Slice of Saugatuck takes place Sept.10
Published 10:00 am, Monday, September 5, 2016
WESTPORT — Patrons will flood the popular Slice of Saugatuck Festival on Sept. 10 for the fifth installment of the Slice of Saugatuck Festival, which regularly draws more than 2,000 people each year.
Founded by Westport-Weston Chamber of Commerce President Matthew Mandell in 2011, the festival has raised $14,000 for the Gillespie Food Pantry of Homes with Hope. Although the festival started out as a free one with one band and an entire cooked pig, the event has morphed into one of the most celebrated in town.
There will be 24 restaurants offering free samples and deals, paddle board and kayak rentals and a Maker Space with 3D printing and drones.
“This year there will be eight bands in six locations, bouncy houses, climbing and two beer gardens,” Mandell said. “It’s a totally family friendly event with a hoola hoop lady, balloon vendors, an obstacle course climbing wall, a Maker Space, and then there’s the taekwondo place that will be doing demonstrations. Westport Dance (Center) will be doing demonstrations. It’s going to be very vibrant. This is the most robust festival of the five.”
In previous years, the festival went from 12 p.m. until 3 p.m. This year Mandell shifted the time from to 2 p.m. until 5 p.m. in an effort to keep the patrons in the area for a Saugatuck happy hour starting at 5 p.m.
Jeff Wieser, president of Homes with Hope, which includes the Gillespie Center food pantry, said the Slice provides a welcome boost to the community kitchen and homeless shelter that provides over 2,500 bags of groceries a year to those in need. Gillespie gives a bag of groceries to anyone in need from 1 to 4 p.m. on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.
“The Slice is so based on food and the restaurants that provide food in the Saugatuck area and it does raise some money. They have donated money to the food pantry for us to buy food in periods of need,” Wieser said.
Around half of the beneficiaries from Gillespie are residents of Westport, according to Wieser.
“There are a lot of people in this community that need food,” he explained. “It is a very helpful part of our overall food pantry budget.”
While the financial boost is appreciated, Wieser also likes the fesitval for the atmosphere it creates.
“It’s a wonderful, fun event built by the community for the community,” he said. “It’s really energizing for us and it shows that we’re supported by the community, which is helpful to us and our staff and to our beneficiaries.”