Wet and windy weather didn't seem to faze the hundreds of people who attended the annual Danada Fall Festival in Wheaton Sunday.
The event got under way amid sprinkling rain and winds that occasionally tested the tents set up on the grounds of the Danada Equestrian Center, an education and recreation facility. By lunchtime, the weather had eased, and sunshine started to peek through.
"Nicer weather would have been great, but we're still having a fun time," said Naperville resident Tina McCarty, who brought her 7-year-old son, Billy, to the event. "He's really looking forward to seeing all the horses."
The fall festival included face- and pumpkin-painting, live music and of course, plenty of activities revolving around horses, like hay rides and grooming demonstrations.
One of the first demonstrations of the day spotlighted the Friends for Therapeutic Equine Activities, a Winfield-based not-for-profit organization that provides therapeutic horseback riding to children and adults with special needs.
A small group of FTEA's young participants rode on their horses around one of Danada's arenas, showing an impressed crowd how the children relate to their equine friends.
"It was really nice to see her up there having fun and not worrying about being different or anything like that," said Bolingbrook resident Betsy Castillo about her 3-year-old daughter, Sara, who was one of the FTEA riders. Sara suffered an injury during childbirth that left her right arm paralyzed. Castillo said she's since recovered about 80 percent of the functionality in that arm.
"We've seen a lot of emotional benefits (from participation in FTEA)," Castillo said. "She's more confident, and she's made some great new friends."
Elsewhere at the festival, Lisle resident Kevin Wood said his 5-year-old daughter, Sheila, was looking forward to getting her face painted.
"She's all into dressing up and everything because Halloween is coming," he said. "So this will be perfect for her."
The Danada Equestrian Center is part of the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County. For information about it and other forest-preserve sites, go to dupageforest.com.