More Patriot staff photos follow.
by Barbara Van Reed
Saturday was a perfect day for a sidewalk sale event, though the vendors who set up their tables on the shady side of Main Street in downtown Webster had an advantage; it was cooler there.
More than 40 vendors participated, including local banks, businesses, retailers, and organizations, along with individual craftspeople and food vendors.
We chatted with several of them.
Our first stop was with Krista and Peter Lewis, who were there to represent the newly formed Pirates Youth Football and Cheer Organization. The group was founded earlier this year by Oxford and Webster parents who wanted to have a local league based on age and grade rather than weight class, as does Pop Warner. The town of Oxford has been most supportive of their effort, Krista said. The group’s president is Oxford High School coach Tony Depiro, and all the practices and games will be held at the Oxford High School field.
Krista is the director of fundraising and was selling raffle tickets at the sidewalk sale to help pay the $40,000 bill they have for brand new equipment, uniforms, and pads. Fundraising has been going well, she said, with car washes, registration fees, and the sponsorship of local businesses.
The American Youth Football Conference allows kids to play with their classmates and go through their youth football careers together on the same team. So far, 140 kids have signed up, 90 for football and 50 for cheer. There will be four football teams, grades 2 and 3 combined, 4, 5, and 6 and 7 combined. Practice starts July 30 and games start at the end of August.
Across the street, Dianne Hughes, who provides massage and reflexology services at Jeanne’s Hairloft, was ready to demonstrate the wonders of chair massage to willing participants. A licensed massage therapist and certified reflexoligist, she offered half price off on all services for new customers, “so you can see how good I am at my job,”she said. For reflexology novices, like me, it’s an alternative medicine that involves applying pressure to the feet, hands, or ears, which they say have zones that correspond to all other areas of the body, including glands and organs.
Nearby, the Daughters of Isabella was one of the charitable organizations attending the event. Janet Caouette of Oxford is the regent for the local chapter of the Catholic women’s organization. She was selling raffle tickets to raise money for sending “a couple of kids to summer camp.” This was the first year for the raffle, and Janet had been thrilled with the response of local merchants, who had donated over 115 prizes. “We’ve raised over $3500,” she said.
The Daughters are perhaps best known for the trips they sponsor, all to support their charitable mission. The trips are for everyone, said Janet, not just members. Brand new, young member Sarah McMahon said she was bringing her boyfriend and another friend on a trip. You can be any age to go, she said. This year’s tours range from a Newport Playhouse Lobster Fest to a “Myrtle Beach Spectacular.”
Webster resident Maggie Dougherty was one of the local crafters at the event. Her company is Maggie’s Restorations and Art, and she restores old statues, sanding them down and painting them. She has restored a few Blessed Mother statues, and as a spiritual person, she said, they help her deepen her journey.
Maggie displayed decorative bottles with religious paintings, watercolors, and jewelry, a neat mix of handcrafted items. She’s just into her second year of doing craft shows. She attended the sidewalk sale event to “support the community.” She said she wasn’t doing it for the money, “though I could use it.”
Ben Dubois, a student at the University of New Haven, and Sarah, a senior at Tourtellotte High School, were selling a “mix of their stuff,” having a yard sale on the sidewalk. They had sold some of their collection of videos, books, clothes, dishes and stuffed animals, but said they “still have a lot left.”
Just down the block, another young man, Joe Gevry of Webster, was selling stuff belonging to ”me and my Mom.” He was selling an assortment of dragons, watches, shoes, and other miscellaneous items. He said sales were slow, but going, and admitted he was there just for something to do.
Board member Debbie Rousseau was “manning” the Webster Dudley Business Alliance table in the sun in front of the United Church of Christ. She had some words to say about the heat, but carried on despite that. If you know Debbie, you know she’s never at a loss for words.
One of the food vendors on Main Street was Denise Gambone, with a hotdog stand called Denise’s Roadside Lunch. She’s planning to set up her business on weekends on Joe Kunkel’s property next to Indian Ranch. She tried that six years ago, she said, but the selectmen had given her a really hard time and made her move because there wasn’t enough parking.
“There’s plenty of parking now, and this year everyone in the town hall has said it’s OK,“ she said. “It’s totally different this time.”
She’ll be at the Gore Road location on show days, from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. She’s hoping people will grab a hot dog on their way into Indian Ranch. Her prices are lower, she said. “I don’t know if they (Indian Ranch) will have a problem with me,“ she admitted. But she’s going to give it a try.
Denise serves Maple Leaf hot dogs, the best, she said, but they are very difficult to find anymore. She did an all out search for them, but wouldn’t reveal her source.
Under a shade tree, Dan Anderson promoted the Rescom company, a distributor of replacement windows and doors, out of Auburn. Dan said he’s an “event promoter” for Rescom on the weekends. During the week he teaches eighth grade science in Framingham. His draw was a $36,000 window replacement sweepstakes. “Traffic has come in spurts,” he said of the event. It was slow at the beginning, 11 to 1 was good, now it’s slower again.
Seated on the sidewalk in front of her office, Hometown Bank’s Webster branch manager Tina Puzo greeted potential customers with a smile and $100 for opening a new checking account. The $100 promotion has a new twist now, she said. The bank has announced a new program, called Pay it Forward, which allows new customers to donate the $100 to a local school organization, booster club or other non-profit organization. In this way, the bank is actively supporting community programs, she said. Non-profits who would like to participate in this program for their fundraising efforts should call Tina at the bank.
Summing up the event was a happy shopper, Diana Komorowski. “I love it, she said. “It’s fabulous. There are lots of interesting booths. I’m like a big kid here.”