Festival celebrates National Honey Month

Inaugural Placer County Honey Festival takes place Sept. 19 at Granite Bay park
By: Sena Christian, The Press Tribune
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Beehives, honey and the related flying, stinging insects called bees may not exactly scream September. But we’re actually smack dab in the middle of National Honey Month. While this may not be the most popular of the monthly recognitions, local event planner Jim Crosthwaite still thought it would make a fun excuse to throw an outdoor party for the community. So his company organized the inaugural Placer County Honey Festival in Granite Bay, which takes place Sunday, Sept. 19 at Ronald L. Feist Park. Crosthwaite, president of First Step Sports Marketing in Loomis, said his company has been running events in the area for a long time when he realized Granite Bay didn’t have a festival of its own, unlike surrounding communities. He talked to the president of Place GROWN, a nonprofit organization that supports local food producers, and the pair decided to host a festival celebrating honey, which Crosthwaite hopes will become an annual event. “We thought this was a natural fit,” he said. “Especially with the publicity about pollination and bees, this is a good way to educate the public.” He’s referring to news reports about colony collapse disorder, which describes the drastic disappearances of Western honeybee colonies in North America in recent years. When bee colonies visit flowers to collect nectar needed to produce honey, they rub against the plant, gathering pollen in the process. The bees end up pollinating plants, which is necessary for the growth of other plants. The further decline of bee populations through colony collapse disorder could have dire consequences on agriculture, as bees also help pollinate crops. That’s where Placer GROWN comes into play. Proceeds from the event will benefit this organization, which assists local agricultural producers with marketing their products and encourages the public to buy fresh, local food. The overall goal is to build a sustainable local food system right here in Placer County. “We have a pretty small budget and we’re a membership organization,” said Placer GROWN President Karen Killebrew. “All these fundraisers make a big impact and allow us to do more public programs and outreach.” Part of that outreach involves informing people about locally grown fruits and vegetables, and local products, such as wine and honey. The organization has five or six members who produce honey. About 300 varieties of honey exist in the United States, drawn by honeybees from the nectar of plants such as clover, eucalyptus, orange blossoms and stored in beehives. The sweetener acts as a natural source of energy and contains antioxidants, minerals, vitamins and amino acids. Honey has been used in food, skin and hair care products for centuries. During the family friendly festival, attendees will have a chance to enjoy a cornbread-baking contest, honey pancake breakfast, local wine tasting, 3K and 5K walk/run, crafts, entertainment and demonstrations. Kids and adults can also partake in the Honey Bear Races, in which participants construct their own racecar using a pinewood derby car with attached plastic bear honey containers. “I’m really jacked up about the Honey Bear races,” Crosthwaite said. The event will feature live music from classic 1970s rock band Ant Bee and singer-songwriter Reggie Ginn, a show by magical entertainer Kenn Serrano and a dance performance by Thunderfoot Cloggers. “I think it’s going to be a really fun day for everybody,” Crosthwaite said. Sena Christian can be reached at ---------- What: Placer County Honey Festival 2010 When: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 19 Where: Ronald L. Feist Park, 9180 Twin Schools Road in Granite Bay Cost: Free. Proceeds benefit Placer GROWN Info: ---------- Schedule of events: 8-10:30 a.m. Honey pancake breakfast 9 a.m. 5K Honey Bee run/walk 9:30 a.m. 3K Honey Bee run/walk 10 a.m. booths open 11 a.m. 4 p.m. Placer County Vinter’s Association wine tasting 11:30 a.m. Honeybear races 12-4 p.m. Entertainment 1:30 p.m. Cornbread winners announced 2 p.m. Kids coloring contest winners announced