Third annual Stafford Springs Farm Day draws a crowd

By Annie Gentile - ReminderNews
Stafford - posted Thu., Sep. 12, 2013
Madeline, who lives in the Hydeville section of Stafford, pets a goat during Farm Day. Photos by Annie Gentile.
Madeline, who lives in the Hydeville section of Stafford, pets a goat during Farm Day. Photos by Annie Gentile.

This year’s Farm Day in Stafford Springs was a successful event with 51 vendors and exhibitors from Stafford and surrounding towns sharing their connections to the farming community. Held Sunday, Sept. 8, at Heritage Park, the event was presented by the Stafford Rotary Club, with the proceeds to be used to continue the club’s many charitable efforts.

“This is our third year doing this,” said Stafford Rotary Club member Roberta Rocchetti, chair of the event. Rocchetti said Farm Day was originally the vision of local businesswoman Kim Milikowski, who held the event the first year on her mini-donkey farm in town. “Her idea was to make people aware of the many local farms and farm-related businesses in the area and to encourage people to shop local,” she said.

Rotary Club President Sharon Ouellette said the Rotary had co-chaired the event in the past with Milikowski, eventually taking it over and moving it to Heritage Park. She said the Rotary wants to continue Milikowski’s effort.

A wide variety of farm and farming-related businesses were represented at Farm Day, including honey, maple syrup and jam and jelly makers, locally-made baked goods, locally-grown vegetables and plants, farm animals and farm equipment. Local political groups, the Conservation Commission, the Stafford Historical Society, and others also provided information about their organizations. Live music was provided by Tuesday Saints.

In the afternoon, the Rotary held children’s events such as a hay bale toss, a skillet toss, and three-legged and potato-sack races. The games were overseen by members of Stafford High School’s Service Corp. Children at the family-friendly event also flocked to the animal displays, where they could pet fluffy long-haired rabbits, take a gander at the fowl displays, and learn a little bit about caring for alpacas.

“Alpacas are very low maintenance,” said Randy Hall of Round Hill Alpacas of Coventry. “They don’t eat a lot. We have over 20 alpacas and they eat only about two bales of hay a day,” he said. Hall said the animals are sheered only once a year in April; their fibers then used to make yarns which are woven into warm clothing.

Other animal displays at Farm Day included Carla Gold’s cockatiels, macaws, parakeets, finches and conyers, which she breeds out of her home. “These pets are an easy-to-keep pet choice because they are self-contained,” said Gold. “I didn’t originally plan on breeding them. They decided to breed on their own and then I just continued with it. I have about 15 birds at home,” she said.

Bonnie Jean Gordon of Tara Farm Rescue in Coventry also brought animals to display at Farm Day. She said her organization rescues horses, pot-bellied pigs, chickens, goats and donkeys, as well as the usual dogs and cats. “Cats and dogs tend to get into people’s garbage, make noise and make themselves noticed, but larger animals are often silent sufferers locked in a pen where no one can see them,” she said. Gordon said Tara Farm Rescue rehabilitates animals emotionally and physically, then finds good homes for them.

“This is a great opportunity for people to visit with their neighbors and learn about local businesses,” said Ouellette. “The Rotary is all about goodwill and better friendships.”

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