Monday, October 6, 2014

Bridgewater's Autumn-fest Celebrates 26 Years Supporting the Community

Autumn-fest - New England Fall Events - Bridgewater State quad
The quad at Bridgewater State University was the ideal
place to host a festival of this size and popularity.
Autumn-fest in Bridgewater, MA is the definition of the modern fall festival even though it has been a mainstay of the community for over 26 years.

The 2016 Autumn-fest will take place this year on Saturday, September 24th, 2015 10:00am - 4:00pm. Click for this year's details.

Originally hosted in the tree-lined downtown, Autumn-fest now calls the expansive, luscious green quad at the center of Bridgewater State University its home. It’s a good thing too because with an annual event this popular every bit of space is needed. 

The Bridgewater community and its neighbors have the folks at the Bridgewater Business Association to thank for bringing the community together each September. Working closely with Bridgewater State's Office of University and Community Partnerships, the BBA has been fortunate to have the University's support in accessing the space they have needed to grow the festival.
The focus of the BBA goes well beyond business networking and professional support to play a meaningful role in lifting up the Bridgewater community through its Assistance Fund. If there is a local family in need or enduring a difficult situation, the Assistance Fund contributes to mounting heating bills or stocking the cupboards. In less than a decade the Bridgewater Business Association’s Assistance Fund has distributed over $75,000 to local families.  

That impressive contribution is made possible through fundraising from two key events mounted by the BBA—Christmas on the Common in December and Autumn-fest every September. And thanks to their hard work and stellar organization, these are the highlights of the calendar year.

Autumn-fest - New England Fall Events - food vendors
The shady section near the food vendors was a perfect
area for sitting down to enjoy your bite to eat.
Autumn-fest is quite simply an afternoon of pure fun. On the day New England Fall Events had the pleasure to visit, it was unseasonably warm and blindingly sunny. In fact, it felt a bit like a summer-fest and we are perfectly fine with that. 

Mother Nature delivered a day that was meant to be spent outdoors and Autumn-fest certainly fit the bill in every way. Because the quad at Bridgewater State University is plenty large, even with over 6,000 people in attendance there was still enough elbow room to go along with the festive atmosphere. 

Autumn-fest - New England Fall Events -d's lectables coffeee cake
D's Lectables home-baked coffee cake
The majority of the quad is peppered with rows of tents—each featuring different business vendors, well over 100 in total.
Autumn-fest features a really nice variety of local businesses—from local artisans, studios, dance schools, home services, jewelers, bakeries (the most gorgeous coffee cake we have ever seen), and countless others. 

The vendors were generous with their time and suitably engaging. It was a lovely and casual way for visitors to connect with local service providers and artists. Some vendors offered special crafts for children to do for free and we even saw yoga mats set up for a children’s yoga class.  

Autumn-fest - New England Fall Events - k-9 demo
The K-9 Demo drew a big crowd 
Towards the front of the quad was a large lawn where performances and demonstrations were scheduled throughout the day. There were DJ services from JAS Productions playing music which kept the energy up between shows. The performances drew large crowds, hundreds of kids lining the perimeter and seated on the grass. 

The local police K-9 demonstration was fascinating, educational, and immensely popular. Other performances include singer/songwriting duo Bridge and Davies, the women’s barbershop chorus NoteAble Blend, and a local dance team.

Autumn-fest - New England Fall Events - ceramic painting
Ceramic painting at Autumn-fest
There were countless kid-pleasers scattered around from face-painting, Poppee the Clown making balloon animal, pumpkin painting, sand art, paint-your-own pottery, monster-mask crafts, train rides around the campus, and a bouncy house for the Energizer bunny in your family. 

Autumn-fest even provided digital ID photo and fingerprinting services for families which is always an appreciated service.

It was animals who seemed to steal the show both formally, as in the aforementioned K-9 demonstration, and informally through two very different interactive booths. Joe’s Crazzy Critters had a live, (mostly) reptile display and handling booth from where curious tweens welcomed a Burmese python to be draped over their shoulders. 

Autumn-fest - New England Fall Events - Joe's Crazzy Critters
Burmese Python at Joe's
The folks at Joe’s were patient, even-keeled, and able to answer everyone’s questions while putting the weak-kneed (like me) at ease. The selection Joe brought with him included a pair of python, a pair of turtles, a monitor lizard, a bullfrog, and a hedgehog. Their easy-going demeanor was as appealing as their animals were.

When it came to animals of the furry variety, Barn Babies had everyone covered. For obvious reasons (i.e. cuteness factor) this may have been the smash-hit of a festival that had no shortage of activities to love! It’s always a welcome sight to see animals that are as happy as their professional handlers. Barn Babies erected a wide pen area with sub-divisions for the safety of the animals (to avoid a situation where a bunny pops out of one’s hands and winds up under the feet of many people standing in the pen).

Autumn-fest - New England Fall Events - Barn Babies Bunny
A sweetly swaddled bunny
from Barn Babies
Every time a bunny or kitten was prepared to be held by a festival guest, the Barn Babies handler would pull a freshly laundered blankie from a large stack, swaddle the baby animal cozily into a package, and then gently hand the animal over to a seated guest. Without a wriggling animal to contain, the guests could relax and gently stroke the animal’s head. Likewise, the animal appeared to feel safe and snuggled by the swaddle and you could see them relax and calm before your eyes. 

Despite the enthusiasm of the young guests to hold the animals, Barn Babies’ thoughtful approach to their charges’ well being and safety was evident in the animals’ body language--none seemed frightened or over stimulated. The beauty of this arrangement is that the babies gain much-needed socialization and the all-important handling in a way that kept them safe and cared for. Barn Babies was an impressive addition to the festivities and a perfect example of the careful and thoughtful planning that went into Autumn-fest.

Autumn-fest - New England Fall Events - train ride
Take a train ride around the campus
There were a handful of food trucks arranged under the shady trees offering BBQ, fried chicken, burgers, ice cream, and the like. The food lines alternated between being long and relatively short and it should be noted that all of the beverages were being sold at the Bridgewater Business Association’s fundraiser booth.

It’s clear that with twenty-six years under their belt, the BBA’s Autumn-fest is not simply a familiar annual event in the Bridgewater-area community but a truly beloved one. The important fundraising aspect of this festival is a long-lasting one for families in need. By gathering with your neighbors to celebrate the fall season, every festival goer is helping to strengthen the charitable efforts of the good folks at the Bridgewater Business Association that serve to lighten the load of those in our community who could use an extra hand. 

Although Autumn-fest is over for this year, there's an opportunity to support more of the BBA's charitable works in the community by stopping in for some winter fun at the upcoming Christmas on the Common on Sunday, December 7th, 1:00pm-4:00pm in downtown Bridgewater.  

Autumn-fest Festival Tips

Autumn-fest - New England Fall Events - Joe's Crazzy Critters
  • Although many of the craft vendors selling their wares accepted plastic, many were only set up for cash. Cash will come in handy for everything here from the dollar here or there for extras like Barn Babies or riding the train to buying tasty treats. It's a short walk to the town center where you can find an ATM but you'll be glad to plan ahead.
  • Parking is around the area but many lots are marked off for University parking permit holders so be patient when searching for a spot.
  • The beverages were being sold at the the BBA booth near the food vendors but was not available for sale at the food trucks. You'll need to stand in a second line if you want a drink to go with your burger. If you can, divide and conquer.
    Autumn-fest - New England Fall Events - Sand Art
  • Leave yourself a few hours, especially if you are there with kids. There are no lack of activities with strong kid-appeal so plan to spend your day in the sunshine.
  • If gluten allergies are a concern in your family, consider packing a snack. I did see a baker selling gorgeous gluten-free treats and BBQ is usually gluten-free, you'll have peace of mind if you come prepared with allergy-safe food. 


  1. Hey I just love the way you described the Autumn-fest Festival! Thanks a ton for sharing photographs. I wonder if there is any Autumn-fest Festival at the local Boston event locations! If yes then please share some details about those venues.

    1. HI Drew, We're so glad to hear you enjoyed the article. We hope you can check this year's Autumn-Fest out for yourself!
      Lots of great fall festivals going on--our fall event calendars are up!
      Try this link for MA-area Harvest and Food Festivals
      and check out our MA Fall Events and Activities here:
      Enjoy and check back to let us know where you end up!