Wilton Main Street Association celebrates 25th anniversary with photo retrospective

By ASHLEY SAARI

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

Published: 05-31-2023 2:48 PM

Throughout this summer, the Wilton Main Street Association will be remembering old times and honoring the work of the association as part of its 25th anniversary celebrations with photo displays at the Town Hall.

Main Street Association President Alison Meltzer said the national Main Street program began in 1977 as a way to focus on preserving the historic nature of small and large town Main Streets.

Wilton was certified as a Main Street community in 1998, along with two other towns, by the National Main Street Center. The Wilton Business Association took the reins on the project, including submitting the lengthy application and raising the $90,000 needed to qualify in less than a month.

“To me, it was eye-opening that there was that much energy around the project at the time,” Meltzer said.

The Main Street Association has a mission to promote a climate where the community can thrive. Currently, the association sponsors multiple seasonal events, including the biannual Wander Through Wilton, which invites shoppers to explore Main Street shops; Summerfest; the Haunting of Wilton; the winter Holiday Stroll and Santa Claus visit; and the Winter Festival and luminaria display.

Meltzer said these events were hard hit by COVID-19, and some still recovering. While the association did put on its signature event, Summerfest, last year, it struggled to fill Main Street with vendors, with only about half the usual amount, and that struggles appears to have continued this year as preparations for the festival are underway.

The association also maintains the Main Street park and the gardens next to the Town Hall, next to Nelson’s Candies. The Main Street Association was part of the acquisition of the lot for the park, which was once a gravel parking area.

Among the projects the association has completed over the years is the 2006 renovation of Main Street and its sidewalks, funded with a matching Federal Transportation Enhancement Grant for just under $500,000 that was secured in 2002.  The association also participated in the later years of the Arts and Film Festival, which began in 1993 and continued for 11 years. 

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The Town Hall display gives a story to the history of Main Street, with photo displays of people and businesses, along with photos from Main Street Association events over the years, including events such as Apple Fest and the creation of scarecrow “Whimsical People” who would appear on Main Street in May to welcome spring.

One display features photos from the 2015 “Men of Wilton” fundraiser calendar, which featured artfully done photos of some of Wilton’s prominent male citizens, scantily clad. Another features photos from the creation of the stone fountain in the Main Street park, and photos of businesses from over the last quarter-century and the men and women who ran them.

 The display does not have a scheduled end date and is anticipated to be up through the summer.

Ashley Saari can be  reached at 603-924-7172, Ext. 244, or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter @AshleySaariMLT.

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