Initially piloted in fall 2020 to help downtown Barrie businesses struggling because of COVID-19 and lockdowns, Open Air Dunlop has taken on a life of its own, to benefit merchants and residents alike.
“There has been such fabulous feedback from all the businesses downtown,” says Downtown Barrie BIA chairperson Sarah Jensen. “It just creates a really wonderful atmosphere of community, and it’s really kind of grassroots. We get many community groups joining in, and we work with artists and musicians. It’s a celebration of all the great things that Barrie has.”
Well, start celebrating.
The Downtown Barrie BIA says the kickoff of Open Air Dunlop and the start of summer in the core of the city is on Saturday, June 4.
Last year, the BIA hosted 18 Open Air Dunlops, and there will be 20 this year, from June to the end of September on Saturdays. Dunlop Street from Mulcaster Street to Maple Avenue will be closed to vehicle traffic and open for the public to check out the downtown’s newly constructed streetscape, visit a local patio or shop, and discover the art and historical self-guided tours. There will also be three Saturdays of Open Air Dunlop in October and November.
“Festivities kick off this Saturday at 9 a.m. in Meridian Place with a Kids’ Roll and Stroll Parade led by the Barrie Police community. Bring your bike, trike, scooter, skateboard, unicycle, wagon or other people-powered wheeled device or join on foot and walk along. Stick around as we have James Gray (jamesgraymusic.ca) performing at 2 p.m. in Meridian Place,” according to a news release from the BIA.
The success of Open Air Dunlop continues to generate discussion about whether the pedestrianization concept should be expanded to include additional weekends or even year-round.
“It is something we are looking towards in the long term,” says Jensen. “We want to make sure that it does balance the needs of the businesses. But we are looking to expanding Open Air Dunlop every year.”
For more information on the Downtown Barrie BIA, visit downtownbarrie.ca.