Amherst to celebrate community
The 8th annual Celebrate Amherst River Fest will take place from 10 a.m. to dark, Saturday, Sept. 9, on Main Street in downtown Amherst – it is free to the public.
The event was started up eight years ago by the Amherst Business Association, which is now the Tomorrow River Business Association. The goal has been to improve awareness and bring communities in and around Tomorrow River and central Wisconsin together through this annual event.
Starting at 10 a.m., Amherst’s Main Street will close to allow local businesses, restaurants and clubs to sell goods and food with street sales and from street vendor booths.
From 1 p.m. to dusk, live music will play in the International Bank of Amherst’s parking lot. The Oxleys featuring Gray Rieckmann, Sam Brunelli and Josh Trimble is the first band to perform; they will take the stage at 1 p.m. Funk, rock and dance band Jam Funk All Stars will follow with Unity the Band, a roots, blues, rock and reggae band, wrapping the night up with their performance starting at about 8 p.m.
This year T&T Automotive has organized Celebrate Amherst’s first classic car show featuring between 20 to 30 classic and modified vehicles. Some of the cars to be displayed include a 1965 Ford Mustang, late Ford models and a wide variety of cars from the 1950s and 1960s.
“We have vehicles coming from the Amherst, Stevens Point, Waupaca and Wisconsin Rapids areas,” said T&T Automotive owner Ron Trzebiatowski. “Anyone who wants to come out with their car on Saturday can – there is no fee, judging or trophies – just come out and be a part of the event.”
This year’s silent auction will take place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and include gift certificates, car repair, packers and badgers tickets and themed baskets from local businesses. All proceeds will be donated to the newly-formed Amherst Opera House Company Guild.
The guild was recently formed to restore the old Amherst opera house, built in 1902. It has been purchased by the guild and will take an estimated $250,000 to restore over the next 10 to 20 years. Since it was built, the opera house has been a home to many different causes.
“Over the years, it was an opera house, vaudeville and burlesque theater,” said Amherst Opera House Company Guild president Tom Parker. “Later it was used for picnics, wedding receptions, school programs, concerts and roller skating.”
It was privately purchased 47 years ago by Harrison Baker to be used for storage. For roughly the last half-century, the building has sat, unoccupied, with boarded up windows.
“The building has been closed up for 47 years and is dirty but in excellent condition,” said Parker. “The building has all of its original seating with a little plaster down here and there, but is the only structural brick building in Amherst – overall it is a structurally sound building.”
Parker says there has been a lot of interest and curiosity from the community pertaining to the opera house. The opera house will be open to the public for minimal tours during Celebrate Amherst. The Guild will give community members the opportunity to voice their opinions on what they hope to see the opera house used for once it’s restoration is complete.
There will also be children’s activities, including an up-cycling workshop that will teach children how to make art out of discarded items. Many of the items featured on Main Street by local vendors will also be repurposed items.
The event will be held rain or shine.