You’ve probably heard of the Pinewood Derby, in which Cub Scouts carve miniature cars out of scraps of lumber, attach wheels and then race them in local competitions. But times change, and two-by-fours just aren’t as cutting-edge these days as locally grown produce. So make way for the Match of the Millennium for young speed-demons: the Zucchini 500, coming on Saturday, September 28, to the Epworth Center in High Falls.
Building a hot rod out of vegetables isn’t the only attraction for kids that day at the Barn Dance and Local Food Barbecue celebrating the tenth anniversary of the Rondout Valley Growers’ Association (RVGA), though it may be the zaniest. Ever hear of solar popcorn? The BjornQorn company has invented a new type of solar concentrator called the Caloris Basin, which it uses to pop Rondout Valley-grown popcorn kernels into a tasty snack. You can try it here, and wash it down with fresh-pressed cider from Stone Ridge Orchards.
The Epworth Center, a beautiful rustic camp on the Rondout Creek, is being transformed by Elise Viola and Rosanne Percivalle, two well-known, locally based designers, especially for this day. A giant cornucopia overflowing with this year’s bounty will set the theme for the annual fundraising event and community harvest celebration, which runs from 3 to 10 p.m. Kids will be able to learn how to churn butter from 4-H Club members and how to make brooms from Ashokan Center educators. A worm farm and quite a few much larger farm animals will be waiting to make their acquaintance, along with tractors to climb and sit on. Even little ones can compete in the “Who Grows Here?” contest, which involves making a list of different animals and plants that they spot in a poster promoting RVGA.
There will be plenty to keep the grownups occupied, including live music from Rich Hines and the Hillbilly Drifters and a square dance at 7 p.m. with caller and fiddler Liz Slade and music from the Shoe String Band. But the centerpiece of the event will be the Local Food Barbecue, which will begin around 5 p.m., with fresh, locally grown food lovingly prepared by great local chefs organized by Nicci Cagan of the Chefs’ Consortium. The supper menu includes Rondout Valley sweet corn, Campanelli’s chicken, Hudson Valley Harvest sausage, homemade sauerkraut, vegetable polenta with Wild Hive grains and loads of seasonal vegetable dishes, topped off by local fruit and homemade cheese, Jane’s Ice Cream and a special bake sale. Vegetarian and gluten-free diets can be accommodated. Wine and Keegan Ales beer will be available.
Ten years ago, RVGA president Bruce Davenport co-founded the organization to preserve and promote farming in the Rondout Valley and raise awareness about the importance of farming to our community and economy. “We want to help people to understand where their food comes from and what it takes to produce it,” says Davenport. “For ten years, even before the rise of the local food movement, RVGA has been connecting people to the farmers and their land.”
The RVGA Barn Dance and Local Food Barbecue will go on rain or shine. Advance tickets will cost $25 per adult, $5 per child aged 6 to 12, and kids under age 6 get in for free. Tickets are available at Barthel’s Farm Stand, Davenport Farm Stand, Gill’s Farm Stand, the High Falls Food Co-op, Saunderskill Farm Stand, Stone Ridge Wine and Spirits, Kelder’s Farm, Bywater Bistro, the Rondout Valley Common Ground Celebration and the Jennie Bell Pie Festival, as well as online at www.rondoutvalleygrowers.org. On the day of the event, you’ll be able to purchase tickets at the gate for $30 per adult, $10 per child aged 6 to 12.
Want to get in for free? As of presstime, volunteers were still needed to help out, both before and during the event. E-mail email@example.com or call (845) 626-1532 for more info about volunteer opportunities. For more event details, visit RVGA’s website or its Facebook page.
Rondout Valley Growers’ Association Barn Dance & Local Food Barbecue, Saturday, September 28, 3-10 p.m., $30/$25/$10/$5, Epworth Center, 8 Epworth Lane (off Lucas Turnpike), High Falls; www.rondoutvalleygrowers.org.