By Marjorie Nesin Staff Writer
Gloucester Daily Times
---- — ROCKPORT — Residents and visitors alike are gearing up to celebrate and play at a HarvestFest saluting all things Rockport Saturday, including the added fun of a sweet and silly new game, heightened competition in the scarecrow making contest, and a juggling team frolicking around town.
HarvestFest organizer Sarah Kelly expects a turnout even larger than last year’s event, which drew an estimated 3,000 to 5,000, she said. Kelly hopes the clear weather and new activities will draw in visitors and residents to downtown Rockport for the festivities that begin at 10 a.m. and run until 6 p.m.
”We’ve added some traditional festival entertainment,” Kelly said. “People can kind of enjoy the town in a different way.”
The Rockport Parent Teacher Organization will host a “Cake Walk” game in Harvey Park between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. during the HarvestFest.
Participants in the game, walk to music — in musical chairs fashion — around a circle of number cards on the ground, then grab a number card when the music stops. A host draws a number from a hat, and the person holding that number card gets to pick a cake to take home.
PTO Board Leader Diane Ambrose said 25 people have already volunteered to bake one or two cakes for prizes, and the PTO will collect cakes from anyone wishing to donate more that morning. One cake is valued at $75, but whether you win the pricey prize, a pile of whoopie pies, a smattering of cupcakes, or nothing at all, every participant will go home with a treat, number drawn or not.
”No one’s left out, and everybody who doesn’t win a cake will get to come home with a cookie or a cupcake or something,” Ambrose said.
Of course, participants donate money, a suggested $1 or $2 donation, to walk the cake walk, and those donations help fund the PTO. Ambrose said though this is Rockport HarvestFest’s first cake walk, it’s proven a popular way to raise money or good causes in other states.
”I hear from family members throughout the country how fun it is,” Ambrose said. “Their kids would get so excited about it, even adults. You go home with a dessert for your entire family.”
The festival still features the classic favorites like the scarecrow design contest as well. But this year, organizers have upped the ante, adding cash prizes for the first time, thanks to the support of Granite Savings Bank.
”We’re going to have some really interesting scarecrows this year,” Kelly said. “We think it could end up, over the years, a way of expressing Rockport’s artistic heritage.”
Granite Savings Bank will give $175 to the first prize scarecrow in the adult category, and $150 goes to the adult that wins second prize. The person who wins in the category for kids under 15 years old will take home $75, and the second place winner in the same category receives $50.
As usual, the entire day takes place to the tune of local musicians with food aromas swirling overhead, stemming from lobster, chowder, cider doughnuts and maple sugar products under the tent on T-Wharf. Cape Ann Brewing Co. will serve up their award-winning locally crafted beer on tap, including the seasonal favorite, Pumpkin Stout.
Added to that, the MIT juggling team will be throwing balls around at Bearskin Neck, on the wharf and around town throughout the festival, Kelly said.
”We really wanted to make it an event for residents and visitors, not just visitors,” Kelly said. “Let people reconnect with their downtown, take pride in it.”
Marjorie Nesin can be reached at 978-283-7000, x3451, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
ROCKPORT HARVESTFEST Schedule of Events Cooking Demonstrations with author and educator Nancy Singleton Hachisu under the tent on T Wharf. Writer Heather Atwood will host the demonstrations, and Hachisu will also be available to sign copies of her recently published cookbook, Japanese Farm Food. 1 p.m. -- Cooking demonstration featuring Chef Frank McClelland of Boston's L'Espalier and Apple Street Farm in Essex. 3 p.m. -- Seafood Throwdown Sponsored by NAMA and emceed by Heather Atwood of the Taste of the Times. Live Music 11 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. -- Tom O'Carroll playing Tradiotional Irish and Folk music in Dock Square. 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. -- Nicholas Bogosian and Michael Knoblach playing Old Timey Roots Music in Dock Square. 1:45 p.m. to 3:15 p.m. -- Daniel Dye & the Miller Road Band playing Indie Americana music in Dock Square. 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. -- Brad Byrd with full band playing Indie and Alternative Rock music in Dock Square. 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. -- Courtney Reid playing indie and alternative rock on T Wharf. 12:45 p.m. to 3:15 p.m. -- The Sturdy Oak Boys playing bluegrass under the tent on T-Wharf. 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. -- Old Cold Tater playing bluegrass under the tent on T-Wharf. 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. -- Rockport Legion Band playing in Harvey Park. Family Activities Schedule 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. -- Make your own instruments with Rockport Music in Dock Square at the Old Firehouse Trust Building.: Create your own guitar from cigar boxes and other supplies Noon -- CAAA's Best Dressed Dog Parade from Harvey Park to Bearskin Neck and back again. Registration for the parade begins at 11 a.m., with the parade starting at noon. Sponsored by Cape Ann Animal Aid. 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. -- Pumpkin painting at the Kids' Zone: Paint a pumpkin to take home as part of your autumn decor. There is a $5 suggested donation with proceeds to support Rockport Festivals programming. 4:30 p.m. -- The Great Scarecrow Chase: Children of all ages can join us for a costumed parade throughout downtown, ending up with a very special surprise and treat! Parade begins in Harvey Park at the Kids Art Zone. Art and Culture 11 a.m. -- Narrative of the Battle of Sandy Bay: Rockport during the War of 1812, as seen through theeyes of five speakers portraying real historical characters who instigated and lived out events in wartime Rockport. Located at the First Congregational Church and Sponsored by the Cape Ann DAR. 1 p.m. -- MIT Juggling Club on T-Wharf: Traditional street entertainment including juggling and unicycles. 1 p.m. -- Glass Art Installation at Brackett's Oceanview Restaurant on Main Street: Meet Partner With an Artist 2012 Winner John Bassett. Light refreshments. Presented by seARTS and the Rockport Cultural District. 1:30 p.m. -- MIT Juggling Club moves to Dock Square. 2 p.m. -- Glass art installation shifts to Roy Moore's Fish Shack in Dock Square. 2 p.m. -- MIT Juggling Club heads over to Bearskin Neck. 3 p.m. -- Glass art installation continues at the 7th Wave Restaurant on Bearskin Neck. 4 p.m. -- Scarecrow Stroll Contest winners announced in Dock Square. Competition sponsored by Granite Savings Bank.