By Melanie Petrucci, Senior Community Reporter
Northborough – On Dec. 17, at their regularly scheduled meeting, the Board of Selectmen had a discussion regarding the structure of next year’s Applefest, which will take place Sept. 19-22, 2019.
At issue the date of the annual parade – whether it should remain on Sunday of the festival weekend or be moved to Saturday.
Members of the Applefest Committee were present at this meeting and the board received emails from the Girl Scouts, Rotary Club and Town Common Committee expressing their views that the parade should remain on Sunday.
“I have the same concern that I had in the spring that we are maxing out DPW, the fire department and the police department and I personally feel that we didn’t have the turnout for the parade that we normally do,” shared Board Chair Dawn Rand who supported moving the parade back to Saturday.
“I feel that right now we are in year of transition and that Applefest is a large community event and I think it’s only going to get bigger…There is so much going on on Saturdays as it is,” added Selectman Leslie Rutan, who favors keeping the parade on Sunday, along with selectmen Tim Kaelin and Julianne Hirsch.
Arguments in favor of having everything on Saturday included those who only wanted to devote one day of their weekend to the festival and concern over stretching town resources too thin. On the other side, arguments in favor of keeping the parade on Sundays sited the flexibility of being able to take part in more activities and enjoy the parade.
“What is the goal of the parade? Is it to draw more people?” Rutan asked.
Town Administrator John Coderre remarked that the reason for this discussion was so that people’s opinions could be heard in an open and transparent way.
Applefest Committee Chair Michelle Gillespie spoke on behalf of the committee and presented packets to the board with letters from 20 businesses asking that the parade remain on Sundays. She also had a petition with over 100 signatures in favor of keeping the parade on Sundays. She also shared that last September’s high heat and humidity contributed to the light turnout for the parade.
“Closing down a major highway when people come from other communities to Applefest has a huge impact on them and it has an impact on the banks that have signed this [petition], and hairdressers who’ve signed this and stores,” Gillespie stated.
Local resident Ed Bombard said that he has been marching in the parade for years and has coordinated the Color Guard who, last year, was actually able to participate in the fair with their families.
After a few more comments, the board ultimately voted in favor of keeping the parade on Sunday of the annual festival weekend.