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Harvest Festival offers history, fun

Above: Heritage Acres in Fairmont is putting on its annual Harvest Festival this Sunday.

FAIRMONT — Apple pressing, corn shelling and riding tractors can all be done at Heritage Acres’ annual Fall Festival. The free fun and educational event takes place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. this Sunday at Heritage Acres, located at 507 West Lake Ave. in Fairmont.

The Harvest Festival takes place every third Sunday of October and President Jerry Simon said it’s been going since 1975.

The Harvest Festival and Heritage Acres’ other main event, Threshing Bee, which takes place in August, are special because all of the buildings are opened up for the occasion. Simon said otherwise they’re only open by appointment.

Buildings include a school building and farm house which came from Trimont, a chapel and depot which came from Welcome, blacksmith shop, granary and elevator and a barn.

First and foremost, Simon said Heritage Acres is an Agricultural Interpretive Center for keeping the old ways going and showing kids what it was like farming with horses in the 1900s.

The Harvest Festival includes a host of activities. It will start with a ecumenical church service in the old church building on site at 10 a.m. A soup and sandwich lunch, which is a fundraiser for Heritage Acres, will begin at 11 a.m.

“The gals will be cooking in the house on the wood stoves,” Simon said.

Steve Lang will be perform beginning at noon in Prairieville, which houses various old-time stores.

Several vendors will be set up for the Harvest Festival and Simon said new this year will be a Native American display. Simon said a Native American herbalist will talk about different edible plants and show how to make moccasins.

He said they’re going to set up the teepee before noon so people will be able to watch it go up, whereas last year it was set up from the start.

Of course the Harvest Festival is centered around harvesting the crops. A corn and bean harvest with antique tractors will take places well as shelling corn.

“Timberlake’s bringing some apples for us to press,” Simon said

He said children can see how apples are squeezed to produce juice and they get to sample it, too, which Simon said is always a big hit.

There will also be wagon rides and a blacksmith on site doing demonstrations.

Simon said the Harvest Festival is typically well-attended, with 200 or more people coming through each year. Simon said they get generation donations so they’re able to open Heritage Acres up to the public for events like this for free.

“We have sponsors for the music, blacksmith and vendors,” Simon said.

He said the seeds for the crops are also always donated and the people working at events are volunteers.

It takes a lot of maintenance to preserve the history that’s at Heritage Acres. Simon said that work days at Heritage Acres are every Thursday from 9 to noon, at which time work on machinery, maintenance like painting, tending to the garden, trimming trees and mowing is done.

Some upcoming projects that need to be done include re-siding the bathroom, painting the water tower and putting a new roof on it. Simon said some of the other buildings also need to be re-painted.

“If you don’t they’ll just wither away,” Simon said.

Simon said there’s a seven member executive board that takes care of the place. The board holds monthly meetings. The public has also supported Heritage Acres.

“Everything that you see out there is donated,” Simon said.

He said a lot of it has come from people who have cleaned out their house, barn or granary and called to donate. Simon said there are five or six tractors out there that were given to them and they’re in the process of fixing them up.

“There’s a lot of history out there,” Simon said.

Simon acknowledged that a lot of people like to take photos at Heritage Acres, hike around the 40 acres and use the garden on the grounds.

“We have quite a few groups that use the place. We have weddings out there, too. It’s a good place to go hang out,” he said.

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