Our Towns

Rain Doesn’t Dampen Spirits on Busy Downtown Weekend

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Despite rain and the threat of floods canceling the second day of concerts at the Youngstown Foundation Amphitheatre Saturday night, downtown businesses still thrived over the weekend thanks to the Simply Slavic festival during the day and Friday night’s opening acts.

Avalon Downtown bartender Bryan Clark said the restaurant stayed busy both days regardless of bad weather postponing the performances of Michael Stanley & The Resonators and Donnie Iris & The Cruisers. The rescheduled date will be announced Monday.

“Despite the rain and bad weather and cancellations, we’ll still have some people in here,” he said.

Clark worked on June 14 during the start of the Slavic festival and opening of the amphitheater. He noted that the crowds stayed around well after the First Friday events at the venue ended. 

Though rain forced the cancelation of Saturday night’s shows at the Youngstown Foundation Amphitheatre, crowds enjoyed the First Friday event, which had beautiful weather.

“I got here at 9 p.m. and we had a steady flow until we closed around 2:30 a.m. and I was told there were plenty of people in earlier for dinner,” he said of the First Friday events. “There were definitely different age groups. Usually, we’ll have middle aged people come in for dinner and our younger crowd late night.” 

The new amphitheater brings with it plenty of opportunities for drawing in customers, as do events like Simply Slavic and the Youngstown Flea, held Saturday morning. Before the postponement, at least five reservations were scheduled at Avalon, clark said.

“I think as long as the weather holds up for the next few concerts, we’re going to have a lot of business downtown,” he said.

Co-owner of Penguin City Brewing Co., Aspasia Lyras, said the cancellation shouldn’t be taken too heavily and that anyone should be prepared for anything to happen.

Penguin City Brewing Co. co-owner Aspasia Lyras

“That goes along with having an amphitheater,” she said. “You’re going to have rainouts and I think that we’re okay. We’re here at Simply Slavic. There’s people gathered here so it still works out.”

Penguin City Beer was a main sponsor of the Simply Slavic festival, which had had a good turnout, she said. Lyras said she saw a lot of people buying Penguin City Beer, which launched its first special edition label for the festival.

“The tribute labels that we did for Simply Slavic seem to be going over wonderful,” she said. 

The amphitheater will attract people to Youngstown, Lyras said. It enables people to discover what the city has to offer. “There is so much that people just don’t know about,” she said. “It’s going to grab more attention.”

Laurel Tombazzi, chairwoman of the Eastern European Congress of Ohio, was on the festival committee for Simply Slavic this year. Between the festival and the grand opening of the amphitheater, Tombazzi thinks it is adding to cultural growth. 

“Sometimes I get people who are looking for some roots that connect them to their Slavic roots,” she said. “I had a gentleman who was Croatian who knew [a] song his grandmother would sing to him and he talked to one of the older Croatian women from our Croatian group that sang today and he was able to have the song remembered.”

Frank and Laurel Tombazzi, chairwoman of the Eastern European Congress of Ohio, were among those at Simply Slavic Saturday.

“This is our ninth year that Simply Slavic has been doing this festival,” she said. “We have somewhere between 3,000 to 5,000 people that attend this festival. We’re plowing through the weather.” 

Jacob Harver, a partner along with the Martini family at The Federal, said it is exciting to be downtown and serve as a cultural destination in the midst of what is happening in Youngstown with the new amphitheater.

“It’s awesome to have a business that’s successful in a thriving community,” he said.

Last August, Harver bought a pedicab and started providing tours of the central district for $5. With the amphitheater another new location in the city, it adds to the business.

“There’s walkways that go along by the Covelli Centre and the amphitheater,” he said. “There’s a lot to see here.”

Although rain postponed the shows at the amphitheater, Harver said there was still plenty to do downtown.

“There’s still reason to come downtown even if it is raining,” he said. “We did great last night [at The Federal]. One of the coolest things is when you have outside people. There were a couple of guys from Buffalo [New York] staying at the DoubleTree Hilton who haven’t been to Youngstown in 30 years.” 

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.