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Bellport Day spotlights merchants with festivities

Two-year-old Aria Leibrock of Medford enjoys the petting

Two-year-old Aria Leibrock of Medford enjoys the petting zoo at Bellport Day on Saturday, July 29, 2017. Photo Credit: Barry Sloan

For business owner Alison Buck, Saturday’s annual Bellport Day marked her “favorite day of the year.”

Buck’s beach-inspired boutique, TOLA, is filled with Bellport-branded tees, sweatshirts, hats, towels and other merchandise of all colors.

Buck, 45, grew up in the village and opened TOLA there in 2014. Bellport Day, she said, gives her the opportunity to show her appreciation for the customers who support her store.

“It’s just a great way to celebrate community,” she said.

Bellport Day aims to promote local businesses while offering shopping and entertainment along the village’s main street, said Chris Hane, president of the Bellport Chamber of Commerce. Hane, who also owns Bellport’s MVP Automotive, said he hopes the day highlights the variety of “mom and pop shops” the village has to offer.

“We’ve got a lot of nice, unique shops down here — clothing stores, antiques, home decorating, lots of great restaurants — and we want to make sure that [residents and visitors] come back and realize all the cool little stuff that’s down here at Bellport,” Hane said.

Saturday’s event featured performances by Brooklyn-based folk group The New Students, Gateway Playhouse’s children’s theater and Stage Door School of Dance. Kids could also enjoy a bounce house, inflatable slide, face painting, pony rides and a petting zoo.

About 45 businesses, area politicians and organizations participated in this year’s Bellport Day, said Ron Trotta, a past president of Bellport Chamber of Commerce. Flowers and seeds sat on tables outside Jardim Del Sol, a garden shop that opened this spring, while TOLA sold its clothing and accessories and Thomas Cornell Galleries displayed antiques nearby.

The village has hosted the event for more than 20 years, and typically gets between 7,000 and 10,000 visitors each year, Trotta said.

Pam Groh said she lives within walking distance of the festival and comes with her family every year to shop and see the entertainment.

“It’s always good to see the village doing well,” she said after buying a Bellport T-shirt for her 12-year-old daughter, Leah. “We live here; we take pride in the village. It’s a nice place to live.”

Joe Darmiento and his wife, Sheri, of Rocky Point, said that while they often drive through the area, they don’t typically stop to explore.

“When they have events like this you can check out what’s going on locally,” said Joe Darmiento, 52. “We’re looking at the restaurants, maybe we’ll try something different.”

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