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Costumed kids flock to farm museum festival

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On a crisp autumn afternoon without a cloud in the sky, thousands descended on the Queens County Farm Museum for its annual Children’s Fall Festival.

Children dressed in costume, readying themselves for Halloween with their parents in tow, ran from the haunted house to the petting zoo and from the hayride to the puppet show.

“We came to the fair because we have not seen each other for a while,” said Christina Xenophontos, 11, of Bellerose who was feeding the sheep and goats with her cousin Carolina Piesche, 12, of Long Island. “We wanted to show them how cool the farm is.”

The girls were just two of a group of nine family members spending the day at the farm museum’s 19th annual festival.

“I loved the haunted house,” said Piesche.

“So did I, but it was a little spooky,” said Xenophontos. “Our younger cousins and my brother started to cry a bit because they were scared.”

But both agreed the best part of the museum was the petting and feeding zoo, where the two were able to hang out with the farm animals and feed them.

Feeding the goats, sheep, pigs and pigs was just one of the many events, games and rides that drew 4,000 people to this year’s annual Queens event.

The 47-acre museum has been the site of continuous farming for more than 200 years and today it also is the Museum of Agricultural History of New York City. In addition, the museum also includes a farmhouse dating from 1772, planting fields, an orchard, farmyard and livestock.

“We have been here before and have come to the children’s festival the past couple of years,” said Susan Gidwell of Whitestone, who was at the farm with her daughters and a neighbor. “It is very family-oriented and I have even seen people here I went to high school with.”

Her son Jesse, 9, said the best part of the day was the hayride while his sister Lauren, 6, enjoyed the haunted house even though she was a little scared. But Lauren, who was dressed as a witch, said she felt some camaraderie with the other witches in the haunted house.

For Kirk Aleman, 9, of Ozone Park the best part of the day was running around in the fresh air and checking out the farm animals.

“I like the farm things, but I could not feed the animals because I thought they might bite me,” he said. “I really liked the haunted house even though it was a bit scary.”

Amy Fischetti, the Queens County Farm Museum executive director, said the event is always held on the last weekend in October and it started because the farm wanted to get people out to enjoy the fall.

She said encouraging people to go outside in the crisp air to enjoy the foliage as the leaves change color gets them out of the urban mindset and away from their computer screens and televisions.

Fischetti said the children’s fall festival is just one of the many different events the farm holds throughout the year.

Over the year the farm will play host to about 500,000 people, including the 250,000 students who pass through the farm’s gates as part of its year-round educational program.

“I love this place,” she said. “The job is different everyday. One day you’ll have to deal with government officials and write funding grant proposals and then the next you’ll have to deliver a lamb.”

Reach reporter Adam Kramer by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 157.

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