DOVER -- About nine months ago Laurie Caplan and her husband Rich opened the Dover Forge, a family restaurant and bar along Route 100.
Despite one of the warmest winters in recorded history and little to no snowfall, Laurie and Rich said they're determined to make their business work.
Along with a less than stellar ski season, the valley was badly damaged by flooding from Tropical Storm Irene nearly a year ago and many businesses have yet to reopen.
Events like the fourth annual Blueberry Festival, the 10-day celebration of everything blue, which featured a parade ending at the restaurant, certainly helped in that cause, she said.
"This past winter was frightening and it was hard on everyone in the valley," she said. "But seeing all the people here gathered for the parade makes the heart flutter."
With its door painted blue, like many of the businesses in the Deerfield Valley, the Dover Forge was busy both weekends as hundreds of people flocked to the valley for the festival.
"It's a very local event, but the organizers also do a great job of having events for the second home owners and people visiting the valley," Laurie said. "It's been a nice boost for the area after the year we've had."
On Saturday morning more than 300 people lined both sides of Route 100 stretching from the Dover Town Offices to Caplan's restaurant.
Some people sat in their cars, the air conditioning on high to help beat the mid-day
Nancy and David Garrison, of Whitingham, each donned in blue shirts, pants and David wearing a curly blue wig, watched the parade from the comfort of the lawn chairs they brought.
"It's a great way to spend a Saturday," David said.
The parade was led Joe Arnold who was dressed up like a blueberry in a suit and had even dyed his hair blue.
Behind him came the percussion of the American Legion Band from Keene, N.H.
Bart and Janet Russo, second home owners from Woodland Park N.J., watched the marching band stroll by with their two daughters, 12-year-old Rebecca and 8-year-old Lauren.
The family had tried to go to as many of the blueberry events as possible in the previous week and a half, but both Rebecca and Lauren said nothing could top the Blueberry Jell-O Slide.
"We got to go really fast," Rebecca said. She and her sister slid down feet first along the blue gelatinous hill as many times as they could.
Some of the spectators along the parade loved listening to the bands play, like 6-year-old Alicia Ouchterloney, of New City N.Y., who came with her family to visit friends, while Jeslynn Matyas, 16, of Wilmington and Ann Armstrong, 18, of Searsburg, preferred to walk along the parade selling blueberries for Boyd Farm where they both work.
The night before the parade, on Aug. 3, dozens of people gathered in downtown Wilmington for the impromptu block party, which was originally canceled the week before.
Mount Snow Valley Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Adam Grinold, said the party, which was planned two days before, ended up a huge success and that, as always, the pie eating contest stole the show.
Logan Boyd, 10, of Wilmington, won for at least the third year in a row, Grinold said, but looking at the competitors' faces, smeared with blue fruit around their mouths and noses, everyone had a good time.
"There's been a lot of people out shopping, listening to music and just having fun," he said. "It's a great community event that we're glad we were able to pull together."
Josh Stilts can be reached at email@example.com, or 802-254-2311 ext. 273.