MANCHESTER — Wagon rides, a corn maze, tasty treats, and pumpkin carving — and all for a good cause, too.
With autumn in full swing, people looking for fall festivities turned out en masse to the Equinox Valley Nursery on Saturday for the annual Pumpkin Carving and Harvest Festival to benefit the Manchester Community Food Cupboard.
By mid-afternoon, the festival was still going strong. A gentle breeze blew, but the sun shone down from a cloudless sky to make it a relatively warm mid-October afternoon.
"You really hope for a day like today," said Jenn Casey, co-owner of the nursery.
It was the 11th year the nursery and food cupboard have partnered for the event, she said. All of the proceeds from the entry fee, hat decorating, and pumpkin painting will go directly to the Community Food Cupboard. The nursery and CFC will split the proceeds from the corn maze and hay rides.
Izabella Baker, 7, had cut out the mouth of a jack-o'-lantern and had just begun to carve out some teeth. Mom, Cayle Frazier, was coaching her on how to safely use a carving tool.
Baker said she likes to carve pumpkins — it's one of her favorite things to do this time of year. Frazier said it was a great day to spend mother-daughter time. And now that they both saw different types of scarecrows, they have ideas for how to make their own, too, she said.
"I really like to be able to do something outside," Frazier said.
Deb Moser, chairwoman for the CFC board, said she and other members are eager to spread the word about the organization. Many people may not know they can have access to the program for supplemental food, she said.
The center is a member of the Vermont Foodbank. More than 100 volunteers distribute 20,000 pounds of food each month. About 1,000 people across nearly 20 towns are served.
Equinox Valley already supports the cupboard through the Plant-A-Row for the Hungry program by providing fresh produce to the facility on a weekly basis in the summer.
Ava Badger, 6, was putting the finishing touches on a witch's hat she was decorating with the full range of arts and craft items: Cobwebs, moons and googly eyes, to name a few.
"And I got to go on the bounty house," she said with a grin.
Contact Ed Damon at 802-447-7567, ext. 111.