Event offers pumpkin patch, hayrides, food, silent auction for Columbia County families

SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: NICOLE THILL-PACHECO - The annual Fall Festival hosted by St. Frederic Parish in St. Helens offers hay rides, a pumpkin patch, silent auctions and more for community members. The event serves as a fundraiser for the church as well.The annual Fall Festival at St. Frederic's Parish in St. Helens offers the perfect opportunity to welcome the fall season and enjoy quality time with loved ones.

The festival, which is in its sixth year, offers hayrides, horse rides, a pumpkin patch, food vendors, kid-friendly games, photo opportunities, silent auctions and more, all with no admission cost.

Carmen McMahon, owner of Oregon Hill Farms and one of the organizers, explained that the festival has always been hosted as a community event.

"We have always maintained the 'something for everyone' approach. There is no admission charge, games are low cost and everyone enjoys them," McMahon noted by email. "We offer photo spots and other activities and a safe environment. The hayride has been sponsored by the Heimueller Family and every ride is free. The horse rides are sponsored by the Columbia (County) Rodeo Court as a fundraiser for their activities."

In the mid-2000s, McMahon originally hosted a festival at her business. Over the years, interest in the pumpkin patch began to grow and, in 2013 after a short hiatus, she relaunched the pumpkin patch as a fundraiser event to benefit the parish.

"At the time (in 2013) there was no fun place for the community to go to celebrate the season and buy their pumpkins, especially for those that don't have the transportation, etc," she noted. "The Festival is a wonderful place where everyone can find something to enjoy and a place to relax."

The event, which offers a laid-back, fun environment for attendees, also serves a greater purpose: fundraising for St. Frederic's. The church is in the middle of a capital campaign to help pay for restoration costs for the decades-old facility, McMahon explained. Money collected to repair the physical building in turn benefits the faith services, classes and youth activities the parish offers.

"This Festival is a major fundraiser for the parish. Not only does it help with the day-to-day expenses, it provides opportunities for the community. St. Frederic Parish assists the community with a food pantry, emergency services, and other immediate necessities when there is no other outlet to turn to," she added. "All persons are welcome to enter through the doors of our parish."

Despite all the hard work it takes to get the fall festival up and running, McMahon said she is looking forward to the event.

"Although it is an incredible task, when all is said and done, there are plenty of smiles, high-fives, and compliments," McMahon said. "To see the joy that the children experience and to see the families and friends come together for the day, it is heartwarming. They are making memories and our parish had a hand in that!"

St. Frederic Parish is located at 175 S. 13th St. The festival will be held Saturday, Oct. 6, from 9:30 to 4 p.m. and Sunday, Oct. 7, from 10:30 a.m to 4 p.m.

Buccini Hall and the festival grounds are wheelchair accessible.

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