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naked dates live simply tshirtEvery year we make the trip to Hood River, OR, for their annual Hood River Harvest Festival. Nestled deep in the Columbia River Gorge, it’s got it all: rolling hills, majestic mountains, amazing people, and a deeply rooted local agrarian culture. Since it’s the end of the harvest season, there’s always a party in the air and good times to be had.

For me and Kase and the boys, it’s a welcome respite from the hard work of our own harvest, and a bit of a vacation before we come home and open the store for the winter. Since we are originally from Oregon, it’s also an opportunity for us to reconnect with family and friends, and just generally have a great time in the “work hard, play hard” Naked Dates tradition.

Changing seasons, homegrown heart

One of the things we miss in the desert is the changing seasons. Though there are definite differences in the seasons in AZ, we miss the changing colors of the trees, and we don’t exactly get the crisp fall air—not like in the Pacific Northwest, anyhow. We certainly don’t get any snow, and that’s okay, but it sure looks gorgeous up on top of Mount Hood.

One of the things we love about the Mount Hood Harvest Festival is that everything—meaning art, crafts, furniture, ceramics, textiles, food, vegetables, beer, wine, cider, even the live music—must be grown, made, or produced by the person selling it. There are businesses that have booths there too, but they are locally owned and operated, and otherwise dedicated to the people of Hood River and surrounding areas.

That means it’s truly a homegrown festival and one that celebrates the local farmers and artisans in the best way possible. In 2017, the festival is in its 35th year, and I can’t recall a year that we’ve missed it in recent history.

We are looking forward to sampling awesome local beer, cider, and wine, and loading up on all those fresh pears, and apples … I don’t think most people realize that when you’re buying apples in the summertime, they’ve been in cold storage since the autumn before! So, being able to bite into that crisp delicious fruit, freshly picked and tree-ripened, well, it’s a flavor sensation that is incomparable and unmatched. Mind you, they can’t grow dates in Oregon, but variety is the spice of life, right?

Giant veggies and eatin’ pie

Country harvest festivals like the Hood River fest are an American tradition, and there’s nothing quite as American as a good old-fashioned pie-eating contest. Where else can you experience something like that?

We’ll get to see this year’s biggest giant pumpkin, (which is usually well in excess of 1000 pounds – a one-ton pumpkin!? That’s a lot of pie!!) as well as the likelihood of a great many other giant vegetables. Fun fact: did you know that there are associations dedicated to the development and growth of giant vegetables? Bet you didn’t.

All whimsy aside, we are all very excited to get on the road and head on up to revisit our roots in the Pacific Northwest. Life would be pretty empty without our families and friends, so we take every opportunity we are given to reconnect and revel in our good fortune. We are truly rich with love.

Farm Store Opens November 1

Don’t forget – when we get home after the festival we’ll be getting ready to open the Naked Dates Farm Store for the winter months. Be sure to drop by and see what delicious treasures we’ve got for you. And (drumroll please), throughout the month of October and right up until the store opens, we are offering free shipping for orders over $100. Shop now and load up on this years’ delicious crop.