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Giant cake to herald Hatfield’s 350th celebrations

  • GAZETTE FILE PHOTO/KEVING GUTTING GAZETTE FILE PHOTO/KEVING GUTTING

  • Hatfield Town Hall GAZETTE FILE PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING



Staff Writer
Wednesday, September 11, 2019

HATFIELD — A 2,000-pound cake made from PVC plastic-covered wooden panels with 350 electric candles, displayed over a fountain in Westfield center since January, will be arriving in Hatfield later this month.

The 16-foot-tall by 26-foot-wide structure, currently being refurbished by Westek Architectural Woodworking, will soon be on display at Smith Academy Park, next to Memorial Town Hall.

When it arrives, and is modified to Hatfield’s needs, it will be the most visible reminder that the town is about to enter into a yearlong celebration of its 350th birthday, with plans to have the cake lit for the first time during the annual Luminarium.

Robert Betsold, a member of the Hatfield 350th Anniversary Committee, said Monday that Westek is doing cleanup and waterproofing, and installing a new topper. The cake should arrive in Hatfield Sept. 20 and then the following day volunteers will give it a Hatfield feel, with a new color scheme and other elements specific to the community.

This year’s Luminarium, as well as ones in subsequent years, will be held on the Saturday evening before Christmas Eve. Previously the event has been held on Sunday evenings.

The first event of the 2020 celebrations, though, will actually be the concluding event of 2019, when, on Dec. 31, an anniversary celebration gala held on New Year’s Eve at the Log Cabin banquet facility in Holyoke. Tickets for that went on sale in July and fewer than 100 of the 400 remain.

“That will be the big kickoff for us,” Betsold said.

One of the main events for the anniversary celebrations will be Incorporation Day, in partnership with Hatfield Historical Society on May 31, which recognizes the date on which the town formally separated from Hadley. This will feature a reenactment of the crossing of the Connecticut River with a replica boat and a reading of the original proclamation for when Hatfield was founded. The contents of a time capsule created in 1995 will also be on display.

Cher Nicholas, president of the society, said several petitions from people on the west side of the river were sent to the Massachusetts Bay Colony seeking their own minister and for Hatfield to becomes its own town to avoid the often harsh river crossing.

The 350th parade will take place June 13, with a summer celebration on Aug. 22. Other special events will include a historical homes tour April 25 and a 5K farm run and walk on May 16, as well regular events that will also have a 350th theme, including the Strawberry Festival put on by the Hatfield PTA on June 20, and the bonfire by the Hatfield Firefighters Association on Oct. 10, 2020.

Hatfield Historical Society is putting on six events coinciding with the town’s anniversary, with a preview of these to be held at an informal gathering at Black Birch Vineyard on Sunday.

“The goal is to have events to not only engage the town but to have fun,” Nicholas said.

Nicholas said anyone interested in attending this second annual fall party, which celebrates the society and its volunteers, should send email to bryannicholas@comcast.net to purchase a ticket.

Also to be announced are a presentation on Prohibition in Hatfield at the American Legion Nov. 14 and an exhibit about drinking going underground, marking a century of Prohibition, starting Dec. 21.

Betsold said his committee and the historical society are trying to get as many people and organizations involved in the townwide celebration as possible.

“We’re using this as a way to bring the community together,” Betsold said.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.