available for play. Grab the equipment from Amherst Copy & Designworks and have a go!

All of these great events and programs bring me back to food. Everyone needs to have a full belly and stay hydrated to keep up with the happenings downtown this summer. Pair any or all of these activities with a meal, some beverages, dessert or all of the above.

Or stop by the farmers market on a Saturday morning to stock up on fresh produce, cheese, bread and flowers to create your own dining experience.

It is going to be a jam-packed, fun-filled summer in downtown Amherst. If you are having trouble deciding what to do or need more details, please stop by the Visitor Information Center and we will be happy to help.

Sarah la Cour, of Amherst, is executive director of the Amherst Business Improvement District.