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The Daily Northwestern

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Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Evanston Harvest Festival leaves residents falling for autumnal celebrations

Lily Ogburn/The Daily Northwestern
Evanston residents and their families picked pumpkins, made s’mores and tasted apple cider at Saturday’s Harvest Festival.

As Evanston residents strolled into Eggleston Park on Saturday, they were met with a range of autumn games, refreshments and activities at the city’s first Evanston Harvest Festival.

Presented by the Evanston Ecology Center, the festival brought residents together to enjoy the changing seasons with crafts, a pumpkin patch, live music and an array of activities for children. Hundreds of visitors flowed into the festival throughout the day. 

Though Downtown Evanston has hosted a similar fall festival in previous years, this was the first year the celebration was hosted by the city and the Ecology Center team together. According to Tarika Ranson, a program instructor at the Ecology Center, the group hopes to make the Harvest Festival an annual event to celebrate with the community each fall. 

Margaret Isaacson, conservation and outdoors division manager at the Ecology Center, said the festival had been in the works since the spring. 

“It’s a nice opportunity for folks to come out and enjoy some outside time, get out into the parks and meet some of the other community members and organizations,” she said. 

Evanston resident Weslie Bay enjoyed the festival with her family and even reconnected with old friends. 

Bay said the free pumpkins provided by Windy City Garden Center and the pumpkin painting activity were her group’s favorite parts of the festival. 

“We have a couple kiddos that are very passionate about fall and pumpkins, and we also love the Ecology Center,” she said. “I think it’s fun to center around seasonal events that everyone can invest in.” 

According to Isaacson, the festival was brought to life by Community Garden Coordinator Laura Nusekabel, Program Coordinator Ethan Johnson and the staff of the Ecology Center who ran many of the games and activities. 

The festival was also an opportunity to learn, Isaacson noted. Event staff provided tours of the Farmette — an educational garden at Eggleston Park — as well as the bee apiary and food forest during the festival. Representatives from Edible Evanston, Evanston Public Library, Mitchell Museum of the American Indian and others were also at the festival to supply information about their offerings.

Popular activities like the apple cider press and pumpkin bowling drew crowds of participants throughout the day.

Ranson helped operate another popular activity at Saturday’s festival — pumpkin painting tables. People of all ages decorated pumpkins they selected from the patch with colorful designs. 

“The Ecology Center has tried to reach out to varying communities within Evanston and not just one in particular,” Ranson said. “I think having events like this is welcoming.”

For resident Matt Ryan, the Harvest Festival was a “family-friendly” and “green” way to celebrate the autumn season. 

He thought the festival was a good way to “raise (ecological) awareness” while bringing residents together. 

“Kudos to the City of Evanston for doing (the festival),” he said. “We hope to see it even bigger and better next year.” 

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @LilyOgburn

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