Providing families and residents with educational opportunities, food and a glimpse into the past, the Millbrook Marsh Nature Center celebrated its 13th annual Historic Harvest Festival on Sunday.
With puppet shows, animal displays and artifacts from throughout Pennsylvania history, there was something for everyone at the festival. And with live music and games, no one was left with nothing to do.
Several early kitchen items from the Centre Furnace Mansion House were available to examine, and society coordinator Sharon Childs was on-hand to lend her expertise.
As one of the Centre Region’s most recognizable historic spots, the mansion is the home to a recreation of 19th-century life as well as the Centre County Historical Society. Owned by the society, the house formerly belonged to the ironmaster of the area, Moses Thompson.
Childs also coordinates events for the Boogersburg School, a one-room schoolhouse built in the late 1800s that has been preserved by the society as it looked at the turn of the century. Also owned by the society, supplies used by the children of the time were presented, including pencil cases, personal chalkboards and books.
Outside, a red-tailed hawk from the Raptor Center at Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center gathered a crowd. Hosted by center intern Emily Anne Moore, the bird sat obediently on her arm as she educated the group on hawk facts and points of interest.
The hawk, which wasn’t given a name, was shot in the wing and needed care, she said. Because of its inability to fly far, it remained a permanent guest of the center and an ambassador for the wildlife of the region.
“We take raptors, reptiles and amphibians to schools and festivals to teach about their natural history and conservation,” Moore said, “so people can see what animals are in their backyard.”
The event was planned by a group of Penn State students as part of their recreation, parks and tourism management class, special event instructor Kathleen Raupach said. The students collaborated with Millbrook Marsh, as part of the Centre Region Parks and Recreation department, to prepare for the event.
“The students have been working all semester to get prepared,” she said. “They’re in charge of planning and promoting the event, and coming up with the different activities.”
The event has grown over the years, she said, with the first event drawing about 150 people. Now, depending on the weather, it’s not uncommon for about 800 to attend.
Penn State senior Brian Eifert said he and his fellow students, eight in total, planned about 40 activities for the day. Planning begins around the first week of the semester.
The eight (students) begin working on marketing, sponsorship and logistic committees, he said, before coming together during the event to supervise 60 volunteers throughout the different areas including food, parking, education and activities.