Autumn in Ashfield brings the promise of pumpkin games: Over 10,000 visitors expected at annual Fall Festival, Oct. 7 and 8

  • A scene from the Ashfield Fall Festival in 2017. The annual event has been taking place for over 50 years. RECORDER FILE PHOTO

  • The Ashfield Fall Festival is known for games run by school-age children, local food and community fundraising. Oh yes, and the leaf peeping. RECORDER FILE PHOTO

  • Pumpkin games at a previous Ashfield Fall Festival. RECORDER FILE PHOTO

  • Children playing pumpkin games at the Ashfield Fall Festival in 2022. RECORDER FILE PHOTO/BELLA LEVAVI

Staff Writer
Published: 9/29/2023 11:46:09 AM
Modified: 9/29/2023 11:45:22 AM

The town is ready to embrace the colors, flavors, and traditions of fall as the Ashfield Fall Festival returns Oct. 7 and 8, promising a weekend of community spirit and autumnal fun. 

The Fall Festival is an annual event that has been taking place for over 50 years. It brings together residents, visitors and artists to celebrate the beauty of the season and the creativity within the community. With vibrant foliage as the backdrop, attendees can enjoy a wide array of activities and experiences. 

“It's popular because it is such a great festival. It is a great community event and almost every organization in Ashfield has a booth raising money. It is one big block party,” Phil Pless, Ashfield Fall Festival committee chair, said. 

Pless explained about 10,000 to 20,000 people come to the event annually. He said they count people by getting the amount of fried dough sold and multiplying it by two-and-a-half, though he said he was not sure how solid the math is. Either way the roughly 1,700-person town population soars for the weekend festivities. 

The event is known for the games, all run by children. “I call it business 101,” Pless said. School-age children all run homemade games that have been passed down in Ashfield as children age out. There will be at least 12 games this year, testing children or any player’s ability to concentrate, use their skills and win coveted prizes. 

Back after a several-year hiatus is the “Wobbly Ladder” game, run by volunteers from Double Edge Theatre. This 15-foot-tall wobbly ladder at a 45-degree angle tests children’s balance. If a child can climb to the top and ring the bell, they win a sticker, “and they wear it with pride,” Pless said. 

Pless explained the festival did not have enough volunteers last year so the game was removed. After hearing feedback from disappointed locals, Pless worked to find volunteers to bring the game back to the common. 

Also back after a multi-year hiatus is the library book sale. The library will be selling books from their collection for bookworms and collectors alike. 

The festival is also known for its food options. Only local residents and groups are allowed to vend food at the festival. Almost all the organizations in town use the festival as their main fundraiser, selling food to fund their activities throughout the year. 

Several of the classic food vendors are not selling this year, but Pless assures that other groups are filling in the gaps. He said there will be two new vendors on the common and many of the classic favorites, including Gray's fried dough and maple cream, Elmer’s Store crawfish pasta and the Congregational Church selling soup and grilled cheese. 

The Fall Festival started as a fundraiser for a college scholarship fund for local families and continues to this day. All the money is raised from parking from one of the two parking lots (the other parking lot raises money for the Ashfield Park Commission and Ashfield Trails) and through donations from each of the vendors. Pless said this aspect of the festival brings in thousands of dollars annually for the students of the community. 

Unfortunately, the Fall Festival did not have enough money in reserves to pay for all of the initial bills of the festival so they hosted a fundraiser earlier this year. Pless said this year they hope to build up a reserve fund to not run into this problem in the future. Pless hopes Ashfield residents will either volunteer during the festival, give money, or donate a pumpkin by bringing one to the town common on the Friday before the festival. 

“It is put together by a committee of hard-working people,” Pless said. “Everyone just has such a good time, it is hard to put into words.” 

Reach Bella Carmela Levavi at 413-930-4579 or


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