By Emily DaSilva
---- — Clowns blew up balloons creating swords and animals.
A mini train made its way from one end of the Main Street shopping area to the other with young passengers on board.
There was even a tooth fairy in the mix, from Harbor Cove Dental!
All of that activity and much more along Gloucester’s Main Street Thursday signaled that the 55th annual Sidewalk Bazaar is in full swing. And yesterday’s opening day was just the first of three days of celebrating downtown Gloucester with artists, crafters, food vendors, musicians, and more lining Main Street from the intersection of Pleasant and Duncan streets to Washington, in a scene that will play out today and Saturday as well.
A mountain of Portuguese Sweet Bread towered in one food vendor’s booth, while canolis and homemade cookies were displayed at the booth housing Jenny Cakes Bakery, a shop new to Gloucester this year.
Jenny Cakes Bakery, of Washington Street, is owned by Brian and Jennifer Strangman, a husband and wife who make “everything from cupcakes to canolis” says Brian.
Their plan is to grow Jenny Cakes Bakery like a Carlo’s Bake Shop made famous from the reality TV show Cake Boss. “When you get married you support each other’s dreams” Brian says.
The neighboring booth belonged to Donna Wright, also known as, “The Bag Lady.”
Wright knits items from recycled plastic grocery bags, and makes anything from raincoats taking 1,167 Market Basket bags to create, to small wallets made from brown and purple Stop and Shop bags. Wright says she started knitting with recycled plastic bags two years ago because her granddaughter is a vegan and she didn’t like her knitting with wool, so she made the switch.
“Nobody makes these” Wright says of her knitted placemat sets on display. This is her second year featuring her recycled creations at the Sidewalk Bazaar.
“To me, it’s fun and yet it’s helping me,” Wright says.
A group of young artists promoted themselves in a booth showcasing their work.
Josh Lentini, who works in carpentry, takes scrap wood and paints on it to create one of a kind artwork. Nick Bagley explained that he made the switch from paint to collage a few years ago. He now creates prints of the unique collages he makes from National Geographic cut outs.
Veronica Ellyson, a photographer, is the third artist at the booth.
“When I was a little kid, she recalled, “my parents would just hand me the camera and the pictures would come out so good, they just said, “Let her do it.” Her shots are the products of road trips, and her work includes images that span from South Dakota to Oregon.
Craftswomen Michelle Cangemi and Whitney Chin say they have been best friends since the first grade and have been saying for years and years that they would have a booth at the Sidewalk Bazaar.
This year is the first year they made their dream a reality with a booth showcasing Cangemi’s hand-painted canvas totes of Love M and Chin’s crochet work.
“Every year we seem to have a different set of things we are working on. This is this year’s project.” Cangemi says.
Margaret Jones Doyle of Maggie Jones Jewelry sat in her booth creating handmade crystal bracelets.
“I’ve dabbled in jewelry for years” Doyle says. Originally from Ohio, Doyle says that she ran into a “Gloucester Gentleman” some years ago and she’s been here ever since. This is her third year at the Bazaar and she has “enjoyed it thoroughly.”
Jane Nobel and sister Lisa Zellenka have been hand making cloth bags and cell phone cases for about eight years — an idea born from the Cape Ann Relay for Life. The women sold their creations to raise money for their team 11 years ago selling flip flops and other things, and eight years ago they switched to making bags, with proceeds benefiting the Cape Ann Relay for Life and the American Cancer Society.
The three Gloucester natives commended Patricia Militello, owner of Headlines Hair Salon, for supporting them through their booth in front of the salon storefront.
Christine Orlando of Kids Unlimited celebrates her 20th year in business, and has long relished the Sidewalk Bazaar, where she is running a 50 percent off Summer and Winter Clearance Sale.
She said Thursday’s turnout was busy but typical of the Bazaar’s opening day.
“This is the first break we’ve had all morning,” she said. “I think people love to come first for the first choice.”
The Bazaar, however, is about more than sales.
Musicians Peter Phillips and Jeannine Lynch of East Gloucester carried their tunes through the streets with their guitar flute and fiddle collaboration.
The pair has been playing together for six years and love coming to the Sidewalk Bazaar because they see people they “haven’t seen in 20 years,” they said.
“The best part is watching the kids. They are just having a great time” said Lynch.
Henry Allen of North Shore Folklore Theatre Company talks about the importance of preserving our community’s stories through theater at his booth. “Stories are dying, they aren’t being passed on to the next generation,” Allen said, adding that the kids of the theatre company love Gloucester. s“They are finding a new magic of Gloucester,” he says.
The Bazaar Thursday attracted visitors as well as locals.
Debbie Boren said she’s been coming to the Bazaar for six years from North Seekonk, the home of her business, Sew Me a Memory.
She sells her handmade women’s and children’s clothing complete with doll clothing to match.
“We keep coming back,” she said. “I love the people.”