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40th Annual Chelsea Sounds and Sights Festival a Success

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Artist Sue Craig sat serenely beneath her tent at the Chelsea Sights and Sounds Festival in downtown Chelsea last Saturday afternoon, showcasing her oil, pastel, and watercolor paintings.  Amid lulls in patronage she was sketching a familiar image.

Hillary Clinton.

The likeness was striking.  Rosy-cheeked, regal smile, eyes fixated on globalism.  Craig explained that she was drawing the portrait to take her mind off the members of the neighboring tent—the local Republican Party. “To counter their speechifying,” she said.  “I’m a huge Democrat and wanted to equal things out.  I was horrified when I found out that my tent was set up next to the Republicans.”

“She wanted to move us,” countered Cindy Fischhaber,” the Washtenaw County Republican chairwoman.  Her take on the general election between Clinton and Republican nominee Donald Trump?  “Wild and vicious.”  Exactly.  That’s why politics is called bloodsport.

Now in its 40th year, the Sounds and Sights Festival is an annual summer weekend event held in Chelsea that draws visitors from the county and from every finger in the Mitten.  The two-day, three-night festival features live music, independent artists, like Craig, and is decidedly kid-friendly.  All performances and activities happen in historic downtown Chelsea.

On Saturday morning rain pounded the region like buckshot on a copper roof.  The deluge dampened the flora in the area but not the spirits of the festival attendees.  The region needed the precipitation in the middle of this dry summer.  So it was the proverbial raining on the parade but it didn’t dampen the spirits of the many merchants, peaceful and prosperous, and their patrons.

Diverse attendees came out despite the waves of the sea that fell from the sky.  The storms of destruction passed by in the early p.m. but rather than turn humid like downtown Miami on the Fourth of July, bilious cloud cover hastened cool breezes refreshing busy dealers and invigorating pilgrims.  Who can the weather command but Al Gore?

Further on down the road vendors at the farmer’s market broke camp and packed surplus merchandise into their trucks and vans.  Sally Goetz and her husband Luke own Goetz Greenhouse in Riga.  They bake bread, craft cheese, honey, and maple syrup.  Eighteen tubs of corn needed to be hauled beneath their tent that morning to protect their stock from becoming creamed corn.

The weekly farmer’s market happens every Saturday eight to noon from May to October.  “It’s a good little market,” Luke Goetz said.  “This is our third season here at the market, which has been going on for about 20 years.  We sell a little bit of everything—eggs, vegetables, syrup, and bread.”

Downtown, beneath a large beer tent, you could hear the wheezing of an accordion, the crack and smash of a drum kit, and a first-rate horn.  The group named the Kielbasa Kings Polka Band, the headliner of the festival, warmed up for its Saturday night performance.  Dogs, scenting Polish sausage, other than service dogs, were prohibited from the beer garden.

So it seemed to be a good time had by all, organizers—dozens under the direction of the local Chamber of Commerce—and vendors showcasing their concerns and their wares.  Forty is the new 25 and the organizers of the Sounds and Sights Festival in Chelsea, crowned with a plaque administered by the United States Department of the Interior, point their compass north to July 2017.                      

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