HALFMOON, N.Y. — Hundreds of young families from around the Capital Region visited Halfmoon Town Park last Saturday to enjoy the town’s Harvest Fest.

The annual fall event that celebrates the town’s farming history as well as the harvest season is a solid afternoon of music, games, and entertaining demonstrations that put an emphasis on letting youngsters and the young at heart have as much fun as they can handle.

This year’s event was held from noon to 4 p.m. Sept. 28, a perfect day of full sun with temperatures in the low 80’s and a slight breeze.

Harvest Fest is a free event where money only changes hands for food, refreshments, and purchases made from vendors.

Shortly after the noon start time lines of excited children with parents in tow formed quickly to pick out table-size pumpkins, get one’s face painted, have a temporary tattoo put on an arm, and have a special balloon creation request fulfilled by the balloon artist. On this day giant, colorful, spiders seemed to be a hot item with the latter.

Running a close second for the length of their lines were the pony rides.

Liliana Cioffi, 13 months, was placed in front of the mound of small pumpkins and softly told to pick one out. Within a few seconds her hands were tightly wrapped around a perfectly round orange gourd.

“It’s a beautiful day so we decided to come out,” said Liliana’s mom Courtney Cioffi standing next to her husband Joe. “We spent some time at the kids play area, then checked out the fire engine, and now were picking out a pumpkin. Next up is the petting zoo and tomorrow is apple picking.”

A few yards from the pumpkins were rows of open air games that allowed kids to play as many times as they liked as long as they were willing to wait their turn.

The games included bottle ring toss, Skee Roll, Stand-A-Bottle, slap shot, milk bottle toss, Fish Bowl, hoop shot, Frog Hop, and milk can toss. The latter was a homage to the town’s agricultural history and consisted of a 13-gallon milk can painted white and several yellow softballs.

In an open area between the pumpkins and the games juggler Brad Zupp entertained groups of children giving them instructions on how to perform different forms juggling mixed in with some youth-based comedy.

“Today were doing circus instruction,” he said between entertaining the groups.

After a short bit of instruction while seated in a circle on the grass, the group passed spinning plastic plates from one to another using a dowel as Zupp kept passing them plates to them as fast as he could.

“We want to get one passed all the way around without falling,” he said.

On the town park stage Dorothy Pingelski and the Halfmoon Hoppers entertained with demonstrations of line dancing. When the demonstrations were finished it was time for line dancing instruction.

“Right together, left together, 5-6-7-8, cross turn, step, together, right together, left together, toe drop, 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8, step together, and turn”.

After the group went through the progression of steps several times an updated version of Robert Parker’s 1965 hit ‘Barefootin’ was thumping through the air giving everyone in hearing distance a little boost in their step.

In addition to all those activities and the demonstrations the event featured a mobile climbing wall for young rock climbers, tractor-pulled wagon rides, aeronautical acrobatics from the Thundervolts R-C Club’s radio-controlled planes, and educational information/demonstration tables like the one from miSci (the Museum of Innovation and Science).

One of the more unique information stations at Harvest Fest was the Upper Hudson Tri County Animal Response Team trailer. The 25-foot trailer is sponsored by Saratoga, Warren, and Washington counties and responds to major disasters whenever pets are part of the recovery effort.

The trailer holds pet carriers, plastic fencing, ropes, leashes, and much more to help homeowners with their pets in times of disaster.

“If they call us, we’re always ready to go,” said Clifton Park Animal Control Officer Terri Cook.

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