Back in January as the Lions Club began developing plans for the 2021 Harbor Days fundraising event, an annual multi-day festival that was not permitted to take place during the height of the pandemic in 2020, many restrictions were still in place. Such restrictions have since, for the most part, been lifted in Massachusetts; nonetheless, safety remained an overarching necessity for the planners.
Early in the planning stages, the number of booth spaces was limited, and considerations on how to handle the preparation and selling of food, one of the main draws to the event, was in doubt. But as restrictions lifted, the club members who planned the event were nimble, finding ways to make everything come together. There was the Friday Night Fish Fry, the Saturday Night Lobster Fest, the Sunday morning pancakes, and, earlier in the week, there was the much-anticipated Strawberry Shortcake, whetting appetites for what was to come. Check – food all set.
King Lion during this challenging time was Ross Kessler. He wrote in his message to the community that this year’s Harbor Days was a time to “appreciate all we have.” He asked that the theme of the 2021 festival be Appreciation with a capital ‘A.’
“Appreciate that we can gather and share time together, appreciate those who are with us and memories of those who have departed, and all the good things in our lives,” Kessler wrote.
People came out in droves, starting early in the morning on July 17 through the closing on July 18 at 4:00 pm. Harbor Days is annually held in Shipyard Park where a steady stream of children, parents, grandparents, neighbors, and friedns from near and far converged. Booths offered many familiar goods for sale, t-shirts, pottery, works of art in a wide variety of mediums, fragrant soaps, glassware, children’s boutique fashions, and jewelry. People were in a buying mood, carrying around large sacks of new acquisitions.
There were also non-profit booths promoting community engagement such as the Mattapoisett Master Plan Committee talking up the importance of participation as the committee drafts the next 10-year plan. The Mattapoisett Land Trust was out in force, letting everyone know about its efforts to conserve open spaces for public recreational use, and the Friends of the Council on Aging and Bike Path were at the ready to talk about their special interests, namely services for the growing number of senior citizens and the expansion of protected bikeways from Mattapoisett to Marion and beyond.
Fielding questions and promoting his dog park concept was Freemin Bauer, who sold t-shirts and accepted donations for what he hopes will one day be a public dog park in the community. He was also talking up his annual Doggie Walk-a-Thon fundraiser planned for August 28, stepping off at Center School from 8:00 am until noon. Call it a fundraiser inside a fundraiser.
And let’s not forget the Lemonade Ladies, whose cold, fresh lemon concoction has been refreshing Harbor Days visitors for more than a decade. It’ still run by family friends, but the next generation of the originators – the Ronnie King and Kathleen Renzi families. The two friends spearheaded the fundraiser years ago. All money generated from the sale of lemonade goes to local scholarships and charities. Another philanthropic endeavor inside the Lions Club fundraiser.
People in the village area took advantage of the influx of visitors to the town by setting up their own refreshment stands while others sold freshly cut flowers or threw the ever-popular yard sale. There was even a pop-up market inside the Mattapoisett Museum. All in all, it was a hubbub of happy activity highly welcomed by everyone.
By Marilou Newell