Celebrating Fall

Jill Mahler

For the New Era

The rain poured through the trees of Sankey Park during the Harvest Festival on Saturday, Oct. 4, but it didn’t stop people from coming to participate in the festivities.

The second annual city-sponsored event drew what organizers estimated to be a larger crowd than last year.

Visitors, vendors and volunteers alike enjoyed a wide variety of attractions including horse-drawn hayrides, tree-climbing, live music, a pie-eating contest, and children’s games. Some 30 vendors sold everything from cheese to crafts during the festival, which lasted from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

“(It’s) a great community event for people to meet each other and appreciate the different areas,” said Jan Nelson of Sweet Home, who operated a booth for Fraga Farm Organic Goat Cheese and who manages the Farmer’s Market, both of which were represented at the Harvest Festival.

She said her goal is that “we’ll have more people that will find out about the Farmer’s Market.”

The Farmer’s Market operates on Saturdays, May through October, in the Thriftway parking lot.

City Planning Assistant Edene Flierl, one of the organizers of the event, said the goal of the Harvest Festival is for “more community awareness and for more kids to attend.” She said the Harvest Festival started last year as “something free for kids to do in the fall and we were able to get vendors aboard including the Pacific Tree Climbing Institute from Eugene.”

Flierl said that, based on the speed with which the pumpkins and cotton candy ordered by organizers disappeared, there definitely seemed to be more people this year than at last year’s inaugural event.

“We bought 250 pumpkins and we went through them in four hours,” she said, noting that last year visitors took 170.

A popular event, she said, was the Tree Climbing Institute’s 75-foot climbing adventure, which allowed participants to climb that far into a Douglas fir in the park. Flierl said sign-ups for that attraction were full by 11 a.m.

Youngsters also enjoyed scarecrow races, cake walks and apple bites and the parents enjoyed watching their kids play in oversized clothing.

Clown and face painter Miss Daffy, who was participating for the second time, said, “it’s a great a event to have, and we need more events like this for our kids.”

Visitors said they had a good time.

“It’s awesome,” said Cody Lobdell, 12. “I didn’t even know that they had it before.”

Vince Crites, 46, was participating for the first time with his sons, Taylor and Spencer.

“It’s something for the kids to do and for other people to get out and have fun,” he said.

Jason Lunde, who has been the Sankey Park caretaker for a year, said the park is a “great” venue for the festival.

“The way it’s put together, it’s surprising that the Harvest Festival hasn’t been running for more than just two years,” he said.

Other than the tape player malfunctioning when it got wet, there were few problems caused by the weather.

Flierl said city staff are already planning to do it again, likely on the first Saturday of October 2009.

The rain did let up for awhile about 11 a.m. Saturday to let some blue sky peek in. Otherwise, people just ducked under cover during the torrential downpours.

“Everybody in the crowd that I talked to just said ‘We’re Oregonians, we’re used to it,'” Flierl said.