TURNERS FALLS – After being canceled in 2020, the Great Falls Festival will fill the streets of the village for the 11th time on Saturday.

Formerly known as “Pumpkinfest,” the Great Falls Festival typically draws thousands of people to A Avenue for a day of food, activities and shows. This year’s event, from noon to 8 p.m., will host three live music stages, two stages featuring various performing arts demonstrations and 155 vendors.

After COVID-19 put the tradition on hiatus in 2020, event organizer Michael Nelson is optimistic the festival will rebound right away.

“I am very excited by the energy we anticipate seeing downtown on Saturday,” he said. “Countless people were delighted to hear that the festival was returning. ”

The Great Falls Festival is known to attract up to 10,000 people. Nelson said that with people so excited to be able to “go out and do things after being locked up for so long,” the turnout should be good.

“I think it’s safe to assume we’re going to have a really big festival this year,” he said.

Although he is convinced that the festival is set for success, Nelson said that difficulties in the planning process have arisen, such as a lack of interest in the group, as well as pumpkins – a staple food. of the festival which have become scarce this year due to bad weather conditions. The festival seeks to maintain its appeal in these regions by adding a pumpkin decorating station, inviting attendees to bring their own carved pumpkins, and bringing in artists who are invested in the local culture.

“The local music scene, even though it has been decimated by the pandemic, is still alive and thriving,” Entertainment President Scott Kuzmeskus said. “There’s a lot of talent here in a little place in western Massachusetts. … We want to introduce local bands and give them a place to play because people missed it.

Nelson said that one of the performances he most awaited was at the Ja’Duke Center for the Performing Arts. Ja’Duke, a Turners Falls organization that has never performed at the Great Falls Festival before, will feature young local talent playing stages from upcoming shows.

“They always bring first class entertainment with them,” Nelson said. “They spare no expense when it comes to their performance.”

Another feature of the festival that the organizers are excited about is the expanded Beer Garden, which includes nine local breweries, an increase of four from the 2019 event. The beer garden will be held at Peskeomskut Park.

In an age when in-person festivities are scarce, the Great Falls Festival seeks to offer something for everyone.

“It means a lot to us and to Turners Falls,” Kuzmeskus said. “Not even just Turners Falls, but the community as a whole.”

Avenue A will close to traffic at 9 a.m. on Saturday. Guests are encouraged to bring carved and painted pumpkins from 10 a.m. in front of the St. Kazimierz Society on Avenue A. Masks are strongly encouraged. A free shuttle will be provided from Turners Falls High School and Sheffield Elementary School from 12 noon to 9 a.m.

The organizers are always looking for volunteers. Those interested can email Nelson at [email protected]

Contact Julian Mendoza at 413-772-0261, ext. 261 or [email protected]

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