BARRE, VT – On July 23rd, from 5:30 pm to 6:00 pm, Barre, Vermont, will celebrate its public downtown Wi-Fi zone, which is free for residents and visitors alike. The zone was funded, developed, and implemented by the Vermont Digital Economy Project, with local support from the City of Barre and the Barre Partnership.

The celebration will be the kickoff to the Barre Heritage Festival, a five-day celebration of community, culture, history and the arts. A cable-cutting ceremony, a photo-sharing activity, and an explanation of the zone’s uses will all take place on the Town Office Lawn at 5:30pm, immediately followed by the Author’s at the Aldrich event at the Aldrich Library.

Downtown Wi-Fi zones have been one of the most sought-after services of the Vermont Digital Economy Project, which is part of the Vermont Council on Rural Development. Barre was one of 25 towns to apply for and receive a grant.

Now up and running, the Barre Wi-Fi Zone, called “the Barre Connection” is used by between 80 and 120 individuals a day, downloading over 6 GB of data a week.

“The Barre Partnership has been working hard to ensure that Barre is an open and inviting place for both new and old businesses,” said Lucas Herring, a member of the Barre Partnership board of directors, who also sits on the city’s IT Committee and is a City Councilman. “Free downtown Wi-Fi is one more way in which we can show how far Barre has come, and how much hard work we are continuing to do to ensure that Barre is an ideal place to live and work.”

The Wi-Fi zone provides open and public access in downtown areas. People in the area can use the network to check their email, look up directions, or post to social media. When using the zone, visitors will navigate through a landing page, where they will learn more about the activities and businesses in town. Local businesses who have helped with the project by donating bandwidth and allowing Access Points to be installed on their buildings will also be thanked. Access to the “Barre Connection” is available on Main Street as well as at the Old Labor Hall.

“We were happy to help the city of Barre to take one more step in helping residents and visitors feel connected to the town, and to the internet while they’re in town,” said Caitlin Lovegrove, the Network and Outreach Coordinator for the Vermont Digital Economy Project.

While the zone is already active in the town, the event will be an opportunity to share the experience of an open and public Wi-Fi network, while simultaneously celebrating the community and local business owners of Barre, Vermont. All are welcome to attend.