Valley dwellers will have the opportunity to pick, taste and learn first-hand about the local ecosystem when the Pick and Gather at Riverdance Farms and Merced River Fair roll into Livingston on June 4 and 5.
Now in its 12th year, the educational farm and river festival began as an event meant to educate and inform the public about the river and the animals, plants and food that live around it, said Cindy Lashbrook of Riverdance Farms.
“The more people know about the environment, the better they’ll take care of it,” said Lashbrook. “Kids learn a lot better when they’re doing things hands-on.”
Throughout the two-day event, workshops as well as hands-on activities for kids and adults will be available at the 35-acre farm. Attendees will be able to take part in fishing lessons, kayaking, Geo-caching and adventures along the river at the Merced River Fair. There will also be how-to workshops, with demonstrations on how to cook and how to make beer.
The Pick and Gather portion of the festival will feature a “you-pick” fruit gathering, where organic blueberries and strawberries will be available for gathering straight from the crop. Along with fruit picking, there will be local, organic and native food, storytelling and poetry, a local craft market, an alternative energy showcase and tractor hay rides. The family and kids area will host a farm learning area and stations for arts and crafts.
“The festival lets people get to know the place where they live,” said Lashbrook. “We want to teach them that you can farm with nature and do things to take care of the water quality and local food.”
The festival originally attracted around 500 people in its first year, but Lashbrook expects nearly 2,000 attendees at this year’s event. Camping is available on Saturday night, which Lashbrook recommends to those who would like to get an early start on their fruit picking. Entertainment will also be provided, with three stages hosting live music including Bluegrass, Folk, Americana and Acoustic Blues.
Admission on June 4 is $10 for adults and $5 for children, students and seniors. Saturday’s events will last from 10 a.m. until dark. Admission on June 5 is $5 for adults and $2 for kids, students and seniors, with events lasting from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. The cost is $15 to camp overnight, and all proceeds from the festival going toward environmental education. Riverdance Farms is located at 12230 Livingston Cressey Rd. in Livingston.
“It’s not just a street fair,” said Lashbrook. “It’s so much more than that.”