If you’re feeling like you need a lot more freshly picked, locally grown blueberries, Saturday’s Hockinson Berry Festival is custom-made for you.
This is the festival’s inaugural year, the brainchild of the recently formed Hockinson Main Street Team. The “team” is a group of five Hockinson residents who are working with the Hockinson School District to promote their town. (Hockinson is not an incorporated city, so they joke it’s “the best Census Designated Area in America.”)
The team’s first event was a tree lighting celebration. The group was gearing up for more community events when the pandemic put things on pause and challenged them to think of safe ways to celebrate what makes Hockinson special. An outdoor summer berry festival seemed like an ideal solution.
“We wanted to promote our local businesses and, in this case, we wanted to give a little more exposure to our berry farms and create something for families to do,” said Julie Ruhl, Hockinson Main Street Team member. Many people may not realize that Hockinson has so many berry farms, she added.
Hockinson-area berry farmers represented at the festival include Prairie Berry Farms, Grandma Dixie’s You-Pick Blueberries and Majestic Farms Blueberries. All farmers have agreed to sell berries for $3.50 per pound at the festival.
The Hockinson Market will use local berries to make blueberry milkshakes for $5 each. Sip your shake while enjoying live music from local musicians, or buy a bouquet of locally grown, hand-cut flowers from Barn Dog Flower Farm.
“It’s kind of like a glorified fruit stand for this year, and then next year it will be back to normal and we can add some fun activities for the families,” Ruhl said. “We’re hoping to get families out of the house, get out into the countryside and buy local.”
Next year, the Hockinson Main Street Team plans to offer more food options and a pie-eating contest.
This year, however, the organizers are taking care to make the festival safe by keeping each of the vendors at a distance from each other and requiring all attendees to wear masks and sanitize their hands frequently.
“We’re a special community and we just hope that everybody comes out,” Ruhl said, noting that within 24 hours of posting the event on Facebook, 400 people had responded to the invitation. “I just hope they don’t all come at 10 a.m.!”
If you go, be sure to pick up a farm map, provided by the Hockinson Main Street Team to encourage people to go berry-picking at Hockinson-area farms — a family-friendly, outdoorsy and (ahem) fruitful activity that directly supports local business. All of the farms at the festival will also be open for berry picking that day.
For more information about the berry festival or to learn more about the Hockinson Main Street Team, visit www.facebook.com/HockinsonMainStreet.