The first annual Harvest Fest is an all-day tour of local farms and Key Center restaurants featuring foods and products from the Key Peninsula. The event is sponsored by the Washington State University Extension services and the Pierce County Farm Board. “This is a real opportunity to meet, and get to know, resources in the area of agriculture — to know where your local provider of food and fibers are,” said Jennifer Harte, Washington State University faculty member at the Pierce County Extension. “Farming is a part of culture — part of life.”
Many Key Pen farmers will present their resources at the Event Center in Longbranch hosted by the Wong Family Farm. Visitors may browse tables of honey, jams, jellies, dahlia bouquets and smoked and fresh salmon. The Sherman Family Petting Zoo will entertain kids of all ages. At 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., the herding dogs of MacDonald’s Eweful Acres will demonstrate their skills. Chuck Kraft will astound the audience with his psychology of horse training demonstration at 2 p.m. There will also be a live music serenade.
In beautiful downtown Key Center, O’Callahan’s and On the Way Deli will feature local foods on their menus. O’Callahan’s will be grilling Minterbrook Oysters for lunch and the deli will offer pumpkin soup, pies and desserts from Shiloh Farm. The Steve Smith and Friends Band will pick up the beat in front of the deli.
In addition to the Wong Family Farm, other farms participating in the tour event are Fred’s Dairy Barn and Toy Box in Longbranch, Fairview Acres in Lakebay, Shiloh Farm and Trillium Creek Winery in Home.
Fred’s Dairy Barn and Toy Box is a state-of-the-art barn with antique tractors and cars in its stables. Guests may walk through the barn and the adjoining lot to enjoy beautifully restored and mint condition vehicles such as a 1924 Franklin rambler and 1937 Cadillac. At Fairview Acres Lavender Farm, guests may stop and enjoy the whir of the spinning wheel inside the gift shop, which is filled with lavender lotions, berry jellies and piles of colorful home spun yarn. Outside, the gardens and greenhouse are open for a stroll.
The Howden Biggie pumpkins at Shiloh Farm combine a large size (35 to 60 pounds) with thick dark orange walls and have a true attractive pumpkin shape just right for the season. The Cinderella pumpkins are great in your favorite recipe and, of course, the giant pumpkin will be camera ready. Shiloh also has a large decorative gourd garden.
The tasting room at Trillium Creek Winery will be open. Chardonnay, merlot, fruit wines and raw-milk, French-style cheese from the Estrella Family Creamery are available from their deli. Tours of the vineyards and wine cellar will be ongoing throughout the day.
Bringing Harvest Fest to the Key Peninsula was Claude Gahard’s idea. Gahard is the owner of Trillium Creek and a member of the Pierce County Farm Board. When he learned that the first weekend in October is celebrated by farm tours throughout the state, he was certain Key Peninsula should be included. And he put the plan in motion. “We have a lot of talent on the Peninsula,” Gahard said. “We have some lovely food resources here on the Peninsula that we offer to the public-at-large in Pierce County, including oysters and shellfish, which are coastal area resources.”
County rules and regulations had to be met by participating farmers for the Harvest Fest and some favorite farms and produce stands not on the tour this year hope to join the event next year.
“Harvest Fest is coming together very well thanks to the generosity and offerings of our community,” Gahard said. The hopes and purpose of the event are to make the public aware of the fresh and local food resources available on the Peninsula and make it a part of the KP community’s lifestyle.