NAUGATUCK — This weekend people will have a chance to hike 22 kilometers, check out restaurants, and listen to live music while learning about a good cause.
Mayor Pete’s Downtown Festival is set for Saturday in downtown Naugatuck.
“Part of what I set out to do is to promote downtown and to have a succession of events in the downtown area that will be more than just a once a year Duck Day. We want to have continuous activities in the downtown areas. We want to continue to promote downtown. We want to see it grow and expand and become better and better,” Mayor N. Warren “Pete” Hess said.
The festival follows a number of events that have taken place in downtown Naugatuck this summer, including the Harvest Moon Festival last weekend.
The festival kicks off with a 22 kilometer hike (mission-22-route-small-maps) that leads participants on a trail through the Naugatuck State Forest, across borough-owned parks and back into downtown.
Those interested in participating in the hike can register at 8:30 a.m. at the Tuttle Building, 380 Church St. Participants will leave the Tuttle Building at 9 a.m. in buses and will be dropped off at the trailhead on Old Highway. The hike will step off at 9:30 a.m., Hess said.
The downtown portion of the festival kicks off at 4 p.m. and runs until 8 p.m. Church Street and Old Firehouse Road will be closed between Rubber Avenue and Maple Street to accommodate the festival. The rain date is Sunday.
The event will feature a car show sponsored by J&M Automotive and the Wrenchmen Classic Car Club, live music by the Rubber City Blues Band, Laura and Michael, Eran Troy Danner, and The Barnstormers, and a variety of activities for children.
The borough also teamed up with local restaurants, which will be offering outdoor dining throughout the festival.
“It’s a good thing for downtown because it will give exposure to both newer businesses and businesses that have been here a while. People will be able to walk through downtown and notice new things,” festival coordinator Shelby Lineweber said.
The festival is about more than bringing people downtown, though. The purpose of the day is to promote Mission 22, a nonprofit organization that seeks to raise awareness of veteran suicide. According to the organization, 22 veterans commit suicide every day.
Hess is leading the hike with 22 veterans. Those who go on the hike will enter the festival at 5:30 p.m. lead by a bagpiper. The hike will conclude with a ceremony in the municipal parking lot on Church Street honoring the veterans who participated in the hike and highlighting Mission 22.
“The point of this whole day is to raise awareness for Mission 22. That’s the point of the day. In order to get there we have to get people downtown,” Hess said.