Friday, October 23, 2009

Pumpkin Fest and the Irvine Nature Center

I LOVE people who can take lemons and make lemonade! And the people who work and volunteer at the Irvine Nature Center in Ownings Mills, MD, are just those kind of people.

Last weekend was the Pumpkin Fest at the center, an event with fun crafts for the kids, educational hands on displays about animals, pony rides and pumpkins galore. This particular weekend also included pouring rain and a surprise snow shower!

However, the center's devoted little elves pulled off the weekend. They moved outdoor activities inside, shoveled snow and kept on going. I loved the stable, secure party tent the crafts were set up in, and the heater we had. It rained outside, but we were mostly dry and mostly warm!

Saturday, it rained pretty much all day. Furry Friends came out to say hi despite the bad weather.

Sunday started with a shock when I got to the center. There was snow on the ground. Not a little bit of snow, either, but a pile here, a pile there...

This was the entrance to the main arts and crafts tent for the kids. They left the snow there, and re-routed folks through our tent instead.

Very sadly, the food vendors had left their tents up overnight and came back to find a tangled mess. Wind, snow and thin metal bits don't mix.

The tents were so mangled that they couldn't take away the carcasses of the tent frames. They had to leave them right in the parking lot. I asked one of the organizers if I could take the tent tops, which were ripped, to recycle into shopping tote shops. She agreed and I carted them away. The center took the rest of the tents, to be able to strip salvageable parts for their own use.

Inside, snow have collected on some of the tent roof and they had been working to get it off.

They were scrambling to get everything water tight, ready for the kids to come and have fun. They had moved the pumpkin patch inside.

This was right next to a very Martha Stewart-like display of all different ways you could use pumpkins to decorate. From using small baby pumpkins as candelabra decor to pumpkin topiary, the ideas were fresh and inventive. I liked the pumpkin as flower holder.

There was a build your own scarecrow area. Lots of the fun combos to be had. I'm not sure who liked this best, the kids or the adults.

At the end of the day, I stopped by the nature center's store. This was a great place! Unlike a lot of nature stores I've been to, this was stocked with fun and fresh products for your garden, your life and even your bathroom. Organic body lotions and soaps, beautiful jewelry. Coloring books and bug identification cards for kids. I got a few Christmas gifts for the gardeners on my list, a truly unique item I'm sure they won't have, but will love. I can't say what it is, I don't want to spoil the surprise.

The grounds around the center looked great, even without bright sunshine. I could see a tepee from where I was. Looked fun to explore...

By the end of the weekend, the clouds finally broke away and that elusive heat ball, the sun, made an appearance. The sky was clear and the changing leaves were glorious.

It made me realize that I had not been able to really get a chance to explore the trails and the center. I'm looking forward to a time very soon from now when I can get back to check it all out.

Irvine Nature Center is open seven days a week, 9am-5pm. According to the Fall program, 'the trails, gardens, exhibits and nature store are open to the public free of charge.' However, they have a full program of events, some free and some with a small fee. Check out their website at

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