NAUGATUCK — Above the din of festival goers chatting and live music at Naugatuck’s Downtown Spring Festival on May 20, one voice, offering “delicious pulled pork sandwiches,” rose above it all.
The voice belonged to chef and owner of Cotton Hollow Catering Paul Byron, who was one of the many local business owners and representatives that set up shop along Church Street during the festival.
“This is fantastic for the business. I have a reputation and my reputation is getting better because of this,” Byron said of the festival.
Businesses and vendors lined both sides of Church Street for the festival, which ran from 2 to 10 p.m., as crowds of people mingled along the street.
“The response from businesses has been very positive,” said Shelby Lineweber, the festival’s coordinator.
The spring festival was the third in the borough’s downtown festival series. The borough held a fall festival in September followed a few months later by a winter festival in December.
Lineweber said the festivals give local businesses a chance to show themselves off and reach new customers.
“It is a free venue for local vendors to showcase their products in an arena with thousands of people that they may not otherwise have had the opportunity to reach,” Lineweber said.
For businesses like Stonehouse Baked Goods, which has had a presence at all three festivals, these events are a boon to business.
“Each festival has been a little bigger and better for us. It has been a really nice thing,” said Peggy Cummings, who owns the bakery along with her husband, John Cummings.
Peggy Cummings said the festivals have translated into more business at their store on North Main Street.
“It has done great things for our business,” Peggy Cummings said.
Chelsea Eaton, the manager of 66 Church Street, said the festivals have had a direct impact on business. The restaurant and bar is located at 66 Church St. — smack in the middle of the festivals.
“Even though people live in Naugatuck, they don’t always know about Church Street, especially last year they didn’t know our building was right here. We had our tent up and people asked, ‘Where are you from,’ and I said, ‘Right here,’” Eaton said.
The restaurant has sold beer, frozen drinks and tacos from a small tent just outside its front door during the festivals. At 4 p.m. on Saturday, people were still lining up to purchase drinks and food.
“I think this is going to be a really big turnout for us,” Eaton said.
Byron said the festivals are about more than drumming up more customers. They are about bringing the community together for something positive, he said.
“Look at how many people are out here. Look at what it has done for Naugatuck. It’s a big boost for the economy. It’s a big boost for everyone to get out and get to know each other,” Byron said.