DERRY — The town’s biggest party returned to MacGregor Park last Saturday as the 32nd annual Derryfest joined families, businesses and organizations together for a day of community spirit.

Local businesses, artisans, eateries and organizations filled the East Broadway park with fun, crafts to sell, children’s activities and a long list of bandstand activities and entertainment throughout the day.

Saturday’s celebration was a return to the park after last year’s in-person event was cancelled due to the pandemic. But a virtual form of Derryfest did continue in 2020.

For 2021, it was a time to celebrate all things community, with booths lining the park’s grassy spots putting local organizations, non-profits and businesses in the spotlight.

Several candidates running for a state representative special election win this fall in Derry also took time to chat with passersby.

The MacGregor Park stage was filled with ongoing entertainment all day including the Red Star Twirlers, Wildlife Encounters, martial arts demonstrations, singing, dancing and much more.

Noah Gurley, 9, said he enjoyed the day along with his father, Kevin, who was involved in the local veterans’ annual POW/MIA remembrance ceremony that traditionally coincides every year with Derryfest.

The third-grader said he enjoyed seeing live animals on display.

“I saw ducks, bunnies and goats,” Noah said.

Lines and lines of booths and canopies showed off local artisan talents.

Clubs and organizations also had their talents on display including the Derry Garden Club selling off simple floral arrangements to support the club’s efforts. Derry Public Library sold books, and Derry’s history was also in the spotlight.

“The key word is community,” said T.J. Cullinane, a member of the Derry Heritage Commission. “We’ve been starving for togetherness, we are seeing old friends, it’s great.”

Derryfest is organized by a team of volunteers under the watchful eye of the Greater Derry Arts Council, an organization putting many efforts in place to join community while promoting arts and culture.

That includes public arts projects like donated pianos that are painted and placed around town, and public murals.

The newest mural, located off South Avenue, will be officially dedicated next week, a painted tribute to Derry’s rich aviation history, including native son Alan B. Shepard Jr. and his historic journey as the first American in space in 1961.

Greater Derry Arts Council President Mary McCarthy Hoegen said everyone participating in Derryfest was ready to be back for 2021.

“I am thrilled to lead a team of amazing volunteers to bring Derryfest back in person after a long year of waiting,” she said.

Once the day ended in the park, festivities continued further down on Broadway as the well-attended Derry After Dark drew more big crowds to enjoy craft beers, wine tastings, and food vendors.

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