Hundreds turned out on Friday for the hayrides, children’s crafts, good food and music of the annual Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary Fall Festival. The sunny noontime party was crafted years ago as a big follow-up to Thanksgiving, a homecoming, a Vineyard attempt to bring fellowship to the day after the big family meal.
“Fall Festival is community, a celebration of place and people,” said Suzan Bellincampi, director of the Massachusetts Audubon Society sanctuary. “We bring new and old friends together and celebrate what we feel is the best spirit of the season.
“This year, we went back to to thinking of the sanctuary as a family homestead,” she said. “Before it was Felix Neck, the land was farmed by native Americans and by three generations of the Smith family.”
There were animals behind gates. There were two quacking ducks, two goats and eight chickens on display and accessible for petting.
The air was autumnal, chilly compared to the warm Thanksgiving day this year. Yet the estimate on attendance was 650 people, the largest that the festival had seen in recent memory. “We know how many because we calculated it based on attendance money raised,” said Ms. Bellincampi. “Attendance was over the top.”
Bill Bridwell directed cars in the field dedicated to parking cars and almost ran out of parking spaces.
Patrons came hungry. Alan Gowell flipped hamburgers and rolled hot dogs at the warmest place at the sanctuary, in front of the grill. Volunteers served ten gallons of vegetable chilli and butternut squash soup. Popcorn sold out about an hour into the event.
The interest went beyond feeding humans. Children gathered and learned how to assemble bird feeders using natural key ingredients, birdseed and all-vegetable shortening.
Robin Zaragoza operated an electric drill press, hollowing out cavities in pieces of wood so that youngsters could fill them with the ingredients. Other youngsters made bird feeders that were even more simple, using pinecones.
Hank Osborn, of Edgartown, painted children’s faces and the line behind him kept him busy well into the afternoon.
The contemporary bluegrass band Ballyhoo provided background tunes.
Sally Barkan supervised the making of scarecrows using pants, shirts, and a lot of hay. The total count on scare-crows was 12, along with some other hay-stuffed body parts.
“There was a strong feeling of excitement, a sense of wonder,” said Ms. Bellincampi. “It was fun seeing all those fun faces — and we raised some money.”