Summerfest Provides a Treat for the Senses

By Jennifer Lade
Standard-Times Staff Writer

New Bedford – After a modest start Friday night with two bands and an open food court, Summerfest kicked into high gear Saturday as musicians performed on six stages and vendors and artisans came out in full force.
Bands played continuously on the Custom House stage from 11 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Smaller stages scattered throughout the cobblestone streets downtown hosted other musicians. At the National Park Visitors Center Theater, festival attendees could meet the performers in an intimate setting.
Craft booths and tents wound from Acushnet Avenue down William Street to Water and Centre Streets, displaying jewelry, decorations, clothing and more. The Summerfest streets were packed with people despite some decidedly unsummery weather, overcast with temperatures in the sixties.
“I think there’s a lot of people in comparison to past years,” said Christine Valm of South Dartmouth, who sat near a stage on William Street with her daughter Anneli, listening to the band while eating popcorn purchased from a vendor.
“It’s probably because people hear it’s so good,” chimed in Anneli.
David Horne, a three-year volunteer for the festival, said a wider array of crafts and good eats this year attracted a bigger crowd.
“There’s an awful lot of vendors and there’s a lot more food caterers,” he said.
Among the vendors was Nicole Culotta, displaying artwork made from seaweed. She explained the creative process as interested customers looked over the colorful framed artwork.
“I go to the beach, I collect a ton of seaweed,” she said. Then she brings her collection home and floats it in water, dunking a piece of paper underneath to catch the seaweed. Then she puts the creation in a plant press, where the seaweed’s natural glue adheres it to the paper.
As a marine biologist, Ms. Culotta is able to identify much of the seaweed she collects. On the back of each piece of art, the different types used are identified as well as the seaweed’s origin, some as far away as Barcelona.
“Someday I’d like to get a collection from around the world,” she said.
Susan Beardsley of East Falmouth also displayed the wares of her company, Rusty Metal, Boken Glass. She makes jewelry and other decorations from things she has salvaged from junk yards.
“A lot of it is from the dumpster or from the dump,” she said, gesturing to a necklace of colorful assortment of beads made of bamboo, scrap metal and melted glass.
“I just string them together and make new things.”
Down another street, the Ocean Explorium had a petting zoo of shellfish on display and other activities for children. Educators were advertising their newly-opened facility at the New Bedford Seaport and Science on a Sphere global exhibit, which, along with several other museums and downtown venues, was open to the public free of charge.
“We’re here to share our love of the ocean,” said Cyndi Loomer, an educator at the Ocean Explorium.
“We want kids to know about the sea creatures,” and understand the interconnectedness between ocean life and humans, she said.
As Arianna Martinez, 7, made shell imprints in play dough at the Explorium booth, her father Eduardo looked on.
“It’s the best place to bring kids,” the New Bedford resident said of the festival.
“I enjoy it, my daughter enjoys coming here and seeing pretty much a little bit of everything.”
July 6, 2008

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