Celebrating on this harvest moon

(Left to right) Kalista, Shaunzi and Kimbra Clements crouch in a patch of low bush cranberries Aug. 15, 2016 on Tsalteshi Trails’ Wolverine Trail in Soldotna, Alaska during the Harvest Moon Festival. (Clarion File Photo)

The harvest moon marks the end of the growing season as the full moon nearest the autumnal equinox which marks the start of fall.

This year, the harvest moon rises on September 6, but the Kenai Peninsula will start celebrating its arrival with the fifth annual Harvest Moon Local Food Festival at the waxing crescent moon on Aug. 23.

The festival, organized by the Kenai Local Food Connection, features a wide variety of peninsula oriented food events and conversations happening daily from Aug. 23 to Aug. 29.

“Free events include adults cooking demonstrations Wednesday and Thursday, Saturday cooking classes for kids, special guest speakers on Friday evening and Sunday afternoon, and a local berry walk on Monday afternoon,” said Heidi Chay, district manager of the Kenai Soil and Water Conservation District, in a release promoting the event.

There will be two keynote talks, one from health educator Verne Varona and a second with Alaska Dispatch News columnist Maya Wilson.

Varona, who is the author of “Nature’s Cancer Fighting Foods” will speak on Friday from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Kenaitze Dena’ina Wellness Center.

“The work I do can be really rewarding,” Varona said. “It does transform people really quickly. I can explain it in practical terms, in scientific terms and then let them see that it’s not a harmful approach and they can do it.”

Varona will discuss fast tips, healing strategies and ways to feel more comfortable in the kitchen with what you’re cooking.

“The individual specifics of what we consume is up to us and we can only learn those by experimenting,” Varona said.

Varona will also hold a discussion on Monday, August 28 at 6:30 p.m. at Odie’s Deli about the healing power of humor.

“When you laugh, you forget about everything,” Varona said. “There is nothing that puts you greater in the moment than that big roar. It can be addictive, to get out of that present state of mind.”

Wilson, who is the author of “Alaska From Scratch,” will speak on Sunday from 3:30 to 5 p.m. a the Cook Inlet AquaCulture center on the topic “Food as Mindfulness”

There will also be a hike focusing on edibles in nature with Dr. George Spady of Alaska Boreal Herbs on Wednesday at 1 p.m. Those interested should meet at milepost seven on Funny River Road.

There will be four cooking classes held at Kenaitze Dena’ina Wellness Center on Wednesday and Thursday at 4 p.m., and on Saturday at 10 a.m. and 11:45 a.m.

There will be two opportunities to enjoy some tasty Kenai Peninsula food, in addition to cooking and learning about it.

On Saturday at 5:30 p.m., the Kenai Peninsula Food Bank will be holding its annual Soup Supper and Auction at Kenai Central High School. The event will feature an evening of gourmet soups, breads, drinks and desserts in addition to an auction for prizes from local businesses.

Tickets for the Soup Supper and Auction are $50 and available at the food bank, Charlotte’s Restaurant, River City Books or online.

At Diamond M Ranch on Sunday night at 5:30 p.m., there will be a celebration of locally-grown food with the second annual Farm to Table Supper. Local chef Willow King will be preparing a variety of local foods, followed by a sing-along folk jam. Tickets for the Farm to Table Supper are also $50 and can be purchased at The Flats Bistro of online.

For more information on any of the events at this year’s Harvest Moon Local Food Festival, visit www.kenailocalfood.org or call 252-2314.

Reach Kat Sorensen at kat.sorensen@peninsulaclarion.com

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