Winter is coming to Merchants Row.
Winter in August, the Rutland-area business community’s annual salute to the ski industry, takes place from 5 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, rain or shine.
“We’re anticipating it might be a little wet, but it’ll be great,” Rutland Region Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Mary Cohen said on Monday.
Now in its 38th year, Winter in August is a fundraiser for the chamber and one of the bigger social events downtown — an aldermanic committee meeting originally slated for Tuesday night was rescheduled to avoid conflicting with it. Merchants Row will be closed off and dozens of restaurants and caterers will serve food under two giant tents. The restaurants frequently show off their best work, and awards for taste and presentation are decided by a panel of judges while visitors cast votes for a people’s choice award.
For several years, the event was held in the Center Street alley before that location was closed down. Following a drawn-out, million-dollar renovation, the alley opened last year as “Center Street Marketplace Park,” but organizers said the newly planted grass needed longer to take root before the park could hold such an event. Cohen said the park was not a part of planning discussions for Winter in August this year.
“That might be an option for us in the future,” she said. “We were still focused on Merchants Row.”
Even Merchants Row has proven problematic as a location, with weather fears frequently triggering relocations to the Vermont Farmers Food Center.
In addition to the food, Cohen said there will be activities including a putting green supplied by Otter Creek Fun Center and a performance from Born to Dance, a newly opened downtown dance studio. On top of all that, Cohen said, the event will host a delegation from Vermont Brew.
“It’s a new organization that’s trying to get an arena football team going up in Middlebury,” she said. “They’re going to have some players there and a throwing contest.”
Admission is $15. Children under 10 get in free.