Growth, revitalization on tap for downtown Canton

New Assistant Economic Director for the Canton EDC and Main Street Manager Stacy Crossley said she is working on revitalizing downtown Canton and bringing something new to Canton’s restaurant and entertainment secs.
“I was hired to bring about a revitalization of downtown Canton and it’s going to be a coordinated effort between the Main Street Program and the Canton EDC. We’ve got a lot of ideas and a lot of planning taking shape,” said Crossley.
Planning consists of focusing on retail, restaurants, and entertainment. One of the big changes coming this year is the creation of a Farmers’ Market in downtown Canton.
“In March or April, we hope to see a Farmers’ Market available to VZC and Canton citizens. This project is near and dear to my heart. The plan is to have a Farmers Market every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Vendors will have to fill out an application form but for this year we are not planning on charging for the space used. We only ask that items for sale have to be from Van Zandt County residents only.
We would like to see an offering of locally grown produce, eggs, honey, jams, soaps, creams, etc. Who wouldn’t want to come here and find fresh produce? I want to bring people to downtown when businesses are open as well. We want to create activity and traffic in that downtown area,” said Crossley.
Crossley stated that the Farmers’ Market will be headed up by Main Street Board Member Ben Carter, chef at Buttermilk’s in Canton.
Also on the agenda for revitalization is the Pocket Park renovation, a two-part concert series, pop-up events, summer movie series and growth of Canton’s annual festivals.
“The Pocket Park is going to happen. The funding is there. The plan is to have a big Pop-Up celebration for when it opens, which is set for in the spring, tentatively and weather cooperating. Plans for the park should be completed soon by the designers and we are set to move forward,” said  Crossley.
Along with the summer movie series, Crossley said she hopes to bring in a concert series with
entertainers and music and to basically “make everything bigger and better.”
“It boils down to timing and planning. Now that I have a full Main Street board, we are already in the planning processes. We are hoping to make the Canton Autumn Stroll and Christmas celebration larger than ever before. We are working hard on bringing new things to downtown Canton. We are hoping that a grant from the Texas Historical Commission can see us achieve that.”
Crossley said that Canton Main Street had applied for a grant called the Town Square Initiative through the Texas Historical Commission which would enable a strategic plan for downtown Canton to be implemented.
“The most important thing right now is strategic planning. The plan will help revitalize downtown areas including anything historical, buildings, etc.,” said Crossley. “The really cool thing is that Commissioner Pct. 4 Tim West is applying for grant money for the VZC Courthouse as well, through the Texas Historical Commission. They have got a lot of grant money and I hope to see some of that come this way to Canton.”
Planning a revitalization is a coordinated effort, said Crossley, that takes a full board of people. Currently
on the Canton Main Street Board is Mary Lynn Baugh, Jayla Bray, Ben Carter, Jennifer Cordero, David Cox, Ann Moore, Jennifer Parker, Kristi Smith and Brandi Weaver. Crossley said that a junior board member from Canton High School’s leadership class will be chosen within the month.
“We are researching different ideas and developing programs to bring businesses into the downtown square. Our focus is retail, restaurants, and entertainment. We’ve got a lot of good things and things will be happening in downtown Canton,” said Crossley.

-Britne Hammons (Van Zandt News)