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Fun on the farm at Clifton Park festival

Families looking to feed a horse, pet a sheep, take part in a pie-eating contest and take a pony usually have to make their way to a sprawling state or county fair to fit all those activities into one day.

Clifton Park residents will find that a full spectrum of agricultural fun is close at hand on Sept. 12 and 13, though, during the town's 17th annual Farm Fest, which is held at locations around the town and surrounding area. This year's theme is supporting farms since 1838, a nod to the town's rural roots that still hold strong today.

"This is a celebration of our history, really," said town Supervisor Philip Barrett. Agriculture and its related industries have been an integral part of the town since its founding, he continued.

For many, farming may not be the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of Clifton Park. For many, it's a shopping destination easily accessible by the Northway. But if one strays from parking lots and strip malls, it's not hard to find open spaces.

"There's a lot more to Clifton Park than what might meet the eye," said Barrett. "We're blessed in this town to have many working farms and it's just fun setting out this time of year and exploring what our farms have to offer."

Nine locations around the area will be participating in the two-day festival, and something unique is being offered up at each one. At Bowman Orchards on Sugarhill Road, visitors will be invited to taste new varieties of apples being developed in conjunction with Cornell University. At Schauber Stables in nearby Ballston Lake, pony rides will be supplemented with goat milking demonstrations and a chance to make horse treats.

The hungry will find food at many of the locations, including meals being served at the Amity Reformed Church, the Clifton Park-Halfmoon Library and Vischer Ferry Fire Station No. 1.

Farm Fest is a traditional way to kick of the fall season, when ice cream and trips to the pool are replaced by apple cider and hay rides. Still, it also serves as a reminder that many of Clifton Park's agricultural businesses are year-round operations.

Most of the activities scheduled are free, excepting some meals. A Fall Fest brochure with full details is available on the town's Web site, www.cliftonpark.org.""

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