Photo Gallery | Berkshire Botanical Garden's 82nd annual Harvest Festival
STOCKBRIDGE — Zinnia Gagnon's weekend at her grandparents in Albany, N.Y., included a jaunt east to Berkshire Botanical Garden.
The 7-year-old girl, her older brother Cooper and grandmother Harley McDevitt on Sunday made their first-ever trip to the garden's annual Harvest Festival.
Zinnia stopped at the face-painting booth to put on a tiger puss and then spent about ten minutes petting and feeding the baby goats from Gray Raven Farm in North Adams.
"They're fuzzy. The black one is really fuzzy," she said
The youngster from Keene, N.Y., near Lake Placid was one of the more than 10,000 people from throughout the Northeast to shop, be educated and be in awe of the breath-taking beauty the not-for-profit offers at the corner of Routes 102 and 183.
Proceeds from the ticket sales, silent auction and giant tag sales benefit the garden's educational programs.
The occasional light rain/drizzle may have kept the crowd down a bit on Sunday compared to a very busy Saturday, but the two-day autumnal event is a big draw no matter the weather, according to the organization's chairman, Matt Larkin.
"People will always come because we've been doing this for  years," he said Matt Larkin.
"We've had everything from snow to hail to 90-degree weather," added Executive Director Mike Beck.
Live music, demonstrations such as repotting house plants, growing garlic and the history of cider making and plenty of locally made farm products for sale kept visitors occupied until the very end.
"[In recent years,] we've been upping our Farmers Market as you'll see a lot of artisan products from around the county," Larkin said.
From just across the Berkshire border in Hillsdale, N.Y., Graylight Farm made its Harvest Festival debut selling pasture raised pork products from heritage pigs.
In business for just about 18 months, Martha and Eric Suquet, who also produce farm-fresh vegetables, are slowly making a name for themselves in the Berkshire region's ever expanding grow local/buy local market.
"We're trying to find more outlets for our meat and those who appreciate quality meats," said Martha Suquet.
Graylight was a fixture at the Lee Farmers Market with hopes of being more of a draw there in 2017.
"Next season, we'll grill our sausage for everyone to taste," she said.
For Elaine and Bill Markham, they've been Harvest Festival regulars for 30 years. The owners of Mill Brook Sugarhouse in Lenox rely on such community-style events to promote and sell their maple syrup.
"We're small and don't have a lot of retail outlets," Bill Markham said. "There is only so much we can [sell] by word of mouth."
Educationally, Jennifer Lee has been a fixture at the festival demonstrating the Native American skill of making baskets from tree bark.
The Plainfield woman, who can trace her roots to the Narragansett tribe, spoke of how tree bark was a vital natural resource to New England's original settlers.
"Wigwams were often made of chestnut or elm — the bark often two inches thick," she noted.
The Children's Wishing Tree is one of the more popular attractions, with hundreds of tags tied to the branches, with some messages tugging at your heart strings.
"I was ready to cry after reading some of them," said Eleni Delaporta.
The Attleboro woman's boyfriend, Kevin Anfield, couldn't resist writing down his desire for all to see.
"I wish I did what I was supposed to," he wrote.
Contact Dick Lindsay at 413-496-6233