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Franklin County Fair parade launches a weekend of fun

  • Rearing cattle make their way down Federal Street in Thursday's Franklin County Fair parade in Greenfield. Recorder/Paul Franz

    Rearing cattle make their way down Federal Street in Thursday's Franklin County Fair parade in Greenfield. Recorder/Paul Franz Purchase photo reprints »

  • Greenfield Town Councilor Penny Ricketts serves as grand marshal in the Franklin County Fair Parade Thursday, Sept. 4, 2014.  Recorder/Paul Franz

    Greenfield Town Councilor Penny Ricketts serves as grand marshal in the Franklin County Fair Parade Thursday, Sept. 4, 2014. Recorder/Paul Franz Purchase photo reprints »

  • A member of the Traveling Rhubarb Circus rides a unicycle. Recorder/Paul Franz

    A member of the Traveling Rhubarb Circus rides a unicycle. Recorder/Paul Franz Purchase photo reprints »

  • Longtime Franklin County journalist Irmarie Jones rides down Federal Street in the Franklin County Fair parade Thursday. Recorder/Paul Franz

    Longtime Franklin County journalist Irmarie Jones rides down Federal Street in the Franklin County Fair parade Thursday. Recorder/Paul Franz Purchase photo reprints »

  • What is a parade with clowns and bubbles? Franklin County Fair parade 2014 Recorder/Paul Franz

    What is a parade with clowns and bubbles? Franklin County Fair parade 2014 Recorder/Paul Franz Purchase photo reprints »

  • Kids grab the candy as parents grab pictures in the Franklin County Fair parade Thursday in Greenfield. Recorder/Paul Franz

    Kids grab the candy as parents grab pictures in the Franklin County Fair parade Thursday in Greenfield. Recorder/Paul Franz Purchase photo reprints »

  • Suzanne Hunter of the Franklin County Fair Committee tosses out candy along Federal Street.  Recorder/Paul Franz

    Suzanne Hunter of the Franklin County Fair Committee tosses out candy along Federal Street. Recorder/Paul Franz Purchase photo reprints »

  • Karen's Dance Studio dancers are dressed as comic book characters in Thursday's Franklin County Fair parade in Greenfield. Recorder/Paul Franz

    Karen's Dance Studio dancers are dressed as comic book characters in Thursday's Franklin County Fair parade in Greenfield. Recorder/Paul Franz Purchase photo reprints »

  • Clay Hill Farm drives the Franklin County Fair committee in Thursday's parade in Greenfield.  Recorder/Paul Franz

    Clay Hill Farm drives the Franklin County Fair committee in Thursday's parade in Greenfield. Recorder/Paul Franz Purchase photo reprints »

  • Riding along with the Clay Hill Farm and the Franklin County Fair committee in Thursday's parade in Greenfield.  Recorder/Paul Franz

    Riding along with the Clay Hill Farm and the Franklin County Fair committee in Thursday's parade in Greenfield. Recorder/Paul Franz Purchase photo reprints »

  • A perennial favorite, Shriners drive miniature cars in the Franklin County Fair parade Thursday in Greenfield.   Recorder/Paul Franz

    A perennial favorite, Shriners drive miniature cars in the Franklin County Fair parade Thursday in Greenfield. Recorder/Paul Franz Purchase photo reprints »

  • North County Line Dancers perform on a flatbed truck in the Franklin County Fair parade Thursday in Greenfield. Recorder/Paul Franz

    North County Line Dancers perform on a flatbed truck in the Franklin County Fair parade Thursday in Greenfield. Recorder/Paul Franz Purchase photo reprints »

  • Color Guard performs in the Franklin County Fair Parade in Greenfield Thursday. Recorder/Paul Franz

    Color Guard performs in the Franklin County Fair Parade in Greenfield Thursday. Recorder/Paul Franz Purchase photo reprints »

  • Baystate Franklin Medical Center touted its new construction project with a float in Thursday's Franklin County Fair parade in Greenfield.  Recorder/Paul Franz

    Baystate Franklin Medical Center touted its new construction project with a float in Thursday's Franklin County Fair parade in Greenfield. Recorder/Paul Franz Purchase photo reprints »

  • The Joker and other characters from Karen's Dance Studio perform in the Franklin County Fair parade Thursday in Greenfield. Recorder/Paul Franz

    The Joker and other characters from Karen's Dance Studio perform in the Franklin County Fair parade Thursday in Greenfield. Recorder/Paul Franz Purchase photo reprints »

  • Martin's Farm compost floats down Federal Street in Thursday's Franklin County Fair parade in Greenfield. Recorder/Paul Franz

    Martin's Farm compost floats down Federal Street in Thursday's Franklin County Fair parade in Greenfield. Recorder/Paul Franz Purchase photo reprints »

  • Greenfield High Schoool Marching Band plays in the Franklin County Fair parade Thursday in Greenfield.  Recorder/Paul Franz

    Greenfield High Schoool Marching Band plays in the Franklin County Fair parade Thursday in Greenfield. Recorder/Paul Franz Purchase photo reprints »

  • The Greenfield Savings Bank float is pulled past the bank by a team of horses in Thursday's Franklin County Fair parade. Recorder/Paul Franz

    The Greenfield Savings Bank float is pulled past the bank by a team of horses in Thursday's Franklin County Fair parade. Recorder/Paul Franz Purchase photo reprints »

  • Ja'Duke dancers run through a routine as they march down Federal Street in Thursday's Franklin County Fair parade in Greenfield. Recorder/Paul Franz

    Ja'Duke dancers run through a routine as they march down Federal Street in Thursday's Franklin County Fair parade in Greenfield. Recorder/Paul Franz Purchase photo reprints »

  • Veteran Gary Clough walks with other veterans in the Franklin County Fair Parade Thursday in Greenfield. Recorder/Paul Franz

    Veteran Gary Clough walks with other veterans in the Franklin County Fair Parade Thursday in Greenfield. Recorder/Paul Franz Purchase photo reprints »

  • Bernardston Trailblazers march with their spurs on in Thursday's Franklin County Fair parade in Greenfield.  Recorder/Paul Franz

    Bernardston Trailblazers march with their spurs on in Thursday's Franklin County Fair parade in Greenfield. Recorder/Paul Franz Purchase photo reprints »

  • A portrait of a clown in the Franklin County Fair parade Thursday in Greenfield. Recorder/Paul Franz

    A portrait of a clown in the Franklin County Fair parade Thursday in Greenfield. Recorder/Paul Franz Purchase photo reprints »

  • The Clay Hill Farm float rolls down Main Street during Thursday's Franklin County Fair parade in Greenfield.  Recorder/Paul Franz

    The Clay Hill Farm float rolls down Main Street during Thursday's Franklin County Fair parade in Greenfield. Recorder/Paul Franz Purchase photo reprints »

  • Rearing cattle make their way down Federal Street in Thursday's Franklin County Fair parade in Greenfield. Recorder/Paul Franz
  • Greenfield Town Councilor Penny Ricketts serves as grand marshal in the Franklin County Fair Parade Thursday, Sept. 4, 2014.  Recorder/Paul Franz
  • A member of the Traveling Rhubarb Circus rides a unicycle. Recorder/Paul Franz
  • Longtime Franklin County journalist Irmarie Jones rides down Federal Street in the Franklin County Fair parade Thursday. Recorder/Paul Franz
  • What is a parade with clowns and bubbles? Franklin County Fair parade 2014 Recorder/Paul Franz
  • Kids grab the candy as parents grab pictures in the Franklin County Fair parade Thursday in Greenfield. Recorder/Paul Franz
  • Suzanne Hunter of the Franklin County Fair Committee tosses out candy along Federal Street.  Recorder/Paul Franz
  • Karen's Dance Studio dancers are dressed as comic book characters in Thursday's Franklin County Fair parade in Greenfield. Recorder/Paul Franz
  • Clay Hill Farm drives the Franklin County Fair committee in Thursday's parade in Greenfield.  Recorder/Paul Franz
  • Riding along with the Clay Hill Farm and the Franklin County Fair committee in Thursday's parade in Greenfield.  Recorder/Paul Franz
  • A perennial favorite, Shriners drive miniature cars in the Franklin County Fair parade Thursday in Greenfield.   Recorder/Paul Franz
  • North County Line Dancers perform on a flatbed truck in the Franklin County Fair parade Thursday in Greenfield. Recorder/Paul Franz
  • Color Guard performs in the Franklin County Fair Parade in Greenfield Thursday. Recorder/Paul Franz
  • Baystate Franklin Medical Center touted its new construction project with a float in Thursday's Franklin County Fair parade in Greenfield.  Recorder/Paul Franz
  • The Joker and other characters from Karen's Dance Studio perform in the Franklin County Fair parade Thursday in Greenfield. Recorder/Paul Franz
  • Martin's Farm compost floats down Federal Street in Thursday's Franklin County Fair parade in Greenfield. Recorder/Paul Franz
  • Greenfield High Schoool Marching Band plays in the Franklin County Fair parade Thursday in Greenfield.  Recorder/Paul Franz
  • The Greenfield Savings Bank float is pulled past the bank by a team of horses in Thursday's Franklin County Fair parade. Recorder/Paul Franz
  • Ja'Duke dancers run through a routine as they march down Federal Street in Thursday's Franklin County Fair parade in Greenfield. Recorder/Paul Franz
  • Veteran Gary Clough walks with other veterans in the Franklin County Fair Parade Thursday in Greenfield. Recorder/Paul Franz
  • Bernardston Trailblazers march with their spurs on in Thursday's Franklin County Fair parade in Greenfield.  Recorder/Paul Franz
  • A portrait of a clown in the Franklin County Fair parade Thursday in Greenfield. Recorder/Paul Franz
  • The Clay Hill Farm float rolls down Main Street during Thursday's Franklin County Fair parade in Greenfield.  Recorder/Paul Franz

GREENFIELD — Though the real festival will be held at the Franklin County Fairgrounds this weekend, the fields between Greenfield Middle School and Blessed Sacrament Church certainly had a similar feel Thursday afternoon.

Walking between groups and the tassle-and-streamer covered floats, one could hear the sound of clarinets being tuned and the rolling beat of snare drums as marching bands warmed up, and hundreds of people milled about adding finishing touches to their floats. Groups of horses seemed to appear out of nowhere before being led to their proper places in line and harnessed.

Within the next half-hour, all of them would be snaking slowly through downtown Greenfield as hundreds of local residents cheered from the streets during the 36th annual Franklin County Fair kick-off parade.

Throughout the preparation period, it was hard to miss the neon pink blur speeding around on a go-cart, answering questions and making final checks to ensure all went smoothly. It was Michael Nelson, the parade’s organizer.

“It’s a very busy hour, trying to get 3,000 people organized in an area the size of a small football field,” said Nelson during a brief pause in the action.

Shortly after, the sirens and lights of a police cruiser in front of the church signaled the start of the parade, and the column was off.

As the horses pulling a carriage that carried the members of the fair’s board of directors turned on to Federal Street, hundreds of Franklin County residents lined the sidewalks on each side, cheering, waving and, in the case of most of the kids, scrambling for and wrestling over the lollipops, Tootsie Rolls and other types of candy being tossed from the floats.

Periodically, families would spring out of their lawn chairs or off of their picnic blankets to wave and shout greetings to some of the board members, and those moments weren’t lost on Franklin County Fair president Fred Steiner.

“It brings the community out; it’s nice to see the whole community come out,” said Steiner, of the parade and fair. “As they say, it’s the biggest thing to hit Franklin County all year.”

In front of the carriage, an inflatable orange giraffe marked the seat of the parade’s grand marshal, Greenfield Town Councilor Penny Ricketts. Following close behind, ventriloquist Sylvia Fletcher popped out of the moon roof of a small car and moments later Smoulder, her trusty dragon puppet, joined her, puffing out a quick blast of steam from his snout. Together, the two cheered on the onlookers as Buddy the Clown drove circles around them in a bubble-spewing go-cart.

And beyond that, other floats and performance groups gave energetic performances all along the parade route. The Tumbling Tigers gymnastics group wowed onlookers with their feats of acrobatic prowess, executing flips and twists as they marched along Main Street, and a pack of Tae Kwon Do students and instructors elicited applause after stopping to throw off a salvo of punches and kicks.

Other floats featured live bands, line dancers, local farmers, and, in the case of Deerfield’s Magic Wings Butterfly Conservatory and Gardens, a swarm of dancing butterflies.

Larry and Sharon Jarvis, of Northfield, watched the procession from under the shade of a tree next to Ryan and Casey Liquors on Main Street.

“I’ve been coming every year since I was little,” said Sharon. “It’s nice to see everyone, and it’s a fun night before fair nights out.”

Judi Stone, of Gill, said she was particularly impressed with the local 4-H club’s float.

“They were very impressive, and it’s good to see them still going,” said Stone, whose husband, was a member of the organization as a child.

Stirling and Diana Hastings, who recently moved to Millers Falls from Ipswich, said the parade was only the second one they had ever attended. For their daughter, Ada’leia, 5, it was the first.

“It’s so great to get out and get to know all the different businesses in the area,” said Diana, as her daughter ran up with a handful of candy.

Farther along the parade route, the Forton family sat in their driveway, waving as the Charlemont 250th Anniversary float passed by.

“We’ve lived here for about eight years, and we’ve usually been in the parade since I was in the band,” said Ken Forton. “But every once in a while we like to take a year off to watch and gather tons of candy. We make out like bandits, and we don’t even have to buy Halloween candy!”

And while Nelson shared the enthusiasm of many of the onlookers, he said the planning for next year has only just begun.

“It was an excellent parade, the weather was phenomenal and everyone had an upbeat attitude, so I’m very pleased,” said Nelson. “But the countdown until next year has just begun, and I’m looking forward to it!”

Related

Parade winners

Friday, September 5, 2014

Winners of each entry category Antique 1. Tony Siano 2. Mark Bernier 3. Rebecca Rideout Human Services 1. Buckley Health Center 2. Farren Care Center 3. Franklin Medical Center Band 1. Pioneer Valley Regional High School 2. Greenfield High School 3. Franklin County Technical School Agricultural 1. Bit of Luck 4-H Club 2. Martin’s Farm 3. Greenfield Savings Bank Performing … 0

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