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Native American storyteller weaves legends at Sackets Harbor Harvest Fest

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SACKETS HARBOR — Native Americans dance so often because a rabbit kept happiness alive in his heart when all the other animals wanted him to be quiet.

Or, that was the tale spun to children by James H. Blodgett at the third annual Sackets Harbor Harvest Fest on Sunday.

Mr. Blodgett, whose Native American heritage is part Mohawk, has thrilled children with legends of the Iroquois each year at the festival.

“The Iroquois were in this area and it’s an interesting topic to the kids,” Mr. Blodgett said.

“In school we’re learning about Native Americans,” said Nicholas J. Fiorenza, 11. “I like to learn about it.”

Other stories Mr. Blodgett touched on were the day and night origin tale of “Sky Woman and the twins,” and “how the stars came to be.”

Mr. Blodgett said the fall festival is the perfect time to tell the Iroquois legends.

“For Native Americans, it (autumn) was a big time of year and I think kids are still kind of connected to that,” he said.

While the storytelling was arguably one of the most popular events at the family-geared festival, the games section was a close second.

Children like Savannah R. Zwicker, 9, came out with a bag of quarters, ready to tackle the 25-cent Halloween-themed games.

“My favorite would be knocking down the cans because its so easy,” Savannah said.

Children received a prize each time they participated in games such as pin the hat on the witch or ring toss. Prizes included bubbles, pencils, necklaces and coloring books. The Sackets Harbor native had amassed a few “witch’s potions” — or slime — and a pair of vampire teeth before the festival ended.

Cameron D. Huffman came with his friends solely to eat.

“I have food. This is the happiest part of my day,” the 11-year-old said while eyeing a plate loaded with cole slaw, beans and a pulled pork sandwich from the Sackets Harbor Brewing Co.

“This is just a fun, intimate community event,” said Cheryl Payne of Calla Lillies gift shop, 118 W. Main St.

Ms. Payne was one of seven vendors who brought their goods to the festival. The Hops Spot, J Fins and Good Fellos also had tables.

“I like that Sackets does things like this; it’s something positive,” said Good Fellos owner Richard Cunha, who brought his 2-year-old son, Brycen K.

Brycen was particularly fond of the three pumpkins painted on his cheeks. “Last year he got his face painted and he was crying,” Mr. Cunha said. This year ... he pointed to his other cheek when the lady was done.”

“We try to do a really fun, folksy event showcasing the best of what Sackets Harbor has to offer,” Sackets Harbor Chamber of Commerce President Anita Prather Harvell said.

To add ambience, the Chamber set out hay bales for people to sit on in place of chairs while listening to the music of Ryan Clark, followed by the Zebra Musselz.

The four-hour event was sponsored by, and located in the parking lots of , Sackets Harbor Brewing Co. and the Anchor Restaurant on West Main Street. Pumpkins were sold by Old McDonald’s Farm, with proceeds benefiting the Garrett W. Loomis Firefighter Training Fund.

Next for the historic village is a scarecrow contest, for which residents were allowed to begin registering at the festival. The competition runs until Oct. 29. Community members are asked to cast their vote in ballot boxes in various shops downtown or in the visitor center. Scarecrows may be registered at the Sackets Harbor Visitor Center, 301 W. Main St. Call 646-2321 for more information.

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