Downtown Country Fair returning to Willimantic

Sep. 22—WILLIMANTIC — As summer has transitioned to autumn, the Willimantic Food Co-op has a gift, of sorts, for the community.

And it is a gift coming back to Willimantic after a year off due to the health crisis.

Area residents are invited to enjoy music and other entertainment during the Willimantic Downtown Country Fair at Jillson Square on Saturday.

The free event, which is held by the Willimantic Food Co-op, will run from 11 a. m. to 4 p. m.

"I always think of this as like a present to our community," Willimantic Food Co-op general manager Alice Rubins said.

" It just means so much to us to be where we are and we want everyone to have the opportunity to have a



Downtown Country Fair returns Saturday

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lovely day."

The fair is a chance to celebrate the diversity of the Thread City's community.

The fair has been held every year since 1991, with the exception of last year, when it was canceled due to the pandemic.

It began in 1991 as a block party at the Meadow Street store and continued when the store moved to Valley Street.

The fair is now held at Jillson Square and, this year, performers will use the Shaboo Stage.

"I just like seeing how much creativity we have in our city," Rubin said.

The Shaboo Stage is expected to be the main hub of the event, with musicians performing throughout the day.

The following performances have been scheduled: 11: 15 a. m., folk singer Sally Rogers; 12: 15 p. m., Earl MacDonald; a jazz quartet; 1: 30 p. m., Frog Bridge Strings, fiddle; and 2: 30 p. m., Bentetu, Caribbean/ African music.

Meanwhile, a diverse group of crafters will sell their products during the fair.

Several food and beverage vendors will also be at the fair, including Grounded Coffee in Willimantic; Trigo Wood Fired Pizza in Lebanon; Hosmer Mountain Soda in Windham; Maharaja Indian Restaurant in Mansfield; and Lemon and Spice.

Several community organizations will be there providing information about their work, including the Willimantic Food Co-op; Oak Grove Montessori School in Mansfield; the Windham School Readiness Program; Eastern Connecticut State University Veterans Education and Transition Services Center, CLiCK; Northeast Family Federal Credit Union; Windham Green Town Committee; Neighbors newspaper; and the First Baptist Church's dinner program.

Because of complications caused by the pandemic, there will not be as many children's activities as there usually are.

" It's a little sad," Rubin said. " They always had such a good time."

Rubin said because of the pandemic, vendors will be spaced out more than usual.

Also, instead of one long, community table for dining, there will be several smaller tables so people can eat in smaller groups.

Rubin said there is a chance of rain Saturday, but organizers are hopeful Mother Nature will cooperate.

" It's looking like there's a chance of rain, so I have my fingers crossed and I think if it's just a light rain on and off, we'll be fine," she said.

Rubin said there isn't a rain date for the fair, which will be canceled if there is severe weather.

Any decisions regarding the event will be posted on the store's website, www. willimantic. food. coop. For more information about the fair, contact the Willimantic Food Co- op at 860- 4563611.

Follow Michelle Warren on Twitter @mwarrentc.

The fair has been held every year since 1991, with the exception of last year, when it was canceled due to the pandemic.