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First Selectman’s Corner – September 10, 2021

When’s the right time to change a “family tradition”?

Families tend to have long standing holiday “traditions,” especially around Thanksgiving and Christmas.  These family traditions create memories for all of us.  One of my favorites was that my parents would host Christmas Eve dinner…and before heading home to bed, all the grandchildren would get a gift…priceless!  I’m sure you have a few of your own too. 

However, over the years family circumstances can change; the kids get older, they head to college, they get married and in some cases move to other areas of the country making attending family gatherings far more difficult.  All too often, these type of events can change for other reasons.  Perhaps a loved one, who was the key organizer of the event, passes away; and once that happens, the event is never really the same.  The reality is – things change. 

You’re probably wondering where I’m going with all this…but our little Town also has its fair share of traditions too.   Memorial Day weekend services are a big one, “Race Around the Lake” and our Fall Festival that we call “New Hartford Day” are three that come to mind. 

For the most part, our Memorial Day tributes continue to be well organized and fairly well attended (even through Covid), but, truth be told, somethings been “off” with New Hartford Day for quite a while.  From my vantage point….it’s just not on everyone’s “Calendar” anymore.   Long a fall festival organized with the help of the local “Grange,” New Hartford Day would include church groups, country music, a tractor parade, hay rides, kettle corn and agricultural (veggie) and pie competitions under the tent.   Through the years, the tractors slowly disappeared, the hayride disappeared…and veggies and pie competitions had fewer and fewer participants.  Along with those offerings, the big crowds and the children also disappeared.  

Attendance at New Hartford Day has been in significant decline…and it’s no longer the “go to” event it once was in the 1990’s, 2000 or early 2010’s.  For example, in 2018 the weather was perfect, but the attendance numbers were very low (except for the half hour that Regional’s Marching Band performed).  2019 was about the same and of course Covid cancelled 2020. 

For several years, sports Leagues and other weekend activities have taken precedence for family attendance and New Hartford Day has become secondary.  Families now have commitments that take them out of town and they’re not available on Sunday morning. 

New Hartford Day's focus began to center around our Community.  It became a chance for the tried and true, long term attendees to socialize and be together with neighbors and friends at Brodie Park.  New Hartford Day became a day of “fellowship and friendship” (along with some good eating and entertainment) – but still attendance continued to fall as other weekend activities held greater interest to the vast majority of our town residents.

In keeping with the Spirit of a community celebration and a desire to bring back the crowds, the organizers of this annual event reached out to many of the long term attendees and sought their opinions.  After a few meetings, it was clear that if we wanted to bring back attendance, we had to be willing to “retool” the event.   The Committee decided that the time was right to create a new “tradition”…focusing on the true spirit of New Hartford Day….the love of New Hartford and the relationships we all share with our neighbors. 

With that in mind, a few changes have been made: 1) we moved the event to a Saturday afternoon/evening (not a school night), 2) added more music capitalizing on the success of the Brodie Summer Concert Series, 3) included more activities at the booths (appealing to children), and 4) added new food and beverage offerings (i.e. let’s try some food trucks). 

With these thoughts in mind, New Hartford Night was born!

Saturday, September 18, 2021 from 3pm to 9pm

The Schedule is:

Northwestern Band performs the National Anthem (Starts at 3pm)

The Magic of Peter James (3:05 pm – 3:30 pm)

Corn Hole Tournament (3:05 pm until completion)

1st Band – The Apricot Brandy (3:30 pm - 5 pm)

2nd Band - The Tradesmen (6:00 pm – 8:00 pm)

We’ve invited the following Food & Beverage services: 

Grilled Cheeserie (Custom Grilled Cheeses)

I Know A Guy (Panini’s and other Specialties)

Square Peg Catering (A Pizza Truck)

Coffeeology (Custom Coffee Beverages)

Summertime Snowballs (Shaved Ice Dessert)

Norbrook Farm Brewery (Adult Beverages)

Brewery Legitimus (Adult Beverages)

I’ve got a partner for the Corn Hole tournament, my lawn chair for the concerts and an appetite for some great food.  I hope this “line up” catches your eye and makes you say “let’s create a new tradition” by attending the new “New Hartford Night” at Brodie Park!  Mark your calendar because this is the year we bring you something new.  Bring the family and join me for a fun afternoon celebrating New Hartford in a brand new way.   See you there!

Feel free to contact Town Hall with any questions or you can always email me directly at (djerram@newhartfordct.gov), I’m always here to help.

Stay safe and enjoy the end of summer weather!

Dan Jerram, First Selectman