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Norwalk's First Congregational Church Toasts Autumn With Harvest Festival

Top left, Susan Strand, Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff (D-Norwalk), Ricardo Senteio, Rev. Frank Newsome; Bottom left, Anita Osborne and John Strand at the Farmer's Market at the First Congressional Church of Norwalk Photo Credit: contributed
Farmer Tony Diglio. His farm is called Country Time II and is in Northford. Photo Credit: contributed
Jill Newsome manning the Children's Corner at the market Photo Credit: contributed
Produce at the Farmer's Market at the Frist Congregational Church of Norwalk Photo Credit: contributed
Flowers at the Farmer's Market at the First Congregational Church in Norwalk Photo Credit: contributed

NORWALK, Conn. -- What is it like to bite into a big, sweet, red seedless grape that tastes like sugar? Come and find out at the First Congregational Church of Norwalk's second annual Harvest Festival.

It will take place Oct. 29 from noon to 3 p.m. at the church on 3 Lewis St., Norwalk. Admission is free and open to the public.  

Erika Foster of Norwalk, church moderator, said the festival will offer food, live entertainment, games and much more.

One of the food trucks is on hand will be Snappy Dawgs Gourmet Street Food of Bridgeport, which will provide hot dogs, hamburgers and breakfast sandwiches. A second truck will provide Spanish food such as tacos and quesadillas.

For live entertainment, a member of the church will play jazz on an electronic keyboard. Free popcorn and hot apple cider will be served.

Children's games include a life-size Tic Tac Toe, relay races and a ring toss on a pumpkin.

Those who attend can also shop at the last Farmer's Market of the season. The market, which is held at church July through October, sells fresh produce such as apples, sweet potatoes, onions, squash, plums and corn.

"The tomatoes are as large as the palm of an adult hand. My daughter eats them like apples," said Foster, of her daughter Ciara, who is 9.

The market also sells flowers — mums and sunflowers for fall — as well as products from Wave Hill Breads in Norwalk. 

There will also be homemade pasta, marinara sauce and salsa.

New this year to the Harvest Festival is a family photo booth with a fall-themed background.

Also new is a job resource table that will offer assistance with resumes and provide interview tips.

In the back parking lot of the church will be a trunk-or-treat event for kids. Each car truck will be decorated for Halloween and children can trick or treat, going from trunk to trunk for candy. 

"This is a safe alternative to trick or treating," said Foster, who has been a member of the church for 11 years. "We had about 10 cars participating in this last year."

The Farmer's Market is run by the Farmer's Market Task Force, which is made up entirely of congregation members, Foster said.

The church is holding the festival for two reasons, Foster said. "It is a way to thank produce farmer Tony Diglio for his commitment in supplying a truck filled with fresh produce from his 300-acre-farm (called Country Time II) in Northford to the church every Saturday from July through October," she said.  

At the end of the day each week, Diglio donates 10 to 12 boxes of produce to the Open Door Shelter in Norwalk.

In addition, she said, the festival a way of thanking the community for supporting the church, which is 360 years old.

"Last year we had about 100 people come to the festival," Foster said.  She hopes to make the festival an annual event.

Norwalk native Ricardo Senteio, who is head of the Deacon's Board at church, also plans on coming to the Harvest Festival.

"This is a fun afternoon," he said. "It's great to get together with our friends from the community as well as a way to meet new people.

"I see a lot of people here who I grew up and who went to school with me," said Senteio, who is head of the hospitality committee at the church.    

Senteio is also a singer, and sings songs by Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra.

Will Senteilo sing at the festival?  Those who come can find out, he said.

For more information about the Harvest Festival, call the First Congregational Church at 203-847-9551 or click here.  In the event of rain, the festival will take place in the church parish hall.

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