A vision for downtown
The heart of Fredericktown is experiencing a remarkable transformation, all due to a push from the local community and its businesses.
Madison County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Tessa Rehkop has been leading the charge but she said it is really a group effort.
“We already have such a great, unique downtown the way the square is set up,” Rehkop said. “We hope to add a few things to bring it back to life such as lighting up some of the old signs and adding some new ones. We also have another mural planned for the side of the library.”
Rehkop said the Downtown Revitalization Committee is working with the City of Fredericktown and Madison County Service Coordination to add 80 more parking spaces downtown.
“The lack of parking is a wonderful problem to have, but there is plenty of parking behind the buildings,” Rehkop said. “We just need to repave and line the spots better and also put up some wayfinding signs.”
The vision for downtown Fredericktown extends beyond physical improvements. Rehkop said she envisions a vibrant community hub, a place where residents and visitors can come together to enjoy the unique charm of the area.
“We’re striving to create a destination, a place where people want to come and spend time,” she said.
One of the notable achievements already accomplished is the addition of enchanting string lights encircling downtown. These seemingly small additions have already lit up the area, livening up the square.
“It’s amazing how such a little addition like that made such a big difference,” Rehkop said. “We’ve already noticed more foot traffic around the square after adding those.”
Building on this success, the committee has rallied together, with businesse,s sponsoring sets of tables and chairs for each corner of the square. The Old Mine House restaurant was among the first to support this initiative by sponsoring the first sets outside of the establishment, providing additional seating for patrons. Four more sets have already been sponsored for another corner of the square.
When asked about the influx of new businesses, Rehkop said, so many businesses have already moved downtown and there are already plans for several more.
“Our first new business this year was the Old Mine House, a delicious restaurant,” Rehkop said. “Next came The Crazy Wildflower, one of our favorite clothing boutiques, then Shelter Insurance – Craig Wood, Agent, P & K Imports, which specializes in Volkswagen parts. Madison County Recovery Allies is doing amazing work to help those recovering from addiction and of course the much-needed license bureau.
“Soon to come is a new business where the Pawn Shop is moving from. Also, the old pharmacy building will be the Rusted Wren, a vintage market and boutique. Two other buildings downtown were recently purchased and have started renovations. The chamber has had so many calls from people interested in opening shops downtown. A year from now, I expect the downtown to be busy and thriving.”
With so much positive momentum, the chamber is gearing up for a special event to celebrate the newfound vitality. A Ribbon Cutting Extravaganza is planned for Saturday, Sept. 16 starting at noon.
“We’ve just had so many businesses open downtown recently that it’s just easier to have a block party and celebrate them all,” Rehkop said. “It really is a wonderful problem to have.”
The event extravaganza will coincide with the Ride to the Wall Veteran event Sept. 16. Streets will be blocked off to support the bike riders passing through town, starting at 10:30 am. Afterward, the festivities will continue, with a procession from business to business, featuring food trucks and live music.
Rehkop said the driving force behind this revival has been the active engagement of community members.
“All the revitalization efforts were started with the chamber forming the Downtown Revitalization Committee, a group of volunteers from the community,” Rehkop said. “This committee is comprised of city officials, members of the historical society, local business owners, and passionate individuals who share a love for downtown Fredericktown. In addition to the committee, there has been an outpouring of support from volunteers during clean-up days and events like ‘A Historic Day at the Square.’”
Rehkop said, on top of the input and volunteer hours, numerous businesses have also stepped forward as sponsors and donors, further cementing the sense of community involvement and ownership in the revitalization process.
Looking ahead to the holiday season, Rehkop revealed exciting plans from the Community Beautification Committee.
“The Community Beautification Committee has a lot of great ideas for how to decorate the downtown for the holidays, including planting some evergreens in the planters for this winter and putting some mums out for fall,” Rehkop said. “We’ve also been talking with the city to try to bring back some of the garland that we used to decorate downtown with.”
For those wanting to join the cause, Rehkop said there are multiple ways to get involved.
“Everyone is welcome to join in the efforts,” she said. “You can help by volunteering for one of the cleanup days, which are announced on the Community Beautification Committee’s Facebook page. They also meet the third Tuesday of every month, noon, at Madison County Farm Supply. The Downtown Revitalization Committee meets every other Tuesday, 9 a.m. at The Station, with the next meeting being Tuesday, September 19th. These meetings are both open to anyone who wants to get involved.”
Getting involved even in the smallest ways helps, but Rehkop said the biggest way to support the downtown revitalization efforts is to shop and eat at the businesses downtown.
In just a year, the vision for a bustling, thriving downtown could well become a vibrant reality which not only celebrates its unique charm but also serves as a testament to the power of community engagement and dedication.
If you’re interested in donating or sponsoring one of the tables downtown, please contact email@example.com