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Fairmount celebrates revitalization

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LET'S PARTY:Members of theMadison-Grant Jazz Band play while event attendees dance and shop at Main Street Fairmount's festival on Tuesday evening.
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HIP HIP HOORAY: Event attendees and Fairmount residents celebrate as Fairmount Town Council President John Metzger, center in blue, andPresident of Main Street Fairmount Alissa Meyer, center in yellow, conduct a ceremonial ribbon cutting on the newly renovated Main Street in Fairmount Tuesdayevening.

BY Emily Rachelle Russell - erussell@chronicle-tribune.com

FAIRMOUNT -- Main Street Fairmount kicked off its Downtown Development festival yesterday with an opening ceremony, including a ribbon cutting, special guest speakers and live music.

Fairmount resident Chloe Cruz sang the national anthem, and the Madison-Grant Jazz Band performed. Fairmount Town Council President John Metzger and Office of Community and Rural Affairs (OCRA) Representative Andrea Cern each spoke. Meanwhile, the fire department, Lions Club and local vendors sold food, home decor and other goods to attendees enjoying the festival music and bright, breezy weather.

President of Main Street Fairmount Alissa Meyer was master of ceremonies for the event, made possible by a $1,000 grant from OCRA.

The three-day festival runs through Thursday evening and celebrates the completed phase one of the revitalization of Fairmount’s Main Street, Meyer explained. An OCRA grant of $500,000 made it possible for nonprofit Main Street Fairmount to put in new streets, sidewalks and light posts.

Along with the new features, courtesy of the OCRA grant, Main Street Fairmount wanted to beautify the street, said Ramonda Pemberton, vice president of Main Street Fairmount. The nonprofit fundraised and, with the help of numerous local community members and sponsors, gathered over $35,000 for new benches, planters, banners and trash cans.

“(The OCRA grant was) the difference in being able to renovate and beautify Main Street versus not being able to do it,” Pemberton said. “It means everything. That, along with our whole community coming together to support the additional funding for the benches and trash cans and banners … wouldn’t have happened without that grant.”

The focus of this week’s festival, Pemberton said, is celebrating the hopes and dreams of Main Street Fairmount and the local community becoming reality. As the main planner of the festival, Pemberton wanted everyone who helped contribute to the new look on Main Street to mark their success together.

“It takes a long time once you get grant money for it to become a reality,” Pemberton said. “A celebration was a must.”

Meyer pointed out that improving the look of Main Street has brought new businesses to the area as well as tourists and visitors taking day trips — giving the town an economic boost. She said there’s a quaintness to Fairmount that this “facelift” has helped preserve and continue. The people of Fairmount appreciate being able to take pride in their home.

Fairmount was one of a select few Indiana towns to receive the competitive $1,000 grant from OCRA to host the festival, part of OCRA’s statewide Downtown Development Week. All week, businesses on Main Street will host their own special sales and promotions in celebration with the town. Wednesday, the festival will feature live music by The Blue Collar Union, and Thursday’s events include an “I Love Fairmount” golf cart parade.

There’s still much in store for Main Street Fairmount once the festival ends, Meyer said.

“There’s a new buzz around Fairmount and what’s happening here,” she said. “The heart behind this little town that was kind of dying ... is now starting to be a thriving community. Families are moving from Carmel, beautiful Carmel, because they’re seeing something special in Fairmount.”

Long term, the revitalization project has a phase two. Meyer wants to see more businesses come to Main Street. The nonprofit also hopes to put in more street lights, pedestrian crosswalks and light posts. Meyer dreams of doing “everything to unify and strengthen our community.”

In October alone, there are four events planned for downtown Fairmount. The biggest event of the month will be the Halloween block party on Oct. 31. Meyer described a huge town event in which local churches come together to provide live music and free food, candy and games for children and families in the community. She also expects an annual fall festival at local restaurant Grains & Grill on Oct. 20 to draw a large crowd, with over 70 vendors scheduled and free entertainment planned for the kids.

On Oct. 13, the Horners Market parking lot will host Main Street Market, where local vendors will sell handcrafted goods and garden produce. The Grant County Players will perform “Steel Magnolias” on Oct. 19-21 at Fairmount’s Stardust Ballroom.

Meyer was excited about the turnout for Tuesday’s opening ceremony and looks forward to a bright future for Main Street Fairmount.

“We have a good story,” she said. “We’re turning into this princess, and I think people can get behind that and get excited about that. … We’ve accomplished so much in such a short time.”