Leetsdale Autumn Fest has 'a lot of heart'

| Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Judy McGurk uses her own experiences each year as inspiration as she organizes the Leetsdale Garden Club's Autumn Fest.

“It's my memories of excursions to apple farms and buying cider and finding the perfect pumpkin for the kids that inspire me to bring a little bit of that to our town park in Leetsdale,” said McGurk, club president.

“I love seeing people come together to enjoy this event. It may not be the largest fall festival, but we work hard to give it a lot of heart.”

The eighth annual event, to be held Sept. 14 at Henle Park, has new items and activities while keeping some of the favorites, McGurk said.

This year, participants will have the chance to enter a raffle to win a $50 gift card at the end of the day. Visitors can stop by the club's table for their tickets. One ticket will be given per adult guest.

Fern Hollow Nature Center and Old Economy Village volunteers will lead children's crafts and hand out information for adults.

The club will feature items from designer and illustrator Karen Sandorff, such as notecards, recipe cards and calendars. McGurk said Sandorff draws her inspiration from native Pennsylvania plants and flowers and accompanies her work with complementary recipes.

The club will sell perennials and specialty pumpkins in an assortment of shapes, sizes and textures — and in various shades of brown through cream-color — along with the traditional jack-o'-lanterns.

A gift basket raffle will feature Tastefully Simple; Party Lite; Christmas and Pittsburgh Steelers items; and a signed, matted and framed 8-by-10 limited-edition print of Old Economy Village by Sandorff. A lottery ticket wreath will be raffled.

Sewickley Confectionary will sell ice cream, and new items in the club's concession stand will be homemade pierogie and halusky, along with hot dogs, kielbasa, sandwiches, desserts, snacks and beverages.

Other vendors will sell Italian foods, pastries and fudge.

The club will sell decorated birdhouses with an autumn theme and have a pumpkin patch featuring pumpkins, gourds and mini-pumpkins, corn stalks, straw and Indian corn from Yecks Farm in Economy Borough.

Garden club volunteers will provide a “paint your own pumpkin” station where pie pumpkins will be available for children to decorate. Party Ponies will offer pony rides and a petting zoo.

Vendor items for sale will include nail art, natural personal-care products, ribbons and wreaths, Pittsburgh Steelers items, Christmas trees, Santas, sleds and ornaments, hair-weave ties, custom embroidery, crocheted children's clothing, dolls, stuffed animals and dog toys, tie-dyed clothing and scarves, and fairy doors made of clay for fairy houses.

Chiropractor Eric Day of Sewickley will be on hand.

McGurk said proceeds will go toward a scholarship fund started several years ago for graduating Leetsdale Quaker Valley High School students for two- or four-year programs.

Students apply in the spring through the high school. They must qualify academically and demonstrate a commitment to furthering their education. The scholarship can be used for any program and does not have to be horticulturally related.

Funds also are donated to members who are interested in taking classes related to gardening or horticulture.

Joanne Barron is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-324-1406 or jbarron@tribweb.com.

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