Published October 13. 2013 4:00AM
Groton - Kendra Fernald came across a new business Saturday and couldn't resist.
"She just got me for $80," said Fernald, opening a bag containing bows, leggings, a necklace, a bracelet and a zebra-print tutu she had bought for her daughter at Groton's Eighth Annual Fall Festival.
Then again, she didn't really mind.
"I love everything about this festival," she said. "I get the feel of all the local businesses. Some of them you don't even know about, until you're here."
The Groton Business Association created the festival eight years ago exactly for that reason, and to build a community event. Thousands attended on Saturday in perfect fall weather. Steve Elci & Friends, guitarist Lou Manzi and Dancer's Inc. performed for the crowds, along with others.
More than 130 vendor tents lined both sides of the track along Fort Hill Road, rounding the corner by the playground for the first time this year.
Tracey Beaudet said she used to browse. This year, she shared a booth with Liz Mojica, the Navy wife who started Alexia's Accessories Bowtique, which sells bows, necklaces, tutus and other items.
"This is by far the busiest year I've ever seen," Beaudet said.
She started the business "Wrapped with Love" about six months ago, creating decorative letters and wreaths by wrapping them in yarn.
Nearby, local groups raised money for alcohol-free graduation parties and youth sports.
The Groton Mystic Youth Football League's top seller: "Fried Oreos," or Oreos dipped in pancake batter and deep-fried. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve.
Volunteer Adrina Robinson ate two orders.
April Brunelle, of April's Balloon Creations, twisted and handed out 50 balloon creations per hour starting at 11 a.m.
Kaleigh Allen, 7, of Groton, made her request. "I want a pink rideable unicorn with a purple horn and blue reins," she said. Brunelle created the animal.
"It's the same kind of cool stuff," said Ted Allen, who attends every year. "It's a community thing. You run into people you know, you get to catch up. It's worth it, just for that."