Monticello Day celebration
The inaugural Monticello Day Fair aims to boost buying in the village's struggling center. As YNN's John Wagner reports, residents are drawing some inspiration from the village's past.
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MONTICELLO, N.Y. -- "Today was much better than the last couple years. I haven't see this many people come out for anything in Monticello in a long time," said Audrey Valentia, "J's" Broadway Store owner.
Audrey Valentia's one of many business owners struggling to meet rent and attract patrons and other businesses to Broadway. The first annual Monticello Day showed off all the city's done to rework their main street with games, music, and dancing.
"Brings people out, it's a nice beautiful day, maybe they'll walk the street, Bagel bakery, Cohen's, all of them, they all suffer," said Valentia.
"We've had all new sidewalks, repaved again for the second time, we've had plantings," said Les Kristt, Monticello Day organizer.
Sullivan County's historian says with today’s economy, the village is faced with a situation similar to 100 years ago, when a fire wiped out half the villages businesses. It's now a rallying cry.
"After the fire, it was the merchants’ determination not to give up, they could have just walked away, but they decided to band together and to recreate their businesses and reinvent themselves, and Broadway was bigger and better than ever before," said John Conway, Sullivan County Historian.
“We want to get businesses here, and we want Monticello to grow and be the town that it used to be 100 years ago and you know, be even better in 100 years to come," said Larissa Bennett, Village of Monticello Trustee.
Monticello Day is all about getting locals excited about the village and showcasing what Broadway could look like every day. Officials say once residents have their faith restored, the storefronts will get filled and outsiders may once again be drawn to these streets.
"As the tourism industry has waxed and waned over the years, probably every 25 years we've had to face a prolonged transition and a reinvention of ourselves," said Conway.
"The attitude about Monticello is changing, and that's probably the biggest thing that's going to draw people and businesses, that they see us as a family community," said Kristt.
Local owners want to see a mix of music and fun added to Broadway on a regular basis. Monticello Day will continue annually.
"Too bad we couldn't do it more often, it'd be an improvement to Monticello, we're all small owners and we need help," said Valentia.