With hills boasting an array of colors in the background and a patch of pumpkins sprawled at their feet, families from across Schenectady County stopped by Mabee Farm Historic Site on Sunday to celebrate the season.
More than 1,000 people descended on Rotterdam Junction for the third annual Fall Foliage Festival, hosted by Schenectady County in partnership with the Schenectady County Historical Society. Most of the event-goers were families who took in an afternoon of live music, interactive exhibits and lots of animals.
Despite brief spells of rain, Sunday’s event was the best-attended Fall Foliage Festival to date, said Joe McQueen, Schenectady County spokesman, who added that in the past weather has influenced turnout.
“It’s sort of a problem of our own success,” McQueen said Sunday as about a dozen cars had backed up on Main Street in each direction waiting to turn into the event.
The heavy traffic persisted for much of the day. The event started at 11 a.m., and by about noon, parking at the Mabee Farm site was nearly full. An hour later, cars still clogged Main Street trying to enter the festival, with some simply parked on the side of the road. The festival concluded at 4 p.m.
The most popular aspects of the event involved animals. A petting zoo featured sheep and goats. Younger kids climbed atop horses for quick rides, while others took advantage of hay rides in horse-pulled wagons.
Another exhibit was focused on birds of prey, and drew observers who crowded around an owl perched on a man’s arm. Kids posed for pictures with the owl in the background as a falcon and other birds that had been injured and could not live in the wild rested nearby.
Later in the afternoon, a crowd gathered at the center of the festival when wildlife experts released a barred owl back into the wild.
Elsewhere, a border collie herding demonstration attracted a crowd to see a dog herd ducks through wooden gates. When the demonstration concluded, a few young children got the opportunity to try herding the ducks themselves.
“It’s just a nice event for the family. There’s a lot to do for the kids,” said one woman from Schenectady who had previously attended the festival with her family.
Several kids at a time zig-zagged through a mini maze constructed out of hay bales as parents watched. There was also pumpkin painting available and other craft stations where attendees could make necklaces or see other artwork.
In addition, there was live music throughout the afternoon and food and drinks available for purchase.
About 25 volunteers came together to ensure the event ran smoothly. They consisted mainly of Mabee Farm volunteers who help out at the site typically, as well as a handful of members of a Union College fraternity.
Reach Gazette reporter Brett Samuels at 395-3113, [email protected] or @Brett_Samuels27 on Twitter.