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Jul 2, 2019 9:41 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Westhampton Beach Aims To Strengthen Business And Community With 'Mondays On Main'

Live music on the Great Lawn. GARY GHAYRAT
Jul 2, 2019 12:21 PM

The Westhampton Free Library is introducing even more summer activities for the Westhampton Beach community to enjoy on Monday nights.The library has been hosting its popular weekly series Movies on the Great Lawn each summer and just began its fifth consecutive year on Monday with a dusk screening of “Jaws.” This summer, library staff decided to expand on the film series by launching Mondays on Main beginning that same night, an event filled with activities and entertainment throughout the downtown area.

Residents and summer visitors can stroll through Glovers Park, next to the Greater Westhampton Chamber of Commerce building, where local merchants sell food, crafts and entertainment. On the Great Lawn, across the street, visitors can take a seat in the grass to enjoy live music or an outdoor movie. Various entertainers will also roam Main Street during the event, including magicians and reptile handlers.

Stephanie McEvoy, the event coordinator and a reference librarian at the Westhampton Free Library, said they began Mondays on Main to create more of a community feel in the village while simultaneously helping businesses take advantage of the larger summer crowds. The idea was to attract people into the village with food and entertainment and stay afterward for the outdoor movies, she said.

“The businesses here in town are facing an extended shutdown because of the street revitalization project, so it was to help them boost their business a little bit ahead of the shutdown and to encourage community and friends and family to come down to Westhampton on Monday nights,” Ms. McEvoy said, referring to the Main Street improvement project slated to begin in the fall.

Local merchants from Main Street and the surrounding area are welcome to set up their own tent in Glovers Park. Library staff considered the first event on July 1 a “soft opening,” as not many vendors were able to attend. The Westhampton Beach Brewing Company was stationed next to bocce and cornhole games.

“The expectation is anything that’s new is going to have a slow start, but we’ve seen so many of these Main Street events really build steam over the last few years,” said Brian Sckipp, co-owner of the brewery, located three miles north of Main Street in the Hampton Business District at Gabreski Airport.

“I’m just hoping to get to shake a few more hands, meet some people and make sure that they know we’re not just sitting in the back of the brewery, we’re trying to get out on Main Street,” Mr. Sckipp said on the day of his company’s one-year anniversary. “Having an opportunity to have, like, a quasi-, a little pop-up space on Main Street, works really well for us.”

Hope Children’s Fund, an East Setauket-based nonprofit, also had a tent and sold handmade crafts from Kenya to support an orphanage in that country. The library’s director of operations, Laura Spillane, is on the nonprofit’s board of directors and invited the organization to be a vendor.

The Hampton Chocolate Factory, a Greenport-based gourmet chocolate company, sold ice cream sandwiches out of a food truck, and another food truck sold carnival snacks, like funnel cakes and zeppoles. Ms. McEvoy said that more food trucks will be stationed at the event in coming weeks and will be non-competitive to the village, meaning that they will not sell anything that nearby restaurants already have on their menus.

Library staff said they are hoping that the event someday grows into something similar to Alive After Five in Patchogue or Alive On 25 in Riverhead, two downtown street festivals.

Alive After Five started with a few vendors and a couple of hundred visitors 18 years ago and now attracts about 20,000 visitors to its more than 150 food and craft vendors, according to David Kennedy, executive director of the Greater Patchogue Chamber of Commerce, which hosts the event. He said that the growth of the event and the growth of the village has gone hand in hand.

“I mean, that was the whole reason for the event, that Patchogue was known as being a place not to be after 5,” Mr. Kennedy said. “Now, Patchogue’s got this reputation of being a hot spot. The young people have kind of adopted our town over the last few years as the place to come and hang out and have a good time.”

Mondays on Main will run from 6 to 9 p.m. every Monday through September 30. The outdoor movies will begin at dusk, and run through August 26 on the Great Lawn, but Ms. McEvoy said they are trying to continue the series after that at a different location to align with the Mondays on Main schedule.

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