Falling into community
Estacada gathered to welcome the fall season with a tradition in Harvest Market Square.
During the annual Harvest Festival on Saturday, Sept. 28, attendees played games, listened to local bands, met animals at a petting zoo and took hayrides around town.
"It's a family friendly event. That's our goal," said Rob Gaskill of the Downtown Estacada Commission, the group that organized the festival. "We want to have a hometown event."
During the afternoon, the Casimir Effect and O Brother provided a soundtrack while attendees connected with vendors and children painted pumpkins and searched for candy in haystacks.
Michael Swenson, who created balloon animals, enjoyed the festival's positive atmosphere.
"Adults and kids ask for balloons, and it's good to see a smile on everyone's faces. It's a lot of fun," he said.
Aaron Neldner, who drove a tractor for hayrides, appreciated also seeing everyone having fun.
"It amazes me how much everyone likes (the hayrides)" he said. "The kids and the smiles and the giggles — that's what it's all about."
The Harvest Festival also offered several competitions, including a chili cook off and a bike and buggy decorating contest.
Dennis Weber was triumphant in the chili cook off, and young Estacada residents Cait Hansen, Silas O'Bryne and Wesley Lawyer took home honors for their autumn-inspired bikes. They said they enjoyed decorating their bikes and earning prizes.
Meanwhile, attendees connected with Estacada High School agriculture students and their animals at the festival's petting zoo, a new addition to the event. Agriculture teacher Kyra Forester noted the event was valuable for the students in the program, which launched this year.
"When they're with their animals, sometimes it's the easiest time to talk to people because they're passionate about sharing," she said. "It's a win-win. The ag kids get this experience, the ag program gets to be in the community and the community gets to see cute animals."
Chris Shook, who was at the event with his Fire and Knives Food Truck, appreciated the close-knit atmosphere.
"It's a small town, and everyone's so nice. A lot of these people are my regular customers, " he said.
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