JMK BAND performed at the NoSto Festival 2016 at the North Stonington New Town Hall.
Published August 27. 2016 7:10PM | Updated August 28. 2016 7:36PM
By Nate Lynch Day staff writer
North Stonington — It's a little challenging to put together a block party when your neighborhood is spread over nearly 55 square miles.
But that's exactly what planners of NoStoFest, slated to kick off at noon on Sept. 24, aim to do.
As Jon Bosma, a committee volunteer who also serves as the first lieutenant of the North Stonington Volunteer Fire Company put it, it's more like a "harvest fest on steroids."
The idea for the festival to celebrate the town came to Tim Pelland, a Board of Finance member, after a contentious debate over the school renovation project, which passed in May.
He was approached by Mike Urgo, and the committee soon swelled to volunteers from all over: the members include Van Brown, the owner of Firefly Farms; Amy Kennedy, the director of Wheeler Library; Nita Kincaid, chairwoman of the Hewitt Farm Committee, and, together with fellow festival volunteer Lisa Manzella, produces North Stonington Quarterly.
Laura Tillinghast is producing most of the graphic design and social media for the festival.
Ultimately, committee members say the event has no politics. Tying it together is a sense that the town, geographically one of the largest in the state, used to be closer and that now was the right time to foster a sense of community pride.
"The mission of the event was to bring the town together ... (and) putting the pieces in place," Urgo said.
True to its origins, they said, the festival is centered around North Stonington, featuring artists, crafters, food vendors and goods from farmers who all live or work in North Stonington.
Currently, the plan is to close down Main Street for the duration and have food, musical performances and activities at three locations across town: the village green, the field on Main St. shared by Wheeler Library and the middle/high school, and the Town Hall, which will see demonstrations by the North Stonington Ambulance and Volunteer Fire Companies.
The event will be open to the public and free to attend.
So far, businesses that have signed up include Press On, Buon Appetito, the travelling food booth from the Lion's Club, Terra Firma Farm and the Congregational Church, which will be providing pies.
Musicians confirmed so far are Frank Limpert's Blue Night, Nick Bosse, JMK Band, Kevin Crandall, Steven Bossie and the high school band, which will play along Main Street.
Many activities are still in the works, but the North Stonington Historical Society has confirmed it will be hosting old-fashioned children's games on the lawn of its Wyassup Road headquarters, and holding a yarn-dyeing and weaving demonstration.
Hay rides up and down Main Street on an antique tractor will be offered by resident John Anderson and a car show also will take place next door at the North Stonington Congregational Church.
Friends of Wheeler has confirmed it will offer face painting and the Girl Scouts will be building fairy houses. The committee has reached out to the Recreation Department with the hopes of having more activities for kids.
Organizers hope to finalize the list of participating businesses by Sept. 12. Anyone interested can reach out to the group at email@example.com.
"We're looking for farmers, crafters and artists: any North Stonington business ... and engage people to come to this event," Urgo said.
Pelland said he's been surprised at how many people have stepped forward to be a part of the festival and make it happen, and said the selectmen have been very supportive of the event.
"I feel we've made incredible strides (since) when we first discussed this; it's grown to a much bigger thing," Pelland said.