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Portsmouth, NH Wednesday, September 25, 2002

Raise a cheer for 22nd annual Eliot Festival

By Shirley Jacques

ELIOT, Maine - Fluttering from poles all over town, blue banners and purple flags announce the 22nd Eliot Festival, three days of an old-time community get-together beginning Friday.

An appearance by hometown celebrity Heidi Fielek kicks off the festivities Friday night. The 1992 Marshwood High School graduate, now a Patriots cheerleader, will sign autographs and pose for photos. The chili fest and custom car show start the festivities at 5:30 p.m.

Fireworks at 8 p.m. are planned for the end the day. All Friday activities will be held at the boat launch park off Route 103.

It all began as just one day in October 1981 to bring people together (the theme was "Neighbor Helping Neighbor") at a time when the small town of 3,000 was growing by 19 percent annually.

Today, the town’s doubled in population and the festival’s official 5K road race, the biggest in Maine, attracts a thousand runners from all over New England. This festival still has something for everyone - fireworks, a parade, kid stuff, entertainment, crafts and food, plenty of food.

The 20th pancake breakfast, hosted by the Lions Club from 6 to 9 a.m. at the Congregational Church, provides energy for the great variety of activities Saturday.

After the road race, flag raising ceremonies usher in a children’s flower show by the garden club, the apple-pie baking contest at John Hill Grange, and demonstrations of judo, rug hooking, chain saw carving, Falun Gong and dance by Brixham Dance Works, and a search dog from the York County Emergency Management Agency.

The parade forms for judging at Eliot Commons and steps out at 11 a.m. to the wail of Rob Haskell’s bagpipes. Led by Police Chief Al Boston and celebrating "Our Heroes," (this year’s theme) the parade floats its way down Beech and State roads to the reviewing stand at William Fogg Library.

Music will be the big draw for children of all ages with Marcus Gale performing in "Music for Everyone" at 10:30 a.m. at the school and Trash Can Lid Productions back by popular demand at 1 p.m. near the school.

Booths for food, crafts and information will be open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the school. Come early for coffee and doughnuts from 8 to 10 a.m. with the Legion. Try soft pretzels and soda with the Democrats, nibble popcorn with Kittery-Eliot VFW. Chow down on chowdah with the Methodists, hot dogs with youth baseball or cheeseburgers with the Legion and top it all off with funnel cakes from the Fire Department.

Perhaps you’d rather have lobster rolls and ice cream at the Grange. Choose apple crisp at the Kid Care booth or apple cider at King Tut’s. Try a Moe’s Italian with Marshwood’s Music Boosters or chicken teriyaki with the MHS ski team.

Send the kids to find the Kiwanis duck pluck, dunking booth, tin can alley or the moon bounce in the kids corner.

Saturday ends where it began, at the Congregational Church, where the pancake breakfast gives way to the church ladies cooking up the annual smorgasbord supper.

Since no festival day would be complete without food, on Sunday it’s a turkey dinner with all the fixings served at 4 and 5 p.m. at Green Acre Baha’i School.

Two shuttle buses will circle around six stops from the Commons to the library from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., except during the parade.

Programs are available now at the town office and local stores.

©Copyright 2002, Portsmouth Herald

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