By Jon Bishop
AYER — It was nostalgic. It was fun.
And it was a success.
Ayer held its first-ever OpenAyer Harvest Festival this past weekend, and, on Friday night alone, it drew over 100 people.
“Just for our first time, I had a certain number in mind. We did double that,” said Mark diCicco, owner of Lucia’s Tavola and Markoh’s On Main and one of the event’s organizers. “The town really supported us well.”
The drizzly weekend didn’t stop people from coming, and, in fact, might have prevented everything from going over capacity, diCicco said.
Friday night brought a lot of people from other towns, as well as The Yard Sale Rejects, who had a great performance, diCicco said. The local band played for four hours straight, because they were having so much fun, he said.
The evening started picking up around 6:30 p.m., and, before long, “it was like a metropolis,” he said. Friday events began at 5 p.m. and ended at midnight.
And it brought back memories. Dave Berry, owner of Carlins and another organizer, said that, for a lot of people, this was like the old Ayer Fair.
“It made the town seem lively,” he said.
Saturday’s family events, which ran from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., saw hayrides, face-painting, food, music and presentations — “a nice full day of events,” as Anne diCicco, Mark’s wife, put it.
One of them was the Ayer Shirley FIRST robotics team, which was named Rookie of the Year and is now up to 66 members, said Christine Miska, the coach.
There was a pool tournament held at Billiards Cafe whose proceeds would benefit the American Diabetes Association. Its raffles included gift cards and an iPad mini.
Sarah Burnett, who coordinated the tournament, said that the drawing took place at 9 p.m.; they started selling at the beginning of the week.
April Cushman, a New Hampshire-based country musician and the 2014 Female Vocalist of the year, would sing later in the day, and, at night, everyone would listen to DJ Renzo. The Saturday portion also ended at midnight.
Calvin Moore, who owns Billiards, said that the event was “a great success — all the way around town.”
“We’re hoping it will be bigger next year,” he said.
“Everything worked out well,” he added. “It’s going to make Main Street alive.”
Fellow organizer Matt Besonem agreed.
“It was awesome,” he said, noting that there was a “good initial showing.” Now that they’ve pulled off the inaugural festival, “it’ll make the next round of events easier to pull off.”
He, too, wants to see it bigger in the future.
“We want all of the local businesses involved,” he said.
Margaux Donell, who is originally from Ayer, said she was happy with how OpenAyer turned out.
“It’s really nice to see people come together downtown,” she said.