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Youngsters on the prowl enjoy eerie activities at 35th Autumn Festival

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FINEVIEW — Carter T. and Delany J. Allen — both 2 — stood at the base of a cider mill loaded with apples Saturday, watching a volunteer turn its mill crank to create a stream of freshly squeezed juice that filled a bucket below.

“Drink it up!” teased their grandfather, Thomas R. Allen, whose seven grandchildren, from 5 months to 5 years old, attended the 35th annual Autumn Festival at Wellesley Island State Park’s Minna Anthony Common Nature Center. The 67-year-old Rochester resident said Allen family gatherings are hosted every year during the fall weekend at his cottage on the island.

“It gives the kids something to grab everywhere,” he said of the festival, which drew an attendance of 1,590 people Saturday. Youngsters took part in a scarecrow-making contest, had their faces painted with spiderwebs and watched a live bird display hosted by master falconer Rick West.

Their parents enjoyed walking the nature trail, purchasing crafts from local vendors and listening to live music from an array of artists who played the violin, cello, guitar, drums and hammered dulcimer.

Standing among a field of scarecrows hung on wooden crosses was a local outdoor painter, who practiced his craft on an easel with a palette. The easel was stationed next to a scarecrow featuring a woman adorned in a pink nightgown, cradling an infant in her arms. A young boy, perhaps 2, tugged at the train of the scarecrow woman’s gown.

Robert P. Hedden’s painting included minute details of the scarecrow, capturing the pink curlers wrapped in her hair. The painting will be hung up at the center for display.

“I’ll pick two or three scarecrows to paint,” said the Wellesley Island resident, who stood in the shade provided by an umbrella affixed to the easel. “All I have to do is holler at the kids to carry my stuff when I’m ready to move to another scarecrow.”

Hordes of children also took home painted pumpkins Saturday. Couple Anthony J. and Amber R. Augliano watched their daughters, Adilyn J. and Ariana J., paint gourds by dipping brushes in water colors.

“I remember coming here as a kid. It was similar, but there are a lot more people now,” said Mr. Augliano, a Clayton native who is a second grade teacher at LaFargeville Elementary School. Mrs. Augliano is a speech language pathologist at Alexandria Bay Central School District.

“They’re growing up on the river, like us,” he said.

Nearby, 6-year-old Evan M. Belfield requested to have a spiderweb painted across his face by a volunteer.

“Awesome!” he said as a small mirror was held up for him to review the outcome.

Evan’s niece, Mary P. Marcon, said she and her two sisters made the trip north from Syracuse to attend the festival, staying at a seasonal house their parents own in Theresa.

“There’s always fun stuff to do here,” she said. “We’re going on a hike next, then making a scarecrow.”

Proceeds from the festival, hosted by the Friends of the Nature Center, will go toward purchasing school supplies for field trips, maintenance projects for hiking trails and educational programs at the center. New hands-on activities will also be started at its children’s room.






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