AMESBURY — Amesbury Days is spinning out a five-day spring carnival to raise money for the summer celebration.
From May 16 to 20, Fiesta Shows of New Hampshire will be bringing rides, games and attractions for all ages to Amesbury. The event will be staged in the playing fields located at Sparhawk High School at 146 Main St., formerly the site of Amesbury Playhouse.
Gates will open at 6 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, May 16 through 18, and at noon on Saturday and Sunday, May 19 and 20. Festive food will also be sold throughout the event.
Sparhawk has donated use of the fields to help Amesbury Days and will also be an active participant in a number of Amesbury Days activities.
"Our committee is working hard to get the word out that Amesbury Days costs are a big challenge," committee chairwoman Kate Broughton said in a press release. "Fireworks alone cost at least $15,000, and we can't expect the business community to shoulder the bill. Since it's important that members of the community pitch in as well, we wanted to come up with a fun way to enlist their support."
As part of its "put some fun in fundraising" campaign, the Amesbury Days Committee has also launched an online auction featuring goods and services donated by local businesses. Currently up for grabs are $100 gift certificates to Crave Restaurant and Wine Bar and The Custard Shoppe fashion boutique for kids, a $70 gift certificate for a holistic therapeutic massage from Muscle Ministry and a $45 consultation from home organizing expert Heather Clow-Ryan. New items will be added every week, with most bidding cycles completing within 14 days to ensure a constant buzz.
To participate in the auction, visit the Amesbury Days website at www.amesburydays.org and click the "Auction Center" link on the home page. For anyone interested in donating an item for the auction, an easy-to-use donation form is available online. Businesses donating goods or services valued at $100 or more will receive plenty of online visibility, including a free one-year listing in the Amesbury Days "Awesome Amesbury" business directory.
Plenty of events are already being lined up for this year's Amesbury Days celebration. The annual Strawberry Festival sets the table on Friday, June 22, and the official kick-off gets under way on Saturday, June 23, with a full slate of activities and attractions, including "Amesbury Moves!" Field Days at the Town Park, the Lake Gardner Canoe and Kayak Race and the Melting Pot Cook-off. The grand opening ceremonies, including a concert by the Essex Chamber Music Players and a "creative black-tie" dress-up option for the audience, will take place in the Millyard later that evening.
"This year marks the 25th anniversary of the opening of the Millyard," Broughton said. "In 1987, Amesbury Days held its kickoff there to celebrate the completion of the pivotal downtown renewal project, which created not only the Millyard amphitheater but also the walkways and landscaping around it. We think it's a fitting time to remember the massive undertaking the first Millyard project represented, and also to look ahead to the next phase of development in the lower Millyard."
During the following week, Amesbury Days will keep the community hopping with a family trivia night, bluegrass and R&B concerts by The Four Legged Faithful and The SpiritHouse Band, the annual Chamber of Commerce block party, a riverfront dock party at Larry's Marina, the third annual Amesbury Brewfest sponsored by HEAT Event Management with a portion of proceeds benefiting Amesbury Days, July 4 fireworks and more.
New events and details are being added to the website daily. Broughton said events that aren't listed on the website or on the schedule to be printed in late May aren't official Amesbury Days events.
"It has taken many months to coordinate an itinerary that is fun, affordable and inclusive, and we appreciate the generosity and civic spirit of the businesses and organizations that have cooperated with us to assemble our calendar," she said. "Our way of thanking them for their cooperation is to give them 'official event' status, and we hope the community will thank them as well."