Colchester's 57 Fest still going strong

By Merja H. Lehtinen - ReminderNews
Colchester - posted Tue., Oct. 1, 2013
Emma Wertz (left) and Lily Carmichael were resting on the swings during the 57 Fest after cheering Bacon Academy's Bobcats on. Photos by Merja H. Lehtinen.
Emma Wertz (left) and Lily Carmichael were resting on the swings during the 57 Fest after cheering Bacon Academy's Bobcats on. Photos by Merja H. Lehtinen.

Although the town has recently moved up to be among the top 10 communities of its size, according to “Money” magazine, Colchester still celebrates 57 Fest,  named after its first ranking on the list of best places to live in America.

With its historic South Main Street, Colonial-era town green, and the noticeable lack of commercial national chain stores, Colchester has remained a welcoming, small-town community. Farms and houses surround an inner borough of designated commercial and light industrial areas, with mixed rental, single family and “over 55” private and community housing close to schools and stores. The town has also preserved the ideals of its founders by protecting forests, wetlands and river tributary watersheds.

Thousands of people were expected to visit 57 Fest on Saturday, Sept. 28. Within an hour of the festival’s opening at 4 p.m., hundreds of people streamed in to the Rec Plex by foot, bicycles, or vehicles. Children were climbing on the huge trucks on display, and trying the various games put out by exhibitors to win small prizes. Teens were demonstrating their skills dancing or on the skateboard platforms.  Everything was free except the food, which was sold by vendors in trucks ranging from gourmet ice cream to lobster rolls. The big draw was the fireworks, slated to close festival around 8 p.m.

There were 20 to 30 town employees and others who were volunteering their services for the day, according to Cheryl Hancin, director of the Colchester Parks and Recreation Department.

Most of the attractions are there year-round at the Rec Plex: swings, monkey bars, picnic tables and tennis courts. Several special attractions were brought in just for the occasion.

“Is there a bouncy house here?” asked 3-year-old Max, as soon as he entered the 57 Fest. His mother, Jeannine Gilbert, and aunt Rebecca assured him there was a bounce house, as the large plastic red castle gleamed in the distance under a magnificent blue sky filled with puffy white clouds.  

Lisa Zeppieri, toddler Jack’s mom, said it was their first time at 57 Fest, but she loved it already. The atmosphere, she said, was so friendly.

Emma Wertz and Lily Carmichael, two cheerleaders at Bacon Academy, were enjoying the swings while they waited for other friends. The girls were still excited about the football game earlier that day. Although Bacon Academy ultimately lost against Waterford, Lily said the team was winning for most of the game, and that made it fun.

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