Harvest Fun Day heads to the farm

Event celebrating county’s rural heritage had been held in downtown Vancouver

By Mary Ann Albright, Columbian Staff Reporter

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Since Harvest Fun Day celebrates Clark County’s rural heritage, it only makes sense that this year’s event is moving from downtown Vancouver to a more agrarian setting.

Clark County Historical Museum’s annual event typically takes place in the museum and a nearby parking lot. Now in its seventh year, the community celebration is moving to the 78th Street Heritage Farm in Hazel Dell, a 79-acre parcel of land that used to be a county poor farm and, more recently, a Washington State University agricultural research station.

The move will allow the museum, working in conjunction with the county and WSU Extension, to offer a wider range of activities and displays, including draft horse and mule plowing demonstrations, not possible at an urban venue.

Last year’s event drew 2,200 people, and Clark County Historical Museum Executive Director Susan Tissot hopes for at least that many on Sept. 25.

The goal of Harvest Fun Day is to help people get in touch with the county’s agricultural roots.

“It’s getting people back to the basics,” Tissot said. “Doing something as simple as decorating a pumpkin or making a scarecrow.”

Bi-Zi Farms south of Brush Prairie is donating pumpkins for the event, and there will be markers for people to draw on them with. Scarecrows will be fashioned from approximately 5-feet-fall wood frames, old clothes, twine and shredded newspaper. These activities will be offered while supplies last.

In many ways, Harvest Fun Day’s intent is in line with the focus of the Heritage Farm, said Clark County Commissioner Marc Boldt.

“Scarecrows, gardening, all that kind of stuff just fits in with the mission of the site, which is to recognize the history of agriculture and of Clark County,” said Boldt, who grew up on a local dairy farm and had a blueberry farm in Hockinson for about 20 years.

He will lead tractor-pulled hayride tours of the farm during Harvest Fun Day.

“I really look forward to having a lot of fun,” Boldt said.

The fun won’t stop with hayrides, horses, pumpkins and scarecrows. The Washington Old Time Fiddlers Association will perform from 10 a.m. to noon. There may be music in the afternoon, as well, Tissot said.

Contests popular at past years’ Harvest Fun Days will return. At 11:30 a.m., people can try their hands at a berry pie-eating contest. The emphasis is on speed, not quantity.

Contestants will be divided into three age brackets: 4 to 8 years old, 9 to 15, and 16 and older. The youngest group will race to finish a 3- or 4-inch pie first. The middle group will tackle 6-inch pies, and the oldest 8- or 9-inch pies.

The competition is capped at 12 contestants per age group. People must pre-register by calling the museum. They can ask to get on the waiting list if slots are full, Tissot said.

For those not big on eating contests, there will be a corn-shucking challenge at 1:30 p.m. Like the pie contest, this activity has three age brackets limited to 12 people each. Contestants will receive a dozen ears of corn, and whoever removes all the husks first wins.

The youth winners of the pie and corn contests will receive prizes from Vancouver toy store Kazoodles, and adults will score items from the museum shop.

Other Harvest Fun Day activities will include face-painting and button-making. A blacksmith with a working forge will give demonstrations, and local 4-H groups will bring small animals for people to see. This is not, however, a petting zoo, Tissot stressed.

The Fort Vancouver Antique Equipment Association will display farm equipment such as tractors, a corn sheller and a hit-and-miss engine. There also will be a logging display. And children will be able to harvest vegetables, with the yield going to the Clark County Food Bank.

“It makes a direct connection between the kids, the source of food and helping others,” Tissot said.

Mary Ann Albright: maryann.albright@columbian.com, 360-735-4507.