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October festival canceled

HOPKINTON — Organizers of Hopkinton’s first Autumn Festival, planned for Oct. 5-6, have decided to cancel the event because many vendors have chosen to participate in Richmond’s Swamp Yankee Days on the following weekend instead.

“The timing didn’t work for us,” Hopkinton Recreation Director Mary Sawyer explained.

Hopkinton hosted Swamp Yankee Days at Crandall Field for 20 years until the Chariho Rotary, which ran the event, announced in February that it was withdrawing because of a lack of volunteers. The town opted to hold an autumn craft festival instead.

But Swamp Yankee Days wasn’t dead after all. Scott Barber, Richmond’s director of public works and chief of the Richmond Carolina Fire District, announced in June that he had decided to lead the effort to resurrect the festival, and that it would take place at the Washington County Fairgrounds.

The new Swamp Yankee Days will offer many of the activities that made the festival so popular, including exhibitions of traditional skills such as corn meal grinding and chair caning, and the popular cow chip bingo.

“We’ve got quite a few arts-and-crafts vendors that have signed up. We have some bluegrass music, the old-time fiddlers, some Celtic music and a little bit of old-fashioned rock,” Barber said. “Lots of food, Pomona kitchen’s going to be open, the Carolina Fire Department’s going to serve jonnycakes, Hope Valley Fire is going to serve sausage, Hope Valley will be serving onion peels and fried pickles, Chariho Rotary’s going to be doing clam cakes and chowder.”

New this year are a Future Farmers of America woodsman competition, a Frisbee dog demonstration, and an antique tractor pull. Admission will be $5 for adults, and free for children 5 years old and younger.

“Our goal is for this to be an inexpensive day for a family of four to go to an event, see some things from history, have arts and crafts, eat some good food,” Barber said.

But as organizations and vendors flocked to Swamp Yankee Days, they abandoned the Hopkinton autumn festival.

“It just started to dwindle,” Sawyer said. “The real draw was the cow chip bingo.”

Town Council member Barbara Capalbo said the Hopkinton festival just didn’t have enough participants.

“With Swamp Yankee Days coming up, a number of people told us they’d rather do Swamp Yankee Days. It just didn’t make sense economically, so we decided to gracefully step out,” she said.

“We felt sad about it, but we do wish them the best,” Sawyer said of Swamp Yankee Days. “As far as any festivals and Crandall field are concerned, we’ll just have to think long and hard about what will be the right fit for us.”

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