In last week’s column, I presented the inaugural Fairfield Fist Bump Awards, aka, “The Bumpies.” I had the idea for the Bumpies months ago and whipped up an accompanying logo featuring fist-bumping hands under a stylized representation of the iconic Fairfield sign that hangs over Texas Street.
The only thing was, the Fairfield sign picture was, well . . . pirated (I’m a Raiders fan) from the logo of the Fairfield Main Street Association.
In my defense, I really did plan to use a different one, but forgot. When I got an email from Fairfield Main Street Association Executive Director Margaret Manzo, I offered to let her present me with the inaugural Fairfield Backhand Award (no cute nickname for it), but settled on this column as penance.
Actually, an article about them is overdue anyway. I suspect many locals are not aware of the Fairfield Main Street Association (www.fairfieldmainstreet.com) or have an incorrect picture of who they are and what they do.
The Fairfield Main Street Association (formerly Fairfield Downtown Association) was established in 1995 and is part of the National Main Street Program. Certification requires that specific criteria be reached and maintained.
One common misconception is that the Fairfield Main Street Association is a division of the city of Fairfield. They are not; the association is a nonprofit organization with a staff of two.
“The most important thing to remember is that we are a grass-roots organization that is volunteer-driven through committees,” Manzo said.
The Fairfield Main Street Association does not just include businesses on our “main street” (Texas Street), but includes several side streets as well. Members total approximately 250 local businesses. They welcomed 20 new businesses last year alone.
While tourists are the bread and butter for larger local companies such as Jelly Belly, the Fairfield Main Street Association targets completely different consumers: local folks.
“We’re not a tourist destination, we are here for the community,” Manzo said. “Really what any good downtown offers is niche shopping and unique dining. We have things like the music shop and the bike shop and the quilt shop – these are not traditionally the types of business you would see in a mall or a strip mall. These kinds of shops attract the window shopper and the ladies who lunch downtown and get their nails done then do a little shopping – we need more of that.”
The most visible thing the association does is coordinate events tat include the recent Tomato Festival, the Farmers Market/Thursdays on the Green, the Christmas Tree Lighting, the Veterans Day Parade and my favorite, the Fourth of July Parade.
When redevelopment funds disappeared, the considerable costs to the association to put on an Independence Day parade put it in danger of not happening in 2012. The community stepped up.
I half-jokingly told Councilwoman Catherine Moy on Facebook that I was even willing to be a pooper scooper to help, and that took on a life of its own and became a reality.
While the 2012 parade response from the community was inspiring, the Main Street Association was able to piece together funding this year and with the lack of crisis, volunteers dwindled. Still, it went on with community help.
One side thing that came out of talking with Margaret was that a member of the “I Grew Up In Fairfield Too” Facebook group I belong to, Laura Deal, posted in July about perhaps having group members participate in some community service. There was immediate enthusiasm for Laura’s idea. I asked Margaret if there was perhaps something we could do downtown.
The Matt Garcia Foundation sponsors a community cleanup on the fourth Saturday of the month, but cleanup help is also needed midmonth. Margaret forwarded chronic downtown trouble-spot photos from Rick Wood, and the Matt Garcia Foundation has agreed to let us use their materials to get started.
Look, if I can scoop horse poop, a little garbage ain’t nothin’.
The “I Grew Up in Fairfield Too” Clean-Up Crew will meet at 9 a.m. Sept. 14 at the Starbucks at 700 Texas St. and help beautify part of our city.
I bet Margaret is glad I ripped off their logo now.
Reach Fairfield writer Tony Wade at firstname.lastname@example.org.