BETHLEHEM As summer draws to a close, staff at the Five Rivers Environmental Education Center in Delmar are preparing for the start of a new programming year with an annual fall festival.
Now in its 34th year, the Five Rivers Fall Festival is free to the public and filled with activities for all ages. The event is not only meant to showcase the grounds and the center’s guided school program, but to thank those in the community who visit Five Rivers throughout the year.
“We have a core group of visitors we see regularly,” said Ray Perry, from the Department of Environmental Conservation.
“It’s good to see them come back and be committed, but the Fall Festival brings us people who we haven’t seen the rest of the year or may be their first introduction to the site.”
Five Rivers is open year-round, and has more than 10 miles of hiking, snowshoeing or cross-country skiing trails for public use on its 450 acres. Thousands of students take field trips to the center every school year.
The festival is a collaborative effort between the state DEC and the Friends of Five Rivers group. About 2,000 people attend the event each year.
This year’s events include hands-on activities like learning how to use a sweep-net to catch insects and casting a fishing pole. There will also be up-close experiences with live animals and interactive, environmental exhibits. Children who attend will be able to meet Smokey the Bear and the Five River’s Otter, and there are also be naturalist-led family hikes at regular intervals featuring geology, botany and wildlife.
“Like our recently retired executive director said, the festival is a compendium of greatest hits,” said Perry. “It’s a little of everything we offer at Five Rivers, so there’s something for everyone.”
The day also features live music from two local bands, Nisky Dixie Cats and the Acoustic Hartland, along with light refreshments and games.