Storrs Center was transformed Saturday into a carnivalesque version of itself, with live music, booths and food attracting all sorts of people from across Mansfield.
Celebrate Mansfield takes over Storrs each fall to showcase vendors, shops and services offered within our community through booths lining the streets. This year, these businesses ranged from Blaze to Eastern Insurance Associates to even the Mansfield OB/GYN. Each booth was manned by friendly townees, who offered prize wheels, candy and other giveaways to passing residents. Freebie-seekers scoped out a number of good finds, such as the T-Mobile spatula and the free pizza coupon for Blaze. Others went to the booths to learn about the town, such as the farmers co-op program and different pet services.
“I come here to enjoy the festivities and the free stuff,” fifth-semester physiology and neurobiology major Carissa Aekins said.
A giant stage was set up in the middle of the plaza, where several local bands got a chance to play their music. Each band had a very different sound and music genre, which helped to mix up the festival as the day went on. In addition to this, a UConn a cappella group, Husky Hungama, wandered around Storrs Center, stopping every once in a while to perform a song.
“We decided to join the Celebrate Mansfield celebration,” Elizabeth George, a seventh-semester elementary education major and member of Husky Hungama, said. “We’re a UConn a cappella group, and we thought it would be really fun to come out and perform today.”
Festival-goers flocked around George’s group whenever they began singing, clearly enjoying their twist on popular songs.
“Our group mashes up Hindi songs and English songs, so we did a song called ‘Believer’ mashed up with a Hindi song called ‘Ae Dil Hai Mushkil,’” George said.
The festivities were very family friendly, as could be seen by the masses of children roaming about the streets. They danced to the live music, rolled past on scooters and came in droves for the face painting booth. Children and college students alike were eager to take part in the minigames at each booth, several of which featured cornhole.
Several restaurants represented themselves by serving small selections from their menus. Maharaja Indian Restaurant offered vegetable samosas and chicken tikka masala. Dairy Bar offered some of its more popular base flavors, such as coffee, vanilla and chocolate. H2O Food had a variety of dumplings. And Boy Scout Troop 56 sold smaller snacks, such as chips and candy. In essence, no one could leave this fair hungry.
For those who missed Celebrate Mansfield this year, don’t worry! The festival coordinators are already beginning to plan for next year, and are hoping to improve it further with feedback they gathered from people who attended this year’s festival. But in the meantime, you can always just explore Mansfield and try to seek out the best restaurants, services and shops on your own. And from what everyone saw in Storrs Center Saturday, there are plenty of places in our adopted town to choose from.
Rebecca Maher is a senior staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.