CHESTER, Vt. – A number of vendors, exhibitors, and performers enjoyed a large crowd of all ages and two beautiful early fall days, Sept. 18 and 19, for the return of the Chester Festival on the Green.
Spread out on and around the town green, there were many festivalgoers strolling with their dogs and ice cream cones and enjoying all that was going on. For many years, the Chester Rotary had organized a fall festival that had come to be known widely especially for its food vendors, artists, and crafters. Last year what would have their 46th annual event was canceled due to the Covid pandemic.
This year, the Rotary handed the event off to a new Chester Community Events Committee. It’s chairman, Scott Blair, a local Vermonter and owner of the Southern Pie Café on the green, says the committee of nine members is “ready to give it fresh blood.”
He says they recruited 20 volunteers to run this year’s event. He noted they pulled together donations from other businesses, and he wanted to thank them all. He also said he was, “so proud of them all coming together and can all be neighbors and celebrate together.” He said the committee hopes to continue with more events through the year to “make Chester a destination for events, a festival destination.”
Blair said the plan this year was to make this festival both “something different and the same.” They added an agricultural aspect and music to the traditional food, arts, and craft vendors, all in hopes of increasing the range of interests for those attending. Blair estimates that 70% of the crafters and food vendors returned from before and the rest were new vendors this year. Additions included children’s events and activities such as a Farm Olympics that featured sack races and pumpkin bowling for the children and an improved and expanded beer garden for the older folks. Blair said they wanted to “keep everybody entertained.” The featured bands for concerts at the end of the day were Ali T on Saturday and Jamie Lee Thurston on Sunday.
Ann Herrick, a traditional crafter from nearby Springfield, was there with her hand-sewn goods. She said, “I’ve been doing this for years, and I love it.”
Randy Pratico of Beartown Woodworks in Rutland was there with his handmade fairy houses, birdhouses, and other woodcrafts. He said, “I love this place. I am pleased. There seems to be a lot of activity. Lots of shows I’ve done don’t have the feel of this one.”
Clifford Wright from Bear Honey Farms in Bath, Pa., was there with a display of honey and beeswax candles, and he also had a bee hive that he used to present a show for the kids where he makes them into bees and flowers and they act out “the dance of the honeybees.”
David Levesque, a visitor from Meyersdale, Pa., said, “It’s a neat event. There’s more to Chester than I thought.”
And, a sign of the times, the Vermont Department of Health was there with a tent where Covid vaccinations were available.
Blair and his committee intend to be back at work planning future festivals and events in Chester soon.