MASSENA - Zucchini takes the spotlight this week in Massena.
The Nature Center at Robert Moses State Park will be holding a workshop Friday afternoon at the Massena Public Library to teach participants how to build a zucchini race car.
Participants will then have an opportunity to put their car to the test during Saturdays Harvest Festival in downtown Massena.
Debra A. Donatto, grant program coordinator with the Nature Center, will be leading Fridays workshop, which will be held from 3 to 4:30 p.m.
Ms. Donatto said Penny Pullmain, associate director at the Greater Massena Chamber of Commerce, came up with the idea for zucchini car racing.
They want to start an annual zucchini car race, she said.
I had gotten it from other locations and other states. I was Googling harvest activities and saw a poster that somebody had done, Ms. Pullmain said.
Ms. Donatto helps coordinate events with the chamber and thats how she got involved with Fridays workshop.
We (the Nature Center) are a big part of the Winter Carnival as far as activities and events. They asked me to stay on with their organizing committees, she said.
For Fridays workshop, shell teach participants how to create their car, including how to shave it and dress it up to their liking. Participants only have to bring their own zucchini.
Were going to bring some donated Hot Wheel cars and have them carve out underneath the zucchini and attach the Hot Wheel cars. Well have some other types of wheels too, and well let them pick what they want to use and have them shave it down, Ms. Donatto said.
Well have a whole bunch of stuff and kids can get creative and choose what they want to use. Ill be there to assist them and help put it together so itll work. It should be a fun thing. I think if kids participate theyll have a good time. Its anything they want to do. Its sort of a free for all, she said.
Race cars must be made from a real zucchini, which can be any size. Wheels must be attached to the zucchini - no skate boards or roller skates - and the zucchini must be self-propelled, with no motor cars or remote controls. Wheels can be made from anything, including wood, metal and plastic wheels from an old toy car, and the zucchini car can be decorated any way the racer wants.
Ms. Donatto said shell be available beginning at 3 p.m., and workshop participants can stay until the library closes at 5 p.m.
The reason were hosting it on Friday is, if we held it any earlier, the zucchinis would get rotten by Saturday, she said. Zucchini has a lot more flexibility than a piece of wood. Its a whole lot easier to shave down.
Participants in Saturdays race, part of the Greater Massena Chamber of Commerces sixth annual Harvest Festival, will be vying for first, second and third place for fastest, slowest, most creative and scariest.
Theyve got some beautiful trophies to give out, Ms. Donatto said.
The race will be held on a Pinewood Derby track used by the Cub Scouts.
We were going to build one. We contacted them and theyre donating it to us because theyre buying a new one next year, Ms. Pullmain said. Its not a very wide track. We may have one zucchini going down or two zucchinis going down.
The zucchini car race will be a first for the chamber, but one they plan to hold annually during the Harvest Festival.
Its just different; its fun and its something new, chamber President Miriam S. Catapano said. The nice thing is the Nature Center and Debra Donatto will have a class at the library to help people learn how to build them. Theyre going to do it right beforehand. Shes really taken it on. Shes going to have all the supplies for people.
The races will begin around noon. Participants can pre-register before noon at the Massena Chamber booth and theyll be assigned an age classification and given their race time. Age groups will be 5 and under, 6 to 9, and 01 and up.
Plenty of other activities will also be taking place along Main Street from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., according to Ms. Catapano, including crafters and vendors, who will have information and demonstrations, and a number of kids activities that include pony rides, pumpkin painting, a bounce house and face painting.
Mark Bogdan will once again have his life-sized Candy Lane game set up on Main Street, she said.
For more information on the Harvest Festival, contact the Massena Chamber at 769-3525 or visit their website at www.massenachamber.com.