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Chester Foundaton President David Pierce was surprised by the donation of a handbook from the late 1800s, “Useful Information for Railway Men,” from Michael and Megan Salvini of Westfield.

Reminder Publishing photo by Amy Porter

CHESTER — David Pierce, president of the Chester Foundation, said this year’s 33rd anniversary Chester on Track on May 18 had close to 2,000 people in attendance at the town-wide festival.

Lawnmowers parade through Chester on May 18.
Reminder Publishing photo by Amy Porter

“That’s right up there with our best years. Weather plays a big role,” Pierce said, as the rain held off after a cloudy start to the day.

The festival started with a parade that came around the bend from Route 20 to Main Street, featuring antique cars, the Gateway Regional High School band, a flock of lawnmower riders, Revolutionary War re-enactors and students of tae kwon do, among others.

On Main Street was a craft fair, home show of local businesses, antique engines and old-fashioned ice cream. Entertainment was provided by the Pioneer Valley Fiddlers at the Historic Inn and by Maggie the Railroad Clown, who could be seen walking Main Street on stilts.

Retired Chester Fire Chief Richie Small drives an antique fire engine in the Chester on Track parade.
Reminder Publishing photo by Amy Porter

The railway station had activities indoors and out, and food that was prepared and sold in the vintage Blue Caboose dining car. At the station, Pierce was surprised by the donation of a handbook from the late 1800s, “Useful Information for Railway Men,” from Michael and Megan Salvini of Westfield. Michael Salvini said the book would be put to better use in the Railway Station Museum than in a drawer in his home.

The Western Mass. Hilltown Hikers, who entered a float in the parade, gave tours of their newly acquired Granite Works, located across from the Railway Station. The Granite Works started in the early 1800s to cut and finish the granite that was extracted from local quarries, and features a 12-foot-diameter saw blade, originally operated by steam power, with some remarkable mechanisms designed to handle the massive blocks of quarried stone. 

It was purchased in September 2023 by the hiking group. Volunteers have worked endless hours cleaning up the property, which was unmaintained for approximately 80 years. Hilltown Hikers co-founder Elizabeth Massa said more than 100 people came to tour the site during Chester on Track.

amyporter@thewestfieldnews.com | + posts