Bahai News -- Portsmouth Herald - Thousands enjoy Eliot Festival Days

Thousands enjoy Eliot Festival Days

By Darlene M. Valliere

ELIOT, Maine - Eliotís 23rd annual Festival Days kicked off Friday night with a chili-tasting event and a custom car show followed by a fireworks display.

Approximately 3,000 people gathered to enjoy the fireworks, according to Eliot Festival Days committee chairman John Lippincott.

The festival continued Saturday morning with a pancake breakfast followed by Eliotís 11th annual 5K Road Race. This yearís race had more than 1,000 runners cross the finish line.

The Eliot Community Service Departmentís mini-carnival was active with many youths trying to win a prize or jumping in the moonwalk.

"I liked spinning the wheel best - it was like being on a game show. And, Iím just having a lot of fun here!" said 7-year-old Carly Amsden of Eliot, as she clung tightly to the horse poster that her mom helped her win.

"I spinned it too and I got a lollipop, but I had to give it back. Iím going to go jumping with my big sister," added Carlyís 3-year-old sister Skyler, proudly holding her unicorn poster.

Soon the field thinned out as everyone moved to the roadside to watch the parade.

The "Celebrating Our Freedoms" theme for the festival was illustrated through various floats, including military personnel.

Everyone enjoyed the parade, and the crowd got lively when the Marshwood High School Hawks Band began to play.

The official parade judges deemed the Farmstead Bed and Breakfast float the overall winner of the day. The nine best entries included the Selectmenís float, the Eliot Antique Tractor and Engine Association, The Marshwood High School Hawks Marching Band, Leaps and Bounds by the Eliot Childcare Center, Eliot Club Scout Pack No. 340, the Eliot Garden Club, East Eliot Garage, Eliot Highway Department and Eliot Small Engine.

Two of the paradeís unofficial judges had a difference of opinion.

"The parade was good because they threw out candy," said 7-year-old Taylor Simpson of York. Simpson and her family come to Eliot Festival Days every year to meet up with their Eliot friends.

Simpsonís best friend, 7-year-old Ashley Hickey of Eliot, voted the blue 911 car at the end of the parade as the best entry.

Following the parade, more than 100 children ages 9 and under participated in the Kidsí Fun Run at the William Fogg Library. Ribbons were given to all participants.

The Sugar Shack Grass Band was pulled throughout the festival by tractor as they played to the crowdís delight.

But what stole the show for many male teens, and several grown men, was the presence of Eliotís own New England Patriots cheerleader, Heidi Fielek, who was on hand for photos and to sign calendars.

"Itís always fun to come back home and see familiar faces that Iíve grown up with. Itís also an extraordinary experience for me to be able to come back to town as an NFL cheerleader," said Fielek, who graduated from Marshwood High School in 1992.

The festival will end with a turkey dinner at the Bahaíi School on Sunday night. The Bahaíi is seating at 4:30 and 5:30 p.m. For reservations call (207) 439-7200.

©Copyright 2003, Portsmouth Herald (NH, USA)

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