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updated: 9/15/2011 3:33 PM

DuPage fall festival has activities for all

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  • DuPage Convalescent Center's Fall Festival features scarecrows and crafts that residents make.

    DuPage Convalescent Center's Fall Festival features scarecrows and crafts that residents make.
    Courtesy of the DuPage Convalescent Center


Bring your smiles and your money.

You'll find lots to smile about and treats to buy at DuPage Convalescent Center's 44th annual Fall Festival from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 17, at 400 N. County Farm Road, Wheaton, said Barbara McDonald, president of the center's Residents Council.

McDonald and fellow residents have spent the year making crafts to sell, from ceramics and paintings to woodwork and weaving. They've fashioned scarecrows sure to delight and baked up goodies. If that's not enough, the event includes a garage sale, flea market, petting zoo, car and motorcycle show, kids' games, mum sale, raffle and silent auction. Admission and parking are free.

"It's a great place to be," McDonald said. "We have a good time and everyone is welcome."

The festival draws between 2,000 to 4,000 people in the course of day and typically raises more than $30,000 to support services that add to the residents' quality of life, said Shauna Berman, the center's manager of resident and volunteer services. The money goes to support recreational programs and capital projects such as the renovation of day rooms to give residents brighter sitting areas.

"A big part of the festivities is coming together as a community to support residents," she said.

The residents themselves at the long-term care facility play an active role. Not only do they make crafts and raise horticulture products to sell, they help design the eye-catching scarecrows. McDonald regrets to say the scarecrow that her unit made of former Chicago Cubs pitcher Carlos Zambrano took only second place in in-house judging.

The winning entry was of former baseball player Ron Santo, baseball broadcaster Harry Caray and Caray's famed expression, "Holy Cow!"

"The day of the festival, we sell them to the public," Berman said.

The bake sale includes the center's homemade apple slices.

"That is kind of a famous thing about our festival that a lot of people come for," Berman said. "People love them."

New this year are the 35-animal petting zoo and train rides on "Little Orbie," a trackless train provided courtesy of Illinois Central Railroad.

A book fair is held, and the garage sale has more secondhand treasures than ever.

"The garage sale is bigger and bigger each year," Berman said.

DuPage Animal Care and Control has an open house that includes vendors and an adoptathon.

Convalescent center doctor Jeffrey Johnson brings his band to entertain, and festival treats like funnel cakes are for sale.

"It's a fun-filled family day," Berman said. "It's an opportunity for residents to shine."