By Chris Hendrickson
It seems like it happened overnight. The air became crisp, leaves began to drop and rain has been frequently sloshing its way into the weather forecast. Fall has officially arrived and that means it’s time for the annual Sky Valley Farm Festival. Presented by the Sky Valley Chamber of Commerce, the Sky Valley Farm Festival recognizes and celebrates the Sky Valley’s rich farming history.
The festival will take place on Saturday, Oct. 12 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and will feature informational booths, livestock, a petting zoo, tractor-pulled wagon rides, children’s activities, cooking demonstrations, arts and crafts and much more. Five local farms have come together to offer this streamlined event which takes place along the lower Fern Bluff Road in between Sultan and Monroe.
The festival welcomes tourists from near and far to explore and enjoy many different aspects of the valley’s agricultural community.
“The people that come up from the city are just in awe,” said Elizabeth Emmons, one of the event’s key organizers. “It’s the best showcase of the valley.”
Farms participating in the festival circuit this year are River’s End Cattle Ranch, located off of Fern Bluff Road at 16603 275th Ave. S.E.; Johannsen’s Farm, located at 16308 275th Ave. S.E.; Groeneveld’s Dairy Farm, located at 29524 Fern Bluff Road and Stockings Garden and Nursery, located at 29900 Fern Bluff Road. Also participating in this year’s festival is R. Heritage Farm from Gold Bar, who will bring along their prized sow, Miss Pig Pig. All farms have Monroe addresses but are actually located just outside of Sultan.
Festival attendees are invited to park at any of the four farms located off of Fern Bluff Road on the South side of U.S. Highway 2, but organizers suggest parking at River’s End Farm or Groeneveld’s due to their expansive parking areas. Tractor-pulled wagons will offer transportation services to families continuously throughout the day, taking them from farm to farm.
River’s End Cattle Ranch will feature hayloft rope swinging, horseback riding, roping lessons, educational displays and arts and crafts. Miss Pig Pig will spend time here, greeting guests and showing off her baby piglets. There will be guided tours of the ranch, including a trip to the nearby Skykomish River.
“This is going to be a wonderful year because the salmon are spawning,” said Emmons. “They are going to be thick!”
New to the festival this year is Johannsen’s Farm, who will host a petting zoo featuring a variety of animals. 4H members will be on hand to give information and answer questions about the different critters. This farm will feature a large eating area, and the Sultan Elementary School PTO will offer a hotdog lunch to raise money for the school. Guests of the festival can relax and take a few moments to recharge before moving on to the next farm.
At Groeneveld’s Dairy Farm, guests will find a plethora of informational signs providing interesting facts and details about dairy farming. This farm features a baby cow barn, where families with younger kids can enjoy watching their children literally get nose-to-nose with the little dairy calves. Folks can stay to watch the milking process, which begins at 4 p.m.
Finally, at Stocking’s Garden and Nursery, guests can attend cooking demonstrations detailing how to turn fresh produce into a delicious meal. There will be canning and cheese-making demonstrations, plus free cookbooks offering featured recipes.Chefs Gordon MacDonald and Mimi Stockmann will be on-site, offering their expertise. Stocking’s will give festival attendees the opportunity to explore their corn maze at a discounted rate.
Video footage from last year’s festival shows tractors pulling wagons full of people, kids on horseback, families exploring and experiencing the sites and the sounds of the valley’s farming community, often with smiles on their faces. Emmons attributes the success of the festival to the farm owners who take the time to participate and ready their farms for potentially hundreds of guests.
“I can’t express how hard they work,” said Emmons. “There’s a lot of heart in the farm festival.”
“It’s exciting. We look forward to it all year long; we love working together,” she continued.
While the Sky Valley Farm Festival is a free event, organizers are requesting that families give a $5 donation. Donation bins will be located on the tractor-pulled wagons. The money goes for fueling the tractors and keeping the festival alive for next year. Anybody interested in setting up an informational booth at the festival should contact Elizabeth Emmons at 503-380-7533 or via email: Elizabeth_ben2003@yahoo.com. For additional information on the festival, please see the Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Sky-Valley-Farm-Festival/205750319439335.