A Uniquely New England Event, ‘CiderFeast,’ Comes to Downtown Haverhill This June

The recently expanded Rep. Brian S. Dempsey Boardwalk in downtown Haverhill. (WHAV News file photograph.)

A native with a familiar last name is bringing his New York City experience back home to Haverhill with CiderFeast New England in June.

James Carbone, who settled in New York 35 years ago, won City Council approval this week to bring his idea to Haverhill’s riverfront.

“Hard cider about 10 years ago really became the next thing in terms of orchard-based, farm-based, quality ingredients—It’s kind of like natural wine, except it’s lower alcohol. It’s really native to New England and the northeast,” he explained.

He noted he has been putting on festivals and tastings in New York for the last 10 years, but came back to Haverhill because of COVID-19-related business shutdowns in the Big Apple.

“When I came here, my first thought was wow, I really just want to kick the tires on Haverhill as a business person and see if I could do business here,” he said.

He said he has received help and support from Melissa Seavey of the Greater Haverhill Chamber of Commerce, Councilor Timothy J. Jordan and Team Haverhill, Jeff Grassie of the Haverhill Farmer’s Market and Erin Padilla of Creative Haverhill. Together, they’ve created the “Destination Downtown” group.

Because of the coronavirus, the first Haverhill CiderFeast will be a sit-down event. Carbone told councilors what residents can expect.

“We’re going to work with restaurants. We’re going to bring in talent from the region who wouldn’t usually come to Haverhill. You’re going to have some media come here. You’re going to have cidermakers or, eventually, other chefs and other people that are coming from other parts of the state and region,” said Carbone.

The inaugural event takes place Thursday, June 24, from 5-8:30 p.m., on the Rep. Brian S. Dempsey Boardwalk, along the river in downtown Haverhill.

Councilors unanimously approved the amusement event application, pending approval of departments, and one-day liquor license.

In other business before the City Council, members approved a proposal from Councilor Joseph J. Bevilacqua to ask the mayor to add residents to a group studying possible uses of $38 million in federal COVID-19 aid.

Bevilacqua said he invites input from city departments, but wants to hear from residents.

“Citizens—the taxpayers who pay the bills in the city—should also be included in the discussion so that we get their opinion as to where the priorities could be and should be in the City of Haverhill as well,” he said.

Mayor James J. Fiorentini will have the final word on who is appointed to the planned review committee.

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