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Massena holds 33rd annual Heritage Festival

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MASSENA — A rainy morning did not keep the crowds away from the 33rd annual Massena Heritage Festival on Saturday.

The opening parade, which marched from Water Street to the Massena Arena at 9 a.m., was not deterred by the steady drizzle.

A bounce house for children had to be canceled because of the weather, but all of the other events were held indoors, safely away from the rain.

“The weather is actually ideal for the heritage festival,” said Eric J. Gustafson, president of the Greater Massena Chamber of Commerce, which sponsers the event.

“We could have used a little more sun earlier for the parade of course,” he added.

The event’s theme was “80 years of community service.” The festival is one of the biggest fundraisers for the Chamber of Commerce, said Vice President Susan E. Stiles. The money collected goes toward funding the chamber’s other initiatives and events throughout the year, like the harvest festival and the winter carnival.

“We’ve tried to concentrate on our biggest events and make them the best that we can get them to be,” Ms. Stiles said.

At least 65 booths lined the floor of the arena. Many were vendors, trying to interest passing visitors in their wares. Margaret A. Charleson, of Potsdam, said she sells Scentsy candles at more than 50 fairs every year, and the Massena Heritage Festival is usually one of her most succesfull outings.

“It’s been good. I usually sell about $500 a year at this show,” she said.

Other booths were set up to help a cause. Massena resident Virginia M. Galligan ran a booth at the festival for the first time to promote Project Linus, a charity devoted to providing blankets for children in need. Mrs. Galligan was collecting donations and providing information to visitors. Contributions were steady, she said, and many people were interested in information about the charity.

“There’s been a lot of people taking the flyers and posters,” she said.

The festival is an annual tradition for some families. Brasher Falls resident Tracy L. Arquiett brought her daughter, Jamie L. Fedonick, and grandaughter, 3-year-old Bella M. Fedonick, to enjoy the shows and shopping.

“The place is packed; there’s plenty of things to go to and to shop,” Mrs. Fedonick said.

The festival also provided entertainment throughout the day. Groups like the Trinity Catholic Band, Gotta Dance Studio, and The Acoustic Brothers took the stage to add music and dance to the proceedings.

Simon M. LaGarry, 12, played trombone with the Massena All School Band. His family has attended the festival each year since moving from Waddington to Massena three years ago.

“I, for one, loved it,” he said. “The acoustics are really good.”

The festival plays an important role in the chamber’s goal of helping the community and boosting the local economy, Mr. Gustafson said.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity for the vendors, and a wonderful opportunity for the community to get together,” he said.

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