MALONE — A hint of country zest from the Too Tall String Band floated through the air at Arsenal Green Park on Saturday, while children ran around — weaving between colorful local stands, a Spider-Man bounce house and chalk drawing on the pavement.

It was a relaxed return by a recognizable Summer Fest scene that had been a young four-year tradition, before the COVID-19 pandemic canceled its 2020 festivities.

On a day when the Malone Chamber of Commerce-organized event returned for its fifth year at the park, Chamber President Mary Scharf was reflective on how the small festival — which entertained about 500 people in 2019 — is a much-needed “community spirit” booster.

“We provide the community activities,” Scharf said. “It’s to re-energize Malone and make it a destination.”

Many stands present at the Summer Fest on Saturday were there for the first time, with some vendors showcasing talents they picked up while in lockdown last year.

Malone resident Toni Newman enjoyed her first time as a Summer Fest vendor and showcased her homemade arts and crafts she made while the pandemic had everything shut down.

Visitors of her stand were greeted by small owl figurine made out of shells and googly-eyes.

Newman said making crafts through the global crisis was therapeutic.

“It’s very relaxing (to make the crafts),” Newman said. “I hope I can make people happy with them.”

Keith and Judy Winters, of North Bangor, returned to the Summer Fest with their wide array of maple syrup products, after previously participating before the pandemic. The festival held a maple syrup cooking challenge, where five judges decided on their favorite maple syrup dish — a contest in which the Winters’ entered for the first time.

“We missed meeting people face-to-face,” Judy Winters said.

She added one of her favorite parts of Summer Fest is seeing the faces of the children who try their maple cotton candy for the first time light up.

Jake Maclin, who on Saturday returned to his hometown of Malone as a vendor for Thousand Island Winery echoed the Winters’ sentiment.

“I love being with the other vendors and with the community,” Maclin said.

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Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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