Town of Manchester’s Bicentennial – A Year in Review

This year, the Town of Manchester celebrated its Bicentennial, a recognition of Manchester’s founding 200 years ago, all the way back in 1823. For many, 2023 served as a year-long celebration of Manchester, as we “remembered the past, celebrated the present, and dreamed about the future.”

In order to commemorate the Bicentennial, the Town of Manchester, the Department of Leisure, Family and Recreation, and a slate of community partners collaborated to host a variety of projects, programs, special events and initiatives that honored Manchester’s history and celebrated the vibrant, diverse local community of today.

Please see the below monthly breakdown of Town of Manchester’s Bicentennial projects. A special thank you to all who allowed for these projects to thrive – from the town & partner organizations who crafted these projects to the dedicated community members who joined in celebrating and commemorating the town’s Bicentennial.

This is just a sampling of what this year had to offer – for a complete recap, please visit the Commemorative Bicentennial Guide.


Bicentennial Grant Giving Program

As part of the Bicentennial celebration, the Town of Manchester organized the Bicentennial Grant Giving Program, facilitated by the Manchester Youth Commission. This grant program provided Manchester-based organizations, non-profit groups and local clubs the opportunity to apply for funding for commemorative, cultural & community projects and programs.



Reflect. Celebrate. Dream in the Park.

Reflect, Celebrate, Dream in the Park was one of the Town of Manchester’s first Bicentennial celebrations. Festivities included morning yoga, a drumming circle, the 1998 time capsule display, and the official burying of the 2023 time capsule.


This event was a part of a larger multi-site day of activities, which included a three-venue art exhibit, the DMSSD’S Butterfly Stroll & the Cheney Homestead & Fire Museum tours – all with a trolley to take participants from site to site.


Two Hundred Trees for a Greener Tomorrow

Facilitated by the Manchester Garden Club, the Two Hundred Trees for a Greener Tomorrow project offered 200 native tree saplings and fact sheets, free of charge, to Manchester residents at a slate of Bicentennial events. Saplings were distributed at Reflect, Celebrate and Dream in the Park & the Spruce Street Farmers Market.




Spruce Street Farmers Market

The annual Spruce Street Farmers Market was held on Wednesdays, June 7 – August 30 at Market Field, 153 & 163 Spruce Street. The Spruce Street Farmers Market  is dedicated to providing a source for fresh, locally-grown produce, food items & artisanal goods.


This year, the Spruce Street Farmers Market celebrated the Town of Manchester’s Bicentennial with weekly market themes, including Manchester Day, the 100th Market Celebration, Pride Night & more!


Juneteenth Freedom Day Commemoration

The 3rd annual Juneteenth Freedom Day Commemoration was held on Saturday, 17 from 11:00 AM – 3:00 PM at the Leisure Labs at Mahoney Center, 110 Cedar Street. This year’s celebration included a black-owned vendor market, special musical performances, the Black Joy Poetry Contest & more.


Bicentennial Podcast Series
The Tiny Podcast Team focused its second season on producing a Special Bicentennial Series. The topics for these episodes included: Pre-Manchester and Indigenous People, Agriculture to Industry, Buffalo Soldiers, Wartime in Manchester, Sports and Recreation in Manchester, Race and Equity & the Future of Manchester.


Click here to listen to the Tiny Podcast: Special Bicentennial Series.



James “Dutch” Fogarty Independence Day Celebration

The annual James “Dutch” Fogarty Independence Day Celebration was held on Saturday, July 8th and featured musical performances from The Real Goonie Jay & NightShift, kids activities and – of course – a firework display!


MARC Summer Concert Series

The MARC Green hosted a weekly concert series, including performances by Mass-Conn-Fusion, Anthem Reggae Band, and Backstage Pass. Click here to see a video recap of the 2023 summer concert series.



Silk City Fest
Silk City Fest is an annual celebration of local music and art, with performances, vendors, games, craft beer, food trucks and more. This year’s Silk City Fest, held on Saturday, August 26, included live music from DB Kinney, Johnny Mainstream, MARMO, Passing Strange & many more.


Cruisin’ on Main Street Car Show

The 22nd annual Cruisin’ on Main Street Car Show was held on Sunday, August 6th, and featured “vintage cars, trucks, sports cars and street rods, 1987 and prior” from across the state. To see photos from this year’s show, please visit the Cruisin’ on Main Street Facebook page.



Northwest Park Farmers Market

The annual Northwest Park Farmers Market was held on Wednesdays, September 6 – October 25 at Northwest Park, 448 Tolland Turnpike. The Northwest Park Farmers Market is dedicated to providing a source for fresh, locally-grown produce, food items & artisanal goods.


This year, the Northwest Park Farmers Market celebrated the Town of Manchester’s Bicentennial with weekly market themes, including a Free Pumpkin Carving, Halloween Costume Day & more.


Elisabeth M. Bennet Statue Dedication

An unveiling and dedication ceremony for the statue of Elisabeth M. Bennet was held on Thursday, September 14 at Bennet Academy, 1151 Main Street. The statue honors & immortalizes the life of Bennet and her role as beloved teacher, principal, pioneer and friend to all.


Hispanic Heritage Day Celebration

The Town of Manchester commemorated the start to Hispanic Heritage Month with their annual Hispanic Heritage Day Celebration (Saturday, September 16th at the Leisure Labs at Mahoney Center, 110 Cedar Street). The event included a local food & vendor market, cultural performances & an unveiling of the Hispanic Heritage mural at the Marcy MacDonald Poolhouse.


Manchester Sports Hall of Fame Exhibit

The Manchester Sports Hall of Fame, in partnership with the Town of Manchester’s Bicentennial Working Group, unveiled its new exhibit on Wednesday, September 20th from 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM at its new home at the Leisure Labs at Mahoney Center, 110 Cedar Street.

This multi-floor exhibit highlights the first 42 years of Manchester Sports Hall of Fame inductees. Commemorated with display panels, the exhibit spans two floors of the recently revamped Leisure Labs at Mahoney Center, officially signifying the move from its original home at the Old Manchester Museum at 126 Cedar Street.

Lights in the Sky: Drone Show Event
The Lights in the Sky: Drone Show Event (Friday, September 22) was a first of its kind project, and included live music, the 1998 Time Capsule display, the unveiling of the Pups in the Park exhibit, and the premiere of The Living History Project, a documentary created “to showcase the community of today & the direction of our future all while tipping our hats to the past.”

Click here to view The Living History Project.


Northwest Park Fall Festival

The 3rd annual Northwest Park Fall Festival featured a week full of fun Halloween-themed activities. On October 10-11, families were invited to carve & decorate pumpkins at the Northwest Park Pavilion. On October 13, the annual Fall Festival was held, which included a Trunk or Treat with Town of Manchester departments, a Jack-O-Lantern Zombie Walk, local vendors and much more!

Missed out on this awesome slate of events? Worry not – there are still of variety of special events, including but not limited to:

  • Manchester Road Race (Downtown Manchester, November 23rd, 10:00 AM)
  • Holiday in the Park (Northwest Park, December 16th, 9:00 AM – 11:00 AM)
  • Spruce Street Farmers Market: Shop Small Saturday (Nathan Hale Recreation Center, November 16th, 9:00 AM – 1:00 PM)

2023 marked a year full of reflection, celebration, and recognition of Manchester’s rich history, diverse present & exciting future. Manchester – here’s to another 200 years

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