Nick Petrulakis, a bookseller at Newtonville Books in Newton Centre, spoke in a hushed tone fit for the mellow vibe of the bookstore. It was a sharp contrast to the shouts of children and buzzer sounds coming from the carnival rides outside.
Whole families walked through the independent bookstore’s propped-open door to explore its aisles during the city’s Harvest Fair on Saturday.
The two-day festival might not translate to huge increases in sales, Petrulakis said, but that doesn’t mean it won’t help local businesses.
“While it may not translate today and tomorrow to increased sales, the idea is that people are just introduced to another part of Newton—and, in particular, Newton Centre—and they will come back,” Petrulakis said.
As a carnival ride swung children through the air on the Newton Centre Green Saturday afternoon, customers wove through local businesses on Langley Road and Centre Street. The fair featured a carnival on Saturday and an open-air market, crafts, and food trucks on Sunday.
Ryan Gott, the owner of The Cork and Board at 1207 Centre St., said the fair brought new faces to his business, which opened on August 16.
“I think it has definitely resulted in exposure for our business, being across the street from it, because a lot of people that have come in today haven’t been in the store before,” Gott said.
Gott first heard about the fair through his customers and an email from the Charles River Regional Chamber, a nonprofit that helps member businesses in Newton, Needham, Watertown, and Wellesley generate revenue.
Gott said that because of the carnival, more customers rotated in and out of the store than they had the previous weekend—both a blessing and a curse, according to Gott. The walls of The Cork and Board are covered with stretching racks of premium bottles of vino, which became a hazard for some of the store’s younger visitors.
“It has been a little precarious at times with some small children in here with expensive wine,” Gott said.
David Punch, the chef and part owner of Sycamore, Little Big Diner, and Jinny’s Pizzeria—all in Newton Centre—wasn’t aware of the fair until he showed up for work on Saturday.
“Honestly, I didn’t even know it was today until this morning when I got down here and saw a bunch of rides set up on the Green, which was cool,” Punch said as Jinny’s was getting ready to open on Saturday.
Punch has worked in Newton Centre for 10 years, but a busy work schedule always stopped him from enjoying the Harvest Fair.
“I mean, I’m usually just in there, head down,” Punch said. “Every day is kind of the same for me whether or not it’s a fair happening outside.”
The three restaurants are constantly busy, Punch said, but he expected the fair to bring crowds into the dining room at Jinny’s earlier than normal.
Gott, still new to the neighborhood, said he hopes to see more events in Newton Centre.
“If they do a concert series or anything that results in the community coming together, I’m all for that,” he said.
Petrulakis has previously attended the fair with his daughters. He said it was a nice introduction to the community, and similar events are beneficial to independent shops such as Newtonville Books.
“It’s very easy for people to shop online,” Petrulakis said. “That experience, though, is a very solitary one. An event, of course, brings everybody together.”
Images by Victor Stefanescu / Heights Editor