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Fall is the perfect time to enjoy local events

Now that Labor Day has come and gone, it is starting to feel a lot more like autumn.

Children have returned to school, nights are cooler and days have started getting shorter. While many of us will miss summer, the fall is an excellent time of year to have family fun close to home. In fact, it is one of the best times to visit local farms, fairs and festivals to support our local economy.

Here in New England, we are lucky to live so close to the changing leaves and apple and pumpkin picking that make this time of the year so enjoyable. While fall does not officially begin until the autumnal equinox on Sept. 22, there are plenty of fairs and festivals to take advantage of over the next few weeks. I’ve compiled a list of some of the events that you and your family may be interested in visiting.

On Sept. 23, the 47th annual Seymour Pumpkin Festival will be held at French Memorial Park. Each year, about 15,000 people attend the festival and browse the many craft booths. According to the event’s organizers, they include “handmade jewelry, silk and dried flower arrangements, soft sculpture, quilts, paintings, blown glass, woodcrafts, Christmas ornaments, ceramic items, hand painted slate, and more.”

Next, on Sept. 30, the Unitarian Universalist Church of Greater Bridgeport will be hosting the Harvest Festival on Paradise Green located on Main Street in Stratford. There will be arts and crafts, entertainment and music. It begins at 10 a.m. and ends at 4 p.m.

The first weekend of October has several fun events. First, the 5th Annual Great Stratford Bird Festival will run all weekend with over three dozen different events, including bird walks, boat trips and children’s crafts. Many of the events are free. For more information, please visit www.stratfordbirdfestival.com.

On Saturday, Oct. 6, “Smoke in the Valley 2012″ will take place in Seymour. It includes a craft beer and chili festival, a home brew contest and a 5K road race. The events will benefit local youth sports, emergency services and breast cancer research and education in the community. To learn more, please visit www.smokeinthevalley.com

The next day, on Sunday, Oct. 7, the Derby/Shelton Rotary Club will hold Shelton Day, a street festival with about 150 booths featuring local crafts, food, entertainment and other activities. For more information, please visit their website at www.sheltonday.com.

On Oct. 13, the United Methodist Church of Monroe will host the Annual Harvest Festival from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. There will be homemade crafts and gifts, games and activities, live music, and used books. There will also be food, including smoked pulled-pork sandwiches, smoked ribs, hot dogs, baked potatoes, baked beans, coleslaw, apple pie and apple fritters.

Later that month, the Shelton Autumn Craft Festival will also be held on Oct. 28 at the Courtyard by Marriott Hotel in Shelton. It will start at 11 a.m. and end at 5 p.m.

These are only some of the many fairs and festivals that are being held close to home this fall. As for pumpkin picking and finding festive mums, there are several great local farms to visit, including Bomba’s Farm in Seymour, Benedict’s Home & Garden in Monroe, Jones Family Farms in Shelton and Pumpkin Brook Farm in Stratford. With the cooler weather and longer shadows, it is always nice to spend some time outside as the leaves begin to change and fall sets in. I hope to see you out there.

Sen. Kevin Kelly represents the 21st District, which includes all of Shelton, most of Stratford, and parts of Monroe and Seymour.

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