HOWARD CITY — This year’s Harvest Festival in Howard City brought in hundreds of visitors from across the area to share in the city’s annual autumnal celebration.
Many of the festival’s favorite offerings were back again and several new activities also were on the schedule.
Kids and adults were entertained Saturday by Patchwork Pear, the husband and wife team of Mat and Debra Emerick of Newaygo County. The two performed music, magic, juggling and even did some storytelling for the enthralled festival audiences.
According to Harvest Festival Committee Chair Cheryl Scott, this was the first year the duo has been featured at the festival.
“They’re part of our performing arts,” Scott said. “They are really fun.”
The festival also offered plenty of little, “off to the side” performances, such as Stormy the Balloon Twister, who, as the name implies, created balloon animals, hats and other gifts free of charge at the park.
Another free park event, and one that has proven extremely popular in past years, was the scarecrow making contest.
“We provide all the materials,” Scott said. “We have a wonderful group of volunteers and we supply the clothes, the straw, everything it takes to build your own scarecrow.”
Prizes were awarded to the top three scarecrows Saturday afternoon.
A major coup for the festival this year was a fireworks show Saturday evening, courtesy of Mattson Hardware in Howard City. The store sponsored the fireworks, along with a party from 4 to 7 p.m. at the store, as a way of celebrating its own 50th anniversary.
The annual duck and duckling race also drew many contestants. The Lions Club sponsored event awarded a first place prize of $500, along with several smaller prizes, to the lucky winners.
Local talent was again featured this year at the Hometown Idol contest, in which local singers and performers got a chance to strut their stuff before appreciative audiences.
“It’s a nice way to tap into the local talent in the community,” Scott said.
An arts and crafts show featured about 25 different artists and craftspersons and was one of the more popular events of the weekend. Also, though not “officially” part of the festival, the farmer’s market took advantage of the influx of visitors to the city.
Terri Fairmore, who made the trip down from Big Rapids with her children to attend the festival, said she tries not to miss any local harvest festivals.
“We usually do Howard City and the one they have in Rockford,” Fairmore said. “It’s just a fun way to enjoy the season with the kids.”