Finneran: Of Topsfield And Tomatoes

Friday, September 15, 2017
Tom Finneran, GoLocalWorcester MINDSETTERâ„¢

Another New England winter is peeking around the corner.

The days grow shorter. Nights have a nip in the air. Ocean waters carry a seasonal chill.

But it’s only September and you can push back in a hundred ways..........

Take a look at those tomatoes on the right. My brother-in-law had a good harvest this year---a lot better than mine---and he has generously shared the excess with me.

A sprinkle of sea salt, a slice of extra sharp Vermont cheddar, and about five minutes under the broiler gives you a little taste of heaven on earth.

Even into October you can harvest the green tomatoes on your vines. You can let them slowly ripen in a brown lunch bag or you can slice them, bread them, and fry them as is. Recipes abound. Delicious.

Apples are also in abundance. How about some tangy fresh-picked McIntosh apples? There are many great varieties but in my book fresh Macs are the best.

I planted my own pie pumpkins too late this year so I’m out of luck with a home harvest. My Plan B is a trip to a local fruit center or farmer’s market for such pumpkins and then to make a soup stock from those orange beauties. The aroma of a simmering soup dish on some cold winter evening will bring even more good cheer than a vodka gimlet. Healthier too.

A leading public figure here in Massachusetts---not to be identified in this space---is a foodie. Given his crazy schedule it is impossible for him to tend to a serious garden. His alternate arrangement is to have a friend handle the nurture and harvest of a lot of tomato plants. He then sets aside a late summer or early fall weekend for converting that harvest into many jars of tomato sauce, to be shared 50-50 with his friend. It’s an arrangement that works well for all parties, so well in fact that they each look forward to blizzard forecasts for breaking out the bounty of summer. A couple of jars of sauce on low simmer for several hours will fill their homes with heaven’s scents. Appetites sharpen and a good round of snow shoveling seems like a walk in the park.

Keep an eye on those 10 day forecasts. They can give you a little preview of good weather ahead, allowing you to schedule some fall golf with friends. I’ve golfed as late as Thanksgiving weekend and I have some friends---admittedly crazy---who have made it into December a few times.

Warm afternoons can entice you into late-season swims. I regularly swim in the ocean in October, the only adjustment from a summer swim being the need for a post-swim hooded sweatshirt.

Agricultural fairs are a great New England tradition and a boatload of fun. The Big E serves Western Massachusetts communities and the Topsfield Fair handles Greater Boston visitors. Tractor pulls, poultry competitions, amusement rides, livestock, the Clydesdales,  and creative food vendors provide a great day of entertainment for all ages. I’ve taken the grandchildren for several years, often letting them play hooky for a day away from school. Don’t say a word but I’m likely to surprise them again this year. Topsfield never gets old.

One last thought---visit the bee house at Topsfield. Local honey, hand-made soaps and candles, and some very nice people make it a special place. Talk to the beekeepers. They love their bees and people too. Ask questions. Buy some honey. And admire Nature’s nicest and hardest-working creatures.

Summer lingers. Enjoy.

Tom Finneran is the former Speaker of the Massachusetts House of Representatives, served as the head the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council, and was a longstanding radio voice in Boston radio.

  • September 9 & 10

    RI Seafood Festival at India Point Park

    Providence, RI 

    The Rhode Island Seafood Festival is an annual event, which started in 2011, that brings together the best local sellers of seafood and other fine fare as well as beer, wine and spirits from Ocean State producers.

    The festival includes live music, great food and much more. 

    The festival will go from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. 

  • September 10

    3rd Annual Ocean State Beer Festival 

    South Kingstown, RI 

    The third annual Ocean State Beer Festival will take place at Whalers Brewing Company in South Kingstown. 

    The festival will feature beer from breweries around Rhode Island. 

    The festival is hosted by the Rhode Island Brewer’s Guild. 

  • September 12

    Phantom Gourmet Food Festival

    Boston, MA

    The Phantom Gourmet Food Festival is an event to look forward too and it will be held on September 12 from 12- 4 p.m. on two streets next to Fenway Park.

    Tickets are $40 in advance and online and will go up to $50 at the event.

    The ticket includes sampling 100 of Phantom's foods from hot dogs and pizza to pulled pork and more. Beer and wine will be served on the street.

  • September 15-17

    Wormtown Music Festival at Camp Keewanee

    Greenfield, MA

    A three-day long concert featuring bands such as The Alchemystics (pictured), a community bonfire, craft vendors and more.

    Kids 15 and under are FREE to the event. 

  • September 15-17

    Misquamicut Fall Festival

    Misquamicut Beach, RI 

    The 2017 Misquamicut Fall Festival features live music from John Cafferty & the Beaver Brown Band and other local bands. 

    The festival will also feature a car show, crafts, food truck rodeo and much more. 

    Parking is free. 

  • September 15 - October 1

    The Big E 

    West Springfield, MA

    The Big E in West Springfield, Massachusetts features a circus spectacular, Mardi Gras parade, agricultural competitions, arts & crafts, food contests, live music, and midway. 

    Sample food and enjoy rides, games, horse shows, historical exhibits and more. 

  • September 15 -16

    2017 Fitchburg Greek Festival at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church

    Fitchburg, MA 

    The 2017 Festival begins at on Friday, September 15 from 5 10 p.m. and continues on Saturday, September 16 from 11 am. to 10 p.m.

    The festival will feature an outdoor bar area, a menu including Mezedes, Greek BBQ, and pastries, vendors, music, and dance. 

  • September 23

    Ocean State Oyster Festival at Riverwalk Park

    Providence, RI

    The Ocean State Oyster Festival hopes to raise awareness and celebrate RI’s aquaculture industry. 

    The festival will take place on Saturday from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. in Providence. 

    The festival will feature fine local food, beer, wine, and refreshments, local bands & DJs, activities for kids, culinary exhibitors, educational exhibits, a shucking contest. 

    Purchasing a general admission ticket gets you a half dozen oysters and an ice cold craft beer of your choice.

  • September 23 & 24

    KidsFest 2017 at Wachusett Mountain

    Wachusett Mountain, MA 

    The festival runs from 10 a.m. on the 23rd to 5 p.m. on the 24th.

    It will include entertainment such as a BMX Bike Show, Rainforest Reptile Shows Inc., and a Baby Animal Petting Zoo.

    There will also be sample skiing and a USA Ninja Warrior Challenge Course. 

  • September 29 -30

    Harpoon Octoberfest at Harpoon Brewery 

    Boston, MA

    Octoberfest will feature beer, bratwursts, chicken dancing, and more as Harpoon celebrates 28 years of Octoberfest. 

    Entrance to the festival is $25 and includes a souvenir pint glass and your first beer. 

  • September 30

    Burke Mountain Fall Foliage Festival

    Burke, Vermont

    The Burke Mountain Fall Foliage Festival is one of the biggest festivals of the year in Vermont.

    Events at the festival include a parade which begins at 10 a.m., a farm animal petting zoo, horse-drawn carriage rides, a beer and wine tent open from 11 a.m. - 6 p.m. and live music by Tritium Well from 2:30 p.m. - 5:30 p.m. 

  • October 5 - November 5

    Roger Williams Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular 

    Providence, RI

    This annual event, created by artists and craftsmen of Passion for Pumpkins, and features 5,000 illuminated jack-o-lanterns, with over 125 of them artistically carved and displayed in scenes to play out the annual theme. 

  • October 6-8

    Freeport Fall Festival 

    Freeport, Maine

    The festival will feature more than 130 artists showing off their work ranging from photography oil, watercolor, mixed media and much more.

    The festival runs from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

  • October 7

    International Oktoberfest at Bold Point Park 

    East Providence, RI 

    International Oktoberfest will take place over Columbus Day weekend at Bold Point Park. 

    The festival will include seasonal beer, German cuisine, and live music. 

  • October 7-8

    Annual Fall Festival Weekend - Sunday River

    Newry, Maine 

    The annual Fall Festival Weekend welcomes the start of a new season with live music every day, a crafts fair and some friendly competition. 

    That competition includes the 17th Annual North American Wife Carrying Competition where teams will compete and winners will receive the wife's weight in beer and five times her weight in cash.


    PHOTO: Sunday River

  • October 7-9

    Columbus Day Festival on Federal Hill

    Providence, RI 

    The annual Columbus Day Festival on Federal Hill is ready to take place once again featuring three days of Italian music, food and entertainment. 

  • October 14

    8th Annual Fall Harvest Celebration at Patriots Place 

    Foxboro, MA 

    The day is filled with fall activities for all ages including hayrides, pumpkin painting, live music, and more. 

    The celebration runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. 

  • October 14

    9th Annual New Hampshire Brewfest at Redhook Ale Brewery 

    Portsmouth, NH

    The New Hampshire Brewfest will feature more than 150 beers from over 50 brewers. 

    Admission includes entry to the session specified on your ticket, 5oz souvenir sampling cup, beer samples, and live music and festivities

  • October 20-29

    2017 Vermont International Film Festival 

    Burlington, Vermont

    The 2016 Vermont International Film Festival is set to take place from October 20 to October 29. 

    The festival will feature films from all over the world. 



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