2012-07-13 / Community

Organizers say festival brings neighbors together

By Jack Flagler
Staff Writer

Sarah Goodwin sees many of the same people every day on her morning run through the Willard Square neighborhood in South Portland.

Goodwin, who lives on Cottage Road, said she can’t stop to shake someone’s hand on her run, but she wanted to find a way to get to know her community better, so she volunteered to be the chairman of the committee to set up this year’s second annual WillardFest.

WillardFest will take place on Saturday, July 14 in Willard Square.

Local vendors such as Scratch Bakery, One Fifty Ate and Willard Scoops will offer festival-goers food, and the festival will include live music and various events, such as a sand castle contest, a children’s parade and a police K-9 demo.

The full WillardFest schedule can be seen on the festival’s website at Willardfest.org or on the Sentry’s Facebook page.

“Our goal this year is really to encourage everyone of all ages to come out,” Goodwin said. “The committee has held events earlier this summer to let members of the community know about the festival and to raise funds to support it.”

Kim Campbell, children’s librarian at the South Portland Public Library, said the library will offer a story time at WillardFest for the second consecutive year. In keeping with the library’s “Dream PIG” summer theme, she and librarian Natalie Williams will tell stories from author Mo Willems’ popular “Elephant and Piggie” series on a lawn along Preble Street that was offered by a local resident.

The square will be closed to traffic Saturday afternoon. Goodwin said parking will be limited, so she suggested walking or biking for anyone who is able. The city bus will also offer a free return ride for anyone who uses the service to go to the festival.

“It’s a good community event,” said Jessica Hanscombe, licensing administrator in the South Portland city clerk’s office. Hanscombe said she spoke often with Goodwin to help organize the necessary permits and paperwork for the festival.

“It started out last year as a neighborhood block party, but it encompasses so much more. They’re doing a lot of different things that highlight that area of town. Not everyone in South Portland knows that area,” Hanscombe said.

Musical guests at the festival include returning performer Britta Pejic, comedian William Dufris, and Saint Monday, a funkinspired rock group composed of recent South Portland High School graduates.

Izaak Onos, drummer for Saint Monday, said the band has played at music venues in Portland such as the Asylum and the Big Easy, but WillardFest will be the band’s first outdoor show. He hopes their performance can help members appeal to a wider audience.

“Most of the people (at WillardFest) will have never heard of us before. I think that factor will be kind of cool; the shows we’ve gone to, people have known about us. This one will be a blank slate. It will be interesting to see what the response from all that is. It’s never happened before.”

In the event of rain, WillardFest will be held on Sunday, July 17. But as of Wednesday, July 11, forecasters were calling for sun and temperatures in the 80s.

Goodwin, a wedding planner and event designer, hopes this year’s WillardFest can build on the success of last year’s event and celebrate the area.

“This community has a wide variety of age groups. You have people who have lived here all their lives. You have people with a really strong love for their community,” Goodwin said.

“The fact one community can serve such a diverse group of individuals really says something.”

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