It was full-tilt boogie at the Fall Festival in Hinesburg on Saturday, Sept. 28.
More than 200 people celebrated the season with a day full of crafts, seasonal edibles, historical displays, baked goods, live music, and pumpkins (of course). There was also a huge pot hanging over an open fire where the stone soup for later that night simmered with vegetables and a stone.
The event was the 13th Fall Festival. Started in 2005, this year would have been the 14th except for a lapse last year. This year, Carla Wuthrich and Sarita Baker coordinated the autumnal revelry.
Being held at the United Church of Hinesburg, the festival also conveniently coincided with the celebration of the church’s 100th anniversary. In 1919, the Congregational, Methodist and Baptist churches in town combined to form one church. during a time of declining population.
The Fall Festival and the Stone Soup Dinner are sponsored by the Hinesburg Land Trust to support and bring recognition to local farmers. When the events originally started, the local food movement was just beginning, said volunteer and stone soup pot-stirrer Andy Seaton.
The profits from the day go to the Hinesburg Food Shelf.
On the church lawn, event tents were arrayed with organizations including Hinesburg Historical Society, Partners in Education, Hinesburg Youth Project, Hearts for Hunger, Floratopia Flowers, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and SidePony Boutique. There were also three food trucks, Baba’s Taco’s, Joy Ride Pops and Matryoshka Bakery
Among the local produce available were honey, tomatoes, peppers, herbs, pears, apples, salsa and maple syrup.
“We raise money all year to help the youth go on service projects,” said Penny Grant, who was selling flowers and baked goods for the Hinesburg Youth Project.
They’ve been to New York to help with food insecurity, Boston to work for social justice, Puerto Rico to help after Hurricane Maria. Last summer, young people from the United Church of Hinesburg went to Orland, Maine, to help alleviate rural poverty by building fencing, gardening, stacking firewood, cooking meals, painting and helping in a soup kitchen.
By midday, Aimee Frost at the Partners in Education tent estimated they’d sold at least 50 pumpkins, which were donated by Full Moon Farm.
Stone Soup Dinner
The Stone Soup Dinner features an actual stone that came from the 2005 building of the stone wall on the side of the Town Hall. Citizens of Hinesburg brought stones to make the wall and Andrea Morgante appropriated one for the stone soup.
She has simmered it every year for fourteen years and it’s still not tender enough to eat, but it makes a great soup, particularly when everyone brings a locally grown vegetable to throw into the pot.
“One year, I couldn’t find the stone. I’d put it somewhere so I wouldn’t lose it and I could remember where,” said Morgante. “I finally found it in my cookie jar.”
Despite a wide variety of local products that have been added to the soup over the years, cookies presumably have never gone into the stock.
Ingredients added to the soups at the dinner were grown by Full Moon Farm, Family Cow, Last Resort Farm, Trillium Farm, Karl Novak, Boyer’s Orchard and many area home gardeners. Those ingredients included apples, shitake mushrooms, zucchini, beets, celeriac, fennel, cabbage, carrots, ginger, squash, beans, corn, potatoes, tomatoes, honey, peaches, milk, pumpkins, kale, garlic, sweet potatoes, onions, eggs, peppers, maple syrup and a stone.
The many varieties of soups included tomato, borscht, corn chowder, squash apple, carrot ginger, Portuguese kale, fennel celeriac … and stone soup.
Among the desserts getting lots of recommendations were a couple of beet cakes which were what people made before red velvet cake and the advent of red dye no. 2, said Morgante.