From humble beginnings in 2009, the Lillooet Hop & Grape Society is set to host its 9th annual Lillooet Harvest Festival on Saturday, Sept. 8.
Gearing up to be the biggest festival yet, the annual celebration of all things Lillooet agriculture draws more than 600 visitors per year to the event, which will again be hosted on the Fort Berens Estate Winery property.
“The Lillooet Harvest Festival is a family-oriented event and celebrates all that is Lillooet grown” explained Rolf de Bruin, founder of Fort Berens Estate Winery and member of the Lillooet Hop & Grape Society.
He continued, “it is a feast with local organic food prepared with local produce from our many small farmers in the region.” The festivities will kick off at 11 a.m. and run until 5 p.m. Major attractions this year will include the traditional logger sports, salmon cutting and drying demonstrations by Xwisten Tours, arts and crafts vendors, a bouncy castle and lawn games, and of course, food, beer, and wine. A new addition this year will be a square dance hosted by Professor Banjo.
Paul Silveria, aka Professor Banjo, and the Wooly Bears will be this year’s headlining entertainment. Silveria, a professional square dance caller, is originally from Portland, Oregon, but now calls Vancouver home. He will be hosting the square dance starting at 2 p.m. There is no need for prior experience, as all you need is two willing feet and a good spirit.
“The event is a volunteer-coordinated celebration of the harvest, hosted by the Lillooet Hops & Grape Society in partnership with the Lillooet Agriculture and Food Society,” de Bruin told the News. The partnership with the Lillooet Agriculture and Food Society (LAFS) will also bring more education to this year’s event, as the society will hold a series of educational workshops throughout the day.
Event coordinator Jackie Van Vliet told the News, “The event couldn't run without the support of a team of local volunteers.” The newly chartered Rotary Club of Lillooet will be providing a number of volunteers for this year’s event. Volunteers help with set up and take down, ticket sales for food and drink, parking, and other aspects of the festival.
Dubbed Beauty & the Beast, Van Vliet, explains that at this year’s festival they will be looking for the prettiest and gnarliest tomato, squash, and melon for the produce competition. There will also be a competition for the best pie, preserve, and handmade craft. The competitions will be judged on stage at 3:30 p.m. Van Vliet added that several great prizes will be up for grabs.
Joining the fun this year are a list of notable vendors, which include Smoke Shack 99, Pemberton Distillery, The Kitchen at Fort Berens, Jackson’s Social Club & Brewhouse, Fort Berens Estate Winery, as well as produce from JAR and Farma C, and local juices and kombucha.
Parking is available onsite on a first come, first served basis. There will also be a free safe ride home service. Last year, the festival offered a shuttle bus, but the service was underused. Volunteers will be able to assist guests in getting a safe ride home to any location in town, including campsites.
The Lillooet Harvest Festival is a free event, with food and drink tickets available for purchase. Information on ticket pricing and all things Harvest Festival can be found at www.lillooetharvestfestival.ca.
Lillooet Harvest Festival Free Educational Workshop Schedule:
- 12 p.m. Introduction to Viticulture with Rolf de Bruin
- 1 p.m. Introduction to Winemaking with Rolf de Bruin
- 2 p.m. Food Fermentation & Kombucha with Jill Miners
- 3 p.m. Hop Growing with Sam Quinlan
- 4 p.m. Locally Sourced Food and Wine Pairing with Sommelier Lesley Provost & Chef Jean-Sébastien Ouellette.
Editor’s Note: In addition to reporting for the Lillooet News, Holly Jezovit also works at Fort Berens Estate Winery.