Westminster Dog Art Auction as part of Cracker Festival 2022 on October 15

The event marks the return of the popular chili and chowder tasting contest.

WESTMINSTER – A favorite community celebration is back in full force.

After a scaled-down event last year due to ongoing COVID concerns, the annual Westminster Cookie Festival returns to Village Square in full force for its seventh year on Saturday, October 15.

This means that several popular features will be back for this year’s festival, including the children’s playground, the Cracker Queen and Princess Parade, and – perhaps most importantly – the hugely popular chili contest. and chowder.

“It’s wonderful because I would say our biggest complaint last year was that we didn’t have a contest and we had no way to showcase our Westminster crackers,” said Joe Serio, Founder and Organizer. of the event. “Of all, people definitely noticed he was missing last year.”

After: The Westminster Cracker Festival returns to Village Square on Saturday after a year off

Participating restaurants in this year’s chili and chowder competition include Blueprint, KRO’s on the Common, Tavern on Central and Brew Yard, Serio said.

The annual festival, a free, kid-friendly event, has become something of an unofficial homecoming day for residents who grew up in the city but haven’t moved across the United States, according to organizers.

Westminster dogs up for auction

This year’s festival will also mark the official end of the Westminster Dog Show, a public art project sponsored by the Westminster Village Foundation which invited participants to decorate and display a fiberglass dog in front of their home or business. Several of the dogs, which have been prominently displayed on Main Street since last summer, will be auctioned after the end of this year’s festival, and the rest will be returned to their owners.

Serio said the dog show, which was created to raise money for community beautification projects, was a successful campaign.

“Having my business in the city centre, I noticed families walking up and down Main Street virtually every day and taking pictures of their children with the dogs,” said Serio, owner and operator of Westminster Pharmacy. . “Dogs are part of the landscape of the community.”

A few of the dogs would remain on permanent display in their current location, Serio added, but city officials were currently working on plans for another public art project to draw visitors to the center of the community.

Cracker Queen ready to master

Vanessa France, instructor and co-owner of Zen yoga and wellness, was selected to be this year’s Cracker Queen. She said the annual festival was a true community event.

“I love that it brings all the families together,” France said. “We live right next to the Cracker Factory so my kids are still on Main Street but having all their friends with them and being together and enjoying so many activities and supporting local stores means a lot to everyone. . Everyone is looking forward to it, especially in my house here.

France will lead the parade of princesses, in which all children are invited to dress up in royal clothes and participate. Participants are asked to gather outside the Horrigan Flooring at 1 p.m. to prepare for the parade which will start at 1:10 p.m.

After: Royal Procession at Westminster Cracker Festival 2019

A nod to the queen

Two city elders, Stan Skamarycz and Rauha Torni, were named honorary king and queen of the event. The pair will enter the festival via a convertible to the tune of “God Save the Queen,” which Serio said was a particularly fitting musical choice given the events of the past few months.

“This year, of all years, is a special time to honor what is part of our heritage,” he explained. “We are the City of Westminster, so we have a little nod to where we come from.” (According to the Westminster Historical Society, the city took on the name “Westminster”, a name “rooted in the traditions of the minister of old England”, in 1759.)

Food, music and 5K

In addition to food and several local craft vendors, live music was also one of the main draws of the annual event, according to Serio. Eavesdrop, the Tribe and Mr. Strickland were among the bands scheduled to perform at this year’s festival.

As tradition dictates, the day of the festival will begin with a 5K run/walk along a route that takes participants through the city and over hills and lakes, starting and ending in the center of the village.

After: Cracker Festival a celebration of community

The festival was established in 2015 to celebrate the city and its people, while showcasing one of the community’s most recognizable exports – Westminster Crackers, according to Serio.

The popular crackers were produced in the city from 1828 until the 1990s when manufacturing operations moved to Vermont. The company’s iconic building, however, remains in Westminster city centre.

Serio said the enduring popularity of the annual celebration has exceeded even the wildest expectations of the festival’s original organizers committee.

“The greatest joy we had was the support from the business community, especially Aubuchon Hardware, who was our founding sponsor,” he said. Other sponsors include Wachusett Brewing Co., Fitchburg Welding, IC Federal Credit Union and Wachusett Mountain Ski Area.

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