Oak Mountain State Park celebrates Harvest Festival

Published 5:05 pm Wednesday, October 18, 2023

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By BARTON PERKINS | Staff Writer

PELHAM – The skies were clear at the annual Oak Mountain State Park Harvest Festival on Saturday, Oct. 14.

“This year, the weather was gorgeous, and I know that we probably saw around 5,000 people come out throughout the day,” said Chloe Funkhouser, events and marketing coordinator of Oak Mountain State Park. “We’ve probably been doing the Harvest Festival for maybe 10 or 11 years. We try to make it exciting and fun for the whole community to come out and experience together.”

The festival took several months to plan out thoroughly, including numerous vendors and activities for people to participate in all over the park.

“Oak Mountain State Park is the largest state park in Alabama,” Funkhouser said. “We’re blessed to have a huge space that accommodates people from all different communities around us.”

This year, the Harvest Festival was filled with activities, including food trucks, bouncy houses and even local artisans selling their wares.

“One of my favorite parts is the local artisans and vendors because you get to see so many different people,” Funkhouser said. “It’s so cool to see people make these products. We even have one lady that makes homemade fairy houses.”

Partner organizations, such as Red Roof Barn and the Alabama Wildlife Center, also participated in the Harvest Festival by offering horse rides and interactions with rescued birds.

“Red Roof Barn is a rescue horse program that also operates within our park,” Funkhouser said. “They’re a great partner of ours along with the Alabama Wildlife Center.”

The Alabama Wildlife Center gave several “raptor talks” during the course of the Harvest Festival, where attendees had the opportunity to meet and learn about local birds of prey the center has rescued.

Funkhouser noted that the Harvest Festival allows residents of Shelby County the chance to experience more of the Oak Mountain State Park than they usually do, as it exposes people to different programs within the park.

She also commented that part of what makes the Harvest Festival successful is the desire to continue improving and adding to the events at the Festival.

“We always try to add new things,” Funkhouser said. “Sometimes we wind up taking them away if they don’t work, but I think it’d be cool for next year if we could have a local musician come out and play music for our guests. Something like Bluegrass could be cool or fun.”