Farmington Community Library Adult Services Librarian Jen Hassell reads from Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Raven” Oct. 1, along 18 stops throughout downtown Farmington.

Farmington Community Library Adult Services Librarian Jen Hassell reads from Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Raven” Oct. 1, along 18 stops throughout downtown Farmington.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes


Monthlong Grand Raven festival celebrates fall in Farmington

‘Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore’

By: Jonathan Shead | Farmington Press | Published October 5, 2020

 Hassell reads in front of the Farmington Civic Theater Oct. 1.

Hassell reads in front of the Farmington Civic Theater Oct. 1.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

Advertisement

FARMINGTON — As a brisk autumn breeze fills the air, residents of Farmington better beware, a new fall festival is here.

The inaugural Grand Raven festival, a monthlong raven-inspired series of events sponsored by GLP Financial, came about, Downtown Development Authority Director Kate Knight said, as a way to celebrate fall in the absence of the Harvest Moon Festival and while still adhering to public safety protocols.

“This community loves fall. We know that people are looking for activities and seeking community, especially during this really uncertain time. The traditions we’ve become used to are not available to us in traditional form, and we’ve seen this pandemic situation spur some innovation on lots of fronts,” she said. “We’re looking for ways to be together that really meet the needs of the community and also adhere to public health recommendations to keep people safe and healthy, and bring them downtown.”

As for the theme of ravens, and Edgar Allen Poe, Knight said local imagery led their eyes right to it.

“We wanted to cultivate something that felt original and fit a couple of parameters. We loved the ravenesque idea and the Poe reference, because it’s spooky, it’s elegant, it’s literary, it’s macabre, it’s accessible to a lot of people and open to interpretation, even though it’s pretty specific,” she said. “We have such interesting resources here in Farmington with the Governor Warner Mansion and their traditional ghost walk. All these things led into forming our decision to go with ravens.”

Throughout the month of October, the city and its partners will be hosting a variety of events for residents to enjoy in person or from their homes, whichever families are most comfortable with.

The Grand Raven festival will have a slice of everyone’s fall favorites, from a Victorian book walk with the Farmington Community Library — librarians will recite “The Raven,” by Poe, as residents follow them through town; live-streamed performances of five of Poe’s most notable poems, read from the Farmington Civic Theater; a downtown scavenger hunt; pumpkin carving and cookie decorating contests; a raven cocktail claw for adults; and a ravencrow contest.

The monthlong festival may also include a series of drive-in movies, Knight said, though details are still being carved out.

“Lots of seasonal elements that are really familiar to everyone, with kind of a spin,” Knight said. “We all need something to celebrate right now with the pandemic still rolling through, to meet each other and stay safe at the same time.”

When it comes to Knight’s ultimate goal in hosting this festival, it’s to spark a sense of community, which feels depleted by the ongoing pandemic. GLP Financial CEO Alex Kocoves, who’s financial services team recently purchased the Farmington State Saving Bank building, said he’s excited by the opportunity to invest in community gathering through the festival’s sponsorship.

“This is our home, and these are our friends and neighbors. … We’re a family-run business. It’s important to us that we get to know people. We want people coming up and saying hi. It’s not like we’re a big New York firm that’s a bunch of suits that don’t care about anything,” he said.

While 2020 continues to be anything but a normal year, Knight has shifted her outlook to one of opportunity.

“It’s important to be flexible and adaptive when you run into conditions that force you to think outside the traditional programming and offerings. We see it as an opportunity. Had we been staging our 16th annual Harvest Moon Celebration, we may not have had the bandwidth or capacity to launch into this original programming for the entire month of October,” she said.

“We’re looking at this as setting a new baseline for our community events calendar going forward, as a way to celebrate the season and bridge the summer outdoor patio season and head into cooler months.”

For more information, visit downtownfarmington.org.

Advertisement