Great Falls Festival brings music, beer and fun to Turners Falls

  • The Americana duo Foolish Wisely, featuring Julia Autumn Ford and RJ Mac Carthaigh, kicked off the musical performances at the 11th Great Falls Festival in Turners Falls on Saturday. STAFF PHOTO/CHRIS LARABEE

  • The Americana duo Foolish Wisely, featuring Julia Autumn Ford and RJ Mac Carthaigh, kicked off the musical performances at the 11th Great Falls Festival in Turners Falls on Saturday. STAFF PHOTO/CHRIS LARABEE

  • Children perform the “Monster Mash” with the Ja’Duke Center for the Performing Arts at the Great Falls Festival in Turners Falls on Saturday. STAFF PHOTO/CHRIS LARABEE

  • Collette Schaentzler, of Heath, paints a pumpkin at the Great Falls Festival in Turners Falls on Saturday afternoon. STAFF PHOTO/CHRIS LARABEE

  • Leyden resident Pat Williams takes a sip of Hitchcock Brewing Co.’s Rumpkin Pumpkin Ale in the Great Falls Festival’s beer garden on Saturday. STAFF PHOTO/CHRIS LARABEE

  • Conner Woodard throws a dart at a balloon at one of the booths at the Great Falls Festival in Turners Falls on Saturday. STAFF PHOTO/CHRIS LARABEE

  • The 11th edition of the Great Falls Festival brought huge crowds of people to Avenue A in Turners Falls Saturday afternoon with its offering of food, live performances and family-friendly fun. STAFF PHOTO/CHRIS LARABEE

  • The 11th edition of the Great Falls Festival brought huge crowds of people to Avenue A in Turners Falls Saturday afternoon with its offering of food, live performances and family-friendly fun. STAFF PHOTO/CHRIS LARABEE

Staff Writer
Published: 10/24/2021 3:31:14 PM

TURNERS FALLS — Crowds once again filled Avenue A on a picture-perfect fall day as the Great Falls Festival returned to the village Saturday afternoon for its 11th edition following a pandemic-induced hiatus last year.

The festival, formerly known as “Pumpkinfest,” treated attendees to live music and performing arts; a beer garden filled with local breweries; more than 150 vendors selling food, jewelry and art; and family-friendly activities like pumpkin painting and carnival games.

Music and performing arts

The sound of music filled the village, with artists scheduled to perform up and down the street throughout the entirety of the festival. The Americana duo of Foolish Wisely kicked off the day’s performances on the Lundgren Stage, located in the middle of the festival at the intersection of Fourth Street and Avenue A.

The duo, made up of Belchertown native R.J. Mac Cartaigh and Connecticut native Julia Autumn Ford, performed for an hour. Cartaigh and Ford used a variety of instruments ranging from guitars and pianos to harmonicas as passersby stopped and cheered them on.

Cartaigh said he’s performed at the Great Falls Festival in the past.

“I think the organizers did a fantastic job,” Cartaigh said after the duo’s set. “Personally, this is one of my favorite festivals to play.”

He added he hopes he and Ford can continue to perform during future festivals.

“We’re really happy to be here,” Cartaigh said.

Ford said she has performed at several similar festivals in Connecticut, but this was her first time playing for the Great Falls Festival. She noted she was looking forward to exploring the festivities throughout the rest of the day.

“It was a good time,” Ford said. “We got here and went on stage. … I kept smelling really amazing food, it looks pretty fun.”

Farther down the street, the Ja’Duke Center for the Performing Arts was showcasing its range of talents with several dance showcases. Ja’Duke, a Turners Falls-based organization that had never performed at the festival before, had its younger dancers perform the “Monster Mash” and its older students perform more complex choreographed dances.

A taste — and smell — of fall

The aroma of festival food filled the air as local vendors parked their food trucks up and down the street. There was a flavor for everyone, with a broad spectrum of food and drink options such as coffee from Orange-based Dean’s Beans Organic Coffee Co. or Greenfield’s Salvadorian food truck, Cocina Lupita.

The beer garden, located in Peskeomskut Park, featured another performance stage where folks could enjoy some tunes while sipping on a beer from one of several local breweries.

In line with the season, several breweries brought out their pumpkin and fall-themed drinks, like Bernardston-based Hitchcock Brewing Co.’s Rumpkin Pumpkin Ale or Pioneer Valley Brewery’s new Pumpkinfest Pumpkin Ale.

“It’s great that it’s just Franklin County breweries,” said Chad Champoux, one of Hitchcock Brewing Co.’s brewers. “Everyone has their own twist on beer and supports local business.”

Champoux said Hitchcock only brews a couple batches of the Rumpkin Pumpkin Ale, which primarily features pumpkin and squash flavors sourced from Galenski Farms in South Deerfield, but has a hint of cinnamon. He said the demand for it each year is high and people often ask, “Where is the Rumpkin?”

“It has its own following,” Champoux said. “It likely won’t see November.”

Travelers from near and far

The Great Falls Festival attracted local residents and folks from far beyond the borders of Montague on Saturday.

Langhorne, Pa. residents Patrick and Betsy Carr made the trip to Franklin County to visit some friends when they heard about the festival.

“We’re spending the weekend with some college friends,” Patrick Carr said. “It’s a great event and we really enjoyed the (Foolish Wisely) concert.”

Betsy Carr said she was happy to see so many different activities for people of all ages.

“There’s something for everyone,” Betsy Carr said. “It’s nice to see so many families.”

Turners Falls residents Nancy and David Selover had never actually been to the Great Falls Festival, despite it occurring in their village for over a decade.

“We’ve lived in Turners for a long time, but we’re usually in Florida at this time,” David Selover explained. “I had no idea it was this big.”

Nancy Selover said she was looking forward to being downtown for the day.

“It’s great for the whole community,” she said.

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


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