Second annual event in Turners Falls pairs pickleball with donations for food programs

Six tennis courts at Turners Falls High School will be filled with pickleball games on Saturday for the second annual Pickleball Food Drive Festival. The inaugural event in 2023 is pictured.

Six tennis courts at Turners Falls High School will be filled with pickleball games on Saturday for the second annual Pickleball Food Drive Festival. The inaugural event in 2023 is pictured. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

By SAM FERLAND

For the Recorder

Published: 05-21-2024 12:22 PM

TURNERS FALLS — Six tennis courts will be filled with pickleball games on Saturday for the second annual Pickleball Food Drive Festival, an event that rallies people together to collect non-perishable food donations and raise money for the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts and Stone Soup Cafe.

The festival will take place from 9 a.m. to noon at the Turners Falls High School tennis courts. There are already roughly 90 participants signed up to play across four divisions: mixed doubles, open, 55 and over, and fun.

The festival began last year, organized by the Franklin County Pickleball Group, in an effort to create a positive community event.

“It was such a success last year, such a positive energy. Both what we did to collect for the charities, the fun that was had and the community coming together,” said Mike Reddig, fundraising chair of the Franklin County Pickleball Group. “We were thrilled with the support from the pickleball community, but also other people in the community last year, both in Turners [Falls] and Greenfield.”

There were 12 games going on at the same time last year, collecting more than $2,000 and 200 pounds of food for the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts. The group hopes to build on last year’s donations and have another successful festival that brings the community together.

“It is unusual to have 12 games going on at the same time. It is quite a spectacle,” Reddig said. “We have people that are trying to win in their division, but there are also people just showing up because they want to support the Stone Soup Cafe and the Food Bank of Western Mass., and just have fun and say, ‘Yes, this is what we do.’”

Stone Soup Cafe, which provides pay-what-you-can meals out of All Souls Church in Greenfield as well as a culinary school and a free community store, was added as a beneficiary this year.

“We added the Stone Soup Cafe because of the wonderful work they are doing here locally,” Reddig said. “They have a lot of outreach throughout Franklin County. It’s really high-quality food they are offering to local people.”

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Interested pickleball players must sign up before Thursday through the website SignUpGenius. The link to the event page can be found by searching for mreddig@theriver.com in the email search bar on the website. There is also a physical sign-up paper located at the Green River Park pickleball courts in Greenfield.