The spirit of community: Celebrate Southampton this weekend

  • Celebrate Southampton will take place this year on Friday and Saturday, Aug. 12-13. Here, participcants in the 2010 celebration take part in a grand march. Gazette file photo

Staff Writer
Published: 8/11/2022 3:37:32 PM
Modified: 8/11/2022 3:34:17 PM

SOUTHAMPTON — The spirit of community will be saluted this weekend in Southampton with the return of Celebrate Southampton, an annual event formerly known as Old Home Days.

The summer celebration brings friends, neighbors and visitors together, says Tammy Walunas, co-chair of Celebrate Southampton and president of the Southampton Historical Society.

“It’s about family, fun and free activities,” said Walunas.

The Old Home Days celebration began in 1897 and was held over the course of three days. The event featured a parade, homecoming dinner, concerts and exhibits at Conant Park, according to Select Board Chairperson Chris Fowles.

In its early days, it resembled more of a town meeting where locals were decked out in their fancy clothes and arrived by horse and buggy, she said. East Street would be closed and picnic tables would stretch down the middle of the street.

Fowles recalled returning home to Southampton in her early 20s in 1977 to attend the Old Home Days event.

“I was in the Peace Corps in Africa and came back for the month of August,” she said. “One of the traditions they had then was to give roses to the oldest person, longest married couple and the person who had traveled the farthest to return home. That year, I got a rose for traveling home from Africa.”

Fowles intends to carry on the tradition of the roses as the coordinator of that particular event.

“To me, traditions like that are part of the charm of living in a rural community and not forgetting our history or where we came from,” she said. “It’s a chance to learn more about the history of the town. It’s a chance for renewed traditions and maybe start new ones.”

This year, the event kicks off on Friday with a free concert at 7 p.m from Barry Searle’s band, Time Stretchers, at Conant Park Pavilion.

On Saturday, Judith Miller Conlin will lead a memory hour at the First Congregational Church of Southampton, located at 212 College Highway. Conlin, who serves as the chairperson of the Cemetery Commission, has done a deep dive into the town’s history at the cemetery and collected stories of residents who have passed on.

“Some are very sweet, some are gruesome,” she said with a chuckle. “I like to keep people on their tippy-toes and mix it up a bit. For me, uncovering these stories and sharing them with others really makes you feel like you’re dealing with the people and not just rocks or names and numbers.”

A townwide picnic begins at 11:30 a.m. at the Conant Park Pavilion. Walunas said that attendees are welcome to bring their own picnic to the park or purchase food from the two food trucks — Local Burgy, which offers barbecue-style items, and Bistro Bus, which will offer quesadillas, Mexican street corn pasta salad, sesame noodle salad or a hot dog.

Attendees may also enjoy a free ice cream from Dylan & Pete’s Ice Cream Truck, courtesy of the Southampton Select Board.

New to the event this year is a craft fair, which will take place from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. The fair will feature 20 local craft vendors selling a number of items ranging from knitted and crocheted gifts to hand-blown glass. A raffle will also be available with more than 50 items, including gift baskets, gift cards to stores and restaurants, and homemade gifts. Tickets are $5 for a sheet of 20.

From 1-4 p.m., the park will feature live music, kid’s activities, a bounce house and a balloonist. The park will also host some barnyard animals from Pine Hill Farm in Southampton.

For more information, visit Celebrate Southampton 01073 on Facebook.

Emily Thurlow can be reached at ethurlow@gazettenet.com.
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