GREENFIELD — A colorful, 6-foot-tall, metal rooster — wrapped in plastic — sat in the back of a trailer Thursday morning, patiently waiting to take its place among the thousands of items for sale at the Riley Festival in downtown Greenfield.

As the courthouse chimes rang out at 11 a.m., the streets fanning out from the courthouse were abuzz with activity as vendors and volunteers got busy setting the scene for the wildly popular four-day event.

More than 460 vendors took turns jockeying for positions on the street early Thursday, setting up their wares for the tens of thousands of visitors expected to descend upon Greenfield this week.

“First those vendors (on the north side of Main Street) get set up, then these (on the south side) start setting up a couple hours after that,” said festival volunteer Jo Tracy, one of the dozens sporting bright red Riley Festival T-shirts.

Setup officially began at 8 a.m. under cloudy skies which left a nip in the air, prompting many vendors to bundle up as they set up pop-up tents and tables.

Armed with a two-way radio hanging from her cargo shorts, Tracy carried a white binder filled with vendors’ names and booth numbers to help direct people to the right spots.

The Riley Festival officially kicked off at 5 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 6, and runs through 5 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 9.

Vendor Sam VanDyke had just gotten power restored at his Sarasota, Fla. home before he made the drive to Greenfield Wednesday night.

He makes a living selling cypress driftwood sculptures from wood reclaimed from rivers and swamps in the Panhandle. While he mostly sells to stores in Florida, he also works a few festivals each year.

This is his first year at the Riley Festival, where he set up shop in front of Greenfield Christian Church.

VanDyke was looking forward to showing off his unique free-standing sculptures, which range in price from $10 to $1,800.

“I was first in line this morning at 6:30 a.m. to get set up,” he said Thursday as vendors clamored around him.

Monica Holden got some help from her husband and daughter as she set up her tent on Main Street, where she’s sold her hand-crafted ceramic mugs, ornaments and planters for the past six years.

As both a longtime resident, vendor and director of Greenfield Main Street — a nonprofit which promotes and celebrates the downtown — Holden knows first-hand how much the Riley Festival means to the community.

“It is so fun to see all of our community members and friends all out here together. It has such a hometown feel,” said Holden, as she unpacked elaboratley designed mugs from a wooden crate.

Just around the corner, Steve Ricardo was setting up candles at his Thistlewood Candles booth. While the hours for vendors can be long, Ricardo was looking forward to a busy four days at the festival.

“The weather is supposed to be cool, and people love candles when it’s chilly outside,” he said with a grin.


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