Fitzpatrick unlocks key to the city during annual Harvest Festival

By Sarah Brown
Of The New Era/Lebanon Local

Clouds parted and the sky stopped crying just in time to invite visitors at the 17th annual Harvest Festival to enjoy a warm climate, good food and fun entertainment at Sankey Park in Sweet Home on Saturday, Oct. 7.
Renee Phillips said she brings her family to the event every year and has yet to see it get rained out.
“We get lucky every year (with weather),” she said.
Her daughter, Everlee Norman, 7, said her favorite part of the festival this year so far was painting pumpkins, but, of course, eating candy made the list too. She had yet to ride the horses, though.
Phillips said the festival is a fun family event, and made mention of the chili cook-offs.
“You have everything, for the kids and for adults,” she said.

Mahayla Spence, 9, shows her project pumpkin with its face on one side and a spider on the other.

The Harvest Festival was originally organized to celebrate the restoration of the Weddle Bridge and encourage the community to enjoy Sankey Park. This year, the City of Sweet Home also used the event as an opportunity to thank Fitzpatrick Painting and Construction for its hours of volunteer time painting downtown businesses.
Mayor Susan Coleman said they wouldn’t have been able to complete the “Herculean” task of painting 40 buildings without Fitzpatrick’s support, having helped paint 19 of the 36 completed buildings this summer.
“They truly exemplify the spirit of community,” Coleman said. “They didn’t just dip their brushes. They dove in head-first to this great vision. Fitzpatrick Painting and Construction didn’t just paint buildings; they painted smiles on the faces of residents and visitors alike.”
With gratitude, Coleman and City Manager Kelcey Young presented a key to the city to Tim Fitzpatrick and his team.
“This key symbolizes not just the doors it can open and the trust built, but also the limitless possibilities we can achieve when we work together,” Coleman said. “Your contribution is more than just paint on walls. It is a stroke on the canvas of our future.”

Children giggle while jumping and rolling in a bounce house.

The spirit of good tidings continued throughout the day as hundreds of people of all ages filled Sankey Park. Children played on bounce houses, adults perused multiple vendor booths, and music performed by Cascade Rye and Jobe Woosley filled the air. Kids were seen painting pumpkins, chomping on globs of fluffy cotton candy, and sticking their hands up Frankenstein’s nose for a yummy surprise. Face-painting booths and horse drawn wagon rides boasted the longest lines.
Seven-year-old Alexis
Dodson hopped off the horse-drawn wagon and swung around so her tulle skirt twirled while she waited for her best friend Alylee Begrin to unload. The two girls said the horses were stinky.
Alexis, wearing animal ears decorated with spring flowers, said the Harvest Festival is a fun holiday, “and you actually get candy, but Christmas is kinda more fun ‘cause you get presents and candy from the stockings.”

Judges, in the background, wait to taste samples from each of these home-baked pies.

The Park and Tree Committee, in partnership with HomeSmart Realty Group: Melchers Home Sales, hosted the pie bake-off contest, which has been part of the festival since its inception. Winners were: Jenesys Vian, apple pie; Melissa Kingery, apple pie; Henry Mitchell, vegan pumpkin pie; and Daren Black, walnut pie. Proceeds raised from the pies benefit park projects.
James Ragona, 12, was the youngest among the pie judges. He said his mother works for the city and “kind of volunteered (him)” for the job, but he seemed to indicate he might be interested in being a pie judge if it were an actual career.
“There’s some that looked really good and there’s some that tasted really good,” Ragona said about the experience.
Of all the entries, he decided he probably liked the peach pie with “kind of the abstract design” the best.
The Road Maggot Motorcycle Group, in partnership with Travis Luttmer of Country Financial and Radiator Supply House, hosted the chili cook-off. Peter Mynar won Judges’ Choice, while Logan Brown took the title for both Peoples Choice and Grand Champion. Proceeds raised from the chili tasting benefit the Sweet Home Kids Food Pak.

Murphy Andra looks down to see her dad, Collin, pick up a sample of venison chili.

Dad Collin Andra carried his 2-year-old daughter, Murphy, on his shoulders while he sampled each of the chili entries, giving her a great view of the festival while keeping her hands away from the little cups of hot goop. Though he seemed to be enjoying the tastings, he said the best part of the festival was all the stuff for the kids.
“The library’s booth with the trick-or-treating, that was the best,” Andra said. “They gave us a book; they did a lot.”
Even the dogs got to enjoy the festivities. While some smaller canines were seen walking with their owners, a couple bigger boys – Biggs and Gator – managed to sample some of the chili when owner Josh brought a nearly-empty cup down to nose level.