Camillus gets set for first fall harvest fest

Camillus Mayor Mike Montero grew up in Staten Island, so his youth was not rife with the pumpkin carving contests and hot apple cider of harvest festivals. Since moving to Central New York, they've really caught his eye.

Montero and his wife, Jennifer, will host the village's first annual Fall Harvest Festival from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. this Halloween, Oct. 31, at Munro Park.

"It actually all started when I was driving through Cortland last year and they had banners that said 'Pumpkin Fest,'" said Montero. "And I said, 'Why not us?'"

Mike and Jennifer, along with Tina Sakran, owner of Shear Impressions on Main Street, have been planning since August for the family-focused event, which will feature a pumpkin carving contest, an apple and pumpkin pie contest, a costume contest, food, games, crafters, a talent showcase -- featuring Halloween songs performed by the mayor's Onondaga Youth String Ensemble -- raffles, a bounce house, a hayride and more.

Proceeds from crafter and vendor fees - $20 and $40, respectively - will go toward Munro Park. To sign up, call the mayor at 729-2881.

To qualify for the pie contest, the pie's crust must be homemade, with only fresh apples or canned, if not raw, pumpkin. Dishes must be disposable.

Like the pies, pumpkins must be brought to the park ready for judging.

About 15 judges will be on hand for the pumpkin pie, apple pie and pumpkin carving contests, including a few local chefs and Montero, who will judge for all three.

"Mike has to do all three whether he likes it or not; he's the mayor," Sakran said.

Sakran has experience organizing fall harvest fests from her work the Syracuse Park Association. When Montero, a fellow Main Street business owner, asked her to help out, she didn't hesitate to say yes.

"I said sure, why not," she said. "And I love it down here; it's adorable. It's a really nice village and I think people need to take a second look."

For a full listing of festival events, visit http://villageofcamillus-ny.gov/html/events_season.html.

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