‘It’s something we’re really proud of’: Festival of the Hills organizers prep for 59th edition in Conway

  • Leeds resident Carolyn Laurenza and Whately resident Peggy Fallon cross the finish line of the Covered Bridge Classic 10K during Conway’s 2022 Festival of the Hills. STAFF FILE PHOTO/JULIAN MENDOZA


Staff Writer
Published: 9/22/2023 11:07:04 AM
Modified: 9/22/2023 11:06:24 AM

With skillet tossing, craft vendors and all sorts of other community events, the Festival of the Hills continues its post-pandemic resurgence on Sunday, Oct. 1, with its 59th edition.

The festival is one of Conway’s biggest events of the year, attracting hundreds of people from across the region for a day of activities, food and celebration of all things Conway.

“It pulls the community together,” said Sue MacDonald, co-chair of the Festival of the Hills Committee. “This brings people together and it’s something we’re really proud of as a town to have this going on for so long.”

The festival will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Conway’s town center. This year’s event is the 59th edition, although it is the 61st anniversary of the event due to multiple cancellations in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

While serving as a community event, the festival, which is a 501(c)(3)-designated nonprofit, serves as a fundraiser for scholarships benefiting high school seniors from Conway. It has raised more than $155,000 for more than 200 students throughout its history.

MacDonald said the scholarship isn’t just limited to high school students heading to college either, because the award, which is given in the spring, can be given to kids earning technical certificates or attending trade schools.

“Everybody needs a leg up as they launch into the world,” she said. Last year, the festival awarded more than $9,000 to 10 Conway students.

MacDonald added that organizers will also be presenting the Tricia Donovan Scholarship at noon to a student who “really personifies the community spirit” of Conway. The scholarship is in honor of Tricia Donovan, who was a longtime chairperson of the Festival of the Hills.

Kicking things off Sunday morning at 10 a.m. is the annual Covered Bridge Classic 10K Road Race, which starts at the covered bridge on Main Poland Road and finishes in the center of town. Registration for the race, which is part of the Sugarloaf Mountain Athletic Club’s 2023 race series, is $30 for an adult and $5 for a child of a registered parent.

Same-day registration is available from 8:45 to 9:40 a.m. at the Field Memorial Library and advance registration can be done at bit.ly/3r7vGu6.

Other festival highlights include the log splitting contest at 11:30 a.m. and the skillet toss at 2 p.m., both of which take place on the ballfield. Alongside those events, all-day events include refreshments at Cafe Conway, a raffle table, fried dough with maple cream and a Conway Historical Society exhibit.

While the festival officially kicks off on Sunday, several events are also scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 30, to make the whole weekend festive. From 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., a bake sale will be held in the town center and the Friends of the Field Memorial Library will be holding their annual book sale from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The Historic Boyden Schoolhouse near the Conway Grammar School will also be open for visiting hours on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Finally, closing out Saturday’s festivities will be the Conway Firemen’s Auxiliary turkey dinner, which will be held at the Conway Grammar School at 5:30 p.m. with both sit-down and take-out options available. Tickets are $20 and can be reserved by calling Helen Baker at 413-369-4936 or by visiting Baker’s Country Store at 101 River St.

Parking is available on a grass lot on Elm Street and signs will be set up to guide attendees. Other parking areas will be open on the outskirts of downtown such as Whately Road. Handicap parking will be available around the lower lot of the ballfield.

Volunteers are still needed to help set up the festival, operate activities during the festival and clean up after the event. In an average year, approximately 120 volunteers are needed to run the festival. To sign up for a volunteer shift, visit festivalofthehills.com/volunteer.

For more information, visit the Festival of the Hills website at festivalofthehills.com or visit its Facebook page at Facebook.com/ConwayFestivaloftheHills.

Chris Larabee can be reached at clarabee@recorder.com or 413-930-4081.


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