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Downtown transformed into 1700s Westfield on Colonial Harvest Day

Local kids participate in the annual Colonial Harvest Day. Reminder Publications submitted photo
By Katelyn Gendron

Reminder Assistant Editor

WESTFIELD It's time to pull out the best bonnets, church dresses, overalls and trousers from your ancestral cedar chests because Colonial Harvest Day is here once again.

The third annual Colonial Harvest Day on Sept. 29 will have a variety of events throughout the day crafters, performances, historic walking tours and a Revolutionary War encampment sure to transform downtown into the Westfield of the 1700s.

"It's food, fun and frolic in the autumn sunshine," Chris Lindquist, director of the Westfield Athenaeum, and co-chair of Westfield on Weekends (WoW) Colonial Harvest Day said. "We want people to enjoy the day, eat delicious food and find out about the rich history of Westfield."

There will be multiple events throughout the day from 10 a.m. 5 p.m., on and around the Green, beginning with 15 colonial demonstrators at With Heart and Hand on Court Street. The fully costumed volunteers will be demonstrating numerous colonial crafts such as quilting, stenciling, doll making and basket weaving.

"I really feel that kids today really need to get a sense of what this is about rather than reading it in a text book," Pamela White-Leigh, owner of With Heart and Hand, and co-chair of WoW's Colonial Harvest Day said. "We really need to keep these crafts alive or they will become a lost art."

With Heart and Hand is also the headquarters of the Scarecrow Trail, where White-Leigh's scarecrow named "Lydia" will be available for public viewing. Lydia is named after the first woman of the house who lived at 51 Court St., in 1845, where White-Leigh's business is now located. She said Lydia was the wife of Merwin Loomis, a very prominent family in Westfield.

The festivities will be ongoing on and around the Green where 20 members of the 25th Continental Regiment will be setting up a Revolutionary War encampment and reenacting life in the field at that time. Lindquist said there will also be women and child reenactors present to speak about what life was like for families that followed their servicemen throughout the war.

Other Colonial Harvest Day events include various music and dance performances including the Small Planet Dancers a group of 25 dancers that will perform dances from all over the world. Traditional colonial and harvest-influenced music will be played throughout the day with such bands as the Pioneer Valley Fiddlers, Zo Darrow and the Fiddleheads and Northern Lights.

The Boys and Girls Library at the Westfield Athenaeum will be providing activities for children as well with an outdoor scavenger hunt and colonial crafting, Donna Colson, assistant Youth Service Librarian and WoW committee member said. The children will have the opportunity to learn about the crafts as they are making wooden coasters out of Popsicle sticks and jumping jack puppets.

The vibrant history of Westfield will not be overlooked either on Colonial Harvest Day as there will be historical walking tours of downtown led by local historian Dr. Robert Brown.

"He's literally a walking encyclopedia," Lindquist said of Brown. He added that over the course of the hour-long tour Brown will be showing people photographs of what the area used to look like versus their present locations and recent developments.

The day will conclude with a Community Contradance, where Jim Fownes and fiddlers will be leading everyone at Colonial Harvest Day in a special dance. Lindquist said the Contradance is similar to square dancing and will be taught prior to the conclusion of the day. He added that this dance is one that promotes community involvement and is a great way to end the day.

"With Colonial Harvest Day we go back in time to the 1700s," Bob Plasse, president of WoW said. "I think that families will especially enjoy this event that combines a celebration of Westfield's rich history with an acknowledgement of the autumn harvest."

Other events throughout the day include horse-drawn hay wagon rides, tours of the Old Burying Ground on Mechanic Street and a used book sale at the Athenaeum.

"We need to pass something along to our townspeople," White-Leigh said. "We want them to go home and feel inspired."

For more information on Colonial Harvest Day or WoW go to their Web site at