This time of year, my family and I start looking forward to the Mill Neck Family's Fall Harvest Festival. The festival usually takes place Columbus Day weekend -- Oct. 12 and 13 this year -- from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

I look forward to the Festival because of the many ways to spend some fun time outdoors with family and friends. There are many activities, including pumpkin decorating, face painting, games and inflatable rides. My favorite activity is the face painting because the designs are very artistic, and each face painting is a unique surprise.

I also like the pumpkin picking and decorating. You can choose your own pumpkin from the pumpkin patch, where they have hay bales and a tractor to play on. You can sit with your friends and decorate your pumpkin with foam cutout stickers.

The food is delicious, too. It includes hot dogs, hamburgers, bratwurst, apple pie, strudel, funnel cakes and fudge. And don't forget my favorite, the roasted sweet corn on the cob with butter. You can even choose your own seasonings.

I spoke with Nancy Leghart, director of advancement of the Mill Neck Manor Family of Organizations, to find out some history about the Mill Neck Manor School for the Deaf and the annual Mill Neck Apple Festival.

What is the history of Mill Neck Manor School for the Deaf?

The Mill Neck Manor School for the Deaf was started in 1947 by Lutheran friends of the deaf. The mansion that the school is located in is historic. The school opened with 16 boys and girls.

How long has the Apple Festival been going on?

The Apple Festival has been going on for over 50 years.

How did it start?

The campus used to be an apple orchard. People would come and pick apples and leave a donation for the school. It used to be two full weekends. But the official Apple Festival started in 1961.

Who benefits from the Apple Festival?

The Apple Festival raises funds not only for the Mill Neck Manor School for the Deaf, but the entire Mill Neck Family of Organizations. We serve children and adults with special needs, and the funds are used to support their programs.

For information, call 800-264-0662. It's located at 40 Frost Mill Rd., Mill Neck. Check out the website:

Newsday LogoCovering LI news as it happensDigital AccessOnly 25¢for 5 months