This float is a rolling vegetable display that took part in the parade during the 1912 Bishop Harvest Festival. (Photo Courtesy Eastern California Museum)
The Eastern California Museum is reviving a historical tradition this Saturday in Independence, celebrating the 100th anniversary of the first Owen’s Valley Harvest Festival. A 1911 postcard claimed the Festival as “a day of jollification,” and an Oct. 24, 2011 Eastern California Museum press release stated that this year will be no different.
Jolly (and free) events at this year’s Harvest Heritage Festival include children’s crafts and events, food and drink, live music from local country western band Sandy and the High Country, homemade baked goods, fresh garden produce, and a “dressed vegetable” display. In the past, each town in the Owen’s Valley would celebrate the harvest by putting on parades with floats featuring local produce, as well as sponsoring dances, barbecues, and bingo.
This year the “Autumn Harvest Bake-Off Competition” will offer locals a chance to show their talents, and attendees a chance to enjoy veggie- and fruit-themed baked goods. A “Garden to Table” tasting area will feature a variety of fresh produce grown in local gardens. Jams, jellies, and relishes will also be welcome.
The “Dressed Vegetable” Display is one of the more unique features of the Festival; local gardeners are invited to dress their large veggies (squash, pumpkins or zucchini as the case may be) in festive clothing for public display. The Independence Civic Club will be on hand to help anyone unfamiliar with dressing their food. Fruits, including apples and peaches, and other garden fare are also welcome.
In addition, the event will present a vintage engine display provided by the Laws Railroad Museum, and will offer the public a sneak peak at the Eastern California Museum’s Virtual Transportation website, which features more than 500 photos depicting the region’s rich transportation history.
“Harvest Heritage Day” kicks off at 1 p.m. and continues until 5 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 29 at the Eastern California Museum (155 Grant St., Independence). For more information, call 760.878.0258.