With the crisp fall air making its way into the rolling hills of Elbert County, towns throughout the area are holding festivals to bring communities together before the onset of snow.
The Town of Kiowa held its third annual Kiowa Harvest Festival on Oct. 9, bringing families from all over Elbert County and beyond to partake in country fall activities and experience the area’s beauty and Western vibe.
Laura Jakos and her daughter Genevieve Jakos traveled from Aurora to experience the Kiowa Harvest Festival this year. “We try to do at least one country-type activity every year,” said Jakos. “We were really excited to see all the fun games set up for the kids.”
Because the festival was so large, it was divided into two separate locations. The vendors and free pumpkin patch were situated behind Forty Mile Feed off Highway 86, while more than 20 games for children were spread throughout Nordman Memorial Park. Festival-goers were able to hop on a horse-drawn wagon to make their way from one location to another.
The Town of Kiowa donated hundreds of pumpkins for attendees to take home for free. The pumpkins were strewn about the front portion of the Forty Mile Feed property. Bales of hay were placed throughout to allow for family photo opportunities.
“We love it here!” said Lorin Ringor, a local mom perusing the free pumpkin patch with her son. “I love the activities for kids, the little shops … there is a variety of everything.”
The day was extremely windy, resulting in a chaotic scene as vendors worked quickly to keep their tents from flying away. Regardless of the gusty winds, the vendors seemed excited to be at the Kiowa Harvest Festival this year.
One of the local vendors at the festival was Lori Hammett of Grammy’s Brittle & More. During the event, Hammett stood proudly under her tent as she welcomed customers to sample some of her century-old recipes passed down from her grandmother.
“My grandmother started making her peanut brittle in her kitchen in Minnesota in the 1920s,” said Hammett. “I’ve been making it since I was a little girl and now I’m the only one in the family who can still make it.”
While vendors sold their wares on one side of the festival, children were enjoying fun games and activities at Nordman Park on the other. When entering the park, the kids were given a punch card to keep track of each activity. As each activity was completed, kids were given candy and they received a punch on their card. If the children completed 20 games, they received a prize of their choosing.
The activities ranged widely. Some were simple games like ring toss sponsored by the Elbert County Republican Party and giant Connect Four sponsored by the Pines & Plains Library. Others were more involved activities, like tattoo painting sponsored by the local American Heritage Girls organization.
The American Heritage Girls tent was swarmed with kids getting painted tattoos by older girls in the organization. Group leaders explained that their participation in the Kiowa Harvest Festival is one of their ways of giving back to the community. The Elizabeth-based troop has 33 members and has been active in the area since 2017. Overall, their goal is to build women of integrity through faith, service and fun.
Overall, the Kiowa Harvest Festival was a roaring success. One of the organizers, Debbie Ullom, shared that this year’s event saw record turnout and that the Town of Kiowa hopes to hold the Harvest Festival for years to come.
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