MetroFest 2015 Offers New Enhancements

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  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.

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Study shows huge economic impact of region’s cultural organizations

Study finds the overall economic impact of just 21 participating MetroWest cultural organizations in this study is $375M and 4,000 full-time jobs over the next five years – impact is much higher if you include all organizations, large and small

FRAMINGHAM, Mass. (April 11, 2013) – In a comprehensive four-month study by Concord-based Carlisle & Company Consulting* on the cumulative five-year impact (2012-2016), the MetroWest region’s arts and cultural institutions are both contributing to the economy in dollars spent and jobs created and causing a “ripple effect” in their communities and in the region.

According to Carlisle’s findings, dollars initially spent by a creative organization are then spread out into the community, creating a “ripple effect” contributing to the region’s total economic impact. Elements of this ripple effect include operating budgets, attendance (especially from out of region visitors), employees, endowments and investments.

Read the study’s executive summary.

According to Susan Nicholl, Executive Director of the MetroWest Visitors Bureau, “These findings are very good news, indeed, and a reminder of the importance of our region’s arts and cultural institutions. Although these numbers only reflect a portion of the region’s cultural assets, the trend is clear: all arts/cultural organizations large and small are critical to our region’s total economic impact in a very measurable way.”

“The MetroWest is rich in arts and cultural organizations that inspire, involve and connect us,” said Marilyn Martino, executive director of the Sudbury Foundation, which sponsored the economic impact study. “This study demonstrates how these agencies create jobs and contribute to the region’s economy. It’s important that we recognize this, and support this vibrant element of our region.”

Findings revealed on Thursday, April 11, include:

  • The overall economic impact of the 21 MetroWest cultural organizations in this study is nearly $375M, and over 4,000 jobs over five years.
  • Average annual increase in economic impact (2012-2016): $8,105,816, which is cumulative, resulting in nearly $400M over a five-year span
  • Average annual increase in employment impact (2012-2016): 37 full-time equivalent (FTE) jobs per year, which is cumulative, resulting in nearly 4,000 FTE employees over a five-year span
  • Contributing to economic impact:  income by contractors/consultants; jobs in creative/cultural organizations tend to stay in the local economy

In order to participate in the study, organizations must have a minimum operating budget and could provide specific data – many organizations large and small were not qualified to participate in the survey, but still contribute largely to the economy of our region.

Participants included: Amazing Things Arts Center, The Center for Arts in Natick, Commonwealth Ballet, Concord Museum, Danforth Museum of Art, The Discovery Museums, Five Crows, Fountain Street Fine Art, Framingham History Center, Franklin Performing Arts Company, Franklin School for the Performing Arts, Hopkinton Center for the Arts, Mass Audubon, Museum of Russian Icons, Natick Center Associates, Natick Historical Society, New England Wildflower Society, Palettes, Spellman Museum of Stamps & Postal History, Tower Hill Botanic Garden, and The Wayside Inn.

The MetroWest Visitors Bureau commissioned Carlisle & Company to conduct this research over a four-month period. Generous sponsors: The Sudbury Foundation, with additional support from Braver PC.

Read the MetroWest Daily News article

Read the Worcester Business Journal article

*Editor’s note: Carlisle Consulting used two validated models to calculate economic impact, and averaged the results to improve reliability: Americans for the Arts (AFTA) Arts and Economic Prosperity Initiative (national model) and Center for Creative Community Development (C3D) and New England Foundation for the Arts’ Culture Count Initiative (regional models).


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Celebrating what we like MORE about MetroWest!

Representing businesses of all sizes, nonprofits, and municipalities through the region, almost 200 people gathered on January 31 to celebrate the first anniversary of the MetroWest Tourism & Visitors Bureau and to kick off a regional branding campaign entitled “MORE MetroWest.”

Most of the two-hour morning event, held at the DoubleTree Hotel – Westborough, was devoted to sharing and celebrating the qualities that make MetroWest MORE special.  In roundtable discussions, attendees were asked, “What do you like MORE about MetroWest?”  Answers ranged from “diversity of dining options” to “plentiful picknicking spots” to “handmade chocolate stores” to “Marathon!”

Michael Arnum, of Tower Hill Botanic Garden, shares the results of his table’s discussion about what we like MORE about MetroWest.

With attendees hailing from 20 towns and every sort of business—retail, hotel, arts and culture, dining, real estate, education, high-tech, financial services, and construction—there was a diversity of perspectives about the gems of MetroWest.

The event was sponsored by Natick Mall, with additional support from Middlesex Savings Bank.

The Visitors Bureau, an independent nonprofit organization, was created to stimulate economic activity in the region by marketing the assets of MetroWest to residents and visitors.  Event attendees pledged to participate in a virtual cash mob and stimulate economic activity immediately by spending $10 within 48 hours.

Twenty of the attendees randomly received a $10 bill, courtesy of Roche Bros., to spend within 48 hours, and many of them posted on the Visitors Bureau’s Facebook page ( to let others know where they spent their $10.

“I learned so much MORE about MetroWest,”one attendee posted. “I wish there were MORE hours in the day so I could explore it all! Great event.”

Sen. Karen Spilka (right) provided the breakfast’s keynote, and Rep. Chris Walsh participated in the event. Pictured at center: Executive Director Susan Nicholl

The organization was created by 2010 state legislation, introduced by Sen. Karen Spilka (D-Ashland), who was also the keynote speaker for the MORE MetroWest event. The legislation designated the MetroWest Tourism & Visitors Bureau as a Regional Tourism Council.  The organization officially launched in December 2011 as a membership organization devoted to creating marketing products and services aimed at attracting more dollars to the region.

As a Regional Tourism Council, the Visitors Bureau receives a state grant that matches, dollar-for-dollar, revenues that the Bureau receives from its products and services.  Within 1-12 months of their receipt, these revenues, as well as the state funding, are all spent on these services.

Most prominent among the Visitors Bureau’s new products is a Guide to MetroWest. 35,000 copies are distributed twice yearly throughout New England and in MetroWest.  The Bureau also offers an online guide at

Thank you to Charlie Pasewark of Photography in Motion for providing his photographic services for this event.

Thanks to Henry Tessman, left, of the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Westborough for providing a wonderful venue for the event. Also pictured: Cathy Mogavero of the Marlborough Regional Chamber of Commerce and David LeTellier of Embassy Suites Marlborough.

Left to right: 2013 Board Chair Kathy Quinton, of the Wayside Inn, 2012 Board Chair Bonnie Biocchi, of MetroWest Chamber of Commerce, and board member Peter Chisholm of Framingham State University.



Annie Murphy, of the Framingham History Center, regales the crowd with the history of the effort to establish the MetroWest Tourism & Visitors Bureau.

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Our Launch Breakfast Draws a Crowd from all Over the Region

The 180 attendees at our December 9 Launch Breakfast were eager to hear about ways that the new MWTVB can attract visitors to our region and how it plans to serve the “visitors within” by giving residents more great information about things to do and see right in their own backyard.

Presentations by Sen. Karen E. Spilka and Dan Hunter, of Hunter Higgs, made it clear that this economic development initiative is sure to affect all sorts of businesses, cultural and other nonprofit institutions, and municipal planning efforts.

But while we are working to attract visitors, Hunter reminded us that we will be also creating a view of MetroWest, of ourselves as MetroWest residents, and of the quality of life here. Hunter hopes that one day soon, when people far away ask where we live, we’ll proudly say, “in MetroWest,” rather than “near Boston.”

Between the remarks by Sen. Spilka and Hunter, the attendees saw a presentation by Betsy Wall, executive director of the Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism (MOTT). She enumerated the many ways that MOTT is working to market the Commonwealth around the country and the world. In doing so, her office has created many opportunities for MetroWest businesses and nonprofits to gain visibility. 

But the Breakfast’s attendees didn’t just listen; they got a chance to talk, too.  At Roundtable discussion facilitated by Jay Vogt of Peoplesworth, attendees brainstormed ideas that would make the Visitors Bureau successful and, moreover, contribute to the success of their own organization.  A compendium of all their suggestions will be sent to all attendees with our thanks for their insights and perspectives.

The event garnered quite a bit of press attention (see links below), and we appreciate the support of our Founding Sponsor, Middlesex Savings Bank, and the Sheraton Framingham Hotel & Conference Center for making the Launch Breakfast possible.

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Celebrating the launch of our MetroWest Tourism & Visitors Bureau with breakfast!

The Founding Board of Directors of the MetroWest Tourism & Visitors Bureau invite you to join your legislators, public officials, and business and nonprofit leaders at a kick-off breakfast for the new MetroWest Tourism & Visitors Bureau.

Find out how this new, collaborative effort will spur economic development in our region and help your organization.  Moreover, you’ll be providing input that will shape the Visitors Bureau’s future services to best suit your needs.

This free breakfast will be held Friday, December 9, at the Sheraton Framingham, 1657 Worcester Road.  Continental breakfast and networking begin at 7:45am; the program runs 8:15-10am.

The MetroWest Tourism & Visitors Bureau extends special thanks to its Founding Sponsor, Middlesex Savings Bank, and to the Sheraton Framingham for its support of this kick-off breakfast.

To register for this free event, go to

You may also send an email to or leave a voice mail at 508-361-9881.

Posted in Framingham, MetroWest, Middlesex Savings Bank | Leave a comment

MetroWest – First milestone on the road to America’s future!

By Peter Golden

Many years ago, through the kindness of a friend, I received a short assignment to write promotional copy for a big, English tour operator – you know, the kind of company that might sell you a cruise to the islands of the Mediterranean or one-week visit to the hill towns of northern Italy.

One thing led to another and I became a regular contributor to the firm’s promotional campaigns. On Monday I wrote alluring descriptions of the Taj Mahal and by Thursday I was off somewhere deep in the jungles of Borneo.

Somehow that short assignment became a three-year engagement, in the course of which I researched and wrote tour descriptions and promotional letters for hundreds of destinations from the Galapagos Islands to the Far East and on to northern Europe and the far west in the U.S.

Not that I ever traveled that much myself  – my wife and I were raising two teenage girls and had our hands full, to say the least.

Then, in the mid-1990s we moved to MetroWest, about fifteen miles outside of Boston. Not too long after we set up housekeeping in a neat little colonial home in Natick, Massachusetts, I finally did become a serious traveler for the first time in my life, but not the kind that you might imagine.

Through an odd coincidence involving a WPA mural in the Natick Center post office and a group of Nipmuc Indians whose ancestors were the original inhabitants of the town to which I had just moved, I became a kind of time traveler.

Not to worry: my kind of time travel doesn’t involve whirring machines or special incantations. To the contrary, my method is based on endless reading and regular trips to archives and historic sites. Every so often it also includes an interview with the descendant of a historically significant figure.

In the last six or seven months I’ve been in touch with the nephew – eleven generations on – of a famous miller and Indian fighter from the 17th century. His ancestor happens to be the first Englishman to settle in Natick, which back in the days when the Massachusetts Bay Colony was first settled was an Indian village.

I’ve even had some fascinating conversations with a descendent of a president of the United States. But I’m getting ahead of myself, because my kind of time travel is invariably based on local history in the fullest sense of the word.

In fact, I’ve constrained my time travels to MetroWest, the 18 or so communities which stretch from my town, Natick, west to Marlboro not far from Worcester, south to Franklin and north to Westborough.

Years ago, when I lived in Boston, I thought MetroWest was an eastern suburb of Chicago. Imagine my surprise then, on moving to the area, to discover it began only fifteen miles from the Massachusetts State House on Beacon Hill.

But that was only the beginning. As I delved deeper into the region I began to encounter people and events of the most unexpected sort.

I found visionary Puritans, peace-loving and avenging Indians, Tories and Patriots, abolitionists and Civil War heroes, industrial magnates and baseball teams. I even began to explore the world of pre-colonial Native Americans.

To my complete surprise, I discovered Indians towns and settlements dating back thousands of years, along with a sacred landscape of great beauty and significance.

And that was only the beginning. In fact, my time travels have led me right up to today and a surprising conclusion I want to share with you: for sheer variety in terms of social, cultural and contemporary experience, MetroWest may have no equal.

But it’s not just the history of MetroWest that I want to share with you. There are parallel threads reaching into our out of doors and the marvelous recreational spaces we enjoy and want to share.

Our technology enterprises are special, too, as are our colleges and universities. But what really sets MetroWest apart is the extraordinary diversity of resources and amenities combined with history and tradition – all represented by our shared culture, diverse communities and wonderful people.

I want to tell you more about MetroWest in terms of its past, present and future. But my real hope is that you will come visit us and walk our streets, share in our celebrations and begin to understand who we are and what we aspire to become.

That’s why I like to call MetroWest the first milestone on the road to America’s future.
Why not travel that road yourself and come see us? We’re looking forward to your visit!

Text Copyright 2011 by Peter Golden – The Golden Group

Posted in Colleges & Universities, Historic Sites, Technology | Leave a comment

Visitors Bureau Created

State Senator Karen Spilka

Through the efforts of Senator Karen E. Spilka and the MetroWest legislative delegation, the Massachusetts legislature created a MetroWest Tourism and Visitors Bureau. While similar entities have enriched the economies of Boston, the North Shore, Cape Cod and other areas in the state for many years, MetroWest has not benefitted from such a resource. Through the collaborative efforts of regional chambers of commerce which include the MetroWest, Marlborough Regional, Milford Area and Corridor Nine Chambers of Commerce, we will now participate in travel and tourism revenue flows.

As a means to brand and promote the various attractions and amenities that lend MetroWest its unique identity, the MWTVB represents a new, high-leverage opportunity to build visibility for MetroWest before local, regional, national and world audiences. With Tourism dollars yielding a verifiable five to one return, the MWTVB also represents a proven means to further develop the MetroWest economy in challenging times.

Industries that will become the beneficiaries of such an initiative include hotel &
hospitality, sports & recreation, and retail & dining. Other sectors include creative & cultural, historic sites, and special events. At the infrastructure level, real estate, financial, transportation, and utility interests, along with state and municipal government, stand to benefit from tourism and visitor spending through enhanced business and tax revenue.

Posted in Ashland, Bellingham, Chamber of Commerce, Framingham, Franklin, Holliston, Hopedale, Hopkinton, Hospitality, Hudson, Marlborough, Medway, Milford, Millis, MWTVB, Natick, Northborough, Recreation, Senator Karen Spilka, Sherborn, Southborough, Sports, Wayland, Westborough | 2,087 Comments