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Grand ol’ time: County parade a celebration for many generations

  • The Franklin County 4-H group rides down Main street during the Franklin County Fair Parade on Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017 in Greenfield. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE—RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • The Franklin County Fair Parade makes it's way down Federal street on Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017 in Greenfield. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE—RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Anthony Ruggeri, 3, from left, Julia Collura, 5, Madison Haight, 7, and Anabel Collura, 7, reach out for candy being thrown during the Franklin County Fair Parade on Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017 in Greenfield. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE—RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Rachel Shearer, left, and Joseph Menko make their way down Main street in a 1931 Ford Model A Doodlebug tractor during the Franklin County Fair Parade on Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017 in Greenfield. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE—RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Becca Castine rides down Main street with the Franklin County 4-H group during the Franklin County Fair Parade on Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017 in Greenfield. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE—RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Jamie Cardozo from Magic Wings Butterfly Conservatory dances down Main street during the Franklin County Fair Parade on Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017 in Greenfield. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE—RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Mara Gray, 8, cheers with the Franklin County Bulldogs youth football cheerleaders during the Franklin County Fair Parade on Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017 in Greenfield. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE—RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Sarah Evans, back left, and Robert Gaines ride along in the Franklin County Fair Parade with twins Collin Gaines, front left, and Caleb Gaines, on Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017 in Greenfield. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE—RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Tumbling Tigers Gymnastics coach Vanessa Ricketts, right, performs a routine with Ava Garappolo, 9, as they make their way down Main street during the Franklin County Fair Parade on Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017 in Greenfield. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE—RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • The Our Family Farms float during the Franklin County Fair Parade on Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017 in Greenfield. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE—RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • A parade float marks the 100th anniversary of the Main Gate Towers during the Franklin County Fair Parade on Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017 in Greenfield. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE—RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Jenna Silk, 17, marches in the color guard down Main street with the Greenfield High School marching band during the Franklin County Fair Parade on Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017 in Greenfield. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE—RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE



Recorder Staff
Thursday, September 07, 2017

GREENFIELD — The word got out quickly that a rainbow had formed, propping itself over the fairground’s 100-year-old towers.

People were urging others to come out from the museum and step outside.

The rain had past, the sun poked out and the rainbow arched over the Thursday evening as the bright lights of the first night at the 169th Franklin County Fair shone through.

Back inside the museum were two women in their 90s chatting up a storm.

There stood Mary Benedetti and Helen Gould, finally dry after sitting in a convertible with its top down, riding down Main Street.

“Here we are old ladies and we have good enthusiasm,” said Gould, of Gould’s Sugarhouse.

“And we’ve had good lives,” said Benedetti, for whom the fair’s museum is named.

Grand marshals

It was the second time Benedetti had been the grand marshal of the Franklin County Parade, and the first time for Gould. Benedetti said she had no idea that she was going to be the grand marshal.

“(Gould) called me but she didn’t tell me what was going on,” Benedetti said.

If they had told her beforehand, she said she would’ve “probably go home and turn around.”

“Because there’s a lot of other people that have been here for a long time and I think they’re deserving of it,” Benedetti said.

But it was her and Gould, graduates of Greenfield High School in 1946 and 1947, who were chosen to lead the parade, the theme of which this year was “Gateway to Fun.”

When Jim Fotopulos, a veteran, former teacher and selectman in town, shouted out “Hey Helen!” from the jampacked Federal Street, Gould popped out of her seat and hurled some candy his way — a marquee part of the parade for many of the children out-and-about Thursday, collecting enough candy to call it Halloween.

Benedetti said her son gave her 10 pounds of candy to toss to the crowds. She said she threw every last bit of it. And how does her arm feel? Good enough to pitch for the Red Sox?

“Oh sure. They’ll lose a game but that’s ok,” she humored.

No dampened spirits

While the rain may have brought up umbrellas, for the most part, it did not deter folks gathering downtown. Children lined the streets, diving out to fill shopping bags with tootsie rolls and lollipops. Adults watched, some donned in Red Sox gear with a postseason on the fall’s horizon and others in Patriot’s gear with the season kicking off later that night.

One couple said their main show of the evening was not Tom Brady and the Super Bowl Champion Patriots — though they hoped to stay up and watch the championship banner be raised — but rather the horses coming down in the parade.

Others loved bringing their kids to see the floats and grab handfuls of candy, while some came out for civil rights and social services.

Despite the rain, which, like the parade, started promptly at 5 p.m., there was no shortage of cheer.

The day before the opener of the high school football season, Greenfield’s marching band, led by School Committee member Don Alexander, marched for hours.

“I’d put these guys against any university,” Alexander said about the band. “They keep a very busy schedule throughout the year. They’re very good kids, especially going up the hill” on Wisdom Way.

Some brought out prized possessions for the parade.

“It’s the one thing we look forward to each year — taking the car at the parade,” Jim Hawkins said in his 1969 Mercury Marquis, in a sleek color of Indian autumn harvest. He’s been bringing it to the parade since 2002.

Unfortunately the car got wet, just the fifth time — and second in a parade. But, riding alongside James Jr., he was happy to be cruising down Main Street at the event that always marks the end of the summer for him.

And still for others, it was an opportunity to meet people in town.

Adam Martin of Martin’s Farm hustled alongside his float, decorated with a miniature roundhouse and other notables from the fair, like bobbing rubber ducks and a faux ferris wheel.

“It’s about community,” Martin said. “I love this community. I love the parade because I get to see the community.”

While wearing a “Dad” T-shirt with his family in tow, the owner of the composting farm in Greenfield handed out car air fresheners to parade-watchers.

“I get to show my heart and passion,” Martin said, after parking his float and while carrying his daughter on his shoulders at the fairgrounds. “We can be an encouragement and motivation to be a community about making a greener tomorrow.”

People would huddle under the grandstands to watch the remaining floats come in as the rain picked up. That is, until the sun came out, and the rainbow welcomed in the rest of the weekend.

With nightfall starting to creep forward Thursday night, Gould would head home with her daughter. Benedetti would stay in her position at the fair’s museum and the smell of fried dough grew stronger and stronger, with the weekend getting closer and closer. The rain had subsided, at least for now, and the 169th year was well underway after being rang in by a couple of longtime volunteers, now in their 90s and thrilled for the fair.

2017 Parade Winners

Human Services

First, Buckley Healthcare

Second, Baystate Health

Third, Charlene Manor

Performing Arts

First, Ja’Duke

Second, Pizazz Dance Studio

Third, North County Line Dancers

Open

First, Relay For Life Dick’s Angels

Second, Gilmore & Farrell

Third, Greenfield Savings Bank

Antique Vehicle

First, Joan McQuade

Second, Richard Sanders

Third, Jim Hawkins

Agricultural Entry

First, Martins Farm

Second, Gaines Farm

Third, Our Family Farms

Band

First, Pioneer Valley Regional School

Second, Franklin County Technical School