by Chris Richard, Director of Tourism
Greetings and Happy New Year!
The year 2018 did not start out as expected, because it was too cold to safely hold the annual Fort Phoenix Polar Plunge. Kathy Lopes and the committee made a wise choice to play it safe for the health and wellbeing of both the participants and volunteer staff. As I write this, the new date for the plunge has not been set, but watch Facebook and the local news outlets for updates as soon as they are available.
Now let’s take a look back at 2017.
It was a year ago I began these monthly columns in the Fairhaven Neighborhood News, thanks to the cooperation of Beth David. “Notes from the Visitors Center” is also posted on Facebook and on FairhavenTours.com a day or so after they run in the paper. The idea is to keep you informed of what the Office of Tourism is working on through the year and to provide information about some of the upcoming events held in town. It is also in keeping with the Board of Selectmen’s policy goal to make your government more open and accessible. (At some point you also might see periodic reports from other Town departments posted on the Town of Fairhaven website.) I hope that you have been finding these columns useful.
Last year there were weather issues with a few of the regular annual events. The spring and fall Fort Phoenix encampments both got off to wet starts. The Father’s Day Road Race was wet, too. There was a very rainy beginning to the Homecoming Day Fair. One of the Monday Morning Fun programs at the Visitors Center was rained out and Harvest Fun Day was a very soggy (but fun) day. The last night of the Haunted Academy had to be canceled because of a very windy storm. However, there were many bright spots (besides the sun coming out for Homecoming afternoon). The morning of the Fourth of July was very nice. The Manjiro Festival did not have to be moved indoors this time. The light snow during the Old-Time Holiday seemed to bring out more people than ever.
If we’re lucky, we’ll end up with weather patterns this year that are a bit more favorable for our outdoor events.
During the summer of ’17, the Pirates and Privateers presentations at Fort Phoenix, then in their second season, were very well attended and generated many positive comments. More people are learning this kid-friendly “histor-tainment” is a fun thing to do on a Friday morning. I’m hoping to find a couple of additional reenactors so that there can be even more piracy this year.
Seven of the eight Monday Morning Fun programs in July and August were great, too. Lots of children and their parents or guardians stopped by for games, ice cream, and some great guest presentations. We had zoo animals, the ArtMobile, chocolately goodness from Emma Jean’s, music with KJ Tunes, and much more. The program that was rained out — the New Bedford Fishing Heritage Center — will be rescheduled in 2018.
I’ll be planning some new activities and we’ll also see the return of some of the favorites from previous years. A lot of thanks needs to go to the business, organizations, and individuals who made donations to bring these programs to you.
Bob Foster and I had a great time guiding tours again last year. Watch for the schedules of this summer’s H.H. Rogers Walking Tours, Fairhaven High School tours, and Riverside Cemetery tours. (This is another area where some more volunteer help would be nice. If you have ever thought it would be fun to be a tour guide, let’s make it happen. You just need a good clear speaking voice and a good pair of walking shoes. Get in touch.)
A lot of what went on last year will be repeated in 2018, but there are some changes coming, too.
First, Green Fairhaven/Fairhaven Sustainability will no longer hold a Farmers Market on Sunday afternoons. According to organizers, increased competition from other markets, decreasing attendance, and other factors led to this decision. It was a good run for ten years. Everyone who volunteered at the market should be commended.
Second, the Old Stone Schoolhouse will not have regular Saturday afternoon hours during the summer of 2018. It can still be opened by appointment for school field trips and other visits by interested groups, but there were just not enough people showing up on Saturday afternoons to make it worthwhile to open every week.
Third, as a result of the two things mentioned above, the Office of Tourism is planning to run a new weekly marketplace for arts, crafts, antiques, and nostalgic collectibles on Saturdays from mid-June to Labor Day on the lawn of the Visitors Center. It will be called Huttleston Marketplace, with hours tentatively set for 10 to 4.
In addition to the arts/crafts/ antiques component, there may be some locally made food products and farm produce as well. There will be rules in place for vendors to keep the standards high with regard to what can be sold, so it does not turn into a common flea market. Crafts will have to be hand made in New England. Original art, photos and prints will be from local people. Antiques and collectibles will have to meet certain age, condition, and collectability requirements.
Right now, the fee schedule for Huttleston Marketplace vendors is still being considered, but most likely there will be one fee for the full season and another fee to set up for one week at a time. People interested in being vendors can email FairhavenTours@fairhaven-ma.gov to be put on the email list or to offer any comments or suggestions.
As always, anyone with ideas, feedback, or interest in helping out can contact me by calling 508-979-4085, via email at FairhavenTours@ fairhaven-ma.gov, or by stopping by the Visitors Center, 141 Main Street. The hours of the Office of Tourism are Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., with a half-hour break around noon. There are some reserved parking spaces in the high school lot closest to the Academy Building.
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Click here to download the entire 1/4/18 issue: 01-04-18 NoPlunge