Harvest Festival celebrates unique foothills agri-business ventures
By: Tammy Rollie
| Posted: Wednesday, Aug 21, 2013 09:18 am
Those with a fear of flying insects bearing a painful sting may have a different outlook after this weekend.
The Chinook Honey Company west of Okotoks is offering education on honeybees with a variety of activities during its annual Harvest Festival on Aug. 24.
The Harvest Festival has expanded this year as a partnership with Kayben Farms Harvest Festival and the Foothills Highland Games. The three events in the Foothills Harvest Festival and Highland Games are cross-promoting one another and for those who pay full admission at one event receive half-price admission at the other two.
The partners are offering a wide variety of experiences for Foothills residents and tourists can sample everything from black currents at Kayben, haggis burgers at the Highland Games and a bee beard at Chinook Honey Company.
“As much as people do fear bees they’re so intelligent for little insects,” said Chinook Honey Company co-owner Cherie Andrews. “They’re so organized and so unified in that the whole goal of the hive is the betterment of the whole operation.”
The day of activities at Chinook Honey includes open hive demonstrations every half hour and the bee beard contest is expected to draw attention at 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.
Andrews, a Calgary beekeeper and other brave volunteers will have a queen bee secured around their necks prompting the worker bees to climb on their necks and faces to create a beard made purely of bees.
“You feel the little bees with their little feet tickling,” she said “They are actually fanning with their wings. It’s a bit of air conditioning.”
Hands-on activities include honey extracting where everyone gets a turn at spinning honey to sample, a scavenger hunt where participants hunt for beekeeping related items in a maze, children’s crafts, a bale rolling competition and meadery tours and tasting, every hour and a half starting at 10:30 a.m.
“The Scottish were one of the earlier mead drinkers of the world,” Andrews said, adding that in honour of their partnership with the Foothills Highland Games the Chinook Honey Company is offering free admission to anyone donned in medieval garb.
Andrews said these activities are a great way to raise awareness around bees.
“We are all becoming very aware of how important they are to our food chain,” she said. “The fact that two thirds of our food is directly or indirectly attached to the health of honey bees is pretty inspiring and also scary when you think they are potentially at risk health wise.”
In addition to the traditional honey ice cream A food truck will sell honey jerk chicken and turkey wings, rice and beans and mango salad.
“It’s just going to be a fun day for all of us to come together and enjoy the good things,” she said. “We are so fortunate we weren’t directly affected (by the June 20 flood), but we’ve all been affected because we have friends, relatives and coworkers involved. It’s touched everyone. If you’ve been busy with repairs you still need a bit of a break and this could be it.”
Kayben Farms co-owner Judy Kolk is inviting people to witness their harvest. Black currant harvester demonstrations are scheduled for 11 a.m., 12 p.m., 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. where co-owner Claude Kolk will operate the machine harvester and explain the process of harvesting black currants.
Other activities include live music by Okotoks musician James Buchholz at 12:30 p.m., wagon rides, a show and shine and crafts.
The show and shine is the new addition this year, inspired by Kolk’s neighbour Richard Rowland, who passed away in June.
“We wanted to do something different this year than we’ve done before,” said Kayben co-owner Judy Kolk. “We wanted something that has a lot of appeal to a demographic we haven’t had as much from. We’ve got a lot of moms and kids come out here but let’s do something that’s really targeted to the guys.”
Kolk said Roland had a passion for restoring old vehicles and equipment and she hopes to feature one or more of his vehicles in the show and shine. Others wanting to showcase their vehicles can register at www.kayben.com
Kolk said the festivities run from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and include the other daily activities at Kayben Farms including a petting zoo, peddle carts, corn maze and bouncy bubbles.
“It’s a busy event,” she said. “There is a lot of stuff for people to do. There is so much space to run around and different things they get to play with.”
For years, Kayben Farms partnered with the Chinook Honey Farm for their Harvest Festival and Kolk said she is glad to add the Foothills Highland Games to the list as the three events typically run on the same weekend.
Admission to the Chinook Honey Company is $10 for adults, $5 for children and $25 for families and Kayben Farms is $10 per person, $8 for seniors and $30 for families. Admission for the Foothills Highland Games is $10 per person or $25 for family of four.