2006-09-14 / About Town

Island fair 'Heyday' celebrates land conservation and open space on historic Dutra Farm property

By Michaela Kennedy

He also came up with the name Heyday, a fitting name for a fine festivity. The local gala has grown to be a popular New England tradition since it was first held at Hodgkiss Farm in 1987. Heyday is defined in the dictionary as a high point or peak of strength and success, which reflected the spirit of the event, according to Potter. Now, the coined word has deep and expanded meaning for Jamestowners and all visitors who join in the fine recognition of our island's preserved land. For the first few years of the festival, Potter brought in teams of draft horses. He kept the horses on Martha's Vineyard in the mid'80s, and they were a highlight of the fair, he remembered. Heyday started out as an annual event for the first few years, and then turned into a biennial event after 1990. Why only every two years, many visitors who anticipate the fair ask. "Probably because it's so much work to organize," Trocki suggests with a laugh. Since its first year in 1987, the family fair has been hosted four times by Hodgkiss Farm, twice by Fox Hill Farm, twice by the Godena Farm, and twice by Watson Farm. This year, Dutra Farm opens its gates for Heyday for the first time. The generous venue offer from the Dutra family emerged many months back through a conversation with Heyday coordinators He also came up with the name Heyday, a fitting name for a fine festivity. The local gala has grown to be a popular New England tradition since it was first held at Hodgkiss Farm in 1987. Heyday is defined in the dictionary as a high point or peak of strength and success, which reflected the spirit of the event, according to Potter. Now, the coined word has deep and expanded meaning for Jamestowners and all visitors who join in the fine recognition of our island's preserved land. For the first few years of the festival, Potter brought in teams of draft horses. He kept the horses on Martha's Vineyard in the mid'80s, and they were a highlight of the fair, he remembered. Heyday started out as an annual event for the first few years, and then turned into a biennial event after 1990. Why only every two years, many visitors who anticipate the fair ask. "Probably because it's so much work to organize," Trocki suggests with a laugh. Since its first year in 1987, the family fair has been hosted four times by Hodgkiss Farm, twice by Fox Hill Farm, twice by the Godena Farm, and twice by Watson Farm. This year, Dutra Farm opens its gates for Heyday for the first time. The generous venue offer from the Dutra family emerged many months back through a conversation with Heyday coordinators The Conanicut Island Land Trust will present its 11th Heyday event this Saturday, Sept.16, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Dutra Dairy Farm will host the island version of a county fair this year, in the Historic Windmill Hill district on Weeden Lane, off North Main Road.

Over 1,000 people are expected to visit the working farm this weekend, according to Carol Trocki, one of the co-ordinators of the event. "We have about three dozen or more volunteers participating," she noted. Horse-andwagon rides, guided farm tours, children's games, food, music, and a variety of conservation and community exhibits will be offered as entertainment for the whole family.

A few years after the land trust was formed in 1984, Spencer Potter, a member of the board of directors, came up with the idea for a celebration of Jamestown's land conservation and open space. Trocki and Arek Galle, Joe and Jessie Dutra noted. They all are on the Farm Viability Committee together, and they began chatting about Heyday. Trocki and Galle asked the Dutras if they were interested in holding the event this year, and the ball started rolling.

"It's a lot of work," Jessie Dutra said of the preparations. She and her husband Joe have been busy tidying up the farm in recent weeks. Last Saturday, about 10 people showed up at Weeden Lane and spent the day weed whacking, mowing, and getting rid of

debris. "We're appreciative of all the help. We had a rough season," Dutra also said, noting all the rain this year set back their work schedule.

"Trying to do a large event on a working farm is not easy," Dutra admitted. "We want to keep it safe, making sure rocks are cleared away and holes are covered up so no one accidentally gets hurt," she explained.

Another hurdle was finding space for parking. "We were nervous because we couldn't give up any pasture for parking," Dutra

said. But the problem disappeared when they asked the state for help. About seven acres of open land near the highway, now owned by the state, will be used for parking. "They were very accommodating," she said of the state workers managing the property.

Despite all the work and worries, the Dutras expressed their excitement in hosting the exposition. "We don't open our doors to the public often, so this is a special event for us," Jessie noted.

Sunday, Sept. 17, is scheduled as a rain date.

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