Feast and Fest organizers Holly Kimola and Lisa Janssen hold their chickens Marigold and Anna

Fernie prepares for new fall fair

Fernie is getting a new fair this fall. Feast and Fest will take place Sept. 19-20.

This fall, there will be a new festival coming to town to help celebrate the harvest in the Elk Valley.

Our Harvest Feast and Fest – Fernie’s Fall Fair will be held Sept. 19-20 in Prentice Park as a way to bring the community together to enjoy the local harvest.

The “feast” on Sept. 19, prepared by chef Barrie Elliott, winner of the Food Network’s Chopped Canada competition, will feature a locally-sourced menu of harvest cuisine, served outside at the community EcoGarden.

Local wine and beer will be available for purchase, alongside live music and a fundraiser auction with all proceeds going towards keeping Fernie wild.

The “fest” will take place on Sept. 20 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Prentice Park.

Lisa Janssen and Holly Kimola are two of the main organizers of the event and say that hosting a fall fair in Fernie is an idea they’ve wanted to pursue for some time. “We talked about a fall fair a couple of years ago when we first moved back, and then for whatever reason, we brought it up this spring and it’s been go since then,” said Janssen.

Janssen and Kimola are both avid gardeners and farming advocates. They believe that it’s possible to grow, share and sell produce in the Elk Valley.

“People are gardening. People are growing their own veggies and it’s exciting,” said Janssen, citing that it’s a lifestyle choice that many people in the area are pursuing.

“It’s amazing even in Fernie what you can grow in a small pot or on a balcony,” Kimola said, “Farming is not dead in this community.”

Because this is the first event of it’s kind in the area, Kimola, Janssen and the other organizers were able to decide how they wanted the Feast and Fest to look.

“About two months ago we had our first meeting with six volunteers and I’d say four of them had never been to a fall fair, so it was fun to get them together and discuss amongst ourselves what a fall fair meant and what it would look like,” Kimola said.

“Wildsight does a lot of things in the Valley – education programs, conservation – but there is nothing that really brings the community together in terms of an event.

There is a lot of activism, a lot education but no celebration of all of these things that we all collectively love, like gardening and raising chickens and being excited about finding food from our area and trading it with friends,” said Janssen.

The Fall Fair will feature a variety of attractions, including miniature ponies and prizes for a variety of categories, such as best chili, and largest pumpkin, among others. Currently, the categories are broad and will be narrowed down when the organizers see what entries they receive.

“We will have everything judged in the morning so that spectators can have a look at the winning chickens or best chili contest so you can have those bragging rights all day and into next year,” said Kimola.

Kimola and Janssen are the proud new owners of five chickens, one of whom will be entered into the fair. The two built a chicken coop on their property, converting a century-old outhouse into a home for their new pets.

“I am a farm girl at heart determined to make the most of the space we have,” said Kimola. “Having backyard chickens seemed like a natural next step to our micro homesteading, as they are one more food source coming from our own backyard.” The couple has done ample research into the appropriate breed for the local climate and best coop design to deter predators and optimize the health and happiness of the chickens.

Janssen and Kimola were able to make their property into somewhat of a farm in the city, and have channeled that same passion into organizing the event.

Early bird pricing of $65 will be available until September 6th, after which point regular

Feast ticket pricing of $75 will be in effect.

Our Harvest Feast & Fest – Fernie’s Fall Fair is a celebration of Wildsight Elk Valley Branch programs that promote the environment through education, stewardship, awareness and conservation.

The event also aims to raise funds to help support community programming to keep Fernie wild, including Apple Capture, EcoGarden Initiatives, Wild Ideas, Wild Nature Tours and new food security programs.

Wildsight invites the community to consider supporting these programs through the purchase of dinner tickets and participation in the auction.

For more information about how to volunteer, attend, support or participate in the Feast and Fest, or to purchase tickets please visit www.wildsight.ca/fest. Tickets also available at the Wildsight office at 891 2nd Avenue.