PIEDMONT -- Joanne Stetson has lived in Piedmont for five years, but never had the chance to attend one of the city's hottest events of the year.
And it couldn't have gotten much hotter on Sept. 30, the first day of an early autumn heat wave to hit the Bay Area.
Stetson, who said she is usually traveling at this time of year, joined her husband and daughter for a sunny Piedmont Harvest Festival, the day Piedmonters celebrate backyard gardening with an edibles contest, scarecrow presentation and kids carnival. Stetson proudly entered her chocolate cake covered in icing to resemble a pumpkin.
"We're getting a little bit of Indian Summer," Stetson said.
Her 6-year-old daughter's class at Wildwood Elementary was among many with creatively costumed scarecrows, hers made of stuff animals. Another from a class at Havens Elementary featured butterflies hanging out with a Ninja Turtle, which had a pumpkin for a head.
The Piedmont Community Center was bustling with residents sampling jams and jellies entered in the contest, for which there were 228 entries this year, a 10 percent increase over 2011. Visitors also bought gourds, ears of corn and other produce offered by the Village Market, visited a public safety exhibit featuring sheriff's and Red Cross vehicles and took in an art show.
Liz Laub and Jane Violich, president and vice president, respectively, of the Piedmont Neighbors and Newcomers Club, staffed a table welcoming new residents and encouraging neighbors to get to know one another. The group -- whose website is www.piedmontpnnc.com -- is readying its Oktoberfest party and has an annual holiday event in December.
"For me, it was a great way to get involved in the community," said Violich, who moved to Piedmont from the East Coast.
The 14th annual festival was founded in the late 1990s by former mayor Susan Hill and others who wanted to recognize those who grew tomatoes, zucchini and a host of other produce in their own yards. For a full list of winners in the edibles contest, visit www.piedmontharvestfestival.org.