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GROTON — It’s that time of year again, when young people go back to school and the carefree activities of summer settle into the routine of work and study.

But one thing residents have to look forward to, between shopping for back-to-school supplies and turning up the thermostat, is the town’s annual Grotonfest celebration.

“It’s just huge,” said event coordinator Jane Bouvier of what Grotonfest has become over the years. “People at the Police Department think we are visited by anywhere between 4,000 and 6,000 people in one day. Grotonfest has always been supported very strongly by the town of Groton.”

First held almost 30 years ago under the name of Septemberfest, Grotonfest was renamed about a decade ago when the Groton Business Association took over sponsorship and transformed the event from a purely cultural celebration to one that spotlighted handicrafts while also promoting local businesses.

“I think when Grotonfest first started, it was a little more artsy and the business community was not involved at all,” said Bouvier. “It was sort of a music fest, more of a cultural event at the time. And when the Business Association hired me to do it, it felt like we really needed to have a goal. It’s always been a nonprofit event but then we started a giant raffle with at least 30 to 40 raffle prizes all going to scholarships and that’s really all the money we raise. But what’s so wonderful about the day is that everybody on that field has the opportunity to display their wares and let people know who they are. It’s a great way for businesses to make people aware that they are around. It’s also an opportunity for residents to meet their neighbors. It’s just a terrific family day and a great networking day.”

As usual, the main focus of Grotonfest will be its stellar lineup of 140 separate booths spotlighting food, local businesses and non-profit organizations, along with artisan’s wares and crafts.

“The artisans manning the booths are mostly from out of town, from Maine and Vermont south to Connecticut,” said Bouvier. “They have all been juried by Anne who has to accept them. Quality certainly is an important factor in choosing an artisan and we really did not want anyone who would be too expensive.”

The event will also include plenty of live music and other performances from such acts as Jay Geils and the Gerry Beaudoin Quintet, the Billhillies, Church Ladies, Gerard Mellen, Blue Box Set, the Upside Down Theater, Breakaway, Ash Brook Haynes, the Bremer School of Irish Dance, the Contrabanditos, One Too Many, the Enter Stage Dancers and the Berkshire Cateria Samba Group.

“We have Jay Geils playing for the very first time and all the entertainment except one group are all brand new,” confirmed Bouvier.

For the younger set there will also be hayrides and pony rides.

Making the whole event possible are donations from such sponsors as Emerson Hospital, Middlesex Savings Bank and Shaw’s Supermarket, who teamed up to bring rocker Jay Geils to Grotonfest. Additional contributors include Blackbird Framing, Nashoba Valley Chiropractic, the Devens Grille, Donelan’s supermarkets, MRM Associates, Natural Market, PC Myette, Rivercourt Residences, the Alliance Services Group, ERA Home & Family, Century 21 Nashoba Associates, Sheldon & Sullivan attorneys at law, Exit Realty, Nashoba Publishing, and the Groton Herald, whose contributions will make possible the award of up to 40 scholarships to area students.

“We do very well with our sponsors,” said Bouvier, who was aided by fellow planners Dale Martin, who handled the assignment of business and nonprofit booths, and Anne Thibeau, who covered the artisans and logistics. “That’s how we keep the festival free. We couldn’t do that without our sponsors.”

But despite plenty of entertainment and other diversions, the main purpose of Grotonfest is still one of public relations.

“Certainly the festival allows everybody to see what each business does,” said Bouvier of what’s involved for participating retailers. “They get to meet the public and let people know what they’re about. Some people don’t even know some businesses are even in town.”

Although planning for Grotonfest began almost from the moment last year’s edition folded its tents, Bouvier said that she is still in need of volunteers to help out at this year’s event. Anyone interested in lending a hand should either contact Bouvier at (978) 448-5453 or visit the Groton Business Association on the Internet at www.grotonfest.com.

“I think it’s an opportunity for everybody to feel safe in a quiet New England town while getting out there and meeting their neighbors and friends,” said Bouvier of the festival.

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