New Readyfest in Leyden aims to bolster emergency preparedness

Readyfest, an emergency preparedness festival, will be held from noon to 7 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 30, at the Leyden Town Offices, 7 Brattleboro Road, and at the adjacent Avery Field.

Readyfest, an emergency preparedness festival, will be held from noon to 7 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 30, at the Leyden Town Offices, 7 Brattleboro Road, and at the adjacent Avery Field. CONTRIBUTED GRAPHIC

By CHRIS LARABEE

Staff Writer

Published: 09-27-2023 11:10 AM

LEYDEN — After a surprise March snowstorm slammed the town with 3 feet of snow, emergency management representatives have put together an event to bring the community together and raise awareness about emergency preparedness.

Readyfest is an emergency preparedness festival designed to impart actionable skills and knowledge vital to being physically and mentally prepared for disasters, while also bringing neighbors together to socialize, have fun and partake in a chili cook-off.

The event will be held from noon to 7 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 30, at the Town Offices, 7 Brattleboro Road, and at the adjacent Avery Field.

“We were a new emergency committee at the time and we learned a lot [after the March snowstorm],” said Emergency Management Committee member Sara Seinberg. “I wanted to make sure we took those lessons and make them valuable — we wanted to really, holistically look at emergency management.”

To convey those lessons to residents, Readyfest has brought together public safety agencies from the town and county to host activities and tables that will present “actionable, comprehensive and competent” emergency preparedness strategies.

Among the agencies and committees represented are the Franklin Regional Council of Governments (FRCOG), the Leyden Council on Aging, the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA), the Leyden Fire Department and the Bernardston Police Department.

“We want it to be a community event, and we certainly want it to be informative and fun,” added Selectboard member Erica Jensen, who previously served as the town’s emergency management director. “There’s a lot of good folks who have a lot of good information about emergency situations.”

Major highlights of the festival include the “Ready or Not” game show hosted by Karin Parks, who will be asking questions related to emergency preparedness and offering a prize to the winner at 4 p.m. at the Town Offices.

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At the same time, a chili cook-off will be held at the pavilion on Avery Field, where residents will have a chance to try various recipes. Judging the event will be cookbook writer and Greenfield Recorder food columnist Tinky Weisblat, as well as Carolann Zaccara of the Wagon Wheel restaurant in Gill, and Maggie Zaccara of Hope & Olive restaurant in Greenfield.

The main event of the day will begin at 5 p.m. when Emergency Management Director David Pomerantz will present the town’s new comprehensive emergency management plan, including a new Emergency Neighborhood model, which empowers residents to help one another.

“If I’m in the state government and there’s a disaster, of course I’m going to use more resources in Greenfield than Leyden,” Seinberg said. “To me, it became clear that sooner rather than later, we needed to figure out the best way to help ourselves.”

Town Offices schedule

■1 p.m. — “Emergencies and Mental Health.” Social worker Leeanne Hadsel will offer strategies for the whole family to stay calm, focused and together during challenging times.

■2 p.m. — “First Aid and Narcan.” FRCOG nurses will share preparedness steps for meeting medical needs, lead first aid training and give an overview of Narcan, an opioid overdose reversal drug.

■2:45 p.m. — “Stretch Break.” Linda Allis, assistant to the Council on Aging, will lead exercises.

■3 p.m. — “MEMA Emergency Prep Workshop” with Nate Moreau. From food and water necessities, to emergency tools, to communications, Moreau will share actionable items we can use to get our households ready for emergencies.

■4 p.m. — “Ready or Not” game show with Karin Parks.

■5 p.m. — “Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan,” detailed by David Pomerantz.

■Ongoing — “Storm Stories Project.” Nan Rolstad and the Leyden Historical Commission are leading an oral history project recounting storms in Leyden.

Avery Field schedule

■Noon to 2 p.m. — Free ice cream served by Ice Cream Emergency.

■1 to 2:30 p.m. — Chainsaw safety presentation with Mike Smith.

■3 p.m. — Leyden Fire Department demonstration. Tour the vehicles, and learn about household fire safety and using fire extinguishers.

■4 to 4:30 p.m. — Chili tasting for everyone. Judging begins at 4:30 p.m.

■Ongoing — Storywalk featuring “Different Kinds of Hurt: Isaac’s Story.”

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