The National Heirloom Exposition has become one of the most widely attended and widely recognized food events in the United States. This year marks the 6th presentation of the event which has been dubbed as “The World’s Fair of Pure Food.” What began in 2011 as a celebration of pure food and sustainable living has become the world’s largest annual heritage food event. People from all over the United States and several foreign countries will converge on the Sonoma County Fairgrounds in Santa Rosa, California, on September 6, 7, and 8 to celebrate traditional crops, foods, seeds, poultry, and livestock.
Heirloom Expo Sept 6-8, 2016 Santa Rosa, CA 4000 Varieties 75 Speakers
3 Fun Days
GMO Activism Seed Swaps Demo Gardens
About 20,000 Gardeners, and Kid’s are Free!
Hosted by Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company and partially sponsored by food, gardening, and eco-minded companies, the event now requires year-round preparation to achieve its magnificence. That first event in 2011 featured such prominent speakers as Dr. Vandana Shiva of India, Dr. Jeffrey Smith of the Institute for Responsible Technology, and many other world-renowned speakers giving presentations about seed sovereignty, genetic engineering of food, soil and water issues, permaculture, and so much more of interest to gardeners and eco-minded consumers.
Now 5 years later, the same issues are still at the forefront of the Expo with more than 75 speakers taking the podium. Dr. William Woys Weaver of Roughwood Seed Collection will talk about saving plant varieties from extinction. Anna Peach of Squash and Awe Farm in Hawaii will talk about her amazing experiences. John Torgrimson of Seed Savers Exchange in Iowa will discuss heirlooms and how they differ from other varieties. Dr. Jeffrey Smith of the Institute for Responsible Technology will explain how organic diets are healing families. Helen Juarez of Mexico will talk about preserving ancient corn. Ronnie Cummins of the Organic Consumers Association will discuss how conscious farmers and consumers can reverse climate change and save civilization.
A highlight of the National Heirloom Exposition is naturally the world’s largest display of heirloom produce. Over 4,000 varieties of heirloom fruits and vegetables showcase the diversity that includes hundreds of tomato, squash, and melon varieties. Many of the farmers who grow the heirlooms will be on hand to talk about them. The giant squash tower composed of cucurbits of all shapes, sizes, and colors is always a huge attraction in the exhibit hall. The same hall will be home to a rainbow of thousands of heirloom tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, squashes, garlic, tree fruits and more—all clearly identified and labeled.
Since its beginning, the National Heirloom Expo has had a focus on kids and education. All children under the age of 17 are admitted free. Schools are invited to bring their classes, enter school garden projects, etc. There will be an entire area devoted to young people and will include fun and games, educational activities, contests and competitions, and vendors with products of interest to children each day.
A global list of young activists will discuss the ways in which they are changing the way people around the world eat. Richie Ramsay, 20, promotes food diversity on the island of Jamaica. Stephen Smith, 19, is a corn researcher and preservationist. Rachel Parent, 16, is considered to be Canada’s Pure Food Fighter. Birke Baehr, 17, is an organic food advocate from North Carolina. Sara Patterson, 21, is owner of Red Acre Farm CSA and Utah’s food activist.
Growers of giant produce will exhibit their wares and compete for prizes. The Giant Pumpkin Contest offers over $5000 in prize money. The official weigh-off is sanctioned by the Great Pumpkin Commonwealth. Last year’s winning pumpkin weighed 1725 pounds. Ian Neale is a world record gardener from England and an acclaimed expert on how to grow the biggest and best vegetables. Giant vegetable guru Leonardo Urena holds world records for growing his mammoth vegetables and will have many on display.
Garden art is a significant part of the expo. Internationally acclaimed Betty Finch will display her amazing gourd persons and creatures. Hudson Valley Seed Library of New York will once again curate the garden art show that will feature pieces created in various artistic forms.
The spectacular dahlia show presents an opportunity to showcase ornamentals, in addition to the usual vegetable produce. The stunning display of dahlias in all sizes and colors draws a wide audience and participation. The dahlia show will feature ribbons and cash prizes in several categories, including open classes.
An heirloom expo would not be complete without also including heritage animals. An astounding poultry show offers an opportunity to meet many of California’s premier keepers of heritage poultry and offers $1500 in prize money.
A “pure food” event would not be complete without a wide offering of good food. One will not go hungry at the Expo that features gourmet food vendors and complimentary heirloom tastings. A diverse group of food vendors will offer up a variety that is sure to please all palates. Not only may visitors choose from non-GMO organic to locally sourced meals and vegan foods, but will also get to taste a wide selection of heirloom watermelons and tomatoes at the complimentary tasting stations.
Many people attend the National Heirloom Exposition mostly for the old-fashioned entertainment. Old-time folk, bluegrass, country, gospel, Americana, and cowboy music fills the stage all 3 days. Expert fiddlers may enter the sanctioned fiddle contest. Soudough Slim is always a popular hit with his giant cowboy hat and melodic cowboy music.
The National Heirloom Exposition is an international GMO-free event on September 6, 7, and 8, 2016. It has always been and continues to be a not-for-profit event with all proceeds above expenses being donated to local school and educational garden projects.
Tickets are available at the gate, which are open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. all three days. The cost is $15 per day for each adult. A 3-day pass may be purchased for $30 at the gate. Children are free. The Expo is held at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds located at 1350 Bennett Valley Road, Santa Rosa, California, and is just a short drive from several airports. Let us know that you saw this THEME in Connection Magazine.