Downtown Elmira: More Than Expected

Wisner Market, located in Wisner Park, has been offering unique goods to shoppers for 17 years. Photo courtesy Mark Twain Country

With the Chemung River flowing through its downtown, the picturesque city of Elmira offers a wide range of fun summer activities. It’s a perfect place to visit for a day, or a weekend-long family staycation. Fun-filled festivals, a famous farmers market, specialty shops and wonderful museums burst with history and art.

Summer begins with the opening of Wisner Market in historic Wisner Park, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Thursday. For the past 17 years, it’s offered fresh produce, flowers, candles, and arts and crafts. The market’s “Lunch in the Park,” serving specialties from many well-loved Elmira Restaurants, has become famous. Visitors – about 20,000 each summer – enjoy their food in the serene atmosphere of the park.

On July 12 through 14, downtown streets become the canvas for more than 100 artists who participate in the annual Elmira Street Painting Festival. With chalk in hand, they create masterpieces right before your eyes. Adding to the celebration of creativity are regional crafts and artwork for sale. Now in its sixth year, the festival will feature pop-up galleries, live music and a costume contest on Friday night. Come for the weekend to sample Finger Lakes wine and downtown Elmira restaurants. They offer Italian, Chinese, Mexican and American cuisines.

On August 17, come for the toe-tapping Dixieland Jazz in Wisner Park from noon to 6 p.m. This jazz bash of music, dancing and community features a spectacular lineup of musicians from Buffalo, Rochester, Ithaca and Elmira. Great food, drink, arts and crafts, and more surprises await. Admission is free, but bring chairs and blankets, plus your dancing shoes and love of music.

The season kicks off on May 18 with the Susan G. Koman Race for the Cure. Another race, Girls on the Run 5k, will be held on June 8, and a Stiletto Sprint will be held on October 4.


by Marcia Tinker