A few weekends ago, The Pilot and I were looking for something to do. I suggested Northampton, MA because it’s cute and pretty and I love hippies. He found the 39th Annual Bluefish Festival in Clinton, and despite my arguments that it was going to be a crappy, podunk town fair, I gave in. I shouldn’t have.
We arrived at the Town Hall around noon, after driving around a bit trying to figure out where this thing was, expecting some sort of sprawl indicating its location since the website didn’t specify. Nope. It was in the parking lot of the Town Hall where, from the street, most of it was obscured. We wound up somehow getting in through a back entrance and wandering for about four minutes through a completely empty scene. There were all of eight people (give or take a few) there who were not staffing crappy booths like the obligatory greasy food booth, the “enter here for free windows” booth, a soggy looking bake sale, and, of course, a political booth or two. Oh, and The Hartford Courant was trying to sell subscriptions. There was a climbing wall, and that seemed to be where the “crowd” was.
Once we got to the end, about 10 booths later, we sort of stood around and decided to wander back whence we came, or to see if we had missed something (um, or, everything?). We were then chased down by a woman who kindly apologized for missing us, and then charged us $3 each. The most disappointing part, to The Pilot anyway, is that he read there was a chowder cook off. He took this to mean that the public could taste the entries and was livid to find out that it was only the three anointed judges who got to try the 30 entries. Cue my “I told you so” moment.
However, included with the admission cost came raffle tickets, so we decided to check out their teacup raffle in the town hall basement. Apparently that’s where “all the arts and crafts were.” It would have been more aptly named “Old Ladies R Us.” It was like moth balls and mildew and was totally Elmer’s glue craft central. I’m serious when I say I think there was macaroni art to be had, for a price. The teacup raffle was equally disappointing with packages like four half-used candles, or a trowel and a packet of seeds. I had insist to The Pilot that we were not entering any of them because we weren’t driving back to Clinton to claim our American Flag paper goods pack. We wound up handing them to passersby when we left a few minutes later. The worst $6 ever spent.
We then decided to walk a little bit on the main drag, but even that was a bust. The stocks were padlocked and the “visitor’s center” was closed.
Fortunately we found The Meat Hut, where The Pilot got some mediocre brisket and then later, we came across a fish shack where I got a crab cake. Driving around Old Saybrook and Westbrook was probably the best part of the day, so it wasn’t total loss. But no thanks to the Clinton Bluefish Festival, which gets half a salt shaker simply for having ballsy women manning the gate.