By Bill Kirk
---- — Billed as one of the most successful events of its kind in town, Saturday’s Andover Day celebration did not disappoint.
Buoyed by 70-degree weather, blue skies, lots of food and good music, thousands of people took in the sights, sounds and varied tastes of what organizers tout as “fall’s biggest street fair.”
The event brought more than 8,000 people to downtown — drawn by 160 vendor booths that lined Main Street from Elm Square to Morton Street, not to mention local restaurants’ stands, food trucks, carnival rides and two stages where performers sang, danced and strummed the day away.
“This is not a one-person event,” Peter Caruso, president of the Andover Business Community Association, which hosted the day, told the crowd. “My job was the weather. I took care of that.”
Caruso was joined for the opening ceremonies on the Main Stage at Elm Square by Andover Day committee members, a number of event sponsors including representatives from Stop & Shop and Lawrence General Hospital, and all five members of the Board of Selectmen.
He praised the many volunteers who helped put the event together, including former selectman Ted Teichert, who also gave introductory remarks.
Andrew Clark, managing partner of the Real School of Music located in Dundee Park, booked the musical acts for the day.
“We moved here six months ago and it feels like we’ve been here forever,” he said. “The ABCA asked us to help run the stages and line up the acts and we were happy to do it.”
Spectators were happy, too, as they listened to Josh and Jamtones, one of the groups booked by Clark.
Kevin Sibbernsen, 31, of Lovejoy Road, pushed his 10-month-old triplets, Tyler, Caleb and Nathan, while another son, Tristan, 2, was perched on his shoulders. Kevin and his wife, Karyn, recently moved to Andover after outgrowing their home in the Back Bay and were enjoying their first Andover Day.
Dozens of businesses, under tents on either side of Main Street, beckoned pedestrians with everything from free massages and dog kisses to diet plans and insurance policies.
Meanwhile, 40 performers from the 101-member cast for Andover Community Theater’s upcoming production of “Les Miserables” under the direction of ACT executive prodycer Mark Gracy got ready to take to the Community Stage in front of the Savings Bank.
Selectmen Chairman Alex Vispoli said the event was a good way to bring local residents together with local businesses.
“This is spectacular,” he said. “The ABCA works on this 12 months a year. This is a wonderful event for families who have lived here 30 or 40 years or people who just moved here or people who are visiting.
“Our downtown is a jewel. It’s one of the reasons people mention as to why they moved here.”