MetroFest, a regional arts, music, and food truck festival, returns to Bowditch Athletic & Cultural Complex on Saturday, September 26, with two dozen varied food trucks, 100 exhibitors, kids activities, musical headliners, and enhancements new to this year’s event.
Intended to showcase the region’s arts, culture, and commerce in an affordable and family-friendly atmosphere, MetroFest utilizes the entire quarter-mile-long, enclosed complex with two food truck areas, two stages, bounce houses, and exhibitor booths circling the running track and dotting the entire area.
MetroFest debuted in 2014 and is a program of the MetroWest Visitors Bureau (MWVB), a regional nonprofit organization dedicated to stimulating the region’s economy by raising visibility for the area’s cultural, historic, culinary, hospitality, retail, and recreation offerings. Organizations hailing from 27 municipalities are participating in MetroFest 2015.
More than 7500 people attended the first MetroFest last September; this year, organizers are planning for as many as 10,000 people to enjoy this year’s enhancements for the six-hour festival, which runs 11am-5pm.
The popular KidsTown area will be expanded to include new activities, including an enclosed gaming truck and American Girl’s Red Carpet, where attendees can have their photo snapped with their own doll or with American Girl dolls on-hand.
The Town of Framingham has granted a license to hold a beer- and wine-tasting at the event. Jack’s Abby Brewing will be pouring 2-ounce samples of their famed lagers, and wine samples will be available from Fifth Avenue Liquors. Entry to the beer- and wine-tasting tent is $3.
A new crowd-creation activity will involve hundreds, if not thousands, of festival-goers who will help paint pieces of two huge murals celebrating the MetroWest region. After the completed murals’ are unveiled during the festival, they will serve as traveling exhibits throughout the year.
The expanded number of exhibitor spaces are already filled with a variety of cultural and community groups, crafters, and a limited number of retailers specific to the region.
Performers on the Main Stage, emcee’d by Magic 106.7 radio DJ David O’Leary, include the Love Dogs, the House on Cliff, Esther Rojas and 3 Sudacas, and Crocodile River.
To ensure that MetroFest is affordable to families, the MetroWest Visitors Bureau has set ticket prices as $7 for adults, $3 for ages 5-12, and no fee for children under 5. All activities at the festival are free; attendees may purchase their own food and beverages.
Event organizers will provide free, handicapped-accessible shuttles to four parking areas, including McCarthy and Fuller school lots on Flagg Drive, throughout the day. Many other lots surrounding the complex are within walking distance.
“We want this event to be as accessible and affordable as possible for guests, whether they live nearby or are coming from outside the region,” said Annie Murphy, chair of the MWVB board of directors. “A family of four can have an entire day of fun for $20.”
The first 300 purchasers of online tickets will receive a special Natick Mall canvas bag. MetroFest is also offering a special children’s ticket for $8, which includes an American Girl gift bag.
Tickets are available online at http://www.metrowestvisitors.org/metrofest/metrofest-tickets/ and may be purchased at the event as well.
“The business community has been incredibly supportive of this effort to showcase the region’s arts, culture, and other assets,” said Susan Nicholl, executive director of the MetroWest Visitors Bureau. “Two dozen sponsors, including some nonprofit organizations, are providing financial support to ensure that the festival’s expenses are met. Many others are providing in-kind support to help us defray expenses.”
Major sponsors include MetroWest Medical Center, Distinctive Hospitality Group, Align Credit Union, Needham Bank, American Girl, and CBS Radio. Jack’s Abby Brewing and Fifth Avenue Liquors are sponsors of the beer- and wine-tasting tent.
Supporting sponsors include Ameresco, Bancroft Boxing & Fitness, Bose, Doctors Express, ERA Key Realty, Fitts Insurance, Great Wolf Lodge, James Hardie, Leaf Filter, Learning Center for the Deaf, Middlesex Savings Bank, Natick Center Cultural District, Natick Mall, Palettes, Planet Aid, Renewal by Andersen, Solar Flair Energy Inc., Sungevity, The TJX Companies, Wayside Inn, Wexler Chiropractic, and Wegmans.
Supporting Sponsorships are no longer available, but other sponsorship and visibility opportunities can be secured by calling Michele Marotta at 508-308-5843.
Nicholl also pointed out that various Town of Framingham departments, especially Parks & Recreation, have been instrumental colleagues in the event’s planning and implementation. In addition, MetroWest Regional Transportation Authority and various other town governments are partnering on the event.