Rain doesn't deter turnout at weekend Hatfeild Fall Fest
Fairgoers pack the Hatfield Farm Museum barn during the Hatfield Fall Festival Sunday. The festival featured an antique car show, crafts, food, artist demonstrations, and more. Purchase photo reprints »
Kathryn Kothe Roszko, left, of CyclePottery, shows nine-year-old J.J. Kroll of Florence how to use a pottery wheel at the Hatfield Fall Festival Sunday in Hatfield Center. The festival featured an antique car show, crafts, food, artist demonstrations, and more. Purchase photo reprints »
Barbara Eves, right, of the Weavers' Guild of Springfield, shows 11-year-old Julia Martins of Springfield how to weave using a Structo loom during the Hatfield Fall Festival Sunday in Hatfield Center. The festival featured an antique car show, crafts, food, artist demonstrations, and more. Purchase photo reprints »
From left, Larry Sears of Chester, Esther Thayer of Milford, N.H., and Wally Thayer of Hatfield perform during the Hatfield Fall Festival Sunday in Hatfield Center. The festival featured an antique car show, crafts, food, artist demonstrations, and more. Purchase photo reprints »
Larry and Paula Mattison of Florence share an impromptu dance to the music of Wally and Esther during the Hatfield Fall Festival Sunday in Hatfield Center. The festival featured an antique car show, crafts, food, artist demonstrations, and more. Purchase photo reprints »
HATFIELD — Even though overnight rain and morning showers left the ground slippery, festivalgoers from around the Valley flocked to Billings Way on Sunday for the Hatfield Fall Festival.
From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Billings Way was lined with local farmers, artists, Boy and Girl Scouts, and antique cars that showcased life in Hatfield from both past and present.
“It’s too bad it’s rainy, but it’s a pretty good turnout,” said Hatfield resident Melissa Pearl, holding the hand of her 2-year-old daughter, Emily, who had enjoyed the free face painting and was eager to see the animals that some exhibitors brought with their displays. “It’s nice that the community is getting together for this.”
Looking at the crowd inside the Farm Museum, the site of many activities depicting life in the early 20th century, Patricia Cady, Hatfield Historical Society president and a festival organizer, called the turnout “wonderful,” given the weather. Nearly every exhibit had visitors looking on, many chatting with the demonstrators.
“I think they like to see what other people in Hatfield are presenting,” Cady said, noting that festival organizers aim to keep to local artisans and producers.
While there had been a parade of antique vehicles planned for 10:30 a.m., that part of the festival was canceled due to the rain. “That’s the unfortunate part,” Cady said. Still, several antique cars were parked on the lawn for display.
At the entrance of the Farm Museum, Chris Rachmaciej and her mother, Joan Start, sold popcorn made from corn grown at Pioneer Valley Popcorn in Hatfield. The family has been in the popping corn-growing business for three generations, said Rachmaciej, of Ashfield. Her parents, who live in Hatfield, were the first, and her 13-year-old son, Dominic — who has earned the title of “CEO of Taste Testing” — is the third.
“He does have a really good palate,” Rachmaciej said.
On a small table next to their booth, visitors could get a feel for the popcorn-making process with an ear of popping corn and a hand-operated sheller to remove the kernels.
“That is how popcorn grows,” Rachmaciej said to a small group of children who came by.
Also among local producers were Sally Winings and her husband, Steve Touloumtzis, who sold cider made from apples from their backyard orchard in North Hatfield, where Winings said they grow around 20 apple trees and 20 pear trees.
To give a glimpse of how medicine used to be made, Hatfield resident and retired pharmacist Joseph Pelis demonstrated in the Farm Museum how pills used to be made using a mortar and pestle to grind up herbs. Pelis retired from his position as director of pharmacy services at the University of Massachusetts in 2003.
On the lawn, many festivalgoers could not help but pause for two pairs of oxen — two large, two small — brought by Tom Jenkins of Westhampton. Jenkins, a ninth-generation “ox teamster,” said he mainly uses his oxen for what he describes as low-impact logging. The larger pair, both 4 years old and weighing around 1,500 pounds, are named Rock and Star. The smaller, younger pair are named John and Deere.
Oxen are neutered bulls that are at least 4 years old, Jenkins explained. But festivalgoers wearing red did not need to fear: That bulls run when they see red is an “old wives’ tale,” he said. Bulls are colorblind; they become agitated and run when something is waved at them, but it doesn’t matter what color, he said.
There to help him on Sunday were his two children, Alice, 8, and Sam, 6. Sam, Jenkins said, is a 10th-generation ox teamster, but Alice prefers her horse.
Another animal that attracted attention was a 2-year-old goat, named Little Girl, next to the booth for Prospect Meadow Farm, a therapeutic farm in Hatfield. A group of young children attempted to summon her out from under the truck of Prospect Meadow Farm manager Erik Debbink, but had limited luck.
“She’s a bit shy. This is her first show,” Debbink said.
Shawn Robinson, director of Prospect Meadow Farm, said that if the weather had been more favorable, they would have brought more animals and set up a small duck pool.
“But the kids are loving the goat — and the candy,” Robinson said, referring to a bowl of candy at their booth.
Winings, who has sold cider at the festival for eight years, said she was pleased at the crowds in light of the rain.
“I really thought we wouldn’t get anyone,” she said. “It’s a good turnout for a rainy day.”