Sentinel & Enterprise Staff
Sentinel & Enterprise
September 14, 2016
“After last year’s event, it is hard to imagine this year’s event could be even bigger and better,” said Richard Marchand, who has been organizing the festival for 18 years.
Last year, the festival was followed by the 100th anniversary parade, which was the culmination of a long year of planning and city-wide activities to celebrate the city’s centennial.
“This year, we get back to the basics being a day to celebrate community with events and activities that are cross generational to be enjoyed by all,” he said.
The main stage located at the opening of Church Street onto West Street will have live entertainment all day long.
From 9 a.m. to noon, school-based instrumental and chorus groups will perform.
“For the first time, we are blocking off that time on the main stage to better accommodate the children and their families in a jammed pack morning of entertainment,” Marchand said.
After a brief intermission at noon, the stage will then take on professional musical groups and will include the popular Beatles For Sale band.
“It’s true, we have decided to bring back one of the hottest tribute bands in the region,” Marchand said, adding that conductor Bob Healy and the JA Band will be performing following the Beatles act.
“There is a surprise vocalist performing with conductor Healy this year, and I urge everyone to get to the main stage during her performance,” he said while not offering who might be the surprise singer.
“She will bring a tear to every eye in the audience,” he said.
There will be an additional stage in Monument Square Park with several acts being coordinated.
DJ Ray Richard will be in the parking lot party for children all day long and DJ Earl will be located on Park Street.
Of course, this festival will once again host a wonderful cultural food court with many nonprofit organizations participating including the First Baptist Church with their world famous apple crisp.
“This is the number-one question I am asked year after year if they are coming back, and they play such a big part of the excitement of preparation week and the festival day itself,” said Marchand.
The Leominster High School Band will once again host the city hall parking lot party.
“This year we have focused on providing a few different amusement opportunities for the middle school and young teenagers, and we are putting together an area for younger children as well,” he said.
Marchand hopes to have as many as 100 vendors, including crafters, non-profit organizations, charitable groups and small business.
If any wish to become a vendor at the event, please inquire for an application soon.
“We have always made a strong effort to include anyone who wishes to participate,” he said.
Another initiative taking place this year is a partnership with the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster. The club will be coordinating a science fair in the John Tata Auditorium of the City Hall.
“There will be as many a dozen vendors in the auditorium with lots of educational thing to share with the children,” said Marchand, who is also reaching out to the business community for help
“The Johnny Appleseed Festival has grown so large over itís course and in order to conduct this festival, we need to offset the expenses. It is only with the generosity of the business community that this event could possibly be made possible,” he said.
To become a sponsor, Marchand can be reached at 978-660-2313.
Checks can be made payable to the City of Leominster/JA Festival and mailed to the Office of the City Clerk, c/o Rick Marchand, 25 West Street, Leominster, MA 01453.
The festival committee is also looking to expand and if you are interested in helping out, call Marchand at the above number.