Section: Features

Fall Harvest Festival brings in the season with music, games

Fall Harvest Festival brings in the season with music, games


Skies were blue and temperatures in the upper 50s at the Brown Family Environmental Center’s (BFEC) Fall Harvest Festival last Saturday— the perfect backdrop for apple air bobbing, pumpkin decorating and cider pressing. While Kenyon volunteers staffed many of the activity booths, local farmers, artists and merchants also looked to tempt visitors with their wares. Before the festival ended at 4 p.m., 1,802 attendees — among them students, parents and Knox County residents unaffiliated with the College —- spent their afternoon celebrating all that the Ohio autumn offers.

Kenyon students volunteered at the festival’s many activity booths, providing fun for adults and children alike. Michaela Brydon ’21 — who spent three hours at the BFEC — enjoyed her first time volunteering. Brydon met many Kenyon students and said she “got to talk to a lot of the people in the community” through the experience.

Beside the free activity booths, vendors filled the festival grounds. Audra Christine, an artist living and working in Mount Vernon, displayed engraved bullet shells and prints inspired by the artwork of her previous home in New Mexico. Cindy Ruckman, from McFarland’s Llama Farm just west of Mount Vernon, impressed guests with a collection of woolen goods and three llamas — one llama, named Edmund, was only 10 days old. Benji Ballmer, representing the Columbus-area community supported agriculture (CSA) program Yellowbird Foodshed, spoke with visitors about opportunities to invest in local agriculture and join the nearly 1,000 customers of their program. 70 of these customers pick up their produce at the Farm on Kenyon Road, where Ballmer and his family live. Also present at the event were OurGarden from Danville, Broken Oak Farm and Apiary from Gambier, Nimby Acres from Mount Vernon, and the Kenyon Farm, among others.

All in all, the vendors showcased a thriving local food and craft economy. The musical guests at the festival spoke further to the vibrancy of the local arts scene.

Goslee Reed & Kean, a folk duo consisting of singer-songwriters Sarah Goslee Reed and Kerry Kean, performed for the first two hours of the event. Like the other artists present, the two have strong ties to the local area. Goslee Reed lives in Mount Vernon, and Kean lives in Kent, Ohio. Though both have performed separately for many years, the two played their first show together in 2012 after meeting on the Ohio folk music circuit. The duo released their self-titled debut  album in 2018, recorded in Gambier’s own Quarry Chapel. Their set consisted of a variety of bittersweet original songs, written by either Goslee Reed or Kean.

Following Goslee Reed & Kean were Citrus Orchards, a four-member, Columbus-based folk band. Though the members of Citrus Orchards met during their time as students at the Ohio State University, two of the band’s members are native to Mount Vernon. Because one of the band’s members worked for the Knox County Park District, BFEC Post-Baccalaureate Fellow Maddie Morgan ’18 managed to contact and book the band. Their set consisted of a variety of original songs and two covers. After Citrus Orchards, singer Grace Fuisz ’19 came onstage to replace the previously scheduled folk band Handsome Devils at the last minute.

Morgan organized much of the festival, inviting first-time exhibitors and purchasing advertisement spots for radio and newspaper.

“It was really incredible to connect with people from the community,” Morgan said. “I feel it links me a bit more with Knox County and Mount Vernon, and allows me to feel like this is a place of home.” With the largest turnout in its history, the Harvest Festival certainly showcased a lively Knox County community, one which Kenyon students and local residents alike get to call home.


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