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Summer in North Tonawanda’s air with market, concert, festival plans

NORTH TONAWANDA – Spring is barely underway and a few stubborn snow piles are still around, but Tuesday night the Common Council had its eyes on summer, as plans were unveiled for a market, concerts and festivals along the Erie Canal and the Niagara River.

Suzanne Todaro, owner of Gleam & Glimmer Glass Studio and an organizer of T-NT Gateway Market, is hoping the Council will approve the market for a second year.

The market offers artisans, acoustic music and food trucks in a joint campus on both sides of the Erie Canal. The event is a combined effort with Downtown Merchants Association of North Tonawanda and the City of Tonawanda merchants.

If approved, the summer market would be held for 16 weeks, every Thursday, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. June 4 to Oct. 1 in Gateway Park at Sweeney Street in North Tonawanda and on Young Street in the City of Tonawanda.

There would be no market event on July 16 or 23, due to Canal Fest.

Todaro said that last year, people were left wanting more, so this year, the market would continue into early fall.

“We stopped on Aug. 18, and I had people coming into my store asking, ‘Where are the food trucks?’ That was a good problem to have,” she said.

Todaro said the event did not use any public funds last year and raised $450, which will be used for promotion.

She said that funds raised this summer, along with grant money, will be used to put in new planters, banners and updated decorations downtown.

She said parking for businesses in the Gateway Park campus was an issue last year, which organizers hope to resolve with a later start time.

Tom Croop, assistant North Tonawanda fire chief and fire-prevention officer, said that in order to keep visitors safe and protect the city from liability, a checklist for food truck operators has been established.

He said that a lot of communities are in limbo because there are no mandates in Niagara County but that North Tonawanda can make these trucks safe by making sure they have proper equipment and training.

Croop said that last summer, he was out inspecting the trucks every week except one.

The Council will vote on approval of the event at its next regular meeting.

The concert season was also a topic Tuesday night.

Concert promoter Kathy Paradowski asked the Council to consider moving the free concert series in Gratwick-Riverside from Sundays to Fridays.

“When people are leaving work, they can come to the series. It’s been proven to us that it’s a really good day,” Paradowski said.

She said that organizers also would like to rebrand the series as “North Tonawanda’s Rockin’ the River,” which would identify it more closely with North Tonawanda and let people know right away where it is.

The venue would open at 3 p.m., and concerts would be held from 5 to 10 p.m. July 10, 17, 24 and 31.

No performers have been announced at this point, Paradowski said, but two to three local bands will open for headliners each week.

All the concerts will be free, she said, but there will be a fee for parking in the park.

North Tonawanda will also have free concerts Wednesdays from June 17 to Aug. 26 in Gateway Park on the canal and Thursdays, except during Canal Fest, from June 8 to Aug. 16 in Veterans Park on the river.