An historic magician, a silhouette artist, and new performers make the 34th annual Harvest Festival at The Farmers’ Museum in Cooperstown the most entertaining celebration of fall. Taking place Saturday and Sunday, September 15 and 16 from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., this event is a regional favorite, bringing together a wide range of performers, artisans, and exhibitors.
Enjoy free carousel rides all weekend, sponsored by Matt Sohns and family. Experience spinning and fiber art demonstrations, traditional 19th-century music, alpaca and canine agility demonstrations, historic games and races, horse-drawn wagon rides, craft activities for the entire family, artisan demonstrations, and an abundance of delicious foods from the season’s harvest.
Exciting additions to this year’s Harvest Fest include Robert Olson recreating the delightful tricks of a 19th-century magician. Wearing white pantaloons and a long tailcoat, Olson recreates the magic and fun of Richard Potter with cards, coins, ribbons, and boxes used over 150 years ago.
Also new this year, historical artisan Lauren Muney creates handmade traditional silhouette portraits of visitors. Silhouettes were the portraits of the common people before the invention of photography. Muney gives historical details while creating these elegant portraits, cut freehand with scissors in only two minutes.
The music of Andes Manta is a joyous celebration of daily life; traditional songs mark the blessing of a house, the birth of a child, and the cycles of planting and harvesting. Natives of the Ecuadorian Andes, the four Lopez brothers who make up Andes Manta play folk music on more than 35 traditional instruments, many of which they make themselves. Their debut at Harvest Festival also includes a pan-pipe making workshop.
For the first time at Harvest Fest, experience the bamboo dance performed by youth of the Albany Karen Organization. (The Karen people came to Albany as refugees from their homeland in Burma.) Celebrating cycles of harvesting and using native materials, the dance involves intricate footwork in the midst of rhythmical manipulations of the bamboo sticks on the floor.
Bonnie Gale, traditional willow basketmaker, demonstrates the making of a willow basket. Willow baskets were an important industry in 19th-century Central New York, centered on Liverpool, New York, and scattered through the region. Gale will also show the basic concepts of building living structures. Her living willow structures have been featured in House and Garden, Vogue and FiberArts magazines.
The Museum again welcomes members of the Southern Tier Alpaca Association. Owners and breeders display their animals and participate in numerous activities throughout the weekend.
Children will enjoy agricultural activities that include corn shelling and grinding; apple cider pressing demonstrations; rope making; apple bobbing; and 19th-century games in the schoolhouse. Not to mention the alpaca and canine agility courses. See the winners from this year’s Junior Livestock Show as they make their way through the Museum’s historic village during the Parade of Champions.
This year, free admission to the Fenimore Art Museum is offered to anyone with a Harvest Festival wristband, a wonderful opportunity to see six special exhibitions, in addition to the Fenimore’s permanent collection.
Admission to Harvest Festival is included with paid museum admission: $12 adults (13+), $10.50 seniors (65+), $6 children (7-12), children 6 and under and members of the New York State Historical Association are free. For more information, please visit FarmersMuseum.org/harvest.
Harvest Festival is sponsored by KeyBank, Haggerty Ace Hardware, and Matt Sohns and family. This event is made possible with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts, a state agency.