PEPPERELL -- The 4th annual fall festival will fall on Sept. 15 this year, and will feature all the fun and feasts of years past plus animal attractions, hay rides and a beer garden for the grown-ups. The event, which has grown in size and scope every year.
Nicole Poirier is the director of the Pepperell Fall Festival. She, along with Pepperell Business Association members Diane Temple and Deb Hayes, created the festival as a small fund-raiser a few years ago. It has become a signature feature of summertime, bringing nearly 1,000 visitors to the town fields last year.
This year's event runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The idea was borne of a conversation the women were having over concurrent challenges: How to promote small businesses in town; and, what to plan for the Lawrence Library's 50-year anniversary.
"Diane approached me and asked if we could coordinate the dates to combine the events'" said Poirier. "At the same time, Deb told me that she always wanted to do a vendor showcase at the town field. From that moment, Fall Fest was born."
This year's fest includes a dozen or so other attractions. A beer garden, with crafted ales for sampling, will be one of about 100 stops and shops. Newburyport-based River Walk Brewery will provide microbrews. A shuttle bus has been added with parking at the senior center and nearby Peter Fitzpatrick School.
Proceeds are earmarked for the North Middlesex Regional HIgh School scholarship fund, leaving just enough cash to plan and promote the next year's Fall Fest.
The star of the event is the annual duck race, where people buy tickets that are linked to rubber ducks. The ducks are then floated en masse in barrels, a variation on the typical practice of racing them down the Nissitissit River. Ducks will be plucked from the water by kids who are lucky enough to survive a game to earn the right to randomly pick the rubber ducks from the barrels. Match the duck's number, win the cash prize.
"That first one, in 2014, had only 66 vendors but was still way more of a success than any of us anticipated," said Poirier. There are still slots available for vendors at a cost of $75, $50 for local businesses.