ROCKPORT, Maine — A stream of hungry people poured into the new Farmers Fare cafe and marketplace Thursday afternoon to enjoy a free community “Feastival.”
“It’s been amazing,” said Teri Thompson-Christie, who co-founded the marketplace and cafe with her husband, Peter Christie. “It’s awesome. Look at all the food — and so many people.”
And many, it seemed, did not just eat their turkey and run — they lingered, chatting with new or old friends, or went outside to watch children run around in the misty afternoon.
One of those lingerers was Nicolle Littrell of Belfast, who said she was glad she came.
“I’m a single mom, and my little boy is with his dad,” she said. “I wanted to do something really different, and plug into a sense of community. I like the feeling here.”
She said that she particularly enjoyed the “really yummy, really wholesome” food, which included a variety of dishes brought by community members.
Joan Gibson-Call of the Milky Way Organic Farm in Levant brought chocolate pudding to share at the meal. She and her husband, Brian Call, are farmers who drove two hours to deliver a load of holiday boughs and also to enjoy the Thanksgiving meal.
Farmers Fare, which sells a variety of Maine-grown fruits and vegetables, and local meats and fish, aims to support area farmers and artisans. Gibson-Call said she feels that those efforts are working.
“We came because we really appreciate what Farmers Fare is doing,” Gibson said. “We wanted to be part of it.”
Part of what Farmers Fare aims to do is to gather the community together, with food as the centerpiece, said John Bielenberg of Belfast, who is the creative director of the enterprise.
“The whole concept is that in America, we’ve become very disconnected. What Farmers Fare is trying to do is bring people back together,” he said. “We’ll continue. This is just the first [effort].”
Outside the building, Tom Uhll of Lincolnville shot apples from a powerful compressed-air gun he made from plumbing pipe. They arced high in the sky and then were fielded by a group of giggling children.
When asked what was the best part of his holiday, he paused before reloading with apples.
“All the people getting together,” he said.
Arleigh Kraus of Warren watched as the apples were fired off, keeping a watchful eye on her twins.
“It’s the best Thanksgiving,” she said. “Absolutely stress-free, and there are tons of kids. We live out in the country, and it’s great for them to be around other children. It’s a totally pleasurable experience to connect with other people.”