September 10, 2012


Freeville fest benefits church

Village heralds fall season with crafts, food and games


Joe McIntyre/staff photographer
Marge Lacey of McLean finds Japanese lanterns and a tree-trunk clock for sale Saturday at the Freeville Harvest Festival on the elementary school grounds.

Staff Reporter

FREEVILLE — Leaves crunched underfoot and the wind gusted against vendor tents Saturday at the Freeville Harvest Festival.
Donna Fisher, an organizer of the festival, said the event has been going on for about 35 years, though the exact number of years is hard to pinpoint.
The festival is sponsored by the United Methodist Church, with proceeds going to the church and to local community services like The Advocacy Center in Ithaca and the Tompkins County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, said the Rev. Dale Austin.
Austin said the festival typically draws in about $3,000 to $4,000.
Fisher said the festival is an important outlet for the community. She said the school Parent Teachers Association used to have a spring festival but that was supplanted by other forms of fundraising.
“So it is that much more important to continue this and have it going for the community,” Fisher said.
On Saturday, various craft and food vendors held onto their tables and hoped their tents stayed in the ground, as the wind gusts picked up in the morning.
Joanne Madigan, who was selling crafts like handmade place mats and purses with her friend Sherry Scott, said she was glad for the extra tarp supporting the tent. Though it was her first time showcasing her handiwork at the festival, Madigan said she would return in the future.
“It’s nice, I’ll come back. The people are very nice,” said Madigan, adding she just started doing shows with Scott last summer.
The two, Madigan a Groton resident and Scott from Trumansburg, sew on their free time as both also have full-time jobs.
Place mats and coasters were sold to visitors in the morning, Madigan said.
Scott said the attention is good for exposure and their egos.
“They say everything is pretty and if you sell something, even better,” Scott said.
At the SPCA table, Allison Myers of Freeville and Bob Sherwood of Dryden educated the public about the importance and availability of spay/neuter programs and answered any other questions people may have about their pets. A 1-year-old neutered orange male cat sat quietly awaiting adoption while some rambunctious kittens vied for the attention of onlookers in another cage.
Myers said opportunities to display the animals like the Freeville Festival offers, are important because it gets people thinking about adopting. Even if an animal is not taken home that day, the person may return soon to adopt the animal, she said.
Sherwood said sometimes it’s just a matter of having the “right animal in the right place at the right time.”
A disc jockey broadcast tunes over a stereo system and some onlookers swayed to the music.
Fisher said the festival has had live bands in past years. Fisher attributed Saturday’s morning sparse turnout to the weather, which was windy with warnings of thunderstorms throughout the day.
“People are holding off, not knowing what to expect,” said Fisher, adding some crafters did not come because of the wind.
But Fisher was still planning fall-related activities for the children to participate in all day long, like an apple hunt and a corn cob toss.
Cortland resident Peter Martin wandered through the exhibits with his 4-year-old son, Micah, and 10-month-old daughter, Abigail. Peter’s wife, Ashley, was a craft vendor, displaying wall ornaments and handmade headbands and children-themed trinkets.
“It’s a great location and a lot of the locals come out. The harvest festival has a reputation in the community,” Peter said, adding he let his children play in the nearby park and that they would get baked goods before leaving.
Freeville resident Emily Alexander was walking her neighbor’s dog when she happened upon the festival. Alexander was curious about what the vendors had to offer when she came across the activity.


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