Kids make necklaces out of fresh vegetables at the Harvest Moon Local Food Festival at Soldotna Creek Park on Sept. 14, 2019. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion)

Kids make necklaces out of fresh vegetables at the Harvest Moon Local Food Festival at Soldotna Creek Park on Sept. 14, 2019. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion)

Pies, produce and pickling

Annual Harvest Moon Local Food Festival brings farmers and foragers to Soldotna Creek Park

September rains took a break on Saturday so that peninsula residents could buy and sell some fresh produce — and maybe get it pickled in the process.

At the annual Harvest Moon Local Food Festival, Alaska growers, bakers and chefs got an opportunity to connect with the community while advocating for eating healthy and eating local. Organized by members of the Kenai Local Food Connection, the event took place at Soldotna Creek Park for the second year.

Eliza Eller, a resident of Ionia and one of the organizers of the event, said that the goal of the Harvest Moon Festival is simple: buy local, eat local. Eller said that this year featured, among other things, homemade honey, sauerkraut, kombucha, sweets and medicinal salves, on top of plenty of fresh produce. Eller said that last year about 2,000 people attended the event. This year her volunteer counters had recorded well over 1,000 attendees by 1 p.m.

Eller was happy to see a large number of families attend this year. With the strong turnout and the sunny weather, Eller said she was “just about in heaven.”

A key part of the festival is the fermentation station. After picking out a selection of fruits and vegetables to take home, attendees had the opportunity to get their newly acquired produce pickled and preserved at no extra charge. Volunteers at the fermentation station also walked people through the process so that they could walk away with the knowledge to preserve food for the winter.

A new addition to the festival this year was the pie contest hosted by the local Farm Bureau and 4-H chapters. Eighteen different pies were submitted by peninsula residents and judged by local food experts Kelsey Shields of Lucy’s Market, Joe Spady of Three Peaks Mercantile and Larry Marsh of the Kenai Soil and Water Conservation District. The judges made their deliberations based on appearance, taste, creativity and overall impressions. The only requirement for entry was that at least one of the ingredients be locally grown.

Luckily, the judges weren’t the only ones who got to appreciate the pies, and after they chose their winners the public lined up to get a sample of strawberry rhubarb or pickle pie.

Awards were given out based on both the judge’s choice and the people’s choice and were divided into youth and adult entries. This year the judges chose a young man named Luigi as the winner of the youth division for his strawberry rhubarb pie. Luigi walked away with a fancy pie dish and a year’s membership to a local 4-H chapter.

For the adult division, the judges chose Carrie Barker’s rhubarb apple pie. Barker had never made that kind of pie before, and she said that the secret to her success was her use of hand-churned butter.

Folks also had the chance to not only buy some fresh produce, but to learn what they can do with it. Throughout the day educational workshops and live demonstrations could be found at the chef’s tent, and there were also a few wild edibles walks around the park. Eller gave classes on making kimchi and miso soup, and George Spady, who owns a holistic medicine clinic on the peninsula, taught people about local edible mushrooms and making jams and jellies from wild berries.

Volunteers work the fermentation station at the Harvest Moon Local Food Festival at Soldotna Creek Park on Sept. 14, 2019. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion)

Volunteers work the fermentation station at the Harvest Moon Local Food Festival at Soldotna Creek Park on Sept. 14, 2019. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion)

Volunteers work the fermentation station at the Harvest Moon Local Food Festival at Soldotna Creek Park on Sept. 14, 2019. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion)

Volunteers work the fermentation station at the Harvest Moon Local Food Festival at Soldotna Creek Park on Sept. 14, 2019. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion)

Sage Carricot, left, and Wade Alvore, right, show off their fork figures at the Harvest Moon Local Food Festival at Soldotna Creek Park on Sept. 14, 2019. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion)

Sage Carricot, left, and Wade Alvore, right, show off their fork figures at the Harvest Moon Local Food Festival at Soldotna Creek Park on Sept. 14, 2019. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion)

Michael and Tia Holley are seen here at their stand for Indigenous Herbals at the Harvest Moon Local Food Festival at Soldotna Creek Park on Sept. 14, 2019. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion)

Michael and Tia Holley are seen here at their stand for Indigenous Herbals at the Harvest Moon Local Food Festival at Soldotna Creek Park on Sept. 14, 2019. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion)

Sarah and Brandon McElrea show off Sarah’s Alaska Honey at the Harvest Moon Local Food Festival at Soldotna Creek Park on Sept. 14, 2019. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion)

Sarah and Brandon McElrea show off Sarah’s Alaska Honey at the Harvest Moon Local Food Festival at Soldotna Creek Park on Sept. 14, 2019. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion)

John Land, Christina Land, Joshua Land and Edgar Land of Grace Acres Farm show off some of their produce at the Harvest Moon Local Food Festival at Soldotna Creek Park on Sept. 14, 2019. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion)

John Land, Christina Land, Joshua Land and Edgar Land of Grace Acres Farm show off some of their produce at the Harvest Moon Local Food Festival at Soldotna Creek Park on Sept. 14, 2019. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion)

Debbie and Mike Arnold of the Arnold Family Farm show off their products at the Harvest Moon Local Food Festival at Soldotna Creek Park on Sept. 14, 2019. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion)

Debbie and Mike Arnold of the Arnold Family Farm show off their products at the Harvest Moon Local Food Festival at Soldotna Creek Park on Sept. 14, 2019. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion)

Eliza Eller with the Kenai Local Food Connection gives a class on making Kimchi at the Harvest Moon Local Food Festival at Soldotna Creek Park on Sept. 14, 2019. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion)

Eliza Eller with the Kenai Local Food Connection gives a class on making Kimchi at the Harvest Moon Local Food Festival at Soldotna Creek Park on Sept. 14, 2019. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion)

Pies, produce and pickling

Eliza Eller with the Kenai Local Food Connection gives a class on making Kimchi at the Harvest Moon Local Food Festival at Soldotna Creek Park on Sept. 14, 2019. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion)

From left, Tina Uta, Melanie Carpenter and Becky Uta prepare pie samples for the people’s choice pie contest at the Harvest Moon Local Food Festival at Soldotna Creek Park on Sept. 14, 2019. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion)

From left, Tina Uta, Melanie Carpenter and Becky Uta prepare pie samples for the people’s choice pie contest at the Harvest Moon Local Food Festival at Soldotna Creek Park on Sept. 14, 2019. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion)

From left, pie contest judges Kelsey Shields, Larry Marsh and Joe Spady deliberate on the best pies at the Harvest Moon Local Food Festival at Soldotna Creek Park on Sept. 14, 2019. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion)

From left, pie contest judges Kelsey Shields, Larry Marsh and Joe Spady deliberate on the best pies at the Harvest Moon Local Food Festival at Soldotna Creek Park on Sept. 14, 2019. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion)

Jane Conway of Lancashire Farm shows off her products at the Harvest Moon Local Food Festival at Soldotna Creek Park on Sept. 14, 2019. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion)

Jane Conway of Lancashire Farm shows off her products at the Harvest Moon Local Food Festival at Soldotna Creek Park on Sept. 14, 2019. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion)

Shelby Dykstra of Rosie’s Cake Pop Palace shows off her baked goods at the Harvest Moon Local Food Festival at Soldotna Creek Park on Sept. 14, 2019. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion)

Shelby Dykstra of Rosie’s Cake Pop Palace shows off her baked goods at the Harvest Moon Local Food Festival at Soldotna Creek Park on Sept. 14, 2019. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion)

From left, Isabel McClure, Ava Fabian, Brooke Summers and Emma Bolling smile for the camera while volunteering at the Harvest Moon Local Food Festival at Soldotna Creek Park on Sept. 14, 2019. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion)

From left, Isabel McClure, Ava Fabian, Brooke Summers and Emma Bolling smile for the camera while volunteering at the Harvest Moon Local Food Festival at Soldotna Creek Park on Sept. 14, 2019. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion)

Mary Appelhanz of M&M Produce speaks to customers at the Harvest Moon Local Food Festival at Soldotna Creek Park on Sept. 14, 2019. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion)

Mary Appelhanz of M&M Produce speaks to customers at the Harvest Moon Local Food Festival at Soldotna Creek Park on Sept. 14, 2019. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion)

More in News

Alaska Native illustrator Michaela Goade became the first Native American or Alaska Native to win the Caldecott Award on Jan. 25 for her work on “We Are Water Protectors,” about the defenders of Standing Rock Reservation. (Courtesy photo / Sydney Akagi)
‘It just feels very surreal’: a Q&A with Southeast’s recent Caldecott Medal winner

The prestigious award for her illustration work tails her Google Doodle being featured in December.

The Kenai Peninsula Borough administration building photographed on Tuesday, March 17, 2020, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)
Top priorities for CARES funds include businesses, nonprofits, seniors

The borough allocated its nearly $37.5 million in CARES Act dollars toward 24 different projects

Staff, lawmakers and members of the press gather for the first Senate Judiciary Committee meeting of the 32nd Legislature on Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2021. While Senators moved ahead with work, the House of Representatives was once again unable to organize. (Peter Segall /  Juneau Empire)
Deadlock continues as senators forge ahead

Only one member of the House Coalition — a 20-member group of mostly Democrats that also includes independents and a Republican — attended Wednesday’s floor session.

COVID-19. (Image via CDC)
Borough positivity rate drops below 1%

Four new cases were reported on the peninsula, all in Seward

State officials brief members of the media on Tuesday, Jan. 26 in Alaska. (Screenshot)
1st case of UK COVID variant announced

The variant was detected in an Anchorage resident who tested positive last month

President Joe Biden answers questions from reporters in the South Court Auditorium on the White House complex, Monday, Jan. 25, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
AP sources: Biden to pause oil, gas sales on public lands

Environmental groups hailed the expected moratorium as the kind of bold, urgent action needed to slow climate change.

Clayton Holland
Holland to be next superintendent

The board unanimously supported Holland, who will take over from O’Brien later this year

This photo shows a sign marking the Division of Motor Vehicles office in the Mendenhall Valley area of Juneau. Department of Administration Commissioner Kelly Tshibaka announced Monday that she was ordering a review of Division of Motor Vehicles’ processes to determine how plates reading “3REICH” were issued. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)
State to investigate issuance of offensive license plate

Division of Motor Vehicles plans to investigate the issuance of “3REICH” personalized license plates

Most Read