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Rochester making plans for annual October Festival


ROCHESTER — While scarecrows have been traditionally used to keep marauding birds away from crops, they also can be used as a symbol of the town’s October Festival, which will be held next month.

Preparations are underway for the fifth annual event, which is scheduled for Oct. 12 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. throughout the downtown area — rain or shine.

The festival celebrates fall in New England by showcasing “what we love best — pumpkin patches, cider and apples,” according to Michael Provost, director of Rochester Main Street.

As before, the festival — which is underwritten by Service Credit Union — will be held on Hanson Street, in Central Square and at Factory Court, which are all within walking distance of each other and nearby municipal parking.

Provost said local businesses can get in the spirit by decorating a scarecrow, entering the window display contest and by bringing their wares or an activity onto the sidewalk during the event.“This is one of the few times each year they are permitted to do so as Main Street obtains a permit allowing sidewalk displays and sales during the event,” according to a press release.“There is no charge to host an activity or display in front of your business that day,” according to the release.According to Provost, last year more than 5,000 area residents and visitors were drawn to the event, which involved 60 area businesses and organizations.

There’s no question people are drawn to the local festivals and events — like Comic Book Day, the Night Before the Fourth fireworks and a blues festival — held in the city annually, according to Mary Ellen Humphrey, economic development specialist for the city.

“I like to see how the shopkeepers are doing,” Humphrey said, adding the downtown offers many businesses which can’t be found in malls.

“Rochester has its own identity,” Humphrey said, adding these events bring cultural value to the community.

“The whole point is to bring people into the downtown,” Humphrey said, adding many visitors are encouraged to return at a later time.

Humphrey said this is evident from the ticket sales at the historic Rochester Opera House, which welcomes visitors from around New England.

Humphrey said fall is a great time to get outside, meet people and have fun.

“This family fun event offers food, fun, games, demonstrations and an interactive barnyard petting zoo — sponsored by Holy Rosary Credit Union,” according to the release.

The zoo, which was added this year, will also hold demonstrations of bottle feeding a calf and milking goats three times throughout the day, according to the release.Additionally, Provost said there will be performances by members of the Rochester Opera House, demonstrations by karate schools, recitals by local dance schools, traditional shows by the Happy Time Square Dancers and information provided by members of the Rochester Historical SocietyMembers of Rochester Main Street are looking for the best “Mile High Apple Pie” as part of an annual baking contest.

All entries must be delivered to the Rochester Main Street booth no later than 10:30 a.m. and judging is set for 11:15 a.m.

“The winner receives a medal, bragging rights and $25 cash prize,” Provost said.

To help offset costs, area residents and visitors can try their luck in a raffle for a $500 gift card from Kohl’s, a $250 gift card for the Lilac Mall or $100 in cash.

Tickets, which cost $2 each or six for $10, can be purchased from any Main Street volunteer, board member or through the Rochester Main Street Office.

For more information, visit www.rochestermainstreet.org.

jquinn@newstote.com

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