BOARDMAN — More than 1,000 people showed up Saturday, Oct. 2, for the return of the Morrow County Harvest Festival.

The SAGE Center in Boardman was the site for the eighth festival, which went on hiatus in 2020 due to the pandemic. Harvest Festival ran 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Breena Beck, SAGE Center assistant manager, said she was happy to bring back the Harvest Festival for its eighth year and set an attendance goal of 1,000.

Attendance neared that mark by 2 p.m.

“We’re so excited to be back in full force,” Beck said.

Pleasant weather — temperatures were in the 70s — helped make the Harvest Festival a success, according to Beck, and the vendors created fun for people. New vendors included sign makers, jewelers and clothing makers. Beck said she believes lockdowns may have inspired people.

“I think the quarantines have brought out the makers in all of us,” she said.

The number of returning vendors was another point of pride, Beck said.

Around 30 vendors — including general vendors, food vendors and volunteer groups at Kid’s Corner — participated in the festival. That was a drop from 2019, when 40 vendors set up, although Beck said the decline was expected as Harvest Festival was using only its outdoor space. Organizers closed off the inside area because of the pandemic.

Live music, mule-drawn wagon rides, food and children’s activities were present. There also was a pinewood derby race, which was new to the festival. Sponsors included Amazon Web Services, Lamb Weston, Threemile Canyon Farms and Wildhorse Resort & Casino.

Sierra Simmons, Irrigon High School sophomore, was among local 4-H members who were in attendance. Simmons was showing goats and cattle, which she described as “pretty fun.” She said she especially liked introducing the animals to small children who had never seen such critters up close.

Harold Rietmann, Ione resident and self-described hobbyist, brought his woodcrafts to the Harvest Festival. Among the items he was selling were earrings and necklaces. He said he started this work in the 1980s and began selling his products at events in 2010.

Rietmann said he has been to all of the festivals, since they began. He goes to local craft bazaars, and this one is “very good,” he said.

Gracie Krahn, Linn-Benton Community College sophomore and 2021 Oregon Dairy Princess Ambassador, was among the people who had a booth at the festival. She visited Boardman on her tour of state fairs, summer camps and other events. Krahn, an Albany resident, said she was having a good time.

“I love this event,” she said. “I’ve been able to connect with little ones and others, all the way up to grandmas and grandmas. It’s been an outstanding afternoon.”

Linda Mackey, owner of The Natural Maximum of Washington, boasted being at Harvest Festival each year since it began. A Prosser, Washington, resident, she said she was glad to be outside in beautiful weather. Most years, she said, the weather has been windy and unpleasant.

Mackey was at the festival with products, such as hats, made from alpaca wool. She raises alpacas, sheers them, sends the fiber away to be processed and then she makes products with the wool. She knits, weaves, crochets and felts.

As Beck greeted attendees and met with vendors, she said the 2021 Morrow County Harvest Festival was a big success. And she said she expects next year will be even better, with more space for more vendors and additional attendees returning from COVID-19 quarantines.

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