By JOSHUA THOMAS
NELLISTON — The 21st Annual Nelliston Days took place Saturday and Sunday thanks to the hard work and dedication of the five-member Nelliston Activities Council. While the council does a massive amount of work leading up to and during the event, numerous family members from all over the United States annually converge on Nelliston the day before kick-off, creating a real, family-focused weekend of fun.
The NAC family members come from Florida, Pennsylvania and New Hampshire, arriving on Thursday to begin preparations, putting up tarps, creating signs, assembling tables, labeling raffle items, and preparing to cook. The cooperation between the NAC and their family members is reflected in the light hearted vibe of the festival-style event, which invites everybody to come and share in the familial bonding.
Paradise Garrett, of Nashua, New Hampshire, who has been attending with family for the past five years, said, “I just enjoy helping.” Garrett, who has been painting faces since she started coming to Nelliston Days, noted that she was also selling candy this year to support the NAC.
While some favorite features have remained the same annually, such as Big Al’s Car Cruise-In, which drew 35 vehicles that were voted on and provided trophies Saturday, the NAC always tries to add fresh events and vendors each year, including the world famous Tony Mattioli, of Mountain Cycle Performance, and his Nitro Harley motorcycle and a Sons of AMVETS Riders Post 2000 ride-in on Sunday. Phoebe’s Ice Cream also supplied refreshments both days, a first for both the NAC and the new Fort Plain business.
NAC Secretary Lynda Conrad noted that while some vendors called and cancelled at the last minute because they weren’t prepared to exhibit in the scorching heat, the event still drew 22, eight more than average.
Planning for Nelliston Days begins each January, with the five NAC members soliciting donations from local businesses. Conrad recognized that, “it’s a hard year, and everybody has been having a hard time making ends meet,” although she explained that the poor economy luckily didn’t effect this year’s raffle. She noted that the raffle not only retained the annually faithful donors, but also drew new ones.
The money raised during Nelliston Days annually funds upkeep, beautification and events in the village, including repairs in the park where the event is held. The NAC recently fixed a toy fire truck there, and purchased new backboards for the basketball courts, as the originals were damaged in the devastating fire that decimated the property bordering the court. They also put on an annual haunted house in the old Nelliston school house, and sponsor events such as Christmas caroling in the village.
“New members are always welcome” in the NAC, Conrad noted, stating that anybody interested can contact her at (518) 993-2213 for more information. Those interested in finding out more about the NAC may also attend their meetings, held the second Monday of each month at 7 p.m. at the village office.