Cristina Shroyer leaned over a wooden bin to see compost inside.
Cristina, 2, was one of many curious children to stop at the CrickFest exhibit to get a glimpse of what was happening inside the container that was big enough to snugly fit inside a closet. Bugs crawled in between layers of waste, causing some children to back away, but Shroyer smiled as wide she could when she saw it.
The Penns Valley Conservation Association held its 12th annual CrickFest in Coburn Park on Sunday to celebrate its local waterways. Executive Director Andrea Ferich said 1,500 people attended last year and that the light rain overhead Sunday was appropriate for the event set along three creeks.
“I actually think it encourages more people to get into the water, because they’re already wet,” Ferich said.
Dozens of parents and children gathered where Penns Creek and Elk Creek meet at the edge of the park to kayak and take part in a rubber duck race every hour.
PVCA volunteer Andy Campbell released about 100 ducks in Penn Creek for the day’s first heat as children lined the creek’s bank.
Some even waded into the water to help collect ducks after they passed the finish line.
Cora Deitloff asked to sit on her mother’s shoulders to get a better look at the race as she hoped her number four duck would win, but felt more adventurous when she saw people her age in the water.
“I want to go in,” Cora, 3, of Miles, whispered into her mother’s ear.
Cora soon convinced her mother, Jennifer, to help collect ducks at the finish line.
Cora’s duck didn’t win, but that didn’t appear to phase her, as she went straight to her next stop: Mountainside Homestead’s animal exhibit, where children took turns feeding a calf milk.
Sam Eberhart, 7, with his three brothers Alex, Nate and Luke, said they rode a horse, fed a calf and walked a goat at the exhibit.
“Th goat kind of ran into the flag poles a lot and stopped to eat a lot,” Sam, of Mt. Lebanon, said. “I’d walk a goat again, but not that one.”
Parents said they came because the event is largely geared toward children learning.
Some exhibits, like the one run by PVCA board member Judy Heald, provided a hands-on experience for how to grow green life.
Nicki Messick, 12, made what he thought looked like a Chia Pet under Heald’s direction.
“Yeah, it’s fun,” Nicki, of Ferguson Township, said. “You put the seeds in the little net, put the soil on top of the seeds, tie the little net and put water in it, and it’ll start to grow in three days. It just grows on its own.”
Michelle and Mari Therrian said they came with their 11-month-old triplets to see friends and to enjoy local food.
“It’s nice to see good people and to see our friends, eat good food, and there’s good music,” Michelle Therrien, of State College, said.
Bobbie Dash and Kathy Shimp, who coordinated food for the event, said that six local farmers contributed enough food to feed 800 people.
Shimp said they increase the amount of food they serve by 25 percent each year.
Ferich said all proceeds from the auction of 92 items at CrickFest would go to the PVCA’s education program. She also said that bids for an evening at the Hummingbird Room in Spring Mills on Sept. 14 would benefit the PVCA. The top 20 bids submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org by Sept. 1 will each secure two seats for the exclusive event.
“It’s a really fun way to get out and celebrate the abundance of waterways in our local area and to teach people about the importance of our natural heritage,” Ferich said.