By Laura Hayes, Senior Community Reporter
SHREWSBURY – After a virtual festival last year, a hybrid Spirit of Shrewsbury will be both in person and virtual this year.
This year also marks the festival’s 25th anniversary.
“I’m looking forward to offering something to our community to try and kick start them and get them back together and not have everybody be so fearful,” said President Maria Smith. “Our whole goal and focus is to offer something fun and light and uplifting through all that we’ve been through and give people a ray of sunshine.
“We’ll make it through this,” she continued. “We’re persevering.”
In-person festivities kick off on Friday, Sept. 24 with the Miss Shrewsbury Pageant at the First Congregational Church.
The main event, including the Town Expo and craft fair, will be held on Saturday, Sept. 25.
Smith said they were forced not to hold any live Spirit of Shrewsbury events last year, though they did hold a couple of events virtually.
Organizers labored over the question of whether they should move forward with the festival this year.
Organizers ultimately did proceed with planning Spirit of Shrewsbury with caution. This year, the festival will be a hybrid of normal festivities, Smith said, with some of the events in person and others being virtual.
“Not knowing whether it was going to be well-attended, I tried polling the community basically to see what their feeling was,” Smith said.
Some residents still weren’t comfortable being around other people due to new COVID-19 variants, despite the event being held outside.
“Others are just dying to be able to safely attend events,” Smith said.
Spirit of Shrewsbury will be held rain or shine.
Besides the expo and craft fair, scarecrows will be displayed on the Town Common. People will have a chance to eat at food trucks and get their faces painted. The Shrewsbury High School Robotics Team and Gymnastics Learning Center will do a demonstration.
Some of the traditional events, like the talent show, will be held virtually.
“It was well-received last year,” Smith said. “So, we are duplicating that effort this year by offering the talent show virtually.”
The parade will also be virtual.
“I must admit, I’m interested to see how that happens,” Smith said.
Organizers asked people to submit clips of them walking down the road as if they were walking in a parade.
This year, the Grand Marshal of the parade is Robert “Chief Joseph” Terkanian.
“I’m excited because he is absolutely the most deserving person ever to be honored as a grand marshal,” Smith said.
Smith has wanted to name him as grand marshal several times in the past.
“The only reason why he accepted this year, with much arm twisting, I must admit, is because there is no fanfare,” Smith said.