By Mary Pritchard, Contributing Writer
Shrewsbury – Members of the committee have been hard at work planning the 16th Annual Spirit of Shrewsbury Festival to be held Sept. 28 to 30. Spirit of Shrewsbury Festival President Sabina Terrades has been involved with the festival for 12 years.
“I began participating 12 years ago through my church, and it quickly became a tradition,” she said. “This will be the eighth year I'se been in the parade with my church, the fifth year that I'se been the chairperson of the Oak Street Expo, and my third year as president.”
Terrades said the committee begins planning in February and has a wrap-up of the event in October each year.
Highlights of the celebration include the three main events: ?the Oak Street Expo, the craft fair and the parade. The Oak Street Expo will be Saturday, Sept. 29, on the front lawn at Oak Middle School and offers more than 100 exhibitors from in and around Shrewsbury. According to organizers, the expo is a “celebration of Shrewsbury's town, civic, educational and religious organizations and its business community.”
At the same time, the Craft Fair, with approximately 75 crafters and artisans, is held inside Oak Middle School. The parade steps off at 1 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 30, at Beal School and ends at Oak Middle School with the Post Parade Celebration. There will be activities under the tent at Oak Middle School before and during the parade as well.
“We'sl have family treats, food, music and entertainment,” Terrades said. “We have a live rock band, “Tall Boys” from noon to 2. These events have been growing each year. Spaces are filling earlier and earlier, and vendors and visitors even come from out-of-state for our festival, which is held rain or shine.”
Leading the parade will be 2012 Grand Marshal Elaine LeBlanc, who personifies this year's festival theme:? “Neighbors Helping Neighbors.” LeBlanc, director of Human Services at St. Anne's in Shrewsbury, is well-known for her dedication to helping people in need for more than 40 years.
Some other events scheduled Friday through Sunday include a Homecoming Gathering at the Italian American Victory Club, Pancake Breakfast and Fishing Derby at Shrewsbury Sportsmen's Club, The 16th Annual 5K Road Race and Funwalk at Dean Park, Shrewsbury Historical Society Open House, Artemas Ward Barn Open House and family concert by “Chuck and Mud” and “The Hole in the Dam Band,” the Over 90 Tribute at the Senior Center, and the ongoing Dancing Fountains at Dean Park pond.
Two events, the Scarecrow on the Common Contest and Display, and the “Light the Spirit” Jack-O-Lantern Display, have been cancelled due to concern about mosquito-borne illnesses.
“We are very disappointed, but it's better to be safe than sorry,” she said. “We made the changes to comply with the recommendation of the Board of Health. The events will be missed, but next year we can do them again. Although our outdoor events, like the Oak Street Expo, are not held after dusk, we highly recommend using bug spray.”
The events embody the name of the festival as Shrewsbury residents and visitors demonstrate their spirit and affection for Shrewsbury, and organizers strive to provide opportunities for the community to be together and experience the “town's cultural and historic wealth.”
As chair of the Oak Street Expo, Terrades enjoys seeing all the people as she makes her rounds throughout the expo all day.
“It is so exciting to see and meet so many people,” she said. “It's nice to see all of Shrewsbury united on one day at such a great community event.”
A full description and schedule of events can be found in the Festival Guide and at www.spiritofshrewsbury.com.