School Fundraiser and Fall Festival in Ashfield

Notes from Nan: Locally Made Fundraiser & Ashfield Fall Festival
BY HF Contributing Writer, Nan Parati

Hey! You know what is one of the coolest ideas ever invented? Sanderson Academy coming up with their own catalogue of locally-made products to sell instead of Chinese-made stuff like most other schools sell to raise school money! Claire Mockler and Nancy Hoff came up with the idea, pitched it to local artists and businesses, Linda Taylor laid the catalogue out, the Mary Lyon Foundation printed it, and now Sanderson kids have a 24 page catalogue of things to sell that support local creators and vendors as well as Sanderson! Isn’t that brilliant?? If you don’t have a Sanderson kid near you, some of the local businesses have store copies that you can order from. (We do, Ashfield Hardware does, as does Mo’s Fudge Factor in Shelburne Falls. There may be more, but those are the places I know have them.) It has everything from soap to jewelry to Christmas trees, to yogurt, to holiday gift boxes to CDs to pizzas to syrup, to clothing and lots more—ALL of it produced right here in the Hilltowns! The deadline for ordering is October 18th. (The products still exist after that date, but if you’d like a part of the proceeds of your shopping to go to Sanderson you must order by that date.) Just a fabulous idea! I am very excited about it!

And now I’m excited about dinner this week and even more excited about Fall Festival!

For dinner this week we are having:


  • Stuffed Cabbage with ground beef and rice with tomato sauce
  • Stuffed Vegetarian Cabbage


  • Herb encrusted Roasted Pork Loin with local cider pan sauce, cornbread, cranberry and pecan stuffed acorn squash with roasted fingerling potatoes.
  • Or: cornbread, cranberry and pecan stuffed acorn squash with roasted fingerling potatoes.
  • Friday we are also featuring Local Hard Cider from West County Cider (which is why we’re having the Pork Loin, because it goes so well with the hard cider!)

And then it’s Fall Festival!

For ONCE I was relatively efficient and got my Elmer’s description of Fall Festival Foods to Anna in time for the printing of the Official Map. After that, we decided to change our foods. We will not be serving breakfast burritos this year. Instead we will serve the far more popular


all pancakes, and only pancakes from 7:30 am to 11:00 am, we will have stacks and stacks of pancakes, all to-go so that you can either eat them at Elmer’s if you like, or take them with you. But we will have pancakes, so come ready and hungry.

From 11:00 until the close of the festival each day we will have TWO food items this year:

  • Our Traditional Crawfish Pasta – AND –
  • New this year: Pulled Pork Sandwiches!

Have you had Jim’s pulled pork sandwiches? They have cole slaw on them, and are so succulent that I’ll bet that at least one vegetarian sneaks up behind the smoker and goes hog-rogue for about 10 minutes before changing back into their vegetarian self. (I was a vegetarian for eight years and it was a similar sort of event that derailed me.)

And THEN, to top it all off,

  • Hilltown Ice Cream

will be going back into business for the two days of the festival, with all that good, local, fresh-made, good, good, good ice cream served only at Elmer’s for the two days of the festival. And only in ephemeral cones; nothing to take home for your freezer. It’ll be just like a dream! Did it really happen, or did I just dream it?

I still remember my first Ashfield Fall Festival. People told me to get ready for huge, huge crowds. I kept asking, “How huge? How many people?” And everyone kept saying, “Thousands and thousands! Huge! Gigantic crowds!” It was the most accurate description I could get.

So, I relied on my idea of huge crowds, thousands of people and came up with Mardi Gras and Jazz Fest! And so we made enough Crawfish Pasta for a New Orleans Jazz Fest-sized crowd, which is actually so large that the Jazz Fest site becomes the forth largest city in Louisiana during the festival. But it turns out that huge in Ashfield means not quite as large as a Jazz Fest or Mardi Gras crowd and we had Crawfish Pasta for a long, long time after that. Long time. That was actually the beginning of Elmer’s serving Friday night dinner! We had so much Crawfish Pasta left over that we served it that Friday night and a tradition was born! And that’s how this weekly post was born, too; we had to have a way to tell people what we were serving for dinner every week, and so we started sending this out. Then Rob got involved and it all went to Hell.


Nan Parati - Elmer's StoreNan Parati

Nan is the proprietor of Elmer’s Store in Ashfield, MA. A New England transplant from the Deep South, Nan shares her southern wit, wisdom and charm every week in her column, “Notes from Nan.” Share dinner with her every Friday at Elmer’s. Menu’s are posted with her column.

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