By Jill Keppeler
The Tonawanda News
Tonawanda News — If one group's autumn event is good, a fall festival hosted by multiple North Tonawanda entities can only be better.
North Tonawanda's first Fall Festival is planned from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday behind the Gersh Academy, 621 Payne Ave. The event, which will take place rain or shine, is sponsored by the NT Department of Youth, Recreation and Parks and the Christian Academy of Western New York with involvement from the NT Fire Department and other organizations.
Cindy Lichtenberger, principal of the Christian Academy, said they had their own school-wide fall festival last year, with a great response. That started the idea to create a fall festival for the community as a whole.
"We thought, 'Wouldn't it be fun? What a great thing to initialize in NT,' " she said. "If it's accepted by the community, maybe it can be a tradition."
The Fall Festival Craft Show will feature 20 crafters selling a variety of items, including handmade jewelry, seasonal items, candles and homemade jams. The festival will include carnival-style games (often with a fall twist), crafts, face painting and bounce houses compliments of Front Yard Flair.
Contests are also scheduled every hour, including the Scarecrow Relay, an adult/child wheelbarrel race and Candy Corn Catapult. Live music, including performances by the youth band Saving Silence at noon and Suzuki Strings at 1 p.m., is also planned.
"There's really something for everyone," said Alex Domaradzki, youth coordinator of the recreation department. "We're hoping it's going to attract a lot of people.We're really excited about it ... and hopefully the weather cooperates."
Tom Croop, North Tonawanda assistant fire chief, said when Lichtenberger approached him about taking part in the festival, he was already considering changes to the fire department's annual open house, which usually takes place this time of year.
"The more people you have at an event, the more opportunities I have to spread the word about fire prevention," he said. "Traditionally we do our own open house at the fire department. We put a lot of work into it. And depending on whether there is a Bills game or not, or what the weather is ... the turnout varies.
"You have to make things new, change things up. I want to expose this to the largest segment of the public I can, and piggybacking with this is a way to do that."
The department will present many of the usual events from its open house, including fire extinguisher training, a fire safety area with information and tips about planning fire escape drills in the home, an appearance by the underwater dive rescue team, carbon monoxide detector information, a car-wreck demonstration including the Jaws of Life at 12:30 p.m. and fire truck tours and basket lifts throughout the day.
"We're going to have representatives from the volunteer companies in our department there, to get them some exposure," Croop said. "A lot of people in our community probably don't know how our department works. This will give them a better understanding.
"It will allow us to get our information out and hopefully pass our safety message on to the adults and kids in the community."
In addition to the fire department, other local organizations will set up information booths and present demonstrations. A dog agility show will take place at 11:30 a.m., with a K-9 Unit demonstration at 2 p.m.
The Red Cross Bloodmobile will be on present for those who wish to donate blood, while the North Tonawanda Interchurch Food Pantry will host a coat and food drive. Those attending the festival can bring a coat and/or non-perishable food items in exchange for free game tickets.
Events also include a basket raffle, a book fair station hosted by Books Are Fun and a pumpkin patch. Refreshments will include hot dogs, chili and baked goods, as well as items from J&L Boulevard BBQ.
Admission to the festival is free. Food and some games or activities will require the purchased tickets.IF YOU GO • WHAT: North Tonawanda Fall Festival • WHEN: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday • WHERE: Gersh Academy, 621 Payne Ave., North Tonawanda • COST: Admission is free. Food and some games or activities will require the purchase of tickets. • FOR MORE INFO: Email adomaradzki. email@example.com or call 695-8520, ext. 5510.