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Film Festival Expects to Boost Downtown Business

The Thunder Bay International Film Festival is coming to Alpena once again for the first time in a couple years due to the pandemic. People will finally be allowed to view the films in person once again.

In between the festival, people are going to go downtown for various reasons. Getting a bite to eat, or just doing some general sightseeing.

“We’re really excited it’s back again this year, especially around this time of year when there’s not a whole lot going on downtown in terms of events and festivals,” says Alpena Downtown Development Authority Anne Gentry.

For downtown Alpena, it’s always a great time for them to have large numbers of people visit the downtown area, especially a new business. At PIFCider, it’s all hands on deck.

“This is our labor of love; this has been building for eight years, we started out as vegetable farmers and have brought it all the way to this,” says co-owner of PIFCider, Molly Stepanski. “So it’s very exhilarating for us to finally have a place and to be identified within town as a business that’s really creating something that gives back to the community.”

PIFCider’s beverages are being served at the film festival, which Stepanski is hoping gets moviegoers to stop in and enjoy more.

“They’ll sort of have a sense of who we are, and maybe check us out because of that,” she said.

The concepts in the films at the festival are related to keeping our oceans safe and clean. Stepanski is happy to support that message.

“It’s been a whole new experience for me to see how vibrant and thriving, and the sanctuary, and all the research that they’re doing down there it’s just so exceptional. And to just be in a town that’s a part of that is really exciting for us,” she said.

As people visit Alpena for possibly the first time, those downtown are hoping they can go back to where they’re from and speak positively about their experience.

“We hope that people come and visit and tell their friends about all the cool things going on in our little town,” said Gentry.

The film festival officially kicks off next week and features films from all over the world.