Harvest Festival returns to middle school

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BENNINGTON — Harvest Festival at Mount Anthony Union Middle School was full steam ahead after being postponed and eventually canceled due to weather last year.

While the weather didn't quite cooperate on Friday, leading to several of the outdoor events being canceled, the event was at least able to take place. The 2015 festival was also forced inside due to inclement weather. The middle school has been hosting the annual fall-themed festival since 2013 as a counterpoint to the longstanding spring tradition, Patriot Challenge Day.

Event organizers Tracy Galle and Katie Sullivan said that they had to cancel some of the outdoor events, such as the traditional hay ride and closing bonfire, but others went off as planned in the morning, including a game of flag football (but using large, colored feathers instead of flags), a slingshot contest, a haystack search, apple cider making, and more.

Indoors, students could check out hallway bowling or a fall-themed Pumpkin Putt, courtesy of Hudson and Jay Burnell, as well as attend various lessons put on by guest speakers. Those included a drum workshop with Otha Day of Drum to the Beat!; a birds of prey workshop with Michael Clough of the Southern Vermont Natural History Museum; a talk on wilderness survival skills with Lt. Robert Kalinowski of the Bennington County Sheriff's Department, who spent 10 years on the state police Search and Rescue team, and Trooper Benjamin Barton of the Vermont State Police Shaftsbury Barracks who currently serves on the search and rescue team; and story time with professional storyteller Simon Brooks. The Bennington Museum also had a traveling program in the library.

In the sustainability classroom, students participated in a chili cook-off, although they were warned not to be too liberal with the spices, after several of the judges (teachers) were overwhelmed by the heat last year.

The Vermont Arts Exchange Art Bus also made an appearance. Working with MAUMS staff member and VAE art instructor Ann Webster-Lang, students wrote positive messages on painted rocks. Some of these rocks will join others that have already been placed in the school's garden, while others will be scattered throughout the school to be picked up by students in need of some positive words.

Reach staff writer Derek Carson at 802-447-7567, ext. 122 or @DerekCarsonBB

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