Porsche car show to be moved to Academy Bldg. Organizers, merchants to work together for mutual success

By Shawn Cunningham
© 2018 Telegraph Publishing LLC

Event organizer Lee Whiting tells those attending the meeting that the Porsches would be parked across the street instead of on Common Street. Photos by Shawn Cunningham

A planned Columbus Day weekend car show will be moved to a more merchant-friendly location across the street from the Green in Chester.

Called Wheels in the Field, the event would take place in several areas around town to showcase Porsche automobiles and BMW motorcycles.

Those locations include the field next to the Chester American Legion on Rt. 103 south, the Pinnacle and The Green.

On June 6, Lee Whiting — who is putting together the event — had gone before the Chester Select Board to ask for permission to close off Common Street on Saturday, Oct. 6, and reserve the parking spaces for the participating cars.

The board agreed. But last Tuesday, July 3, at a special select board meeting, merchants and others along the Green objected to the timing, noting that the weekend in question is historically very busy for retail — and for some one of the busiest of the year — and the loss of parking would hurt them financially. They also complained that they hadn’t been consulted about the event beforehand and only learned about it from The Chester Telegraph.

Chester merchants gather to discuss the car and motorcycle show Tuesday morning.

At that meeting, Whiting said he was happy to work with the town, the merchants and anyone else to make it a successful event for all. And the board urged him and Town Manager David Pisha to bring together the concerned merchants and work out a solution.

Then at Tuesday morning’s meeting, at the Free Range Restaurant, Whiting announced that he and Pisha had gotten the ball rolling to use the front lawn of the Academy Building and the area in front of the Brookside Cemetery for some of the cars. Others will be parked behind the Academy Building.

The meeting was attended by owners of  Sharon’s on the Common, Sage Jewelry, Southern Pie Co., Meditrina Wine & Cheese among others.

In an interview Tuesday evening, Sage Jewelry owner Michele Bargfrede said, “I appreciate the time and consideration given to us by Lee Whiting. He heard our concerns and took action to help make the event work for all.”

Sharon Baker, who owns the Sharon’s on the Common, said, “I was very happy with the way everything has been addressed, and the fact that the show organizers seem to care about what happens to the merchants on The Green. I really believe Lee Whiting listened. They want this to be successful, not only for the car show but the merchants as well.”

She added that she even volunteered to stuff goody bags.

The Porsche car show will move to the front of the Academy Building, and behind, with some cars in front of Brookside Cemetery.

Pisha said he had spoken with Historical Society President Ron Patch, who had no objection to using the property, which the society leases from the town. Pisha added that Patch said he could not make the decision himself, but that he didn’t expect it would be a problem for members.

Pisha told The Telegraph that the society could open its museum during the event and turn it into a fundraiser by asking for donations.

In addition to the placement of cars, the group discussed what the best weekend for the event would be next year and what sorts of promotions could be done to encourage attendees to come back to Chester for other events.

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