Advocate Editor Montana Samuels talks with Richard about organizing the town's Old-Time Holiday, and what the Office of Tourism has in store for the coming year

Chris Richard is the director of Fairhaven’s Office of Tourism, and is a busy man. During the summers you can see him dressed like a pirate or a man from the era of Henry Huttleston Rogers giving tours and organizing programs for the town.

Around this time of year, you’ll catch him at the Old-Time Holiday, hopefully, he says, catching his breath around mid-day.

Advocate Editor Montana Samuels caught up with Richard a couple of days before the 21st edition of Fairhaven’s favorite holiday event to ask him about the process of organizing it.

 

Montana Samuels: When does the planning start for an old-time holiday, it seems like a bit of an all-year endeavor?

Chris Richard: The way the Old-Time Holiday is set up now, this is going to be the 21st one, so a lot of it is repeating things that have been done in the past. Generally I start in the very late summer putting it together, but really it’s made up of different venues at independent locations as well. The Congregational Church organizes theirs, the Unitarian Church organizes theirs, and I coordinate the whole thing.

It’s usually the very beginning of September when I start sending out the notices for the Old-Time Holiday as far as vendors for the Town Hall shops, and to let the other venues know that we’re starting the planning process.

MS: How important is it for you and the office of tourism to keep an eye toward the history of the event, especially given the historical nature of Fairhaven and town center?

CR: Well that’s what it’s all about. Actually, I created the Old-Time Holiday event 21 years ago —I’ve been in this office for a long, long time (laughs) — so what used to happen was that between Thanksgiving and Christmas individual organizations would hold Christmas events, and they were on their own and they were on different dates. So the idea came up in 1997 I think, or ’98, that some communities have a town-wide thing going on, on a specific weekend.

So I proposed to all of these different organizations, how about we bring everything together on the same weekend. The Congregational Church fair, for example, has been going on for probably more than 100 years, but it’s been part of the Old-Time Holiday for 21 now. So it’s keeping all of the traditional things, but it’s grouping them together so people will come from a wider area. The tourism promotion part of it is if one church is having a fair usually the people from that congregation go, some of the public might go, but if you have something going on where there are several blocks worth of stuff happening it will bring people from a wider area into town.

MS: My question for anyone who organizes something of this magnitude is when they are able to take a deep breath and sort of relax a little bit, is it ever during the event?

CR: Usually it is part-way through the actual Saturday of the Old-Time Holiday. Up until that morning we really don’t know if we’re going to get eight inches of snow that day or what’s going to happen. Two years ago it was so warm that people were picnicking out on the grass, and then last year was kind of cold but there wasn’t any snow or anything.

But the pieces are more or less together a couple of weeks ahead of time, and once the press releases are out, things like that, I can take a break except for little last minute adjustments. Right now I’m kind of in the place where it’s all basically as organized as it’s going to be and I think we’re in a good place. However, it’s not until midway through Saturday where I can say “okay, this is alright now.”

MS: How long does that ease of tension last before planning starts for the next year?

CR: They overlap. I will actually be taking off vacation time during the Christmas break because my wife is a teacher so we line up some of our vacation time with school vacation, but really I’m already planning things for next summer right now. The office of tourism is working right now on Huttleston Marketplace. I’ve got two weeks of Monday Morning Fun for July and August already booked. It never really stops.

 

The Old-Time Holiday is taking place this Saturday, Dec. 8, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in Fairhaven’s Town Center.