It appears the Plattsburgh Downtown Association is becoming more of an active player in its efforts to attract people to the inner city instead of sitting on the sidelines waiting for things to happen. We like it.

On the heels of its successful Gumbo and Jambalaya Challenge last month "" we say successful in that around 60 people showed up on a largely lousy day weather-wise and paid five bucks to sample different recipes and vote for their favorites "" are plans to further expand the group's offerings.

Another cook-off is planned to coincide with the Wal-Mart BFL fishing tournament Sept. 22 and 23. This time it'll be a chowderfest. The food-themed events appear to be popular around here, and with the bass fishermen in town, success is almost guaranteed.

Association President Chris Dominianni tells us the group is looking to build on its successes this summer. In fact, it's looking for an events manager, someone who could put in a couple hours a week to organize fundraising, membership drives and plan events. He or she would be compensated on a commission basis for their work.

That tells us the association is serious about its mission.

The Summer Arts Series has been a real plus. Performances by local musicians like Lucid and the Blind Pig Blues Band attracted almost 200 people to the Westelcom State on Durkee Street on a recent Saturday. One hundred and twenty five people or so attended the Reggae Fest the next day.

A precedent-setting event this summer was the Country Music Jamboree, emceed by Eagle 97.5, a country-music radio station from Vermont. The association will attempt to build on that event to entice other radio stations in the region to participate in events next year.

Building on prior successes and improving on them is just the thing that will bring people downtown, whatever the season. And we're talking about locals and visitors alike.

Local residents, exposed to events like the specialty-food cook-offs and the Summer Arts Series, will support the association's endeavors as long as they're exciting, innovative and fun. And if they're family oriented, all the better.

The association's efforts, though, take time and energy "" sometimes lots of both. And it's imperative that downtown's businesspeople jump in with both feet in order to sustain the inner city's ability to transform itself into a destination point.

Downtown appears to have the momentum on its side. It's important that it maintain that and build on it.

It takes people and ideas. And the North Country region has plenty of both.

To find out more about the association, its goals and to offer input, we suggest you go to the group's Web site:

Get involved.

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