WESTPORT, Conn. Waiting in line isn't something people typically enjoy. But Westport resident Michael D'Amato was all smiles as he waited outside Tarry Lodge Enoteca Pizzeria Saturday afternoon during the Slice of Saugatuck Festival .
"I definitely don't mind waiting in line for free food," D'Amato laughed. "Plus, I haven't eaten at the famous Mario Batali's restaurant yet, so I'm excited to taste the food. I've heard good things."
Before venturing to Tarry Lodge, D'Amato sampled food at Mansion Clam House, Tutti's Ristorante, Black Duck and Mario's Place. Not a frequent visitor to Saugatuck, D'Amato said he was impressed.
"Everything I tried was incredible. There are some really great restaurants down here," he said. "And there's a different feel here from the rest of Westportmore like a village in New York. My wife and I will definitely have to come here more."
Hundreds turned out for the first-ever festival, organized by Representative Town Meeting member Matthew Mandell, a Saugatuck area resident.
Although food was a major presence, it was just one aspect of the event, which was designed to showcase everything Saugatuck has to offer. Festival-goers also enjoyed live music, free wine and free offerings from retailers, such as kayak and standup paddleboard trials at Downunder Kayaks.
Over at the historic Saugatuck firehouse, kids and adults toured the station and took in fire safety demonstrations. Perhaps the biggest crowd-pleasers were the two fire trucksone modern, one antique.
Westporter Joshua Zwick's son Ben was among the dozens of kids who got to board the antique truck. "I think it's great," Zwick said of the festival. "I just wish we got here earlier."
Because the event was such a success, Mandell said he hopes it can become a tradition. Although he created it, he said he hopes Saugatuck merchants will be able to form a Saugatuck Merchant's Association and continue the festival under their auspices.
"The streets were full of people with smiles on their faces," Mandell said. "What more can you ask for?"
Did you attend the festival? What did you think?
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