CHESHIRE — There’s no shortage of smiles and laughter during the Cheshire Fall Festival and Marketplace.
The annual event, arguably the most anticipated in town throughout the year, brings residents together to enjoy some food, music, activities, entertainments of all kinds, and a little browsing at different vendor and crafter booths. It’s the very definition of family fun.
But this year, the festivities will be interrupted, if only briefly, for a very special recognition. At noon on Saturday, everything will pause for a few minutes as those attending the festival come together to mark the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
“For us, it was very important to have this recognition,” said Town Manager Sean Kimball. “We wanted to do it during the part of the day when there would be the most people (attending the festival). It provides an opportunity to pause and reflect.”
On Sept. 11, 2001, terrorists attacked the World Trade Center in New York City, the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., and crashed a plane in the fields of Pennsylvania – United Airlines Flight 93 – after passengers on that flight, having learned of the prior attacks, tried to take back control of the aircraft.
Approximately 3,000 individuals died on 9/11, marking the worst terrorist attacks on American soil in history.
Cheshire Chamber of Commerce President, Yetta Augur, echoed Kimball’s sentiments, stating that, since 2021 marks the 20th anniversary of the attacks, the festival felt it could not let the occasion go unnoticed.
“We didn’t want the day to go by without remembering,” she said.
At approximately noon, all activities on both the main and secondary stages will halt. A flag will be raised on the north side of Bartlem Park by a local fire engine, right around where members of the Police and Fire Departments usually park, Augur said. The “National Anthem” will be sung at that time, and there will be bagpipers performing.
Cheshire police officers and firefighters, along with EMTs, will be a part of the recognition, which is expected to last approximately 20 minutes.
For Augur, having Cheshire’s emergency personnel take part means all the more after the pandemic, as so many were asked to once again go above and beyond in order to help citizens in need.
“What we’ve been through the last year and a half—our first responders, our heroes, it really brings to life how special they are,” said Augur. “It has reminded us once again that, when everyone is running away, they are the ones running towards (the danger).”
Kimball also hopes people use the special remembrance as a way to reflect on how courageous first responders were on 9/11, and continue to be each and every day. He’s also hopeful the day will remind people of what the country was like in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, when a togetherness seemed to take hold.
“I was studying abroad in Italy when 9/11 occurred,” recalled Kimball, “and being abroad at such a time, when such an enormous thing has happened to your home country, that was a unique experience. I just remember coming back….and the flags were everywhere. Everyone had their American flag out.”
To replicate that, Kimball asked that the flags hung around Cheshire, that usually get taken down around Labor Day in anticipation of the approaching autumn season, be kept up through the Fall Festival and 9/11 remembrance.
“I just remember what it was like to see those flags up,” he said. “It was poignant to see.”