First Autumnfest links community to college

Channeling the sense of community that usually develops during the Halloween season, Geneseo Merchants Association hosted its first Autumnfest on Saturday Oct. 20.

In spring 2011, Mark Pritchard of Swain Sports and GMA’s committee chair, revealed plans for sidewalk sales during Geneseo’s Parents Weekend. This fall, those plans came to fruition in a fully developed festival that was open to residents, students and parents.

On the sidewalks of Main Street, local vendors sold everything from art to apparel to jewelry. A small portion of Center Street was blocked off specifically for Autumnfest activities. The festival gave artisans a chance to sell their homemade crafts alongside prominent businesses.

Autumnfest provided a wide selection of foods including fried dough, freshly squeezed lemonade and kettle corn as well as other festive concessions. Activities included a 50/50 raffle and children who colored in Autumnfest-specific coloring pages were treated to horse-drawn hayrides.

The festival also included live entertainment from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. to showcase local talent such as a cappella group Southside Boys, local band Mammal is a Mountain and Geneseo Irish Dance. Each performance was well attended and gave students and residents a chance to sample groups they wouldn’t normally hear or see.

Geneseo students had an impact on Autumnfest’s success as well. The sisters of Sigma Delta Tau sorority helped to sell pumpkins, and other students helped to operate venues. Students also made up a large portion of potential buyers and spectators throughout the day.

Junior Corinne Marino said that she and her friends came to watch local musician Peter Donato’s performance. She also said she liked “seeing everyone out enjoying the music and weather.”

Sophomore Holly Kandel said she enjoyed “seeing the smiling faces of strangers.” She also said she came to “enjoy the warm weather and listen to the live music.” Kandel said she bought lemonade and was considering buying a patterned quilt before leaving the festival.

Due to the high volume of people from various parts of Geneseo, Autumnfest was a success. This success was shared not just by the vendors but also by GMA itself for bringing the community together for one pleasant Saturday.