By Ed Karvoski Jr., Contributing Writer
Marlborough – A one-day street fair that began in 1996 evolved to become this year’s 21st annual Marlborough Heritage Weekend. The Marlborough Regional Chamber of Commerce scheduled new and traditional activities Sept. 30 through Oct. 2 in the city’s downtown cultural district. Damp weather conditions progressively improved by the end of the three-day weekend.
New this year, the weekend began Friday evening atop the parking garage behind City Hall with Music, Brews & BBQ.
Also returning at the garage for its second year on Saturday, Oktoberfest featured a German menu provided by Buffet Way Catering and Epicurean Restaurant of Assabet Valley Regional Technical High School. Marlborough House of Pizza served hot slices.
This year’s first guests to arrive for Oktoberfest were about 150 competitors and crew of “The Fireball Run,” a reality TV show streamed on Roku, iTunes, Amazon Prime and Google Play. Forty vehicles with teams of two or more arrived midday at City Hall. Competitors earned extra points if they registered, ate lunch and got photographed with Mayor Arthur Vigeant within 30 minutes. According to the show’s website, “Every driving team is assigned a child missing from their home of origin, and they are provided 1,000 missing child flyers to distribute along the 2,000 mile journey. This campaign has aided in the recovery of 44 missing children.”
The Oktoberfest food and brew servings along with musical entertainment continued through that night.
On Sunday, the traditional festivities began with the 12th annual Main Street Mile organized by the Highland City Striders. The one-mile route goes from the Prospector East Saloon on Lincoln Street to City Hall. Finishing first overall was Alex Engel of Alston in 4:22. Caitlyn Bintz of Marlborough was the first-place female finishing in 5.15. This year, 98 runners ranging in age from 5 to 60 participated.
Festivities continued on Main Street – as did intermittent drizzle – with live musical and dance entertainment, as well as over 100 crafters, vendors and nonprofit organizations. Children’s activities included face painting and touch a truck.
Appetites were once again satisfied with the Chowder and Chili Challenge organized by Bob Kays. Festival-goers sampled offerings from 10 eateries and voted for their favorites along with a panel of judges. Most judges’ votes for chowder went to Marlborough Country Club, and Kennedy’s Restaurant got the people’s choice. Deemed the best chili was Marlborough Hospital by both the judges and festival guests.
Named this year’s Heritage Hero was Ed Thurber, an active Marlborough community leader for five decades. In the 1970s, he served as league vice president of Marlborough Youth Soccer. During the 1980s and ‘90s, Thurber was a board of directors’ member for Marlborough Cultural Affairs. He served as Marlborough Labor Day Parade chair from 2009 through 2013, and as a committee member before and after those five years. Additionally, Thurber has volunteered for the city’s heritage festival throughout its evolution from 1996 to this year.