WEST BLOOMFIELD — The rain held off long enough for the West Bloomfield Parks and Recreation Commission to hold its third annual Fall Fest Sunday, Oct. 6, at Marshbank Park.
The event featured a variety of activities for families, including games, bounce houses, crafts, family portraits, a petting farm, and pony and horse rides.
“I think that this event is really important to us because it’s a free event that we can offer to our community, and it’s at our beautiful Marshbank Park,” said Megan Kurnat, public information coordinator for the commission. “We’ve done it for a few years and want to keep doing it for years to come.”
Kurnat said that the event was almost canceled due to the morning rain, but the weather was cooperative enough for the hours of the festival.
The community event was made possible from repeat sponsors Henry Ford West Bloomfield, DTE Energy, Best Source Credit Union and Hiller Chiropractic. Other sponsors included Jets Pizza, which fed the volunteers and employees, and the West Bloomfield Township Police Department to assist with traffic.
The Fall Fest had a turnout of roughly 400 people, which was a significant decline from the 1,200 attendees the prior year. Parks and Recreation contributed the drop in attendance to the poor weather; however, Kurnat said that people who did come were appreciative that the commission ran the event despite the rain.
In addition to the hands-on activities, Parks and Recreation set up a booth where Lauren Azoury, the commission’s new naturalist, discussed various owls and handed out brochures for upcoming events.
“The station I ran was called ‘Ask the Naturalist,’ and because of the fall theme, we focused on owls,” Azoury said. “A lot of times, people hear owls in the fall and winter nights.”
Azoury joined the West Bloomfield Parks and Recreation Commission in July and will be launching new nature programs this fall and winter, which the commission has not had in some time and which have been popular with the community in the past, according to Kurnat.
Azoury displayed a mounted screech owl, as well as a great horned owl wing and tail feather, which the kids were able to touch, at the festival.
“We also looked at an owl skeleton and the adaptations to see what owls use to help them hunt at night,” Azoury said, highlighting the strong beak and enlarged eye sockets.
Reinforcing the owl lesson, kids also participated in an owl craft, featuring the enlarged eyes and feathers owls use for stealthy hunting.
“One thing that was kind of neat was that adults were learning with the children. I think everyone learned something new, and not just the kids,” Azoury said.
Keeping with the fall theme, Azoury will host Be a Bone Detective and a Slime Sleuth, which she promoted at the Fall Festival, 7-8:30 p.m. Oct. 18. The program will teach people of all ages about owls’ spooky reputations and animals that make slime. Kids will also dissect owl pellets and make slime.
Preregistration is required for the event, which costs $5 per person.
“Being able to interact with people of all ages and introduce them about nature is always fun,” she said.