Blueberry season is still raging full-force along the Shawangunk Ridge – especially the easy-to-pick highbush species, with their paler-blue, large, juicy, small-seeded fruits. Sunnier spots where the berries ripen early are probably already picked-over, whether by birds, humans or other mammals; but now would be a good time to check your favorite shadier troves.
Prefer to let someone else do the gathering – not to mention the baking, on a hot August day? Then you’ll want to head to Ellenville this Saturday, where the annual Blueberry Festival will be held. This celebration of the abundant local fruit commemorates the colorful history of the “huckleberry pickers” who once eked out a subsistence living in tiny mountain hamlets, while it entices visitors to experience a scenery-rich community on a slow bounce back from economic hard times. It is also intended as “a ‘give-back’ for all the hard work each and every one of us contributes to making our community what it is,” according to the event’s organizers at the Ellenville/Wawarsing Chamber of Commerce.
With activities scheduled from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on August 11, the Blueberry Festival kicks off with a Blueberry Pancake Breakfast, a fundraiser for the local fire company. It takes place from 9 to 11 a.m. at the Pioneer Engine Co.’s headquarters at Norbury Hall on Center Street. Afterwards you can amble over to Canal Street and Liberty Square, the center of the Festival action.
There, live music will be performed all day, featuring the Carl Richards Band, the Hudson Valley Youth Jazz Orchestra, the Evergreen Chorus JiNKS Quartet and the Hudson Valley Bluegrass Band. Stroll amongst the 175+ vendors at the street fair, take the kids to the Children’s Area to check out the bounce house and get their faces painted. Witness the announcement of the winners of the Homemade Blueberry Muffin Contest, which happens shortly after noon in the Muffin Tent by the Hunt Memorial Building stage. (If you want to compete, get your entries there by 11 a.m.)
And don’t head home before loading up on desserts at the Blueberry Pie Sale, where the pies are baked by Cohen’s Bakery using local blueberries.
For more details about the Ellenville Blueberry Festival, visit www.ewcoc.com/blueberry-festival.html.