By Jeanne Sager
LIBERTY June 17, 2003 Sullivan Countys best-kept secret isnt so secret anymore.
Cornell Cooperative Extension threw open its doors to the sun and the community Saturday morning, in hopes that they could get the word out about everything the Liberty facility has to offer.
The second annual extension festival might as well have been their first attempt. Unlike last year, the day dawned bright and sunny, and hundreds of folks were out wandering the parking lot in Liberty watching cows get shaved and learning about master gardeners.
Most folks think its just a place for farmers. And Director Judy Essex has heard from dozens of people in the community whove never heard of Cornell Cooperative Extension.
I dont know how, with all that we do to get our name out there, she said. But we dont pay for advertising an awful lot.
Im using taxpayers dollars here, I dont like to spend an awful lot on advertising.
Most of their information is dispersed through word of mouth and pamphlets distributed by extension workers. But that doesnt always get the attention of the entire community after all, many people still think its a place for farmers.
But theres lots and lots of programs going on here, Essex said.
There are financial planning classes, youth development activities, resources for adult caregivers, water tests for homeowners, even classes on food security and disaster management.
Thats where the festival comes in. Extension groups and affiliates, from 4-H to the Sullivan County Beekeepers, set up booths both inside and outside the facility to give the community a chance to explore their options and ask questions.
Henry King of Claryville watched a lot of people walk by his display, peer at his beekeeping equipment with curiosity, then walk out the door.
But those who stopped, he said, asked good, pertinent questions.
They really want to know what its all about, he said.
The entire festival gave people a chance to learn about things if they took the time to ask the questions, King noted.
It exposes people to things youd never be exposed to, he explained, which is always good.
Its about broadening your horizons.
And most of the families who lined up to pet a goat or buy garlic-and-peanut butter dog biscuits from 4-H were doing just that.
Daniel Dutcher, 5, of Livingston Manor, petted his first rabbit Saturday morning.
Were always looking for something new to do with him, explained Dutchers grandmother, Ginger.
Something to make his brain and imagination work, added family friend Ed Holshek.
As for Daniel, he was off in search of another bunny to cuddle with, and to learn about the extension through a 5-year-olds eyes.
For more information on any of Cornell Cooperative Extensions programs, call 292-6180, or visit the office on Ferndale-Loomis Road.