This year's Autumn Arts & Crafts Festival packed the sunny side of Main Street on Saturday; on the east end, the second annual ROPES Day included kids' games, a small car show and a Jack's Hot Dog Eating Contest.
The fair, a tiny event for years, was significantly expanded this year under volunteer coordinator Jennifer Barbeau. (It wouldn't have happened at all if Barbeau and her cadre of volunteers hadn't stepped in.) Some 78 vendors ranging from food to jewelry to arts to a wide range of crafts set up along the both sides of Main Street's eastbound lane.
Above, the local team claims victory in the hot dog eating contest. Top, the Drury High marching band at the Fall Foliage Parade. Left, visitors begin arriving at the craft fair early Saturday.
It was a 100 percent a success ... the vendors were thrilled," said Barbeau late Saturday afternoon as fair disbanded. "We're already looking for ways to improve this for next year."
With the exception of a handful, the participating merchants were happy with both the crowd that was attracted and the amoung of sales, the bulk of which came between 10 and 2. A lof those who attended were tourists, a good sign, said Barbeau, who noted that the fair was up against the well-established harvest and craft fairs at Berkshire Botanical Garden in Stockbridge and Hildene in Manchester, Vt.
"There were visitors from everywhere," said Helene Armet of Babycakes. "I'd do it again."
In fact, more than a few vendors stopped on their way out to compliment Barbeau, who operates two businesses out of her home when she isn't organizing craft fairs. With no budget, Barbeau got out the word with social media, signs everywhere and appearances on local radio. A stint on the "Opinion Show" on WNAW prompted a rash of calls from interested vendors. The fair will return next year and a survey will be sent to vendors to find out what worked and what could be improved.
Batman and Superman wave from a parade float.
The afternoon was supplemented by ROPES Family Fun Day, a fundraiser for the North Adams Police-sponsored summer camp (Respecting Other People Encouraging Self-Esteem) that puts kids through a ropes course to building team spirit and self-esteem. The day began with a pancake breakfast at the VFW and a 60-mile motorcycle run.
"It was a good pace and everyone had a good time," said Officer Erik Thomas, an organizer of the event with Lt. David Sacco, who added, "There was great participation all around."
Both said they hoped to grow the car and motorcycle show, which still had a better turnout than last year's wet day. The doughnut eating contest was cancelled this year for lack of participants but they hope to revive it next year.
The dog eating contest went on — but without the Ephs, who got spanked by MCLA 88-62 last year. Williams cancelled Friday night but the townies stepped up to defeat champs MCLA by 70-54. The dogs were donated by Jack's Hot Dogs owner Jeff Levanos again and, this year, everything stayed down, said Sacco.
The ROPES organizers and Barbeau worked closely the last few weeks but Barbeau is hoping to integrate both events better for next year.
Also on Saturday was the first Dog Day of Fall Parade. Sunday, of course, was parade day with thousands lining Curran Highway, State Street and Main Street to watch the bands, floats, politicians and Shriners go by.
Look for photos Monday from the Friday's Children's Parade, the Fall Foliage Parade and the Dog Day of Fall Parade.