The North American Aronia Berry Festival is held annually the third full weekend in each September. Mark your calendars – the 6th Annual North American Aronia Berry Festival will be September 21 – 22, 2013. Read some highlights from the last festival:
Starting as a field day with dozens of farmers, the event quickly blossomed, with attendance last year reaching nearly 3,000 people. Now, Sawmill Hollow’s North American Aronia Berry Festival is a regional celebration of the Loess Hills, and Midwest agriculture, featuring over 30 Loess Hills artisans and musicians, as well as the work conventional and organic farmers across the Heartland. In honor of the 2012 festival and the impact it has on the State of Iowa, Governor Branstad declared September Aronia Berry Month.
Your usual festival food and fun aren’t the only things happening at Sawmill Hollow in September. The event focuses on growing the aronia berry but also partners with farming and rural entrepreneurship focused organizations like the Iowa State Extension, Farm Bureau, and USDA-SARE to bring you a well-rounded event. Speakers presenting in 2012 include the USDA Director for Rural Development Iowa, a New York Times bestselling author, USDA-SARE and ISU Extension Small Farm Business representatives, Hy-Vee Dietitians, and aronia fertilizing and organic farming and gardening experts.
Family friendly activities were at the forefront of the festival. The County Conservation Board guided all the little farm hands through nature-related activities, with Hy-Vee and Alegent Health focusing on kid-friendly eating and Iowa State College of Design on art projects. Children put on aprons and got gourmet with Hy-Vee chefs.
Adults enjoyed complimentary wine tastings, locally produced products, artisans, and cultural programming. Gardeners and farmers learned and asked questions at the aronia planting demonstrations. Visitors showcased their culinary creativity by submitting aronia berry recipes. Submissions included entries in pies, baked goods, ice cream, even a micro-brewed aronia beer. And later, everyone kicked off their boots and joined in on the first ever aronia berry stomp.
City-folk and rural dwellers alike all came out to the farm, and with free admission, food, crafts, and activities, it was a berry good time!