A “farm festival” is the kind of experience New Yorkers get when they head out of town and upstate in their Zipcars. It’s not the kind of thing one expects to erupt joyously on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, closing down one of the city’s major cross streets. But that’s exactly what happened this Saturday.
Farm Festival is one of Manhattan Country School’s major local community outreach and fundraising events. It’s a street festival featuring hay bales, pumpkins and honey from the school’s farm in the Catskill Mountains; a raffle, arts and crafts and games and rides and line dancing and hip hop (the latter led by Calvin’s hip hop teacher); delicious food including some of the best grilled lamb chops we’ve ever eaten (a speciality of one of the parents) and home baked goods from the modern hearths of parents like yours truly. (Lesson learned: Jay was right when he contended that it was cruel and unusual punishment to bake dozens of cream cheese brownies and only one serving for us :0)
Jay gets double kudos for volunteering to set up (not sure he realized that meant an 8am start!) as well as helping to run the slide ride. I volunteered at the wooden crafts table, and as a result can now construct kits of airplanes and yachts rather speedily. The same cannot be said for my facility at putting wooden flowers together.
Apart from being tremendous fun, I experienced something unexpected: a feeling of belonging even among hundreds and hundreds of people at the festival. I was endlessly amazed at how many kids greeted Calvin and vice versa. Yes, his peers in his class, but so many older boys and girls, teachers, and administrators one imagines would infrequently have the opportunity to interact with the students, let along pick one out of a crowd. One fellow parent described it perfectly this morning, “It’s like a very large family reunion.” Yup, that’s it.