Thousands attend OMSP Harvest Festival

PELHAM – Thousands of people were able to spend the day learning about local wildlife and enjoying live music, vendors, hayrides and more at the 2017 Oak Mountain State Park Harvest Festival from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 14.

“The main purpose of the festival is to offer families something safe, fun and family friendly to do for the fall season,” OMSP events coordinator Anna Jones said.

During the Harvest Festival, the Alabama Wildlife Center gave an educational presentation about birds and the Oak Mountain Interpretive Center taught visitors about reptiles and amphibians.

“We bring these guys (the birds) out so people can meet these amazing feathered friends who are in our backyard,” AWC Education and Outreach Director Scottie Jackson said. “The thing we really hope to get across is a deeper and greater love for our wild birds.”

OMIC Director David Frings said the educational talks from his organization and AWC encouraged visitors to take part in caring for the environment and dispelled certain misconceptions about local animals.

“Reptiles are something that invoke a lot of fear from some people,” Frings said. “This gives people a chance to see that they’re not as bad as they’re construed.”

Visitor Jennifer Walker and her daughter, Mary, discovered the Harvest Festival last year while visiting the park for a hike. They had so much fun the first time that they made a point to come back, Jennifer Walker said.

“We really enjoyed the vendors and the hayride,” Jennifer Walker said.

“It’s just a lot of fun,” Mary Walker added. “I like the food, and I also like looking at all of the tents (vendors).”

Like the Walker family, Greenville residents Brian Blackmon and Shannon Hartley said they stumbled upon the Harvest Festival by chance. This is their first year to participate.

“We were camping at Oak Mountain and they told us at the front desk about the festival,” Blackmon said.

Blackmon and Hartley said they especially enjoyed the pet friendly, family friendly atmosphere the festival created.

“I love watching all of the little dogs walking around,” Blackmon said.

“I like the animals, the kids and the vendors,” Hartley said.

This year, Jones said the Harvest Festival placed a special emphasis on education, which reflects one of the major goals of programs, events and activities at OMSP.

“We have so much here for the public that is educational,” Jones said. “We don’t want to overlook that aspect.”

Judging by the turnout and the feedback she has gotten, Jones said she is glad to know that many had a great experience at the festival.

“So far, everyone seems to be having a great time,” Jones said. “We want to make sure that everyone is having a good time with us.”

More photos from the Oak Mountain State Park Harvest Festival can be found at Shelbycountyphotos.com.