DALLAS TWP. — A fall harvest festival held on the grounds of Dallas High School on Sept. 16 brought residents of all ages out to enjoy food, entertainment and fellowship, marking the start of the autumn season.
To Back Mountain Regional firefighter John Merrifield, it was also a chance to teach young people about fire safety and to get to know them in a positive setting during a “touch a truck” presentation.
“It’s been great seeing big smiles when I put a big helmet on a little head,” he said. “When youngsters get familiar with our equipment, they’re not afraid of seeing us in it in an emergency.”
Merrifield and fellow fire fighter Ethan Snyder are both sophomores at Misericordia University, part of a program that provides a chance for them to gain experience in the health care/emergency service field before they graduate.
It’s also an opportunity for them to get know people in the community and to build relationships with each other.
“Ethan and I are partners. We trained together as freshmen,” said Merrifield. “We’ve become good friends.”
Across the parking lot, Rochelle-Jade Scott, also a student a Misericordia, peered into a butterfly habitat with her daughter Sky, 6, and provided information to attendees.
Scott, part of the university’s Mothers with Children program, said volunteering at the event was a great opportunity to give back to the community while enjoying activities the event had to offer.
“I love the festival,” she said. “Its great to see the community coming out to support each other and I love the home-grown produce.”
The event also provided a variety of food vendors for those who came hungry or who wanted to take food home for later.
Norm Darling from Darling Farms offered a variety of produce, many of which reflected the orange and golden hues associated with the harvest season.
“Some of the produce is going to be used for decoration, such as the ornamental corn or some of the colorful pumpkins,” said Darling. “Some of it, like our squash, are favorite items on the dinner table this time of year.”
For car lovers, Hi Lites car club hosted a car show that offered over 60 antiques, muscle cars and hot rods.
Pointing at a poster listing nonprofit organizations the club assists, Ed Smith said, “That’s what it’s all about.”
“We’re celebrating our 20th anniversary continuing to help the community,” he said.
Smith said membership in the club keeps him young.
“I had a decision to sit on the couch or get out and do something,” he said, smiling. “I’d rather be doing this than sitting in front of the television.”
A crowd favorite was a turquoise 1964 Cadillac with 429 engine.
Smith said just as the club has a variety of vehicles, so does it have a variety of members.
“We have members buying tiny T-shirts for their newborns,” he said. “And we have 40-year members that have been in the club for a while, encouraging new members.”
Gina Major, heading up the entertainment portion of the event, lauded this year’s performers on the main stage, which drew many attendees to the area to enjoy song, dance and even actors.
“The entertainment is getting better every year,” said Major. “There’s a variety of ages and talents that make their way to the stage and delight people attending.”
Rich Fufaro, event chairman, said the event, in its 14th year, continues to grow, drawing over 3,000 people.
“Great crowd this year, our second year at the high school,” he said. “Wonderful weather, entertainment, terrific crafts, food and both Kunkle and Back Mountain Fire Companies.”