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Honor the harvest season in October at the Hoes Down Harvest Festival, a family-friendly event hosted at the beautiful Full Belly Farm in California’s fertile Capay Valley. The valley, just north of Sacramento, has one of the largest concentrations of organic and sustainable farms in the world. This event brings many of them together, along with local and statewide organizations that are working on projects to benefit sustainable agriculture and communities. It all makes for a remarkable opportunity for visitors to get a glimpse of rural life and to deepen their understanding and connection with the local food system.  

At the festival, there’s always plenty of delicious, freshly harvested food on hand, like fresh-picked almonds and walnuts, a wide variety of melons, apples, and every other kind of produce imaginable. Kids can see up close what it’s like to milk a cow, make felt out of wool, and grind corn. Workshops are available on such environmentally aware endeavors as composting, tree pruning, the basics of sustainable butchering, herb gardening, and even how to get started with solar energy. Or sign up for a guided bike ride, a farm tour, or a course in flower design. You don’t have to join a workshop to join in the fun though: Cooks-in-training can practice churning fresh, organic ice cream, for example, or go on a wagon ride pulled by draft horses.

The Children’s Area is perhaps the festival’s standout attraction. There’s arts and crafts, storytelling sessions, music, farm animals to get acquainted with, and lots of games and contests, all with an agricultural theme. Children’s entertainers will offer multiple shows a day, and don’t miss the Manure Pitch-Off—you can get your hands dirty, then get wet in the water roller coaster, or climb a hay-bale fortress.

A silent auction is also available and offers eclectic items from nearby farms, crafters, and local artisans. If you’re lucky, you might leave the festival with a block of artisanal cheese, a gardening book, or even a night at the Woodland Opera House.

Admission is by day pass; on-site camping is allowed on the Saturday night of the festival only.

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