PITTSFIELD — The Third Thursdays downtown celebration will conclude its 10th season tonight with one of the festival series' most popular, and also most powerful events.
The September event, for the sixth year, will focus on the Elizabeth Freeman Center's "Walk a Mile in Her Shoes" community march to raise awareness about rape, sexual assault and gender violence happening in the Berkshires and beyond. Hundreds of men will don women's shoes, from frilly flats to over the top heels and maybe a few pairs of kinky boots to parade in down North Street, while collecting checks and change to support the Elizabeth Freeman Center. Women and children will also join them, carrying signs about the statistics of sexual violence and calls for an end to it. Day-of registration begins at 5 p.m. at the corner of North Street and Columbus Avenue. The walk starts at 6, and all are welcome.
"We're very proud to again partner with the Elizabeth Freeman Center for 'Walk a Mile,' an important event in our city," said Jen Glockner, director of the Pittsfield Office of Cultural Development, which coordinates Third Thursdays.
Glockner said the light-hearted approach to a serious issues is a welcome community activity among the dozens of other free, family-friendly activities featured in the Upstreet Cultural District fun fair.
North Street will again be closed from 5 to 8 p.m., to vehicular traffic from West Street to Linden Street as it will be filled with live music and performances, nearly 100 food and craft vendors, information booths, games and more.
In addition, the festival will be working with other cultural partners to share free events. Berkshire Museum will offer Berkshire residents free admission during the evening's opening of its "Something Scary" exhibition. Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival from Becket will be on the street to present work from Leonardo Sandoval and the Parangolé Collective at 6:30 and 7.
Glockner said that, "The weather has been huge in the success of Third Thursdays," noting that this year, warm and mild temperatures presided over each monthly event. She hopes the trend continues today.
She also noted that there will be no Third Thursday in October. Replacing it will be the city's Harvest Festival, scheduled from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., on Saturday, Oct. 15, on The Common on First Street. The event will be held in tandem with the last outdoor Downtown Pittsfield Farmers Market of the season.
Glockner said that colder weather and the onset of darker fall days have led to attrition in vendors for previous October Third Thursdays, hence the new plan this year to campaign for Harvest Festival crowds. Greylock Federal Credit Union will be sponsoring the October event, along with its first Halloween Costume Parade.
"This year was about trying a few different things, including the August 'Touch-a-Truck' event and wrapping the city's Ethnic Fair into the festival, both which we are considering doing again. We hope to see our Third Thursday crowds at the Harvest Festival, too," Glockner said.
If you go ...
What: The September Third Thursday, a free downtown celebration in Pittsfield. This month's even features the Elizabeth Freeman Center's "Walk a Mile in Her Shoes," to end sexual assault and domestic violence.
When: Tonight from 5 to 8. The walk starts at 6.
Where: North Street, between West and Linden streets.