FORTY FORT — Children and their families filled the lot of Edward’s Garden Center on Saturday, kicking off the first day of its annual Fall Festival.
From face-painting and pony rides to food trucks and live entertainment, the well-known business offered a touch of everything fall and fun while helping support a local animal group.
For several years, the center has offered the event as a way to raise funds for the Blue Chip Farm Animal Refuge, offering to match donations made at the festival.
Business owner Edward Kopec said he’s adopted some of the 30 animals at his business from the shelter, and supports the no-kill site.
“Kids love animals, and it was a way to bring kids into the garden center,” he said. “We adopted a lot of animals from Blue Chip and it just seemed like the right partnership for us.”
Making his way around the garden, Diesel seemed to appreciate all the extra attention he was getting from festival patrons. The 10-year-old Golden Shepherd is up for adoption, and volunteers hoped he would find his “forever home” this weekend.
Blue Chip regularly brings dogs to adopt at the festival, said shelter volunteers Scott and Patricia Gozikowski, and the shelter could use as many loving homes as possible right now.
“We’re loaded,” Patricia said as she brought Diesel back from a walk.
The organization has taken in about 15 dogs who were rescued when Hurricane Florence devastated the Carolinas and other areas last week.
‘Step back in time’
As children followed the gravel pathways on a scavenger hunt, Susan Krulikowsky sat on a swing with her 2-year-old daughter, Melody. A regular patron of Edward’s and its fall festival, the Larksville resident said the space is both relaxing and reminiscent of past times.
“You almost kind of step back in time here, no one’s on their phone, there’s no TV,” she said as she looked around at other families.
Krulikowsky enjoys playing a role in keeping small businesses alive, adding she’d rather purchase items here than some big-box store.
After aiding Edward in hand-delivering lunch to their employees, Margy Kopec said the idea for a fall festival was two-fold.
“Originally, a lot of people said that they had a hard time finding our place,” Edward recalled. He thought the festival would help customers recognize the location of his business off the Cross Valley.
But for Margy, the festival is all about old-fashioned family fun.
“My favorite part is just seeing the family togetherness that you find here,” she said. “Everybody just seems to be really, truly enjoying themselves, and it’s just nice to see people away from their phones.”
The festival continues Sunday.