London Biz Council contemplates English Festival

The London Business Council, a subsidiary of the Madison County Chamber of Commerce, is tossing around the idea of establishing a summer English Festival.

Sean Hughes, executive director of the Chamber, said the council is in the idea-gathering stage. They will present possibilities at the next meeting on Dec. 5.

Hughes said an English-themed festival would play off of the city’s name and, if timed correctly, could make London a destination point for travelers and vacationers.

"We already have the Cobra Show in London that represents the largest show of its kind in the country. Right now, those participants spend over a week in central Ohio but only one day in London," Hughes said.

Combining an English Festival with the Cobra Show could keep more of those participants in London for more days, he added.

Early discussions have included the idea of holding the festival on London’s west side to aid economic growth in the area.

"The west side of town has too long been forgotten and needs revitalization," Hughes said.

The area, which once was strong with strip malls and smaller stores, lost its viability after larger store development began on Lafayette Street a few years ago, he said.

If it comes to fruition, the English Festival likely would be presented as a contemporary-style festival, not an old English style one, Hughes added.

"We’re looking more to promoting events like a fish and chips cook-off, a soccer tournament and some other events that promote the English theme. Thoughts are to start small the first year or two and keep building on it each year."

Adopt a Business Project

In addition to the festival idea, the London Business Council is talking about starting an "adopt a business’’ project. Businesses could apply for support and promotion help through the council.

The criteria for participants would be a willingness to accept an English theme or English-style name for the business and be willing to accept non-monetary help from other council members and the community. That aid could range from suggestions of advertising and/or name change to building façade or business image.

"By helping one business, other businesses will be helped and eventually build a renewed pride in the community that enjoys its English roots," Hughes said.

The location of the council’s Dec. 5 meeting has not been finalized.

"We would like to hold the meeting on the west side of town and get more of the businesses in that area involved in the planning,’’ Hughes said.

London Business Council meetings are open to all concerned residents, civic organizations, and business and property owners.

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