West River Valley fall festivals attract all ages


NEWFANE -- Along the Route 30 corridor this past weekend, families gathered at various fall festivals celebrating this time of year.

On Saturday and Sunday, the Newfane Heritage Festival was held on the historic Newfane Common. Vehicles were parked at various businesses and lots in town. It had been the 43rd year that the Newfane Congregational Church sponsored the festival.

"It couldn't have been any better," said New England Folk Art Owner Art Anderson.

He was a vendor who makes folk art using wood and other materials. It was his fourth year coming to the Newfane festival.

In retirement, Anderson has been able to focus on his love of wood work. He cuts down pine trees from his own property.

"Everything you see here, it was made from one log," he said.

Anderson pointed to a picture of a large pine tree that was cut down. After the tree comes down, he takes it to a local sawmill, where workers cut it into smaller pieces for him. Anderson then carves pieces to sell as art.

"I'm having a great time," he said. "It's the best job I've had in my life."

He traveled from Marlow, N.H., for the Heritage Festival, where there was plenty of food.

Much of the food consisted of pumpkin. There was pumpkin soup, pumpkin bread and pumpkin pie. In the same vein, there was also a large variety of apple products.

Local musicians performed on the staircase that leads up to the Windham County Superior Court building.

Williamsville resident Richard Gillis, owner of Mystic Metallurgy, was another vendor at the festival. He specializes in original steel sculptures that he fashions into wizard wants and guitar holders designed in various shapes and sizes.

This was his fourth year attending the festival as well.

"It's been the best year. I did really well," said Gillis.

Students from the Leland & Gray Union Middle and High School Players, the school's theater arts program, were painting faces. It cost $2 for one cheek and $4 for two.

Some of the members told the Reformer they thought they painted about 100 faces throughout the weekend.

There were also games and animals. On display were alpacas, which slightly resemble llamas but are not. These animals come from South America.

On Saturday, the Townshend Autumn Festival continued in its second annual tradition at the West Townshend Country Store on Route 30. It was created last year in connection with the non-profit organization, the West River Community Project.

"It's been really awesome," said West River Community Project Vice President Robert DuGrenier of the festival.

He made pizzas for attendees during the day, using a brick oven that members of the community made last year using local materials. When evening came around, the oven was used to cook chicken. The roasted chicken dinners were available through reservation only.

Every week, there are special prices for pizzas on Friday. The pizza is made using the same oven.

"It brings the community together each week," said DuGrenier.

President Clare Adams told the Reformer that the West River Community Project was started in 2009 to restore the Country Store.

"Our mission is to support local arts and agriculture," she said.

The Autumn Festival represents the time of year when the Friday Farmers' Markets held at the same location comes to an end and the winter arrives. There were events such as scarecrow decorating as well as pumpkin painting for the children.

Local musician Eve Notman, of Brookline, performed by a campfire. She had been invited by the festival's organizers. By playing at the event, Notman was hoping to increase her confidence for playing in front of people.

Aubrey Mullen, who runs the cafe inside the Country Store, said that although the sky was overcast, the fall feel outside attracted people to come out.

"We had a good crowd," he added.

The thrift store, upstairs in the store, assists the West River Community Project with funding the cafe and keeping the store open. Adams said the thrift store had a good day in terms of sales.

Chris Mays can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or cmays@reformer.com. Follow Chris on Twitter @CMaysReformer.


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