Harvest festival rings in fall

Amanda Anderson, Staff Writer

On an 81-degree, sunny day, the breeze carried the sweet smell of corn roasting over an open fire at Shelburne Farms.

Hundreds of people visited the farm to participate in the Harvest Festival Sept. 15. The Harvest Festival is one of Shelburne Farms’ many programs that build community connections through food and agriculture, according to their website. 

Junior Ani Hsu Obrock volunteered to sell lemonade at the Common Roots tent, a non-profit group that provides food education, she said.

“The Harvest Festival is a time for families and friends to come together to celebrate local artisans and performers, eat delicious foods and learn about the various organizations that make our community unique,” Obrock said.  

Caramel apples and cider donuts bobbed in the hands of children and adults as they got a sweet fix from the Shelburne Orchards tent. Orchard owner Nick Cowles smiled as he spoke, stirring a boiling cauldron of golden caramel.

“We love coming here. It’s not about the money. It’s about being a part of it all,” Cowles said. “It’s cool to see it become a tradition for people, and that makes me happy.”

Cowles and his tent have been part of the festival since its first year, he said.

“I’ve seen little kids getting their first caramel apple,” he said. “And from the look on their faces, they’re hooked.”

Kids sauntered into the children’s tent, full of crafts and live music, and exited sporting necklaces made of wood from the farm, covered with hand-drawn marker designs and faces painted with rainbows.

In the hands of many were corn cakes they made with Jen Cirollo, the director of professional learning at Shelburne Farms. She is also a current Ph.D student in the Rubenstein school at UVM.

“We changed our recipe [for the cakes] this year,” she said. “We are using an open-pollinated corn variety and everyone is raving about how these corn cakes are the best ever.”

Standing in the cool shade provided by the farm building’s shadow, people milled about licking ice creams from four different vendors including Lake Champlain Chocolates and the Scoop. A cool breeze provided relief from the sun.

Sam Stone, a UVM mechanical engineering junior, has worked at Shelburne Farms since June. As part of the grounds crew, he monitored the waste disposal at Saturday’s event.

“We are using corn-based cups and silverware to decrease our environmental impact,” he said.

From start to finish, the event brought smiles to faces and filled the stomachs of many. A truly spectacular way to celebrate the end of the summertime heat and the harvest.

The event will be held again mid-September 2019.