Westfield Wire Service 97sep25
Governor Whitman Joins Westfield Fun
40,000 People In Downtown
For FestiFall

By PAUL J. PEYTON Specially Written for The Westfield Leader

Westfield’s eighth annual FestiFall street festival may have been the best yet, as some 40,000 people from around the county and the state converged on the downtown during the six-hour event.

The highlight of the afternoon was the attendance of Governor Christine Todd Whitman. The Governor’s stay --originally planned for only 45 minutes -- turned into two hours.

Mrs. Whitman arrived around 2 p.m. at Central and East Broad Streets, and continued down to Elm Street. Due to the large crowds which greeted the Governor, the normally short walk wound up taking Mrs. Whitman over 45 minutes.

She spoke briefly on a stage set up for music entertainers at the Elm and East Broad intersection. She then proceeded down Elm and into the offices of The Westfield Leader, where she posed for pictures.

The Governor then headed up to Quimby Street where she posed for pictures outside Rorden Reality.

In addition to the Governor’s visit, FestiFall featured an array of food vendors, crafters and entertainment. Both local political parties had tables set up opposite each other at East Broad and Elm.

Katherine L. Broihier, Executive Director of the Westfield Area Chamber of Commerce, described the festival as a "blockbuster" which broke attendance records of previous FestiFall celebrations.

"It was by far the biggest and best…we were bowled over," Mrs. Broihier remarked. "The fact that the governor spent two hours here really was evidence in itself."

The crowd swelled to such proportions that Mrs. Broihier said people told her they could not see display boothes on the opposite side of the street.

Mrs. Broihier, who managed the Chamber’s table on Quimby Street during the event, said that about 60 businesses were represented at this year’s FestiFall. In addition, 37 non-profit groups also participated.

Vendors offered merchandise including clothes, jewelry, crafts, artwork, food and seasonal items. Mrs. Broihier noted that even Quimby Street, which usually draws less festival traffic than the busier East Broad and Elm Streets, was filled with patrons.

She added that professionals such as landscapers and architects who attended the event also "were amazed at the interest they had from homeowners."

Mrs. Broihier stated that despite the record crowds, there were no accidents or injuries reported during FestiFall. She also expressed appreciation that most people kept their pets home, observing that this made things easier with so many people in the downtown.

Although the Governor’s extended visit proved to be the icing on the cake, Mrs. Broihier said she believed the main reason for the incredible success of this year’s FestiFall was the ideal, early-Autumn weather coupled with word-of-mouth enthusiasm.

The festival hours were from noon to 6 p.m., although Mrs. Broihier reported shoppers were beginning to show up as early as 10 a.m. In addition to the exhibits by merchants and organizations, she said some businesses also provided entertainment which lent a special touch to the celebration.

Souvenirs were also popular among the festival-goers, according to Mrs. Broihier, who said Weichert, Realtors gave out 19 cases of frisbees during the course of the event.

The Robert Treat Delicatessen had a clown to hand out animal balloons, while musical instruments were displayed and demonstrated by Stoneback Music and Guitars and Carolyn Klinger Kueter, who has a piano studio in the the town.

Dr. Theodore K. Schlosberg, founder of The New Jersey Workshop for the Arts which is headquartered on East Broad Street, also shared his musical knowledge with a demonstration of an alphorn.

"It really is a community event when those kinds of things happen," commented Mrs. Broihier of the way townspeople and others lent their time and talents to the street festival, which she said is traditionally the first of the season in the Westfield area.

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Copyright 1997
TheWestfield Leader
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Revised: September 29, 1997
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