NEW MILFORD —The Weatinoge Heritage Land Trust’s annual Fall Celebration has grown each year it’s been held, organizers said, and Saturday was no different.

Hundreds of families flocked to Smyrski Farm’s 220-acre preserve for a day of hay rides, children’s activities, live music and — a fan favorite — hot air balloon rides.

The free event is the Land Trust’s way of allowing the community to learn about its work at the farm, which is typically closed to the public throughout the year, and the other 10,000 acres of land it protects throughout the area.

“We protect 4,000 acres in the town of New Milford alone and here at Smyrski Farm you’re sort of in the heart of our protected lands,” said Catherine Rawson, Weatinoge’s executive director. “It’s also just a terrific day for children and families and a way to thank our members and the community.”

The farm, which the land trust leases to farmers, includes historic barns, trails and over a mile of the West Aspetuck River.

Saturday’s celebration, the fifth year the event has been held, attracted both returning families and newcomers to the celebration.

The Bennett family, who had just moved to New Milford, said they thought the event would be good chance to meet their new neighbors. They were most excited to see the birds of prey show that was planned for later in the day and paint pumpkins, a new activity this year.

Kirsten Lean and her 6-year-old son, Curtis Mangar, who were returning to the festival for the fourth time said they arrived early to ensure they got a chance to ride the hot air balloon.

They were excited to check out the hay ride and other activities next, Lean said.

“There’s more festivities this year which is super exciting,” she said. “We’d be here all day (if we could).”

aquinn@newstimes.com