Pumpkins take center stage at Harvest Fest
By Carrie Napoleon Post-Tribune correspondent September 28, 2013 8:04PM
Sisters Lili, 8, and Anna, 10, Stepanovic of Crown Point swap tastes of their Italian ice and gelato at the annual Covered Bridge Harvest Fest at the Lake County Fairgrounds in Crown Point. | Carrie Napoleon/for Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 30, 2013 7:01AM
CROWN POINT — Families looking for a little fall fun found the annual Covered Bridge Harvest Fest at the Lake County Fairgrounds fit the bill.
Food vendors lined the track around the horse arena, which was transformed into a Civil War battlefield, offering up one of the last chances at festival fare this season while pumpkin-themed activities kept children entertained. The festival continues from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.
Sisters Lili, 8, and Anna, 10, Stepanovic of Crown Point agreed pumpkin golf was their favorite activity of the day.
“It was really fun,” Anna said as the pair swapped tastes of their Italian ice and gelato.
Mom and dad Tammy and Pete said they bring their five children to the festival every year.
“How many things can you do and pay only a buck,” Pete Stepanovic said of the children’s activities that included pumpkin and face painting, the pumpkin putt-putt, pumpkin bowling and a variety of other games. There were also hayrides for children and adults and a kiddie train that provided rides around the fairgrounds.
Tammy Stepanovic said she learned this year the proceeds from the event are benefiting Special Olympics of Lake County and its efforts to build and outfit the gym at the South Lake County Service Center building.
“It makes me feel even better about coming,” she said.
St. John family members Bella, 5, and Vincent, 7, Ganz and Micayla Rebeles, 8, were busy playing pumpkin golf, trying to figure out the best way to roll their pumpkins down the shoot and into the last hole.
“You gotta aim it,” Vincent said.
Parents Janette Ganz and Peter Rebeles also were enjoying the inexpensive family fun.
“We have five kids,” Ganz said. “It’s expensive to take them places.”
Rebeles said they also like the chance to get the children outside to enjoy the weather and what turned out to be a beautiful fall day.
“We’re going to try and wear them out a bit,” he joked.
Six-year-olds Jillian Brown and Braden Branigin, both of Crown Point, were busy painting pumpkins while their dads Ben Brown and Tim Branigin watched.
“I’m trying to draw my own face. It’ll look the same as me,” Braden said, pointing out he used blue paint to make the eyes match his own. The red paint for hair, however, was quite a contrast to his own blond tresses. “My hair’s not red, it’s real light.”
Jillian said she was using the pumpkin to come up with ideas for her Halloween costume.
“I’m trying to paint a Dracula so I know what to wear,” she said.
Families throughout the grounds were enjoying the afternoon.
Sam and Natalie Monk of Crown Point came out with their children, Isaac, 1, and Raegan, 6, as well as the kids grandparents Annette and Don Peters of Portage.
“We’ve come every year since she was 3,” Natalie Monk said. It was Isaac’s first Covered Bridge Festival, so he was still a bit small from some of the activities, though he spent time in a bounce house and was enjoying the elephant ears, she said.
“There are lots of activities for the kids,” Annettte Peters said.
For her part, Raegan could not really pick a favorite activity, but she likes coming every year.
“I always get something,” she said, proudly showing off a ring and toy her grandpa and dad got for her.
“It’s a fun day out with the kids,” Natalie Monk said.