If you went to the first Mystic Faire of Gettysburg and thought the circus was in town, you wouldn't have been wrong.

That was the point, said Nicholas Mudgett, the president of Focus Foundation.

The Focus Foundation specializes in offering resources to children and adults on the autism spectrum. Many with special needs are left with little guidance from Pennsylvania after their 21st birthday, Mudgett said. This festival is a start to raising awareness and building connections in the community.

"Sometimes you see people with autism and they feel out of place because they dress and act different," Mudgett said. "We wanted to do something where no matter what, how they dress, how they act, they feel comfortable fitting right in."

The festival had acts such as hypnotists, magicians, dancers and a puppeteer, as well as musical entertainment ranging from folk to classic rock. Workshops taught festival-goers skills like bagpiping, spray paint art and juggling, and vendors were stationed throughout the event, located at Battlefield Harley-Davidson in Gettysburg.

Cindy Brewer was watching her son, Tyler Brewer, enjoy a puppet show. The opportunity to come out and make connections is what led her to the event, despite the rain, she said.

"You can get so used to a routine. This was nice because it was different and gave him a chance to meet new people and make friends," she said.

Those that worked at the festival had their faces painted, their hair dyed and wore clothes of all different colors. The point of the different clothing is to show it's okay to be different, Mudgett said.

"If you walked around right now, you probably couldn't pick out one of our clients, and I can see four or five," he said.

Jim Bryan was a volunteer at a tent where different comedy acts were taking place. His wife, who works in the Focus Foundation, urged him to volunteer at the festival, he said. It didn't take a lot of convincing.

"I know this is for a good cause," he said. "This is kind of a forgotten demographic that needs help."


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