Today is fall festival, a traditional celebration at Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary in Edgartown. Every year since 1980, the sanctuary has held a day-after Thanksgiving event which brings together strangers and friends, young and old to sip hot cider and participate in an array of family-friendly activities.
While other people are busy shopping and scurrying about with holiday errands, at Felix Neck there is a different kind of tradition for those who want to get outdoors and work off some of that turkey dinner.
Sanctuary director Suzan Bellincampi and her core staff and volunteers have been busy preparing for this year’s event. Last year the festival drew about 600 people to sanctuary headquarters, where an old visitors’ barn is the hub of activity.
The festival runs from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. Admission is $3 for members of the Massachusetts Audubon Society’s sanctuary; nonmembers are charged $6. Children under three are free. Later on, after a three-hour break, there is stargazing at 6 p.m.
The event includes crafts, refreshments and live music.
This year there will also be hayrides, with a wagon pulled by two Clydesdale horses. Rides will take place from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Ms. Bellincampi praised her small army of volunteers for their work in making the festival a special event.
Many Island bakers will contribute desserts right out of their ovens. The acoustic Flying Elbows will provide foot-stomping live music. “The theme this year is celebrate the season, rejoice in nature’s gifts,” Ms. Bellincampi said. She added:
“Please be kind to the parking attendants. There is room for everyone.”
There will be many events for children, including face painting, paper making and other crafts. Adults will help put together a naturalist’s bird feeder, assembled from wood.
There also will be guided walks along the many trails on the 350-acre sanctuary that fronts Sengekontacket Pond. Felix Neck has its roots in a summer nature camp for children.
Before the festival begins, there will also be a morning bird walk led by Susan Whiting. The walk begins at 9 a.m. with a book signing event afterwards.
Visitors who haven’t been to the sanctuary for awhile will be delighted to see the newly renovated Discovery Room, a space where young and old gather for storytelling and instruction. The space, which usually holds an aquarium or two full of creatures, has undergone a vivid makeover. The walls are painted and there are new exhibits, some intended to spark one of the most powerful learning tools: curiosity.
Of course people are what make the fall festival a big success, but the setting at the venerable old sanctuary in the outskirts of Edgartown creates the magic.