Community celebrates fall harvest

Foothills: Annual Harvest Festival allows people to connect to food

By: Roxanne Blackwell

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Aug 20, 2014 03:53 pm

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  • A visitor picks through the u-pick garden at Kayben Farms last year during the harvest festival.
    A visitor picks through the u-pick garden at Kayben Farms last year during the harvest festival.
    Wheel file photo
  • Cherie Andrews, co-owner of Chinook Honey Co dons a bee beard during the competition at least year's festival. There will be two bee beard competitions again this year.
    Cherie Andrews, co-owner of Chinook Honey Co dons a bee beard during the competition at least year's festival. There will be two bee beard competitions again this year.
    Wheel file photo

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Even if you aren’t a farmer, it doesn’t mean you can’t reap the benefits of the fall harvest.

The 10th annual Harvest Festival will be taking place at Chinook Honey Co. and Kayben Farms on Aug. 23, where visitors will be able to learn about Alberta’s farming and bee industries while taking part in an assortment of activities.

Starting at 10:30 a.m., Chinook Honey Co co-owner Cherie Andrews said visitors can watch through the protection of screens as staff members open up the beehives and take out layers of honeycomb to prepare for extraction.

“They go through the process of opening the hive boxes, and they can see up close really get a first hand look at things like how they use the smoker, and see how it is to work with the bees,” she said.

Once the comb is out of the hive, visitors will have a chance to participate in extracting the honey, which Andrews said is a good opportunity for children’s to get involved and get their hands sticky.

There will be horse-drawn wagon rides and a kids zone with a bale maze, craft and face painters to keep the little ones entertained, and on the adult side there will be meadery tours throughout the day where you can see how they turn their honey into award-winning alcohol.

One event that is sure to draw a crowd is the bee beard competition – just like it sounds, Andrews and others will fasten a queen bee around their neck and have an entire colony of bees swarm their face. Andrews took part last year, and said it was the ultimate test of nerves.

“Working with bees you always kind of wonder ‘what would it really feel like?’” she said. “You need to go into a Zen kind of situation in your mind. Make no quick moves, it’s a very interesting feeling.”

For those wondering, Andrews wasn’t stung at all by the hundreds of bees on her face and said in addition to the entertainment value, a big part of the event is about educating people about bees and their gentle nature.

“The biggest point of it is to demonstrate that bees really are easy to work with. By nature they are not aggressive,” she said.

Andrews’ favourite part of the festival each year is seeing the enjoyment of people at the festival and answering questions about beekeeping so they can learn more about where their honey comes from.

Judy Kolk from Kayben Farms agrees that having people come out to experience something new is her favourite part of the harvest festival each year. Kayben Farms has been co-hosting the event with Chinook Honey Co. for nine years, and between the two locations, visitors are provided with a great variety of activities for the day.

Kayben Farms has 25,000 black currant plants, and will offer visitors a chance to see how the berries are mechanically harvested, as well as the opportunity to pick their own by hand.

“It’s really satisfying discovering something new, we love black currants and spreading the word about them,” Kolk said. “It’s quite an intense fruit, a lot of people are really health conscious but don’t know about them, and to see people discover that and that new excitement is great.”

In addition to the crafts, wagon rides, and the corn maze, there are other fruits and vegetables available to be picked as well throughout the day. Kolk said it’s a great opportunity to come out, have fun, and teach your little ones a bit about food production and harvest.

“There’s some really different and interesting farming that happens here in Alberta and they’re truly not aware. They get to experience it themselves, show their kids and see where their food is grown. It’s exciting for people, they like to experience the connection,” Kolk said. “There’s something cool about having picked the fruit and then using it, it has this different impact on what you put it in because you had that experience and that’s meaningful to people, they love it.”

Tickets for the event can be purchased online www.foothillsharvestfestival.com where you receive a discounted price if you purchase tickets to both venues. Tickets can also be purchased at the gate of either location and if you choose to attend both, a discount will be applied at the second location when you show your first ticket.


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