KENNEBUNK – Hundreds of people flocked downtown to celebrate the season Saturday during the town’s second Harvest Fest.
But the focus wasn’t just on fall; everyone seemed even more energized by the upcoming completion of the Main Street/Mousam River Bridge that carries Route 1 over the water.
“We’re very excited for this event,” said Duffy’s Tavern & Grill vice president Chris Cluff who was organizing a midday barbecue on the bridge.
The restaurant, on the corner of Main and Storer streets at the northern end of the bridge, has felt the brunt of bridge construction that rerouted traffic down Water Street and over a temporary bridge. Cluff said the business is down about 20 percent compared to the previous year.
Town Manager Barry Tibbetts said the bridge has been closed for 13 months for construction to replace it.
As he walked down Main Street on Saturday, past the artisans’ booths, crafts table and activities, he said that this year’s festival was twice as big as last year’s. He said nearly 150 people participated in a morning 5K road race, there were double the number of booths in an open space on Main Street and more children took part in the midday costume parade.
“There’s a real nice synergy happening within downtown,” Tibbetts said, and he hopes the new bridge as well as improvements to a nearby park will enhance the area. “The feng shui will be much better,” he said.
The festival kicked off at 8 a.m. with the road race and a pancake breakfast at Duffy’s. The farmers market was joined by local vendors and activity tables for children. A costume parade marched down Main Street, followed immediately by a ribbon cutting for the new bridge. Duffy’s hosted a barbecue on the bridge with live music throughout the afternoon. Firemen mustered.
Under a tent just off Main Street, children swarmed over piles of pumpkins to pick out the best. Michaela Machulis, 9, found a medium-sized pumpkin that she said was perfect because of the smooth surface. Her father, Rick, helped her select eyes, a nose and a mouth from stickers on a table to decorate the pumpkin.
Rick Machulis said the festival gave them something to do Saturday and that he was excited to see the bridge open, too.
“I hated that other (temporary) bridge. It slowed things down,” he said.
The new bridge is expected to be open to regular traffic by the end of the month. Tibbetts said the temporary bridge will later be removed.
Staff Writer Emma Bouthillette can be contacted at 791-6325 or at: