First Harvest Moon Festival ‘celebrates progress’

The peninsula’s biggest food celebration commences this Saturday with live music, activities, guest speakers, cooking demonstrations, farm vendors and food trucks that will be featuring healthy dishes with Alaska-grown products.

Harvest Moon Local Food Week is in its sixth year, and for the first time, the week will end in a festival. Kenai Local Food Connection, a nonprofit group of volunteers operating under Bridges Community Resource Network, organizes Harvest Moon Local Food Week. Heidi Chay of Kenai Soil and Water District, a co-sponsor of the festival, said the event celebrates progress.

“We want to keep up the momentum,” Chay said.

The festival will kick off Friday with a keynote speaker. From 6-8 p.m., at the Soldotna Public Library, Bryce Wrigley, founder of Alaska Flour Company and Delta Junction farmer, will present a talk on “Alaska’s Path to Food Security.” Wrigley plans to highlight options on how to move Alaska toward self-sufficiency. The event is free.

On Saturday at the festival, there will be seven demonstrations where people can watch how to preserve produce, cook with wild plants and how to use Alaska-grown barley, among other things.

There will also be a Preserving the Harvest tent where visitors can see and learn how to keep and use their products through the winter months. With farmers markets closing for the winter, the festival presents an opportunity to stock up on locally grown food.

“This will be the biggest gathering of food vendors,” Chay said. “This spring was cool and late, which means farmers are now bringing in large harvests.”

There will be live music — from Latin guitar to classic rock, to bluegrass — to serenade festival goers.

The Soldotna-based food truck, Wok n’ Roll, will be serving up their classic Filipino dishes with a healthier, Alaska-grown twist.

“Our regular combo meals will be served with a twist,” Raquel Hawkins, owner of Wok n’ Roll said. “Instead of rice and noodles, we will top it with sides of chop suey or stir fry vegetables. We’ll have brown rice, salad greens, fresh and vegetarian rolls, curry with squash and green beans, adobo with potato and pickled vegetables and steamed dumplings.”

The festival also features many speakers, including Saskia Esslinger who is a garden educator and the executive director of Homer Folk School, Dr. Gary Ferguson who is a consultant and former wellness and prevention director at Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, Zoi Maroudas-Tziolas who is the creator of Anchorage’s Bambino’s Baby Food and Maya Wilson who is the author of Alaska from Scratch Cookbook and the future chef of Soldotna restaurant Addie Camp Train Car Eatery and Wine Bar.

The festival will take place from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday at Soldotna Creek Park.

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