I have seen them all, and the 2013 Lowell Folk Festival was a five-star event, if that’s the highest ranking possible.
Now, can I saw something about the setting? The downtown looked fabulous. From Market Street to the Boott Cotton Mills, and in between, the historic district offered stunning views block by block. A glance down Lee Street from John Street: what a gem of a scene, without cars. The mid-section of Merrimack Street as a backdrop for the Red Trousers acrobats: every building facade restored and looking classy. Cutting through the Enterprise Bank parking lot to get to Middle Street: could be a movie-set with the vintage buildings preserved. Walking the center line of Kirk Street from St. Anne’s church yard towards the National Park HQ at French Street: a slice-of-nineteenth century life in architecture.
And what made the setting so special today? No cars other than vehicles needed for Festival operations. Without the distraction of traffic and parked cars, anyone can fully appreciate the decades of restoration work and enormous investment that has made a treasure of the historic district downtown.
Add people to the zone, and the city exudes humanity in a very appealing way. When the Festival nudges aside the vehicular clutter for two days, anybody can see how much better it feels to be in the middle of the city. The notion that the City is the Park, and the Park is the City changes from an idea to reality.
web photo courtesy of wbur.org