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 file)

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 file)

Serving up a passion for wellness, local foods

8th annual Harvest Moon Festival focuses on sustainability, locally sourced foods and food security.

Sustainability, locally sourced products and food security will be focuses of the Harvest Moon Festival, which returns this Saturday after nearly two years.

Jeanette Pedginski is a “connector” at the Kenai Local Food Connection, which is one of the Harvest Moon partners. She is helping organize Saturday’s event.

“It’s very exciting to all of us,” Pedginski said about the festival. “We’re all very passionate about local foods.”

This is the eighth annual Harvest Moon event, and the third year the festival has been a single-day affair. Last year organizers cancelled due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

This year the event will include local Alaska vendors selling homegrown food and wellness products, live music, cooking demonstrations, educational talks, a fermentation station, a pie-baking contest and a petting zoo. The festival has many local sponsors, including different nonprofits, outdoor recreation agencies and local farmers markets.

Pedginski said one of the main focuses of the festival is addressing local residents who don’t have enough to eat.

“We (Kenai Local Food Connection) are one of many local nonprofits that are concerned about food security,” she said.

The Kenai Local Food Connection often addresses food insecurity by hosting free outdoor walks with wild edible experts, according to a press release from the organization.

The Kenai Peninsula Food Bank is also a partner of the Harvest Moon Festival.

There will also be walks to learn about naturally grown edible food at Saturday’s event.

One of the events Pedginski said she thinks will get a lot of attention is the pie-making contest.

“The essential fun factor in life comes from pie, I think,” she said.

Ultimately, Pedginski said the festival is meant to promote local, sustainably sourced food. She said when people eat Alaska grown it doesn’t just contribute to physical health, but also social and mental well-being.

Pedginski said if it’s clear, festivalgoers may even see a (near) full moon Saturday evening.

The Harvest Moon Festival will be from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Soldotna Creek Park on Sept. 18.

Reach reporter Camille Botello at camille.botello@peninsulaclarion.com.

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