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Sep 19, 2013
08:25 AM
The Connecticut Table

Open-Air 'HodgePodge' to Bring New Vibrancy, Great Food, to Hartford on Sundays

Open-Air 'HodgePodge' to Bring New Vibrancy, Great Food, to Hartford on Sundays

From the Hartford HodgePodge Facebook page: Did you just say day LOBSTER ROLLS?! This is one of many local and tasty options found at the HodgePodge. Garbo Lobsta is on Pratt Street for opening day only, so grab your big lobster bib and head on down to Pratt Street; Sept 22 from 11-4.

Open air markets may be a staple in other cities, like the Brooklyn Flea, which pulls thrifty shoppers into Brooklyn, N.Y., from around the region each weekend, or the SoWa Open Market, with its extensive arts and craft section in Boston’s South End.

But Hartford has been a little behind the curve.

While the city-sanctioned Regional Market brings fresh fruits, veggies and other goodies to the city each year, Hartford lacks its own branded open-air event packed with food, drink and music that brings city dwellers out into the streets and inspires suburbanites to trek into downtown outside of the 9-to-5 workday.

TJ Clynch, a self-proclaimed “Mr. Pro-Hartford” and the happening young business owner of Civic Mind Studios, is responsible for Hartford HodgePodge, a gathering local vendors and live music that will shut down and simultaneously enliven Pratt Street every Sunday for six consecutive weeks, starting this Sunday, Sept. 22.

Now in its second year, the Hartford HodgePodge aims to create the type of atmosphere that Clynch says is crucial for shifting the mindset of suburbanites and bringing new life to Hartford.

“We want to make a livable amenity for the city, an event to bring vibrancy,” Clynch said.

And a core part of that involves offering good, and interesting, food

Hardcore Sweet Cupcakes, Get Toasted, Poutine Hot Spot and The G Stream are just a few of the food trucks included in the HodgePodge’s line up.

And an all-Connecticut craft beer garden will be a market highlight.

Vendors are set to include Downtown Yoga, also a business run by Clynch, Sow Fresh Organics, Hartford Prints, MiJuMi Art, the CT Artists Initiative, SugarPlum USA, Hartford Stage Company, the Hartford Hilton, the Vintage Mobile and many others.

A confluence of other concerns, including boosting economic development with the hope of bringing vendors into empty storefronts, and the need for sustained cultural programing in the city, bridging the gap between summer movies at Bushnell Park and Winter Fest, led Clynch to settle on the idea of an open-air market through the fall.

Simply put, the goal is “to get people to come into the open-air market and experience what the city has to offer,” said Mike Zaleski, executive director of the Hartford Business Improvement District (BID), a HodgePodge partner.

Civic Mind Studios plans the event and partners with local organizations, such as Hartford BID, to bring it to life.

“It’s definitely a local, grassroots event,” said Clynch “All the surrounding businesses contribute to make it happen.”

Hartford Hodgepodge will run from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. every Sunday through Oct. 27 on Pratt Street. To connect or learn more, see the HodgePodge Facebook page.

Open-Air 'HodgePodge' to Bring New Vibrancy, Great Food, to Hartford on Sundays

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