By Ann Reily
---- — Two days of celebration mixing music with all the great things fall has to offer will raise money for local schools.
The American Music and Harvest Festival is set for Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Spencer-Peirce-Little Farm in Newbury.
Organized by the Newburyport Education Foundation and underwritten by the Institution for Savings, the event will benefit the Newburyport, Ipswich, Masconomet, Pentucket and Triton education foundations, as well as Newburyport’s River Valley Charter School and Immaculate Conception School and Historic New England, which runs the Spencer-Peirce-Little Farm.
Though it’s billed as the third annual festival, this year’s extravaganza is actually the combination of two previous events — the third music festival and the 16th harvest festival — making it bigger than ever.
“It’s the first time we’ve combined the traditional harvest festival with the big music festival,” said Bethany Groff, the regional manager for Historic New England. “We’re trying to keep the best of both events.”
“We’re very excited to have these two events culminate in this wonderful weekend,” said Jay Iannini, vice president and president-elect of the Newburyport Education Foundation. “It’s been great to collaborate with people across the region.”
Iannini said the education foundation wanted to have “a big blowout” to celebrate the 10th anniversary of its collaboration with the Institution for Savings and decided to join forces with other education foundations and schools in the area for this year’s festival.
“It’s a great venue to raise people’s awareness about what local education foundations in their communities do,” Iannini said. “We want to give people the opportunity to learn more about them.”
Education foundations raise money for both new and existing programs in the schools, with the goal of enhancing the quality of public education. Since it was founded in 2004, the Newburyport foundation has donated $2.2 million, which has paid for computers, technology, labs, field trips and more.
“The foundation came to us this year with the idea to make (the festival) a larger event,” said Mary Anne Clancy, vice president of communications at the Institution for Savings. “We thought that was a great idea. Education is something that really touches everyone in our community.”
The festival will be held rain or shine and features a full lineup of bands over the two days, including Buffalo Tom, Das Pintos, Liz Frame and the Kickers, and the Orville Giddings Thang on Saturday and Bruce Molsky, Chasing Blue, High Range, Three Tall Pines, Tricky Britches, Molly Tuttle and John Mailander, Cat & The Moon, Anadama, Lonely Heart String Band and Katie McNally.
“We basically took all of our favorite musicians and invited them to come, and we’re so lucky they all said they would,” said Groff, who added that Saturday will be more funk and rock ’n’ roll, while Sunday is mostly Americana and bluegrass.
Lynne Taylor, bassist for Liz Frame and the Kickers, said she is looking forward to returning to the music festival this year. The Newburyport-based band has a new guitarist, Pat Chamberlin.
“We’re very excited to bring him on-board,” Taylor said.
Kristine Malpica, the band’s original percussionist, will also join the group for Saturday’s performance.
“A lot of people really miss that original lineup of Liz, Kristine and myself,” said Taylor, who is a teacher at River Valley Charter School.
“In between the music, there will be some fun, harvest-y events,” Groff said.
Activities include tours of the 1690 stone and brick manor house, vintage baseball games, cornhusking and pie-eating contests, cider pressing, hayrides, fall crafts, and pumpkin bowling.
Cider, doughnuts, hot lunches and beer will be available for purchase. On Sunday at 5 p.m., an old-time family dance and dinner for ages 6 and up will be held, with participants learning traditional steps.
The farm is also debuting its new pig, Alfred, who joins 800-pound Dave. All of the animals at the farm come from the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
Advance tickets are available online through tomorrow at the Newburyport Education Foundation website, where attendees can choose which foundation or school they want their money to go to. Tickets will also be available at the door.
If you go
What: American Music and Harvest Festival
When: Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Where: Spencer-Peirce-Little Farm, 5 Little’s Lane, Newbury
How much: If purchased online in advance, tickets are $30 per family or $50 for a two-day family pass. At the door, tickets are $15 per person per day ($10 for Historic New England members).
More information: www.newburyportef.org/musicfest.shtml or 978-462-2634