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Cool weather fails to drive off Harvest Fest crowd

Luna, a Marshmallow Foundation shelter dog up for adoption, met Jon, Jamie and Charlotte Buck during the annual Harvest Fest Saturday in Perham. Brian Hansel/FOCUS1 / 10
Rocco Miller, left, and Brooks Kupferschmid fought off Zombies in a game on First Avenue in downtown Perham. Brian Hansel/FOCUS2 / 10
Ben Karsnia, left, Joseph Roggenkamp and Taylor Perala served a patron of the Community BBQ stand in front of Ace Hardware. Brian Hansel/FOCUS3 / 10
Charlie Kirchenwitz of Dent used a Makita chainsaw to create a wood sculpture in NP Park Saturday morning. Brian Hansel/FOCUS4 / 10
Larry Doll handled the reins as he gave some hardy passengers a ride in his L and L Memorable Rides wagon. Brian Hansel/FOCUS 5 / 10
Elaine Eisenlohr of Eisenlohr Crafts in New York Mills checked out merchandise she was selling at the NP Park. Brian Hansel/FOCUS 6 / 10
Liam Marpoe got into crafts at North Pines Market on the Main Street of Perham. Brian Hansel/FOCUS7 / 10
One of the Perham Fire Department trucks made the scene on First Avenue during the Harvest Fest. Brian Hansel/FOCUS8 / 10
Isabella and Brianna Pikula enjoyed the corn pool in the Goose Gang parking lot. Brian Hansel/FOCUS9 / 10
Nancy Brekke of Detroit Lakes loaded up with popcorn for her gang at the Comet Theater Saturday afternoon during a showing of "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory." Brian Hansel/FOCUS 10 / 10

Hardy shoppers failed to be put off by cold and cloudy weather Saturday as the annual Harvest Fest lured them to the streets of Perham.

The Perham Events Committee stages the fall event to promote commerce in the community by bringing people of all ages into town. Along with their merchandise, the committee offered many diversions, laughs and smiles.

Jon, Jamie and Charlotte Buck of Perham were among those who met Marshmallow Foundation Shelter dog Luna in downtown Perham. The Bucks were looking for a pet.

Other First Avenue activities included fire truck tours, arts and crafts and a bouncy house.

Up the street at NP Park, the Farmer’s Market saw vendors hawking (cold) watermelons, honey, Dreamcatchers and vegetables of many kinds.

Providing the “music” was Charlie Kichenwitz and his Makita Chainsaw.

Kirchenwitz has been a chainsaw sculptor for 30 years. He also does general tree work.

“A lot of time people have the top of a tree down and then they ask me to do a sculpture,” the Dent artist said.

Do they always know exactly what they want Kirchenwitz to create?

“They’ll have some suggestions and I have a book,” Kirchenwitz laughed.

Before he can go to work Kirchenwitz has to know if the tree he is being asked to sculpt is possible to work on. Basswood and ash trees that come down in a storm are often rotten inside.

“The middle is important,” said Kirchenwitz.

Different chainsaw sculptors work in different ways.

“My style is to have them standing straight up,” Kirchenwitz said. “It’s a chainsaw sculpture. If you want something similar get an actual reproduction.”

Like a true artist, Kirchenwitz creates something for himself that he hopes others will like.

“Not everyone liked Johnny Cash or you couldn’t get George Jones,” Kirchenwitz laughed.

A team of big, black horses pulled a wagon up to The Little Red Barn. The man holding the reins was a Perham native, Larry Doll, who has a sideline business he calls L and L Memorable Rides.

Doll and his wife, Lana, live near Eagle Bend and they own four horse-drawn carriages. One of them is for hauling a group of people, another is for wedding parties, a third is for parades and the fourth is for funerals. Yes, funerals.

“In the old days only the rich and famous got this treatment,” Doll said. “Everyone else got thrown in the back of a wagon.”

Doll’s fulltime job has been managing a propane plant near Miltona for 37 years. When he started his carriage ride business 2 ½ years ago, just to give himself and his wife something to do in retirement, he miscalculated.

“It’s picked up quicker than we thought,” Doll said.

Harvest Fest also offered shoppers a chance at sidewalk dining. Pulled pork sandwiches and turkey drumsticks were the fare in front of Ace Hardware.

It was hard to get too hungry. An all-day corn pool was set up at the Goose Gang shop for the enjoyment of children. A mystery man traveled around Perham handing out candy bars containing Golden Ticket chances at $500 in Perham bucks. Candy could be found at Calla Floral and Confections. Beer samples from Disgruntled Brewing could be had and baked goods were on sale outside the Pine Island Fish Company. Free popcorn was dished out during showings of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” at the Comet Theater.

For people looking for fun outside the city limits, there was the Otter Berry Farm, a rural address near St. Lawrence Church where visitors had a chance to test themselves in a corn maze.