NEPS Summer Celebration is a record-setter

By Denise Coffey - Staff Writer
Woodstock - posted Tue., Jul. 19, 2011
Sylvia Richardson makes sure that MacKenzie Malboeuf is safe in the saddle of 'Salty the unicorn' at the Summer Celebration. Photos by D. Coffey.
Sylvia Richardson makes sure that MacKenzie Malboeuf is safe in the saddle of 'Salty the unicorn' at the Summer Celebration. Photos by D. Coffey.

On July 16, the Woodstock Fairgrounds were turned into a merry collection of vendors, exhibitors and musicians, as Northeast Placement Services hosted its sixth annual Summer Celebration. Three bands played for crowds that gathered under a hot summer sun. Kala Farnham, Triple Shot and White Rose Confession entertained from 10 a.m. to the early afternoon.

NEPS is a non-profit agency supporting people with disabilities. All proceeds from the Summer Celebration went to aid the organization in its mission of providing placement opportunities and services to its clients. This year marks the 25th anniversary of the organization. “In these difficult days, we are still going strong,” said NEPS Executive Director Rick Roy. “We are still a good provider of services in the Northeast Corner.”

Roy estimates that between 5,000 and 6,000 people passed through the gates on Saturday. “We raised well over $10,000,” he said. “In this economy, we are blessed and amazed.”

NEPS Support Supervisor Lynn Collins and Mark Kaylor manned a raffle booth where people could choose from 90 different raffles. All of the raffle items had been donated by the community and area businesses. NEPS Director of Day Services Cheryl Fogg said that the raffles brought in double the amount of money they did last year. “It helped that the weather was great,” Fogg said. “People came from as far as Farmington and Worcester. And our sponsors were great.”

Collins agreed. “We couldn’t do it without our sponsors,” she said.

Dance and martial arts exhibits were held in a main staging area. Connecticut State Trooper Keith Stolarek demonstrated how closely he works with his K-9 partner, Duke. The 4-year-old male followed Stolarek’s commands closely, jumping in and out of the open cruiser window, and doing what was asked, even crawling along on his belly as Stolarek lay face down on the ground.
Stolarek took questions from the crowd of adults and children who had gathered to watch the demonstration.

Nineteen different vendors set up booths around the main staging area. Lemonade and iced coffee were hot sellers, as was the barbeque chicken and hamburgers.

Eric Brown demonstrated how quickly he could turn a log of wood into a carving with a chain saw. Wood chips flew as he put the saw to pine. His leather chaps were covered in white wood bits by the time he finished.

An antique car show, hay rides, water slides and a dunking booth drew in fans of all ages. Children lined up for pony rides provided by The Painted Pony from Windham, Conn. Salty, a Shetland pony dressed with a unicorn’s horn, and AJ, a special rescue horse from Maryland, provided hours of fun to scores of children. Painted Pony’s Stacy Carpenter said AJ is part of a therapeutic riding program that helps children with a wide range of cognitive, physical and emotional conditions.

NEPS provides vocational, day, and residential services, community experience, enrichment and individual placement programs and group supported employment for residents of 14 area towns.

For more information on NEPS, visit the website

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