KING FERRY — John Shaw said his father’s memory is what has kept him involved in the Wheat Harvest Festival in King Ferry every year it has been held.
Although the festivities have been a tradition in southern Cayuga County for over 25 years, this year’s festival is the first since 2019 due to the COVD-19 pandemic. The event started Friday and continued Saturday, with a pancake breakfast at King Ferry Presbyterian Church, a parade and vendors and activities at the festival grounds at the Rural Life Museum. The event was presented by the Genoa Historical Association and the New York State Draft Horse Club.
At the festival grounds with his grandson Adam, 12, and daughter-in-law Jessica, John Shaw said he has participated in the event year after year because is his late father Gene loved the festival, “so I kept doing this to make sure he had it.” Shaw said Gene appreciated that it was a local happening and he liked the horses that are a part of the event and seeing the old-fashioned farming equipment get used.
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“He just liked seeing this old stuff work again,” Shaw said.
Shaw, one of the organizers for the event and a board member for the historical association back when the festival started, said the field behind the museum, where members of the draft horse club and others were going to harvest wheat, is on the land of his family’s farm, Shaw Farms, although he is no longer a part of the farm. He noted that various other members were involved in the event Saturday.
Jessica said the festival is a fun community event.
“Everybody likes watching the old equipment run, everybody likes getting together,” she said.
Different parts of the day included a bouncy house, a cake wheel, threshing barn tours, and chicken barbecue from the King Ferry Fire Department. Among the vendors at the festival grounds were Bob and Shirley Kozlowski, who were selling honey. The Kozlowskis have a bee yard at their home, and their table at the event included a glass observation hive displaying an estimated 500 bees. Away from the vendors were Mandy Frink and her stepdaughter, Montana Marshall, with horses Bob and King. Frink and Marshall, both members of the draft horse club, were going to take part in the wheat harvesting set to occur after the parade.
“We enjoy sharing our horses with the public, so any time the draft house club has anything to do with the public, we come out and try and help teach other people about the animals,” Frink said.
The parade featured various cars, tractors and some vehicles from different fire departments. Cayuga County Sheriff Brian Schenck was among the people in the event. Children in some vehicles and floats tossed candy at the crowd. Siblings William and Kate Slaugh scurried to the sweets, each amassing a fair amount of goods in separate plastic bags. William, 5, and Kate, 3, were with their parents, Vince and Lindsey, and their younger sibling Colette, 1, was in a stroller.
Vince talked what he believes makes the event special, adding, “It’s great to see the community’s agricultural heritage on display.”
“It’s really the big annual event where the community comes together. Outside of schools, there aren’t as many big events in this area, he said. “It’s probably the biggest event of the year for the community.”
Gallery: Parade, horses and vendors at the Wheat Harvest Festival in King Ferry
Staff writer Kelly Rocheleau can be reached at (315) 282-2243 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @KellyRocheleau.