Leave the driving and parking to the pros.
The Lewiston Kiwanis Club has good news for those who, in years past, might've been leery about traveling to the Niagara County Peach Festival (think congested roads and not nearly enough parking spaces). For this year's event, the organization is utilizing two Gray Line shuttles, which will transport patrons to and from the Peach Festival at no charge.
Peach Festival guests can park in lots A and B of the upper Artpark plateau (off Portage Road), and receive a free ride to Academy Park. Shuttles will run every 10 to 15 minutes, depending on traffic. If those lots fill, patrons will be allowed to park on the Village of Lewiston spoils area, located next to the dog park, and take the shuttle from that point.
"The first motivation for this is to improve the festival experience for the patrons who come in and enjoy the festival," said Kiwanian and event traffic coordinator Jeff Sanderson. "We've had a history of challenges with parking in the village, and people coming in - especially those unfamiliar with the village - have been unsure about where to park. So that creates some anxiety for them."
This new park-and-ride option cuts down on walking time and makes it easier for patrons to visit the Peach Festival.
"They don't have to worry about how far they're parked away from the festival, because they'll get a comfortable ride in a climate-controlled shuttle right down to the festival grounds, and same thing on the way back to their car," Sanderson said.
The shuttle system should free up Center Street parking spaces for Lewiston retailers and their clients.
"We've gotten feedback from the citizens and the business community that they would like the Kiwanis Club to see if we could come up with a plan that would alleviate some of the traffic congestion and parking in areas that are not intended for that purpose, and also alleviate the impact on area businesses during the festival," Sanderson said.
The purpose of the Peach Festival is to raise money for the Kiwanis Club, which, in turn, donates to charitable organizations and causes. While the shuttles are free - and will utilize professional Gray Line drivers - Sanderson said this expense would not adversely impact this year's fundraising.
"It is being covered by sponsorships, and so it does not detract from the festival proceeds," he said. "We have two major sponsors. One is North American Midway Entertainment, and that is the company that does provide all of the rides and attractions on the field during the festival. And then we also have a partner, sponsor, in Tedesco Construction. Those two companies are sponsoring the shuttle. It's also possible because of the partnership with Artpark and the Village of Lewiston.
"We think that, by improving the festival experience, we could improve the charitable impact of the festival, rather than detract from it."
In addition to the shuttle rides, handicapped-accessible parking will be available in the DiMino Tops parking lot, and on Center Street along the north side of the Peach Festival grounds (between Eighth and Ninth streets).
To further avoid traffic-related stress, the Kiwanis Club advises Peach Festival attendees to consider alternate routes into and out of Lewiston.
Reporter Joshua Maloni contributed to this article.