Cheshire families come out to orchard for Hope Pregnancy Center’s Family Fun Fest

Cheshire families come out to orchard for Hope Pregnancy Center’s Family Fun Fest



reporter photo

CHESHIRE — With a nearly cloudless sky overhead Saturday afternoon, Matt Bennett dipped a paper cone into the bowl of a cotton candy machine, catching and swirling blue and pink flosses of sugar.

Those cones topped off with cotton candy would later be placed into the hands of eager children who attended what was the inaugural Family Fun Fest fundraising event, organized by Hope Pregnancy Center. 

The event was held in a field surrounded by a wooden fence near the country store at Hickory Hill Orchard on South Meriden Road.

Donato’s Pizza Truck was parked out front. Festival goers walked around with personal thin crust pizzas. They had other food options as well, including popcorn and cotton candy. 

Around the field were different games and activities for families, including a cornhole tournament and marshmallow shooting. On a stage toward the back of the field a duo sang bluegrass and country music while strumming on a guitar and banjo. 

Darlene Passapera, Hope’s executive director, noted it was the organization’s first ever Family Fun Fest. 

“It’s always nice, because we’re family oriented, to have an event where families are involved and participate,” Passapera said. 

The parking lot in front of the orchard’s country store was nearly full, as families walked around the orchard, wheeling red Radio Flyer wagons filled with freshly picked apples, pears and pumpkins. 

Organizers sought to make the event outdoors to allow families a safe environment, Passapera said. 

“We told everybody that we needed to make sure we follow guidelines. We want to make sure everybody is safe,” Passapera said. 

Fundraising for the non-profit has been a challenge with COVID-19. 

“Being a non-profit, we rely solely on donations,” Passapera said. “We don’t just like to take though. This is a fundraiser where we can give as well.”

The center provides assistance to women experiencing unplanned pregnancies, Passapera explained. That assistance includes coaching, social service referrals for finances and housing, and help getting maternity clothes, a crib, food, diapers and other items and help, she said. 

“We don’t get any assistance from the government,” Passapera said.

“We had to be a little bit more creative with fundraising during Covid,” said Maggie Strunk, Hope’s client services director. An early fall outdoor event seemed like the ideal fundraiser. 

“Because we’re all about loving and serving families we wanted to do something for families in the community as well,” Strunk said. 

“Being a non-profit, we rely solely on donations,” Passapera said. “We don’t just like to take though. This is a fundraiser where we can give as well.”

The organization received donated raffle prizes from several donors and community partners. 

Local resident Megan Eustace sat on the grassy field with her seven-year-old daughter Riley, who was all smiles as she sipped on a can of lemonade. Enjoying the moment with them were Jessica Stark and her five-year-old son Dimitri.

“We saw it on Facebook and thought we would come visit,” Stark said. 

Dimitri happily bit into a slice of cheese pizza while his mother spoke.

Jon Medling watched while his seven and eight year old sons tossed bean bags into the holes of a board several feet away. 

“I’m here to support Hope,” Medling said. “You couldn’t ask for a better day.” 

mgagne@record-journal.com

203-317-2231

Twitter:@MikeGagneRJ


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