The event will include virtual programming, drive-throughs and other interactive activities

Pamplin Media Group – Wilsonville parks and recreation department reinvents the Harvest Festival

For months, Wilsonville Parks and Recreation Coordinator Erica Behler could not perform her favorite aspect of her job — planning events for the community.

But with regulations related to the COVID-19 pandemic fairly steady and the holiday season coming up, Behler and the rest of the department got their heads together to figure out how they could provide entertainment and connection once more.

“We finally feel comfortable wrapping our heads around what we can or can’t do safely,” Behler said.

With that in mind, the department is hosting its annual Harvest Festival this October. The extravaganza is much different than in years past. Instead of mainstay activities like hayrides and face painting in the Stein-Boozier Barn throughout a single day, this year’s event will take place Oct. 14-29 and include both virtual and drive-through events.

“I think we’re really excited to do something for the community, event-wise,” Behler said.

Some of the virtual events include a Howl-O-Ween pumpkin carving contest, a Fall Door Decor contest and a Slightly Spooky Storytime and Pumpkin Polka Parade in collaboration with the Wilsonville Public Library. There also will be a Drive-Through Ice Cream and Craft Pickup, hidden pumpkin hunts and a Chalk the Park Costume Day.

“We haven’t done many drive-through or virtual contests before so we’re not really sure what we’re going to get. We’re hoping it’s a good fit for the community,” Behler said.

Prizes for the virtual contests include hydration packs from REI and a gift basket for kids, among other goodies.

While the event won’t be the same this year, Behler hopes the pumpkin pickup as well as the hidden pumpkin event — where staff will post clues on social media about where people can find a hidden pumpkin in town — and other activities will give people a chance to get out of the house. And one benefit of this format, Behler added, is that it provides more flexibility for people’s schedules.

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Also in early October, the city is collaborating with SoulsforSoles on a drive-through shoe drive from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 20, at the Wilsonville Parks and Recreation Administration Building parking lot. SoulsforSoles takes donated shoes and distributes them to places around the world where shoes are scarce. They accept new or gently worn shoes.

“We saw it as a safe way to do something meaningful,” Behler said.

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