Nine busloads of children, from various agencies arrived for a few hours of fun Wednesday at the Pride of the Wapsi farm in rural Donahue for the 11th annual Youth Harvest Party.
The event involved 275 children from social services agencies in the Quad-Cities, such as the Friendly House and Boys & Girls Club of the Quad-Cities. There were also 50-plus members of the Davenport and North Scott Rotary clubs, who volunteered for the event.
Festivities included a meal of walking tacos, roasting marshmallows for s'mores, taking a tractor ride around the farm, playing in the many kid-friendly areas and speaking with first responders, such as sheriff's deputies and Medic EMS personnel.
In addition to the activities, the children were able to choose and bring home their own pumpkin and each one received a gift bag filled with toys, a book, winter gloves and Trick-or-Treat sack.
After 11 years, the event is well organized, with the volunteers spread out at various sites on the farm, said Jeremy Kaiser, a North Scott Rotary coordinator. "We used to meet like once a week for two months before it, but now it just takes a few email messages," he said.
New this year was a bus of youngsters from Family Resources at Fairmount Pines, he said. The six to eight other groups involved had been included previously.
The Friendly House brought 32 children, all of whom were excited to be at the farm, said Taneka Pernell of Davenport, youth services lead at the agency.
Friendly House students, Brandon Halligan and his friend, Leo Lesly, both 9, said they liked coming back to Pride of the Wapsi. Leo's favorite part of the day is the walking tacos. "I eat a lot," he said.
There were 30 children from the Boys & Girls Club, which is located at First Presbyterian Church, Davenport. "They love this event," said Sharon Stokes, group leader.
Mike Meinert works at Pride of the Wapsi, and drove the tractor that pulled three hay racks behind it. He drew close to the pumpkin patch where the children could get out, and the excited crew disembarked, running this way and that. Leo Lesly, a fourth-grader, stopped in his tracks at one vine. "I think I found a pretty good one," he said.
Rotary Club volunteers cleaned mud off the pumpkins, and wrote the child's name on each one. Demarii Washington, who is in second grade and goes to the Friendly House after school, made up a rap song about his pumpkin.
According to Meinert, this Harvest Party is one of the bigger events of the year at the farm, which grows corn, soybeans, pumpkins and strawberries.
"It's been a good year for pumpkins, too," he said.