Crowds turn out for Garden Harvest Day despite weather

Crowds turn out for Garden Harvest Day despite weather

The event was touted as a Garden Harvest Day to celebrate autumn's bounty, but with temperatures in the mid-40s, a chilling wind and thoroughly soaked grounds, autumn wasn't the season called to mind.

Nevertheless, hundreds of people turned out for the annual event at Kings Gap Environmental Education Center.

"Considering the weather conditions, we're very pleased. Last year was a record crowd and it was almost too crowded," Scott Hackenburg, center manager, said.

"Less is actually easier. We've had a slow, steady crowd and that's good for the families, for kids, for the demonstrators," he added.

The annual garden festival is the largest single-day event Kings Gap does all year, he said.

Last year, the event drew about 1,400 people over five hours.

Corn cracking

Among the hardy souls who braved the cold was Alex Miller of Shippensburg University. A member of the Circle K Club - the college version of Kiwanis - Miller and his clubmates were out aiding demonstrations.

For those who think cornmeal only comes in white bags on the supermarket shelves, Miller demonstrated the cast-iron, hand-turned cranks that shelled the corn cobs and then turned the shelled corn into ground meal.

According to the sign on the table, corn shellers and grinders reached the peak of their popularity in the late 1800s. They were perfected in the 1870s when smaller, more light-weight versions were developed that were able to shell a bushel of corn in five minutes.

Five-year-old Troy Dunn, possessed of the boundless energy of small children who are seemingly immune to the cold, energetically cranked the corn cracker, reducing a large pile of corn kernels to coarsely-ground corn meal in a matter of moments.

"It was fun," he crowed. "It was a lot of cranking. I wanna do it all the time," he added.

Crafts

Among the offerings for all age groups were demonstrations of loom-weaving by Denise Mancuso of Greythorne Crossing. The farm raises alpacas and angora rabbits, whose wool she turns into yarn. Some of the wool they hand-dye she said, after shearing, carding and combing it.

Mancuso, a school librarian at Boiling Springs, was using a new model loom based on historical models. Unlike true historical looms, hers collapses for easy packing and carrying.

The process to set up a loom takes about an hour, she said, and for demonstrations, she chooses back-and-forth patterns that allow her to talk while she demonstrates.

Casey Reeder, a Master Gardener, demonstrated leaf-painting.

She joked that she picked it because it "wasn't the bug toss."

A three-year Master Gardener, which requires volunteer hours, Reeder patiently demonstrated the painting techniques to children (and adults) who wanted to make bookmarks or notecards.

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