The Lewisburg chapter of the Kiwanis Club will host the Woolly Worm Festival on Oct. 12 from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Hufnagle Park on Market Street, which will include free craft stations for children and several dozen food and craft vendors.
“This is a year-round planning event. It is a very anxious moment for us because we (the Kiwanis Club) never really know how many people are going to show up,” Ken Kulish said.
He and his wife have coordinated the Woolly Worm Festival for the previous three years.
“When the Kiwanis Club first started the Woolly Worm Festival … there might have been probably a couple hundred people there. Now there are a few thousand people coming to it throughout the day,” Kulish said.
The festival is named for the small, orange and black caterpillars that appear during the summer and later metamorphose into the Isabella Tiger Moth.
During the annual “Weather Prognostication Ceremony,” young scientists do various tests on the woolly worms, including measuring and weighing them, and try to predict the conditions for the upcoming winter from the data obtained.
“There is a lot of showmanship to the prognostication process, but the kids have a good time having the chance to pick up the 100 or so woolly worms we bring out … and hearing how many snow days they are going to have,” Kulish said.
The proceeds from the festival go to the Kiwanis Club for several charitable works, including scholarships, school supplies for needy children, and projects for the benefit of the Lewisburg community. The proceeds also go toward a project called The Eliminate Project, which is designed to help prevent and eliminate neonatal tetanus, a disease that affects newborn children.
Due to budget shortfalls, grant money from the Lewisburg Visitor Center and Arts Center for the festival was stripped back, and organizers turned to the local community for donations.
“This year we didn’t really know what was going to happen with the festival … We weren’t able to advertise much this year, but we made it through with the help of the townspeople. We made a plea to the Lewisburg community to help support this festival, and they responded in a huge way. We raised about $3000 in start-up money, which was enough to get our bands and our advertising paid for. It was a feel-good moment when the people of Lewisburg came through to us,” Kulish said.
Lewisburg Mayor Judy Wagner praised local donations and volunteer participation in the event.
“We continue to enjoy festivals and parades, and people continue to put in the time so the whole community can enjoy themselves … We make fun for ourselves here, and we do quite well. We think of new reasons to celebrate the seasons, our town, and ourselves,” Wagner said.