Bushels of visitors stopped by Mandy McQuade’s apple peeling stand, a sign of what could be to come in Pine Grove Mills.
Her audience typically consisted of a few children mesmerized by the peelers’ quick work of each apple — organizers hope the crowds will grow exponentially in 2018.
The first Pine Grove Mills Harvest Festival, which benefited hurricane victims in Florida and Texas, took place Saturday at St. Paul Lutheran Church, 277 W. Pine Grove Road. The event was an introduction to what is planned to be a weekly farmers market at the same location in the spring.
Ferguson Township Supervisor Laura Dininni, who is on the farmers market’s steering committee, said the community needs an event to help grow connections.
The festival’s response — a couple hundred people in attendance — was a hit for organizers and vendors.
“It was packed for the whole time,” volunteer Sally Kolesar said. “I talked to people who said they ran into other people they haven’t seen for 15 years. Everyone I talked to felt it was a success.”
Organizers said the event helped them identify a few areas to work on before launching the farmer’s market. Some of those areas include having more volunteers for setup, rearranging the booths for a more fluid flow of traffic, and increasing promotion through advertising and social media.
Next year’s farmers market will likely be held on Thursdays, a day without another event like it in the Centre Region.
The plan is for the farmers market to feature local favorite produce, while serving as an incubator for new vendors.
“In the spring we’ll contact everyone who came this time, and we’ll see if we can expand it,” Kolesar said.