By Ann Needle
There are parts of summer that offer non-stop fun and leisure — say, your out-of-town vacation. But some of those sunny days might move slowly around here, turning activities such as taking a left onto Rte. 117 at 5pm — immediately— the sole source of fun.
So, don’t waste those quiet days at the mall. Here are some local summer festivals offering excuses to get on the road and enjoy a change of scene, all within a 90-minute drive. Many of these events have other fun spots and activities nearby, so if the festival is not to your liking, you can make your own party elsewhere.
July 10 – 11: Summer Solstice Craft Shows, Wells, ME
Location: Wells Middle School (www.summersolsticecraftshows.com).
Many Stow residents know the Wells area well (pun intended), so this is another excuse to take the 90-minute drive on up to the town’s beaches and shops. The juried craft show features more than 70 crafters and artists, most from New England and many from Maine. Expect everything from handcrafted specialty foods to jewelry, fiber arts, and photography.
“Hungry” means stopping at the Fisherman’s Catch (www.fishermanscatchwells.com), a throwback, beach-side seafood joint offering everyone’s fried favorites, lobster, beer and wine, and paper towels hanging down over the tables to mop it all up. If it is sweltering out, try Mike’s Clam Shack instead (mikesclamshack.com), which is air conditioned and also offers terrific seafood, along with many traditional family restaurant dishes. And yes, there is ice cream, at the Scoop Deck (scoopdeck.com). Don’t be spooked by the lines, it is terrifically serviced.
July 22-24, Revere Beach International Sand-Sculpting Festival, Revere
Location: Revere Beach (reverebeachpartnership.com)
This event is becoming increasingly well known, attracting almost 20 artists this year. Stroll through the fanciful artwork and the all-too-realistic — bets are on that a presidential candidate or two might turn up in the mix.
Take a swim and/or stroll to the original Kelly’s Roast Beef (www.kellysroastbeef.com), famous for its roast beef, generously portioned seafood, and people-watching patrons.
July 29-31: Old Ipswich Days
Location: South Village Green, Ipswich Common (www.facebook.com/OldeIpswichDays )
Enjoy the handiwork of more than 60 artisans and fine craftsmen, including paintings, watercolors, and woodworking to glass, jewelry, children’s toys, and more. Ipswich prides itself on its summer seafood stands; perhaps the most renown is the Clam Box of Ipswich (www.clamboxipswich.com). Put it this way: the restaurant is shaped like a clam box.
August 5-7: Scituate Heritage Days Festival
Location: Scituate Harbor Waterfront, Scituate (www.scituatechamber/events)
This annual event combines live music and entertainment, artisan crafts, kid’s activities, food vendors and historical site visits for one of the South Shore’s biggest and most anticipated outdoor events of the summer. For more summer seaside fun, Scituate Harbor boasts many retail shops, businesses and restaurants. You can find nautical and whimsical gifts shops along with stylish retail clothing stores.
August 12-14: The Bolton Fair
Location: The Lancaster Fairgrounds, Route 117 West; look for the hubbub, it can’t be missed (http://www.boltonfair.org/)
The Bolton Fair is self-explanatory to those who have been in the area for awhile. For others, think of it as a big ole agricultural fair— pigs, tractor pulls, derbies, “veggie races” (a real hoot) — minus the steroids of some of the big-name fall fairs in Massachusetts. There’s a midway for the thrill crowd, lots of crafts, and food trucks and booths for every taste. Of course, how the BOLTON Fair wound up in LANCASTER is a story for another day.
August 18-21: The Fisherman’s Feast
Location: Boston’s North End (http://www.fishermansfeast.com)
The North End has several street festivals throughout the summer, but this is one of the most storied. The Fisherman’s Feast began in Boston in 1910, based on a tradition that goes back to the 16th century in Sciacca, Sicily and the devotion of the town’s fishermen to the Madonna del Soccorso (Our Lady of Help). When the fishermen immigrated to America in the early 1900s, they brought their traditions with them. Today’s Feast is much the same as it was over 100 years ago with, lights adorning the street and the smell of sausage. But, there are food carts for every appetite, selling Italian specialties, drinks, ice cream, etc. The current Feast is organized by the descendants of those original immigrants and still includes a procession of the Madonna through the streets of the North End.
Advice: Take public transportation or park in a garage — either way, put on those walking shoes.
August 27-28: 2nd Annual Farm Fresh Festival
Location: Wachusett Mountain, Princeton (https:wachusett.com/EventsActivities
This is basically a very, very big farmers’ market in the middle of harvest season—lots of locally-grown produce and other foods, animal products, crafts, wine tasting samples, cooking demonstrations, music, and a petting zoo for the kids. Given those kids head back to school the following week, the wine samples may be just what some parents will need.