Ferrisburgh enjoys a day of fun

FERRISBURGH — Despite sweltering heat, Ferrisburgh residents turned out in force on July 24 for “Ferrisburgh Day,” a community celebration that included free daytime events at nine locations around town and an evening church supper.
Gail Blasius, one of 16 members of the committee that organized the day, said that between 40 and 60 residents showed up at each site, including the Rokeby and Lake Champlain Maritime museums, which admitted residents for free, and a display of town artists’ work at the rebuilt Ferrisburgh Grange Hall that serves as a town office building and meeting center.
Those results were “fabulous,” Blasius said.
“The attendance at all the activities was good,” she said. “It was very good, better than we expected.”
Organizers modeled that Saturday after “Ferrisburgh Good Neighbor Day,” an event that dated back to the 1970s. Blasius said some felt that renewing that tradition would help bring people in town together.
“It was a grassroots effort by a small group of people who wanted to foster a sense of community in Ferrisburgh,” she said.
Organizers also believed that many residents had never seen some of what the town had to offer, including the two museums and even the inside of the duplicate Grange Hall. Blasius said her impression at the Grange was that some who came saw the interior for the first time.
“It was just so people would know more about their town, go places they’d never been before,” she said.
Other sites included the Ferrisburgh Central School, which offered a school lunch, a scavenger hunt and a tour of students’ vegetable gardens; the home of organizer Al Van DeWeert, who displayed antique farm equipment and offered pony rides; the Ferrisburgh Fire Department; the Ferrisburgh Historical Society, which calls the former town clerk’s office home; and two churches.
Rokeby director Jane Williamson said traffic was heavy at her site, and she believes the local traffic sparked interest from tourists.
“For a regular tour day, it was very big … All of our tours were pretty much over our normal limit,” Williamson said, adding, “Every tour was a nice mixed group.”
Williamson hopes Ferrisburgh Day will become a fixture on the calendar.
“I hope we’re going to do this next year. I think it was terrific all the way around,” she said.
Given the response, Blasius said more Ferrisburgh Days are in the works. Organizers have already heard offers of horse-drawn wagons and hayrides for 2011, and are talking about an earlier start on promotion and on seeking more business participation next year.
“All the comments we got were very positive, wanting to do it again,” she said. “The only thing we would have changed was the weather. It was very warm.”
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at andyk@addisonindependent.com.

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