Lee Founders Weekend: A weekend-long celebration

LEE — Lee Founders Weekend is ready to light up the night sky, while shining on the local history and youth during the three-day festival.

This years celebration features a first-ever fireworks display on Friday evening, toward the end of the popular Taste of Lee. Local businesses and town officials were quickly receptive to the sparkling idea, according to Lee Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Colleen Henry.

"Everyone was on board as we had some big donations, but it was gratifying to have plenty of smaller ones, a broad spectrum of support," she said, noting it will cost the chamber $6,000 to host the fireworks.

American Thunder Fireworks from North Reading, Mass., will stage the colorful pyrotechnics behind the youth baseball field at Lee Bank, lasting between 25-30 minutes. The rain date is Saturday.

Lee Selectman and businessman Thomas Wickham is excited about the fireworks he expects will boost Friday's crowd.

"I'm very excited about drawing more people to the downtown. We want to show we have a great place to visit," Wickham said.

The Taste of Lee continues to anchor the Friday events when staff from restaurants throughout town line the sidewalks along Main Street and serve up their specialties or dishes made just for the occasion. Main Street from Academy Street to Park Street will be closed to motor vehicle traffic to provide a pedestrian-friendly, three-hour event from 5 to 8 p.m.

Live music, street artisans, crafters and a children's carnival will be mixed in among the food during the evening affair.

While fireworks and food are a staple of Lee Founders Weekend 2017, it's also kicks off a decade long preparation when the town celebrates it's 250th anniversary in 2027. Starting this year, organizers and participants will focus each year on town history through activities such as the town cemetery tour on Thursday, historical floats during Saturday's Hometown Parade and the CreativeLee exhibit at the Lee Library.

"I would like the whole weekend to be more historical," Henry said.

"It's called Founders weekend, so the three days cries out to be historical," add Founders committee chairman Joe Furgal.

Saturday remains the action-packed portion of the weekend with plenty of activity from just after dawn to well past dusk.

The day opens with a 5K race starting at Lee Middle and High School and wraps up with Saturday Night Liv, a variety show hosted by local comedic actress Liv Cummins. Usually the nightcap of entertainment, Festival Latino of the Berkshires, has been scaled back this year to a daytime event in the First Congregational Church park, according to organizers.

The Saturday's early light is the hour-long Hometown Parade, led by grand marshals Doug and Sally Wilcox. The mainstays of Main Street have operated Paperdilly for 37 years changing their office supply inventory over time without sacrificing customer service, according to Sally. Wilcox.

"We've always been able to evolve," she said "Doug and I are humbled by this honor."

The conclusion of the parade segues beautifully into the expanded childrens' activities at the Lee Athletic Field. Kathy Hall with the Lee Youth Commission oversees the games, arts and crafts and overall fun for the towns youngest residents. This year, a cookout will help satisfy lunchtime cravings.

"The Boy Scouts will be our vendor selling hamburgs and hot dogs. People will be hungry after the parade," Hall noted.

The childrens' activities moved to the recreational park a couple of years ago to take advantage of new playground equipment, a skate/bike park, new pavilion and the latest addition to appease the tiny tots.

"The new toddler playground is wonderful — there's kids there all the time with their parents," said Hall.

2017 Lee Founders Weekend Schedule of Events

Thursday (Sept. 14)

Cemetery Tour (Lee Historical Society) 5-6 p.m. Fairmount Cemetery

Friday (Sept. 15)

CreativeLEE XVI Opening Reception     3-5 p.m. Lee Library, 100 Main Street

Taste of Lee                                             5-8 p.m. Main Street (Closed to traffic from Academy to Park Street.

NEW: Balloon Rides (tethered)               5-7 p.m. Lee Athletic Field, Housatonic Street

CARRnival! Food/Rides/Games          5-7 p.m.          Carr Hardware

Fireworks Show                                        Sunset          Behind ballfield at Lee Bank (Rain date: 9/16)V

CTA Tennis Clinics                                   5-7 p.m. Main Street (Kelly's Funeral Home /Park Street)

Street Magician: Johnny Mystic               5-8 p.m. Main Street/in front of Ben's

Live Music: Robin O'Herin                    5-6 p.m. Main Street/in front of Lucky Nails

Hay Rides & Baby Goat Petting Zoo     5-7 p.m. Corner of Consolati Way & Railroad Street

Live Music: Housatonic Philharmonic     6-7:30 p.m.     Lucky Nails

Live Music: Milltown Moose                    9:30-Midnight Locker Room Sports Pub

Saturday Night Liv! Family Hour          6:30-7:30 p.m. Spectrum Theatre, Franklin Street

Saturday (Sept. 16)

5K Road Race                                        8 a.m.               Begin/end at Lee Middle and High School (Registration opens at 7:00 am)

Hometown Parade                              10 a.m.               Main Street (Closed to traffic; 10-11:00)

Artisan Craft Fair                                   10-4 p.m.     First Congregational Church Park (next to Lee Memorial Town Hall)

Bowey the Magic Clown                         11-2 p.m.     Lee Athletic Field

Children's Activities                              11-3 p.m.     Lee Athletic Field

Hilltown Rodders Classic Car Show     11-4 p.m.     Lee DPW parking area, Railroad Street

Latino Festival of the Berkshires          11-5 p.m.     Church Park

Ingegni Party-Music/Food/Games          Noon-9 p.m.     Ingegni Salon (Center Street)

Terry a la Berry Sing-Along                    2-3 p.m.          Lee Athletic Field

Live Music: Moonshine Holler               12:30-1:30 p.m.     Church Park

Saturday Night Liv! Variety Show          7:30 - 9 p.m.          Spectrum Theatre,

Live Music: Jim "Hacker" Walker          9 p.m.-Midnight Locker Room Sports Pub

Sunday (Sept. 17)

Lee Kiwanis Pancake Breakfast               8-11 a.m.     St. Mary's School, Orchard Street

Rally Day w/Drumming by Cliff Madru 11-2 p.m.     First Congregational Church

Vintage Tennis Tournament                    9:30-11 a.m.     Greenock Country Club,, West Park Street.

Rubber Duck Race                                   2 p.m.               Lee Athletic Field/Tickets: $5/each or 6 for $25


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