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Shutesbury celebrates just being Shutesbury

  • Sadie Fjeld, 9, of Shutesbury, sprinkles glitter on a pumpkin she decorated during Celebrate Shutesbury, held Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017 on the Town Common. RECORDER STAFF/SHELBY ASHLINE

  • Sadie Fjeld, 9, of Shutesbury, sprinkles glitter on a pumpkin she decorated during Celebrate Shutesbury, held Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017 on the Town Common. In the background, Kristen Andrews paints a design on 12-year-old Marie Willems' cheek. RECORDER STAFF/SHELBY ASHLINE

  • Shutesbury Elementary School Principal Jackie Mendonsa of Northampton, along with her daughter Sophia Vanasse, 12, and Vanasse's friend Elizabeth Scagel, 12, enjoy tea and snacks at the Shutesbury Community Church as part of Celebrate Shutesbury, held Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017. RECORDER STAFF/SHELBY ASHLINE

  • John Warwick of Shutesbury throws a baseball against a tarp during Celebrate Shutesbury, held Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017 on the Town Common. In the background, Jessica Carlson-Belanger uses a radar gun to track the ball's speed. RECORDER STAFF/SHELBY ASHLINE

  • Attendees of Celebrate Shutesbury, held Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017 on the Town Common, peruse a collection of books offered for sale by the Friends of the M.N. Spear Memorial Library. RECORDER STAFF/SHELBY ASHLINE

  • The Valley Women Drummers play during Celebrate Shutesbury, held Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017 on the Town Common. RECORDER STAFF/SHELBY ASHLINE



Recorder Staff
Saturday, September 16, 2017

SHUTESBURY — As Jessica Carlson-Belanger looked around the Town Common Saturday morning, she saw evidence of just what Celebrate Shutesbury is all about.

She saw members of the Shutesbury Elementary School Parent-Teacher Organization buying burgers at the Shutesbury Athletic Club’s barbecue tent, and Athletic Club members chatting with members of the Fire Department.

“Because we’re such a small town, there’s a lot of interaction between the groups,” she noticed. “It’s just great seeing all the groups come together. There’s not many opportunities for that.”

Outside of small gatherings at the elementary school and M.N. Spear Memorial Library, Carlson-Belanger said Shutesbury doesn’t really have a community hub. So each year, Celebrate Shutesbury allows residents the opportunity to “enjoy the company of the rest of the town” while highlighting what makes the community special.

“It really is a grassroots celebration,” said Carlson-Belanger, who refers to herself as the Celebrate Shutesbury point person, coordinating the different town organizations that participate in the event.

Celebrate Shutesbury brings together groups like the Shutesbury Elementary School PTO, the Shutesbury Athletic Club, the Fire and Police Departments, the Selectboard, Sirius Community, the Shutesbury Artists Collective, the Friends of the M.N. Spear Memorial Library and the Shutesbury Community Church. The various groups do their share in offering a bake sale, a tea party, pumpkin painting, face painting, a bounce house, a book sale, a barbecue, live music, a ball toss competition and a K-9 demonstration.

According to Carlson-Belanger, Celebrate Shutesbury was started by the Shutesbury Education Foundation, which promoted lifelong learning in all its residents. She believes the first event was held in the 1990s, and though the foundation dissolved two years ago, community members like Carlson-Belanger have kept it going.

Library Director Mary Anne Antonellis said that for as long as Celebrate Shutesbury has happened, the library has offered its book sale, which also included books about Shutesbury’s history. While money raised from the sale supports library programming, Antonellis said that’s not the main purpose.

“Really the book sale is about being part of Celebrate Shutesbury,” she said. “This is about more than making money.”

Attendees could learn about the library’s programs through an event listing and displays. For example, the event gave the library a chance to display its telescope and map collection, as well as a “Wow” board showcasing fundraising efforts. More than $300,000 has been raised since 2007 to support building a larger library, Antonellis said.

Inside the nearby church, Shutesbury Elementary School Principal Jackie Mendonsa sipped tea and enjoyed snacks with her daughter Sophia Vanasse, 12, and Vanasse’s friend Elizabeth Scagel, also 12. Mendonsa said she’s attended Celebrate Shutesbury for four years, and has developed a special fondness for the tea party.

“This is always my favorite event,” she said. “When do you get treated to a tea party?”

Though Mendonsa lives in Northampton, she said the special nature of Celebrate Shutesbury is something that brings her back every year.

“I just love the special quality of a little town where everybody donates their time,” she said. “It’s just for the community to be together.”

Reach Shelby Ashline at: sashline@recorder.com

413-772-0261 ext. 257