Mecktoberfest is Saturday

Oct 27, 2023 at 10:46 am by Observer-Review

Mecklenburg Community Park playground
BY Karen Gadiel
A first-ever indoor/outdoor festival for all ages inspired by fall, Halloween and a good community cause is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 28, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., in and around the Mecklenburg Fire Hall. Called “Mecktoberfest,” the Friends of the Mecklenburg Community Park have gathered a variety of games and activities to raise money for something special at the heart of the hamlet of Mecklenburg—its community park.
Long an easily-accessible greenspace off McIntyre Road, a.k.a. County Road 6 in Mecklenburg, where people walk and children play around a large pond used by the fire company to fill its tank trucks as well as a community fishing hole, it was losing some of its appeal as playground equipment decayed and brush encroached the grassy spaces. A committee of people formed to create a non-profit to improve both the park and call on community spirit.
“We had a work bee earlier this year to clear brush,” says Audrey Mayette, one of the members of the steering committee.
“We had some volunteers with equipment who came and cleared a lot of the undergrowth,” explains Karen Allen, unofficial “Mayor of Mecklenburg” and member of the steering committee. “We also had help from Bergen Farms. They got quite a lot done.” It was a great start, enough to see how much more the park needs.
Every person who speaks of this effort credits long-term resident Susan Robertson with enthusiasm for the park. For many years, Robertson kept the several-acre space mowed each summer. Robertson recently moved, and the Town of Hector has agreed to take over the mowing beginning in 2024.
Allen has old photos showing a very different landscape before the flooding in 1935. Back then, the Mecklenburg pond stretched between McIntyre Road and Route 228. There was a dam that contained the park before the flooding, even a small waterfall. It took until the 1950s for the pond to be reconstructed. For a while, it was the site of Red Cross swimming lessons for area children—Allen got that started—until inspectors declared it too muddy to keep a good eye on swimmers. After that, it reverted to a fishing spot and fire company source of water.
Organizers would like to see the park enhanced with picnic tables, walking paths, maybe even a small pavilion. Next spring, Carson Excavating has volunteered to put in a small parking lot near the playground. And with the proceeds of the Mecktoberfest, organizers plan to replace the playground equipment Allen describes as “on the verge of unsafe.” That’s the first order of business. Duct tape holding a swing seat together and patching the base of the slide bear out Allen’s statement.
Playground committee member Malissa Richards says the group is planning to purchase playground components suitable for children two to twelve years of age, with expansion potential. “I’d like to make it better for other young people in the future,” she says.
But to reach the goal of turning this greenspace into a community gathering space as well, funds are needed. Which is why the community is pulling out all the stops with a multifaceted event where there is more than one thing to enjoy at any given moment.
Four musicians are playing through the day—Liam Alone from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Erich with an H from 1 to 4 p.m., Mike Shaw (playing solo) from 5 to 8 p.m. and Jason Allison from 8:30 p.m. to the event’s end. The musicians have volunteered their time and talents.
Meanwhile, more than 25 vendors, including artisans will be selling a variety of products from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.; additionally, they’re remaining afterward to hand out treats they’ve stocked up to young, hopefully costumed, trick-or-treaters. Until bags run out, kids who get a dozen game tickets —these cost $10 and also may be used for the bounce houses and a hayride—get a treat collection bag. That hayride is just one activity which came together as a result of a lot of organizing coordination and cooperation. Grist Iron Brewery is loaning the wagon, Brian Switzer is loaning the tractor and Jeremy Bergen is driving it until Switzer finishes his work day. And of course, in this farming community, hay abounds. “It’s important that everyone know what a collaborative effort this is,” organizers say.
And there’s more – find the full schedule of events at the Mecklenburg Community Park Facebook page or at There are games and competitions with prizes for kids and adults. There’s a chili competition, judged by four serious chili lovers – including Allen. The winner of this contest gets bragging rights and a certificate suitable for framing. Interested observers who get hungry watching the judges evaluate will be able to purchase tastes for themselves.
Among the day’s special activities is the opportunity to take a fall foliage viewing helicopter ride by FLX Helicopter. The rides cost $40 for a four-minute ride; the park will receive a percentage of proceeds.
No festival would be complete without food to enjoy in the open air. In addition to a chicken barbecue presented by the fire company, beginning at 1, pulled pork from Boar’s Nest 414, will be served and a food truck from PDR’s catering, will also be offering sausage, pepper and onions as well as a variety of fair food from 11 a.m. on. Beer and wine will also be available.
Evening entertainment includes the long-awaited “Pie a Guy (or Gal)” contest, followed by raffle drawings and a bonfire. Contestants are Justin Boyette, Mecklenburg Fire Chief Brian Gunning, Jeremy Bergen and town clerk Jane Ike. The person getting pied is chosen by vote. In this instance, it’s possible - even encouraged - to buy multiple votes per person at $1 per vote. Voting- online or in person - ends at 7:30 p.m. The winner, if you can call the recipient that, gets to choose whether they’d like the fluffy stuff that hits their face to be whipped cream or shaving cream. “I’m not gonna lie - I’m really looking forward to the pie a guy,” Mayette says.
“That should be fun. It’s just going to be a fun day,” Allen adds.
Sections: NEWS 1