Immerse yourself in the Skagit Valley's lush agricultural history this weekend during the 15th annual Skagit Valley Festival of Family Farms.
Featured are 14 family-owned ranches and farms that are open for free tours from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 5-6, at various locations around Skagit County. The farms feature educational exhibits, demonstrations and tours that highlight crops, animals or production items. Many have free samples and offer activities - such as corn mazes and tractor rides -that are geared toward children.
Some locations have food or other items for sale.
Among this year's participants:
Cascadian Farm, which has a roadside stand and berry fields on Highway 20 near Rockport. That's the same Cascadian Farm whose french fries and frozen vegetables are featured in the natural-foods food sections of several local supermarkets.
Taylor Shellfish on Chuckanut Drive near the village of Bow, which features a tide pool touch tank, oyster-shucking demonstrations, crab races and a fairy house activity.
Samish River Dairy featuring Golden Glen Creamery, which offers tractor rides, a petting zoo and Squirty Gertie, an artificial milking cow. There also will be cheese-making demonstrations and a collection of antique tractors and farm equipment. It's at 15098 Field Road in Bow.
Hemlock Highlands ranch, 8110 Sims Road near Sedro-Woolley, which features the long-haired, longhorn cattle native to the highlands and western islands of Scotland. There are hayrides, bagpipers and a petting zoo with highland calves.
Eagle Haven Winery and Perkins Apple Orchard, 8243 Sims Road near Sedro Woolley. It features 40 varieties of apples along with 5 acres of lush vineyards and view of the North Cascades. There are hayrides and guided tours with information on vineyards and apple trees in the Northwest.
South Fork Farms, 19115 Dike Road, Mount Vernon, is a small alpaca farm on the Skagit River delta. See yarn and fiber products, spinning demonstrations and take a self-guided walking tour.
For maps to participating farms and other details, see festivaloffamilyfarms.com.
STAR WARS READS
Star Wars Reads lets preschool and school-age children participate in a national celebration of the epic space opera with free crafts, activities, and "Star Wars" trivia.
It's from 3-5 p.m. Friday, Oct. 4, in the downstairs lecture room of the Bellingham Public Library, 210 Central Ave. Participants are urged to dress as their favorite character from the film series.
For more information, call 360-778-7200.
A free Chinese Culture Workshop offers activities and crafts for families with children ages 4 and older from 1-3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 5, in the downstairs lecture room of the Bellingham Public Library, 210 Central Ave. For more information, call 360-778-7200.
Just in time for Halloween, REI's Bellingham store is offering a class in "Zombie Preparedness: Surviving a Zombie Apocalypse."
But it looks as though you'll need a magic potion to secure a seat, because to event's 40 seats were reserved in late September.
Patrick Kennedy, the local REI's outreach specialist, said the program was developed the program several months ago as a way to offers class on survival skills while capitalizing on the current zombie craze, with the popularity of "Walking Dead" and "World War Z."
"Part of it is a spoof, but there is some of a legitimate survival element to it," Kennedy said.
The free class is from 6-7:15 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 15, at REI in the Sehome Village shopping center.
Kennedy said people can join an online waiting list at this rei.com webpage and an automated email goes out to everyone on list if space becomes available. Those openings are first-come, first-served, he said.
He also said a certain amount of people are no-shows to the event. If seats are available when the program starts, anyone waiting in line is admitted first-come, first served.
CLOUD MOUNTAIN FARM
Cloud Mountain Farm Center hosts its annual Fall Fruit Festival on Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 5-6, at 6906 Goodwin Road, off Hopewell Road east of Highway 9 near Everson.
In its the 23rd year, the festival features more than 200 varieties of fruit and fruit products to sample and purchase. There will be live music, and Julia's Pumpkin Patch is open for U-pick or we-pick pumpkins and gourds. Admission fee of $3.50 a person or $9 a carload supports educational programs at Cloud Mountain Farm Center, a nonprofit dedicated to providing hands-on learning to aspiring farmers, experienced farmers and home gardeners.
Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.
For more information, go to cloudmountainfarmcenter.org or call 360 966-5859.
WRITING FOR CHILDREN
Anacortes writer Lois V. Harris is teaching a workshop "Break into Children's Publishing by Writing Nonfiction" from 6:30-8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 3 and Oct. 10, at Skagit Valley College. Cost is $49; register for 6062 CENG by calling 360-416-7638 or at Skagit.edu. Harris writes picture-book biographies of artist such as "Maxfield Parrish: Painter of Magical Make-Believe" and "Charlie Russell: Tale-Telling Cowboy Artist."
Robert Mittendorf is a Herald copy editor and page designer. Contact him at 360-756-2805 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.