2016-09-26 / Front Page

Perfect weather helps Punkinfiddle welcome autumn

Celebrating the many colors of fall
By RYDER SCHUMACHER Journal Tribune Staff Writer

Children play with a multicolored parachute at the 14th Punkinfiddle Family Festival Saturday at the Wells Reserve at Laudholm. 
RYDER SCHUMACHER/Jour nal Tribune Children play with a multicolored parachute at the 14th Punkinfiddle Family Festival Saturday at the Wells Reserve at Laudholm. RYDER SCHUMACHER/Jour nal Tribune WELLS — Sunny skies complemented by a brisk breeze and turning leaves marked a quintessential fall day during the 14th Punkinfiddle Family Festival, held Saturday at the Wells Reserve at Laudholm.

And what an eventful day it was.

The festival, hosted annually by Wells Reserve, featured dozens of crafters and artisans, from giant pumpkin carvers to wool spinners and violin makers. Children competed in tug-of-war matches and hay sack races, and took a breather with a family hayride or scarecrow crafting.

All the while, guests were enthralled with the atmosphere.

“We really like the festival’s setup. It’s so informational, and the kids have so much fun,” said Bettina Sietz of Durham, New Hampshire, as her daughter Corina, 6, patted a nearby rabbit in a pen. “This is just one of the most beautiful spots, and somehow the weather’s always perfect. It’s the perfect fall day.”

With the smell of cider doughnuts and fresh-pressed apples in the air, the new season captured guests’ senses. Duffy’s Tavern and Grill of Kennebunk served a lunch of burgers, hot dogs, veggie burgers and chicken salad, and Arundel Ice Cream supplied dessert.

The Cider Donut Co. of Wells returned after its doughnuts became a sensation at the 2015 festival. The company doesn’t have a storefront – instead, it travels to festivals or fairs, setting up operation onsite.

Owner Matt Jarvis said last year, they weren’t fully ready for the demand.

“Last year was non-stop production. We definitely tried to come better prepared this year,” said Jarvis. “(The doughnuts) go fast, though; people eat them as fast as potato chips.”

A sheep herding demonstration attracted a large crowd at both its 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. showings on the south lawn. Joe Grady, owner of Two Toves Farm in Harpswell, directed his border collies around a fenced-in area as they zipped behind a small herd of sheep, corralling them into different corners while obeying Grady’s commands. The performance brought out cheers and applause from the audience.

Corey Hadley of South Portland and his son Sam, 3, were at the festival for their second straight year.

“We come here for the animals,” said Hadley, as Sam stared at the sheep through a fence. “That was the first time he saw the sheep herding, but he loved it.”

Aside from sheep, rabbits, horses and dogs, the festival also featured lamas, ponies, goats and chickens, all of which children were allowed to pet.

As the day’s activities kept attendees entertained, so did events on the Laudholm solar-powered stage. Brooklin author Kim Ridley took the stage in the morning with a reading of her children’s book on estuaries, “The Secret Bay.” Fiddler Corey Husic of Cambridge, Massachusetts, followed with an energized performance that compelled festival-goers to get up dance.

South Portland bluegrass outfit Seagrass opened with a cover version of the folk tune “Wagon Wheel,” and the Celtic music duo Laurel Martin and Jim Prendergast of Boston and New Hampshire, respectively, closed the show.

All proceeds from festival tickets go toward keeping the area around the Wells Reserve and its estuaries clean and accessible to visitors, according to Nic Charov, chairman of the Wells Reserve and president of the Laudholm Trust.

Charov, who has been with the Wells Reserve at Laudholm since 2012, said the festival can be seen as a celebration of many occasions.

“To have this historic place and its 21st-century mission bound together and celebrated here each year, it’s wonderful,” Charov said. “This is our way to give back to the town that helped start this place and to celebrate the community that we live in.”

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