Sherry Lockhart of Lichburg could not help but take a trip down memory lane as she petted some of the animals that a Worthington-based farm brought to town on Saturday afternoon.
She stroked the chin of Samson, a roughly two-year-old Brahman man, as she reflected on her days growing up on a dairy farm in McCain County.
Lockhart, 65, said, “I love him. You can’t see llamas and Brahman bulls in town, you know. Look at this. They’re all big kids. I’ll take that Brahman bull home. As much as they are so cute. … I miss the dairy farm.”
Pimps, donkeys, rabbits, yaks, cows, Asian water buffalo, and other creatures came from the Zoo and Wagon Rides at Country Flair Farm for the inaugural Leechburg Frightening Fall Festival in Riverfront Park.
The company is owned and operated by former Leechburg resident Heidi (Kasanicky) Cole and her husband, Mike Cole. She reached out to the Leechburg Area Community Association to see if her pets could be a part of the festival.
“It’s nice to be able to share what we’re doing right now with kids and people, and expose them to some weird animals,” said Heidi Cole. “It’s definitely fun.”
At least 200 people stopped by for the five-hour festival, which was co-organized by association volunteers Molly Hill and Doreen Smil.
They started making calls and recording people in late April. About 50 vendors participated, including 38 artisans and several food trucks.
“I never thought we’d get that many the first time around,” Hill said. We are so grateful that they decided to give us a chance. There’s nothing we really need to do (with the park). The place is just beautiful on its own by the river. Just dealing with organizing everyone and putting them in their places, lining up the help.
“We coordinate with Leechburg Schools to serve the community.”
About a dozen or so students from the Leechburg Area School District helped out, including sixth grader Eric MacDonald, who explained what he and his classmates had accomplished.
“We carried water for the animals,” he said. “We helped people set up all their tents and helped decorate the curtains. He helped us with any other general things. (It’s) going well. (It’s) hot.
“We love helping people. It’s good not to be with complete strangers. Lots of people want to be part of the community and sell things.”
Smeal said they hope to make the fall festival an annual tradition.
“That’s it for the business in Lichburg, for people to come in and come in (and) see what we have here,” Smil said. “We are one of the very lucky small towns that has a major highway that still runs through town. There aren’t a lot of empty storefronts. We are very lucky in that sense. Let’s show people what Leechburg has.”
“(We thought) what can we do? (Riverfront Park) is a whole other place that we haven’t explored yet, that hasn’t been used enough. Our first thought was, ‘Let’s do an autumn festival here.'”
One of the sellers was Kira Karpinski, owner of Double K Leatherworks and Anarchy Acres Farmstead in Gilpin. Karpinski, who is also part of the Lichburg Area Community Association, said she was excited about the opportunity to showcase her wares in a new way.
“It’s a new event and there are a lot of sellers,” she said. “It highlights an area of the city that we don’t use very often, so I think it’s a really great opportunity.”
Karpinski had several leather products as well as goat’s milk lotion, fresh Italian bread, and pumpkin pies. Her son, Cody, offered a hay ride through his antique tractor about every half hour.
Leechburg family members Kennamae Grantz, 7, mother of Dusty Grantz and father Rich Grantz strolled Riverfront Park as characters from the Scooby-Doo cartoon.
“We were at a kids’ Halloween party before this one, so we made a group costume for that,” Dusty Grantz said. “We love taking part in small town events. That’s why we love living in Lichburg.”
Kinami said she loved the petting zoo and saw the minion water bottles.
Vendors included Highlander Jerky, The Phoenix Nest, Melissa’s Crafts N’at Creations, Top Notch Tumblers, Pasta Bills, Rittner’s Farmhouse Bakery, Aunt Kellie’s Cookies, Xtina LOVEs Crafting, Pittsburgh Coffee Co. , the Gravy Griddle, and Haus’s BBQ and PGH Crepe.
The Society Association is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting Leechburg. Halloweenburg, Flowerpots/Beautification of Leechburg, Luminate Leechburg, and other events are hosted in town.
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