KITTERY, Maine — Downtown was packed with families and friends sipping lemonade and dancing to music at the Kittery Block Party on Saturday.
With a bucketful of balloons, Ezekiel Chapman, 12, had young children in awe as he formed hats and animals. As he twisted and turned balloons into a cat and mouse, he explained some of the more complex creations he’s done in the past — including a six-foot-tall stork.
Ezekiel and his father spent the day walking around the festival making balloon animals and flowers.
Mack D’Angelo, 8, was one of the lucky children who had a specially made piece. As he walked around the stands with his parents, he donned a hat resembling a monkey climbing a coconut tree.
“We got here at lunch time and we’ve been eating our way through the stands,” Mack’s father Ernie D’Angelo said. “It’s really been great.”
Festivalgoers chowed down on barbecue pulled pork, tacos, cheesesteak sandwiches and hot dogs.
Tara Emmitt of Kittery walked around the stands with her family, looking at vendors and checking out children’s books.
“We like community events,” she said, explaining why they stopped by the festival.
This is the first time in 10 years such an event has taken over downtown Kittery, said organizer Gavin Barbour.
“We wanted the opportunity to show off downtown,” he said. “We wanted people to know it’s worth the trip, especially when the bridges close.”
With the impending construction on the Memorial and Sara Long bridges, downtown businesses could see less business, Barbour said. The festival was a way to bring people together and to “build bridges” within the surrounding communities and was planned from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Over 90 vendors were out selling anything from fresh breads and tacos to children’s books and jewelry. New Hampshire Sports and Social Club members encouraged visitors to join dodge ball and volleyball leagues, while members of EcoMovement showed people how to compost their trash and recycle bottles and cans.
“They did a really great job getting everything together,” said Greater York County Chamber of Commerce Business Manager Holly Roberts. “The turnout has been wonderful.”
Chamber members were selling raffle tickets from their booth and promoting the summer art festivals.
Across the way, Moonlit Stitches owner Karri Davidson was excited so many people were stopping by her tent.
“This is the first fair of the season for me,”she said.
As a former Kittery resident, she said she was excited to hear the town was putting together such a community-focused event. Despite being hidden from the music stage, Davidson said she was pleased she could still hear the music performers and felt it really tied together the event.
“It’s fun and engaging for everyone,” she said. “There has been so many people stopping by.”
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