The Hoes Down Festival!!

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By Judith Redmond of Full Belly Farm, courtesy of Capay Valley Farm Shop

The 24th annual Hoes Down Harvest Festival falls on Saturday October 1st this year. Folks up and down the Capay Valley organize this extravaganza as a way of showcasing and celebrating all the elements that make our rural Capay Valley extra special. The Festival proclaims itself “dedicated to honoring and promoting the knowledge of sustainable rural living through inspiration and education.” Sustainable rural living? Well, it’s something about fabulous food, music, performance, romance, crafts, and merriment if the Hoes Down activities are any indication.

We recently hosted a group of families for an afternoon here at Full Belly. Walking through the peach and plum orchards, everyone wanted to find a ripe fruit to eat straight from the tree. After several different fresh-picked pieces of summer fruit had gone straight into the mouth of his 5-year old son, Dad said, “Bobby, that’s more fruit than I’ve seen you eat in the last month!” We think that Bobby’s enchantment with fruit hanging from the trees was about more than deliciousness. There’s something a little bit magic about seeing up close where your food is grown and connecting with the mysteries of food production and preparation. The Hoes Down offers a hands on look at some of those processes. For example, you will see a cow being milked, a sheep being sheared, and wheat being threshed and ground. You might see ice cream getting churned and then get to taste it. Or maybe after the sheep are sheared, you will stick around to make felt from the wool and then dye it.

The ”˜merriment’ part of the festival includes contra dancing, watching the amazing Circus Bella, or listening to our fabulous musical lineup on the main stage. Swimming in the creek, or getting dunked in the dunk tank might appeal as well. But we’re especially proud of the food at the Hoes Down. It comes from all of the best places, the finest quality organic foods available are used to cook your lunch and dinner.

There’s more information about all of this at our web site ( But there’s a final, very important element of the Hoes Down that many people don’t actually pay attention to, even though we always mention it whenever we talk about the Festival. In our mission statement, when we say we are “promoting” sustainable rural living, in part we are just thinking about the experience of the actual Festival, but the other part of the equation is that the Hoes Down is a fundraiser. It benefits a number of very important organizations that are critical to the sustainability of rural areas and of agriculture. This is just one more reason why it is so important for you ALL to think about coming, put it on your calendar, bring your friends and help us make the Hoes Down a big success.

If you want to do more than attend the Hoes Down on October 1st, if you want to make it especially memorable, please consider being a volunteer! The Hoes Down is completely volunteer powered. Our volunteer shifts are generally 4 hours and as a volunteer you get free admission and camping (that’s a $40 value!) You’ll be making a contribution to the non-profit organizations, as well as ensuring that you make new friends and have even more fun. We have a sign-up form on the Hoes Down web site!


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