story & photos
by Anna Trusky
The Groton Business Association (GBA) of the Greater Mystic Chamber of Commerce could not have asked for a better day for their seventh annual Groton Fall Festival, held on October 6 at Poquonnock Plains Park.
Although the leaves on many of the maple trees around the park had already turned brilliant shades of orange and red, the temperature was in the 70’s under a brightly shining sun. Crowds of friends from all around the community visited booths, learned about local businesses and nonprofit organizations, munched on tasty festival fare, and purchased all types of products, including pumpkins for Halloween jack-o’-lanterns.
As in past years, AVCRAD’s Blackhawk Helicopter from the local airport occupied the center ring and was open for visits. Groton’s fire departments were on hand to celebrate Fire Prevention Week with special displays, exhibits, and vehicles. The RE/MAX balloon provided rides. Guitarist Lou Manzi and Jason Pipitone acted as wandering minstrels. One new feature this year was a special children’s entertainment circle that kept kids enthralled throughout the day with a variety of acts, including Steve Elci & Friends, Elijah’s Magic, and Stretch the Clown, as well as karate and freestyle Frisbee demonstrations.
While some kids got to go home with pumpkins and popcorn, one lucky little guy from North Stonington went back with a new pet—a sweet orange-and-white kitty from Groton Animal Foundation, who was brought by Groton Animal Control officer Donna Duso. Kaygan Hill fell in love with Ginger the cat, and his mom Amanda couldn’t help agreeing to adopt the lucky feline. But Ginger wasn’t the only critter in attendance—there was also Clyde, a male Eastern Box Turtle who spent the day greeting visitors to the Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center booth.
Jim Bates, chairman of the GBA as well as chair of the 2012 Fall Festival Planning Committee, couldn’t have been happier with the size of turnout and the success of the event. “Every year, the turnout gets bigger. We estimate that between 7,000 and 8,000 people visited the festival today,” Jim said. “The vendors told us that there was a steady stream of visitors all day, and they were buying, which is great.”
He explained that the planning committee works pretty much year-round. “We get together in January to review how everything went in the previous fall festival and start planning for the next one. By May, our plans become solidified.”
More than 80 volunteers, many from nearby Grasso Tech, pitched in to help make the festival a resounding success. Sponsors on hand included Groton Utilities, Thames Valley Communications, the Town of Groton Recreation Department, and radio station Q105. Net proceeds will be used to support Groton’s Annual Holiday Lights Parade in December and other GBA projects throughout the year.