CLIFTON PARK — The town of Clifton Park will celebrate its history as a farming community by holding its annual Farm Fest this weekend.
The 29th annual Farm Fest will be held Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
“It’s a celebration of the farms in the Clifton Park area,” Parks and Recreation Director Mike Woerner said. “It started as farms and now we have a few that are up and running, and we’re celebrating that they are still here, they’re still running.”
Farm Fest offers demonstrations and activities like apple picking, pumpkin painting, wagon and pony rides, a corn maze, cider donuts, live music, horses and sheep and more at Shepherd’s Hey Farm, Bowman Orchards, Riverview Orchards and Sunshine Meadow Nursery.
Other Farm Fest events will take place at the Clifton Park Halfmoon Library, Historic Grooms Tavern, Vischer Ferry Nature and Historic Preserve, the Vischer Ferry Fire Department, the Vischer Ferry General Store and the Clifton Park Senior Center.
“It’s supposed to be good weather, it’s a good weekend to get people out, and learn about Clifton Park and what we have to offer,” Woerner said.
Farm Fest will kick off its celebration of farming at the Clifton Park-Halfmoon Library from 9-10 a.m. There will be free cider donuts, apples and apple cider while supplies last. Local performer and educator “Grandma Tippy Toes” Diane Payette will entertain with farm-themed songs and stories.
The Vischer Ferry Fire Department Station #1 will hold a pancake breakfast Sunday morning from 8 a.m. to noon. The breakfast costs $10 for adults and $7 for children and children under five are free.
It’s important for the people of Clifton Park to support the farming community, Clifton Park supervisor Phil Barrett said.
“We have an agrarian history here in Clifton Park,” Barrett said. “We have some very strong working farms that add a tremendous amount to the economy as well as the culture of Clifton Park. We continue to do everything we can to support this very important part of our community.”
Clifton Park historian John Scherer will give a walking tour of the Vischer Ferry Historic District during Farm Fest.
The historic district was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1975 because it represented a typical upstate New York Erie Canal community, Scherer said.
Farm Fest celebrates the remaining farms, Scherer said. The opening of the Northway in 1959 caused Clifton Park to change from a more agricultural area to suburban, he said.
Robert Van Patten saw the Northway would allow people to live in Clifton Park and commute to Albany so he built the first subdivision in town, the historian explained.
“Robert Van Patten bought up a lot of farmland,” Scherer said. “In fact he bought four or five farms. He made Clifton Knolls in 1961. So his timing was perfect. People could buy a home in the country on a good-sized lot and commute to the city to work.”
People all over the nation were moving into the suburbs out of the cities at that time, Scherer said. As Clifton Park grew in the 1960s and 1970s, developers bought up a lot of farmland.
“We changed from a farming community to a suburb,” Scherer said. “We went from a population of about 2,500 people to one of about 40,000 today. It used to be a very rural place with a lot of farms.”