Padanaram Summer Festival pleases crowds

Jul 28, 2018

At the intersection of Elm and Bridge Streets, the Unlikely Strummers played a rousing rendition of Eight Days a Week on their ukuleles as part of the Padanaram Village Summer Festival on July 28.

It was the first time the group of more than a dozen musicians — based out of Plainville — performed at the festival, but they seemed to be a natural fit-- and their spot in the shade certainly didn’t hurt.

They were joined by Dartmouth resident Nan Starr as a special guest. Starr is part of a smaller local group called the “Ukatronics” with Cal Wingate, a teacher at Dartmouth Middle School.

Their showtime came moments after a performance by the students of the I’ve Got Rhythm Dance Center in Dartmouth, who have performed at the festival for the last five years.

“It’s a really big deal because a lot of the kids know everyone around town,” said Susan Szyndler of the Dance Center. “You could see a lot of them waving while they danced.”

“They love performing for the community,” said Paula Perry Szyndler, also of the center.

A tradition since 1978, this year the festival featured around 50 booths, all vetted by a committee for high-quality and interesting work, explained Anne Whiting, the president of the Padanaram Business Association. Many come back year after year.

“I would say it’s a great time to do your Christmas shopping,” Whiting said.

Initially beginning as a small sidewalk sale by village shops, it has grown over the years and is now a highly anticipated event, Whiting said.

Among the entrepreneurs at the festival was Paige Santos, the owner of Paige’s Paracords. An attendee for the last 5 years, the event is usually a great day for her paracord, jewelry, keychain, and floor mat business, which she began through her occupational therapy.

“I have mild Cerebral Palsy,” Santos explained. “I started doing the paracord bracelets as [occupational therapy] for my left side, and my friends went crazy for them.”

From there, her business grew and she now sells a variety of products online and at craft fairs.

Down the street, Michele Soares of Michele Buttons had a booth featuring her artwork. She sells seashells painted with fish and other designs, along with wall tapestries.

“I saw the shape of the shells had the shape of the fish, so I started drawing on them,” Soares said. “I found out my dad did it when he was younger,” she said, and remarked that they must have tapped into the same inspiration.

Some of the entrepreneurs at the festival were much younger: Audrey Kertscher and Charlotte French had brought a mobile bakesale, “Sweets and Treats,” to the festival in a little red wagon. They were just starting out around 11 a.m.

“At 9 in the morning, I don’t know that many people that would buy desserts,” reasoned Kertscher.

On Prospect Street, Kinnick Campbell, 10, and Caleb Baker, 10, set up a lemonade stand-- cleverly placed to reach people on their way to and from the St. Mary’s Church parking lot. They said that business was going well.

Natalie Sine, co-owner of Dahlia Living in Padanaram, aptly summed up the mood of the day in a short phrase: “hot but happy.”