As businesses in towns and villages across the region are preparing to reintroduce themselves to their communities as part of New York’s Phase 3 reopening, the village of Millerton in Dutchess County is embracing a new reality of shopping and dining outdoors. With capacity limitations still in effect, many small restaurants and retail stores have taken to the streets to reconnect with patrons. Beginning on Friday June 26, Village business owners have come together in a collaborative effort to create a weekend long event that will celebrate dining and shopping out in the open summer air. The event, called Millerton Al Fresco, will feature impromptu storefronts created along Millerton’s Main Street that will encourage visitors to browse outside, shop inside establishments at a safe distance, and enjoy lunch or dinner on the outdoor patios setup by the village’s beloved restaurants.

“The concept of Millerton Al Fresco came because so many businesses have to limit the number of patrons inside at any given time,” says Dana Jennings Rohn, owner of Montage Antiques and organizer of the village event. “Everyone has been closed for so long, and many of our local businesses have been struggling financially. It was clear that we needed to create some excitement around re-opening.” Since March, as the spread of COVID-19 began to move up the Hudson Valley and stay-at-home suggestions became state mandates, business owners have seen their shops and restaurants sit idle in nervous anticipation of a return to normal. “Over the last few weeks as things were slowly beginning to reopen, I had multiple conversations with our local business owners about the need to find something to celebrate,” says Dana. “We felt collectively that there needed to be a positive spin on what has been a long haul for everyone.”

As the region prepares for a long anticipated phase of reopening that will allow for some businesses to at least allow a few customers inside, village leaders have decided to celebrate in support. “Obviously we timed this event in order to take advantage of our region hitting phase 3 of re-opening, which will allow restaurants to partially re-open indoors as well as outdoors,” says Dana. “So it makes sense to take our celebration outside! We are hoping to attract a lively crowd to our shops and eateries and to offer a fun and lighthearted event, full of energy and optimism for our village. The idea is to jump start our little economy and provide a grand day out for our customers. It is a way to showcase our local businesses, restaurants and attractions like the rail trail and remind folks that Millerton is a great place to spend an afternoon!”