The Isaacs Avenue construction zone will become a party pit this weekend in a family-friendly celebration designed to mitigate the effects of the torn-up roadway.
The “Open on Isaacs Road Show” offers a day of live musical performances, a hands-on heavy equipment exploration, and back-to-school specials to engage the community as construction work on the road affects visitor traffic.
The festival is organized in partnership by the city of Walla Walla and the Walla Walla Valley Chamber of Commerce, in conjunction with local businesses. The event starts at noon Saturday with music in the parking lot between Mi Pueblito and State Farm Insurance. A stage will be set up diagonally between the eatery and the business suites owned by Kendal Robinson. The final musical act will end the day at 9 p.m., but performances continue several paces west with a rap show that had already been in the works from Urban Grow Systems.
With input from meetings with local business and property owners, the concept came through further brainstorming sessions between the city and Chamber, said Brenden Koch, communications manager for the city of Walla Walla.
“We all agreed our two entities needed to do all we could to support the merchants on this stretch of Isaacs, and we brainstormed ways we could do this,” Koch said in an email.
Construction began in May on the multi-faceted road project. Crews with Culbert Construction are leading the utility replacement and reconstruction of traffic signals, sidewalks, driveways and roadways. The first leg runs Division to Roosevelt streets.
Since the start, officials have tried to encourage traffic to feed into Isaacs businesses, despite the roadwork, as a way to help offset financial harm to businesses.
For this weekend, the idea is to engage visitors with specials and a fun. Canopies with misting hoses will be set up in the lot with the stage to help offer cool shade on the hot day. Those will not all be set up immediately at noon as some equipment will reportedly be coming from a swim meet at Memorial Pool.
Parking will not be available throughout Isaccs with the road completely closed — including the eastbound lane that has been largely open through construction. Organizers recommend parking on nearby side streets, including Blue Street, Portland Avenue, Roosevelt Street and the lot behind Animal Clinic East, and then walking into the event. Closed-toe shoes are also strongly recommended.
The city will have at least 10 vehicles and pieces of heavy equipment along Isaacs, between White Street and Mi Pueblito. Inspired by similar events that engage children through construction equipment, the idea is to allow kids to get an up-close and interactive experience with excavators, loaders, backhoes and much more. The vehicles will be attended by city workers who will help kids get in and out and answer questions, Koch said. This portion of the event runs noon-6 p.m.