by Cori Hilsgen
Brynn Hiltner, 2, and her mother, Amy, knelt close to the petting zoo fence to touch the animals. There were goats, a sheep, a rabbit and an alpaca provided by Collegeville Orchards. The Hiltners were among hundreds of other people who attended the 14th annual Harvest Festival held on the grounds of the Resurrection Lutheran Church on Friday, Sept. 13.
“We attended last year also,” Amy said. “It’s gotten bigger.”
More than 30 booths offered a variety of produce, meats, dairy products, flowers, pottery, food and drink, activities and other items. The low 70-degree temperatures enticed the crowds to linger longer.
Live music was provided by “Breakaway,” and a fire dancer, “Scarlette Revolver,” performed. One routine included a dance that involved coordinating movement of three large rings at the same time.
“This is my third year performing at the festival,” Revolver said. “It’s really fun and draws a great crowd. It keeps growing.”
Mary Ann Friederichs and Kristina Timmerman were busy selling bread from the Collegeville Artisan Baker. This is the 10th year that Friederichs and her husband, Steve Nelson, have had a booth at the festival. Friederichs is on the market board.
“We appreciate everyone supporting our business and coming to the market,” Friederichs said. “We don’t have a retail store.”
Chris and Heather Stanley and their daughter Ruby, 1, of Sartell have been attending the festival for a few years. They said they come for the Artisan Bakery bread.
Ava, 4, Eli, 3, Noah, 2, and parents Leif and Julie Spore of Rockville were busy at the Waite Park Library booth. The three children were coloring, and Eli was making sure his tractor was a “John Deere” tractor.
“We always come,” Leif said.
“We love this event,” Julie said. “It’s so good to have this available and be able to support our local area farmers.”
The younger crowd also had opportunities to visit the craft table and decorate pumpkins.
Janis Buchheit of St. Cloud was busy looking for fresh peppers and garlic.
“I’ve been coming for the last three weeks,” Buchheit said. “I like to make salsa, and they always have the fresh produce I need.”
Dale Klein of St. Joseph found some onions, radishes and scone poppers. Klein said he had never tried the scone poppers before.
“I try to stop in and look around,” Klein said.
In another booth, licensed massage therapist Justina Henry of St. Joseph was busy giving chair massages. Next to her, Barb Lyndgaard of Avon was spinning Icelandic wool on a spinning wheel. She said Icelandic sheep are smaller and provide long wool in natural colors. Lyndgaard likes to attend the market when the weather is somewhat cooler.
“It’s certainly a fall festival with so much local produce,” Lyndgaard said. “It’s really terrific to have this in St. Joseph.”
Sister Pat Ruether and Sister Phyllis Plantenberg were busy visiting the booths. Plantenberg was one of the founding members of the market.
“We couldn’t have custom-made a day nicer than this,” Ruether said.
Donald Jones from Smoke-In D’s BBQ of Albany was busy making ribs, shrimp and chicken for his booth. This was his first year at the festival. He said they also had a booth set up at “Albany Pioneer Days” so he was busy.
“I love it. We’ll have to do more,” Jones said.
Tracey Birr was busy at her homemade lefse booth.
“I’ve been making lefse for five years,” Birr said. “People keep calling me, so I keep making it.”
Birr is a market board member.
“I booked the musicians and I just love them,” Birr said. “We all multi-task and work together toward one goal. We want to make it a good festival and make sure people come.”
The St. Joseph Farmers’ Market is open from 3-6:30 p.m. every Friday in the Resurrection Lutheran Church parking lot now through Oct. 18, according to the market’s website. For more information, visit www.stjosephfarmersmarket.com.