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Fall Festival Feedback

The Ashfield News of Ashfield, Massachusetts

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This year's Fall Festival was accompanied by picture-perfect October weather with scattered clouds, temperatures in the 50s and 60s, and the beginnings of fall colors in the trees. Although the festival committee only minimally promotes the festival, the crowds show up in droves just the same. Participants seemed to be in agreement that the crowd sizes were larger, but hardly the largest. Instead, they felt just right to most.

Glassblower Ed Branson said that he has been exhibiting his work for thirty years.

Attendance and sales over the last five years have evened out, but the festival is "always worth doing." Watercolor painter Walt Cudnohufksy agreed: "With great weather and crowds, the people were in a good mood and sales were solid and normal." Walt also praised the annual showcase as a "true community builder," noting that it is an opportunity to check in with friends you otherwise see only occasionally.

Festival parking was no longer advertised as "free" on Main Street since it has always been expected that visitors give a donation. Perhaps that honesty compelled attendees to dig a little deeper — a record amount was donated to the scholarship fund this year.

Vendors seemed to come fairly close to anticipating demand at most of the food stalls. By mid-afternoon on Sunday the Boy Scouts had exhausted their donuts, Elmer's was out of its smoked ribs, and the South

Ashfield Library group had sold all their slices of pie. "It was an average year in every way: profit, crowds, banter, camaraderie," said Diane Sibley, co-organizer of the pie sales in town hall.

Perhaps the more modest crowds encouraged visitors to spend more time browsing. Steve Gougeon of Bear Swamp Orchard reported that they sold out of cider faster than in previous years even though the crowds were not exceptional. Sibley said they sold far more coffee than ever. One exception to the reports of "average but good" was Elmer's Store. Owner Nan Parati said, "it was our best year by far."

Mike Skalski added large tents and private vendors to his mega sale on Baptist Corner Road this year. Just as in past years, on Sunday the crowds waited for 4 o'clock, when everything left was free for the picking. An enormous Dunkin Donuts sign was almost all that was left by the time the last stragglers went home.

An array of new games along with annual regulars brought treasure to the young entrepreneurs who manned their booths. New games included a toilet bowl toss run by Hollin and Tristan Keyser-Parker. Harry Levine offered prizes for successful shots on a miniature basketball hoop.

The Cub Scouts and Girl Scouts together netted almost $1,000 to support their troops. Tom Moore estimated that about forty children per hour climbed the fidget ladder to ring the bell.

With word of mouth bringing most visitors to Ashfield combined with a reputation for local charm, quality crafts, original games, enjoyable music, and tasty food, the message from this year's festival seemed to be to simply keep the tradition going!

"With great weather and crowds, the people were in a good mood and sales were solid and normal." — Walt Cudnohufksy



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Original Publication Date: November 1, 2015



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