Pumpkins carved with fantastical faces are expected to grin on Saturday when the inaugural Southampton SeptemberFest is paired with the ninth annual Harvest Day in Southampton Village.
A professional jack o’lantern-carving group, the Maniac Pumpkin Carvers, who will chisel intricate motifs into pumpkins in front of Village Hall, is expected to be a main draw for the festivities, which will also feature militia wagon rides, a sheep shearing demonstration and a sprinkling of art, music and food—in all, a scaled-down version of fall festivities after last year’s effort, Arts Harvest Southampton, was panned by many outspoken members of the community.
Main Street merchants in particular were vocal last year in complaining about a perceived lack of communication with the event’s coordinator, whom the village did not rehire this year, as well as the closing down of Main Street to vehicle traffic, and the selection of music. Merchants even complained that the words “arts” and “harvest” in the festival name evoked images of bales of hay surrounded by pumpkins, gourds and easels of artwork—but that the festival lacked all of that.
“The main lesson from last year’s event was, we tried to do too much,” Mayor Mark Epley said this week. “The focus this year has been to keep it simple, concentrated it on one day and concentrate all our energies on that.”
This year’s festival has been pared down to one day, from last year’s four-weekend itinerary. The final Saturday in September was chosen specifically to coincide with Harvest Day, the celebration of 19th century life with historical-themed events held each fall by the Southampton Historical Museum and Research Center. Musicians have been culled largely from the Concerts in the Park series hosted every summer by the Southampton Cultural Center, the mayor said. Also, Main Street will remain open to vehicle traffic for the duration of the event.
The festivities, most of which will be free to the public, will kick off at 10 a.m. with the Harvest Day fair at the historical museum grounds on Meeting House Lane. Harvest Day events are planned to run until 4 p.m. and include demonstrations by basketmakers, rug hookers, bookmakers and other artisans of bygone trades. There will also be Civil War reenactments with musket firing and drill demonstrations.
Children will be able to play old-fashioned games, help make hand-turned vanilla ice cream and venture a guess in a pumpkin weight-guessing contest. Sheep, llamas and alpacas also will roam the grounds for shearing demonstrations, while dancers from the Shinnecock Indian Nation, decked in traditional regalia, will perform, and the public is welcome to dance alongside them, according to festival spokeswoman Lynn Egan, who is also the director of programs and special events at the museum.
The lineup also includes horse-drawn wagon rides, at $2 per person, which will circle the block around the museum grounds, as well as sheep shearing demonstrations. The traditional blacksmith demonstration, however, has been canceled this year after a toppled tree leveled the old blacksmith trade shop during Hurricane Irene last month. The flattened building is expected to be mostly tidied up in time for Saturday, Ms. Egan said.
New this year is silhouette artist Deborah O’Connor, who will create silhouettes of children, adults and pets mounted on white or ivory archival quality card stock.
Meanwhile, Southampton SeptemberFest events are scheduled from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. They will commence with a juried art show at the Southampton Cultural Center. From 11 a.m. to noon, children’s entertainer Jester Jim will perform, juggles and all, on the Parrish Art Museum grounds on Jobs Lane. Face painting, juggling and balloon art activities are set for 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. on the same grounds.
Music by Jim Turner, Nick Kerzner, Ahmed Ali and Charles Certain will be performed at points from The Golden Pear Café to the Southampton Chamber of Commerce and the Parrish Art Museum grounds. A string ensemble will perform on the Parrish grounds at 12:30 p.m. Over at Agawam Park, afternoon activities include a chowder tasting contest, food and wine vendors and music by Leah Lauenti, as well as a New Life Crisis concert from 4 to 6 p.m. The Parrish Art Museum will offer a lecture at 3 p.m., titled “Celebrating the Manteo Sicilian Marionette Tradition.”
The Southampton Cultural Center will offer a jazz performance by Steve Watson at 6 p.m. and a live performance of “Of Mice and Men” at 8 p.m. By 7 p.m., carved pumpkins from the Maniac Pumpkin Carvers are expected to adorn village shops for a “pumpkin stroll.” Also during the day, the Rogers Memorial Library will have a book sale.