Now in its fourth year, Avondale’s Honey Harvest Festival has really taken flight.
The Sept. 14 festival promotes and supports local beekeepers and businesses, while educating the public about beekeeping practices and products.
Michelle Heron of Three Miles Plains is the brainchild and volunteer organizer of the event. What began as an idea to raise a few extra dollars to help run the museum has grown into a much-anticipated annual event, developing a loyal audience, says Tacha Reed, facility manager at the Avon River Heritage Museum and Avon Spirit Shipyard.
Reed first met Heron as a parent of the museum's summer student, Brooklyn Heron. The family was new to the area when Heron began volunteering her time in the gift shop and participating in the museum’s open studio afternoons.
“Wanting to give back to the museum, Michelle Heron and a friend brainstormed to develop a fundraiser that would capture a niche audience,” says Reed. “The Honey Harvest Festival was born, and it continues to flourish.”
Heron volunteers to organize this event each year, along with her small team of helpers from Avon River Arts and Avon River Heritage.
ABOUT THE EVENT
Visitors can stroll along the historic Newport Landing waterfront to meet and mingle with local beekeepers, artisans, wineries and brewers. They can taste-test honey, mead and fruit wines while perusing various handmade bee-inspired products.
The festival begins at 10 a.m. with just over 20 vendors set up in and around the Avon Spirit Shipyard. Many returning vendors include Royal Jelly Gardens, Meander River Farm Brewery, All Lathered Up Soap Company, As You Like It Farm and Stone Poste Cidery.
Steady Brook Apariary will also be on site, says Reed, noting the owner always brings along his bees so visitors can experience an active hive and pick out the queen bee.
The Lydia and Sally Cafe will be serving a honey-inspired menu and the Avon River Heritage Society is hosting a barbecue fundraiser. Avon River Arts is organizing a creative corner for families to make decorative pieces for their gardens, like fairy houses.
“This past summer, the Newport Landing Waterfront Park has been undergoing a number of upgrades that we hope to have completed for the festival,” says Reed. “We can't wait to show off our spruced-up park and lighthouse and we invite visitors to feel free to borrow one of the museum's kites, a frisbee or washer toss for a game on the field.”
Reed suggests carpooling, as the event seems to grow each year, with over 700 people attending last year.
And, if possible, make a whole day of the event, and explore the community, says Reed.
“Come for the honey, but stay for the park, the wharf and the trails,” she says. “Take a wander around the Avondale loop, strolling past the former ship captain's homes, stopping in for a drink on the patio overlooking the Mosher house or hike the trail at the winery, before making your way back down to the museum.”
Besides the community connections, the Honey Harvest Festival is important as a means to celebrate food and the impact bees have on it.
“Living in rural Nova Scotia, we have the privilege of being a little more connected to where our food comes from; we witness the changes in weather patterns and can see the damage an untimely frost can have on a crop,” says Reed.
“Without bees and their ability to pollinate crops, we would lose a tremendous amount of our food supply. We need the bees, just like we need fresh water and clean air, it's all part of the whole.”
Sometimes the climate crisis can seem overwhelming, she said, but knowing there are simple things you can do like support local beekeepers or start your own hive, can provide a bit of relief.
“We hope that with this festival we can steer people in the right direction if they want to learn the best practices for becoming beekeepers themselves,” she says. “Plus, honey is a divine nectar worthy of worship, so that alone is reason to celebrate.”
IF YOU GO: The Honey Harvest Festival in Avonvale takes place on Saturday, Sept. 14 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Avon Spirit Shipyard. More information can be found at avonriverheritage.com/honey-harvest-festival.html.
DID YOU KNOW?
The Avon River Heritage Society is always looking to bring people together, whether it's members of the community, those visiting from nearby areas, or from across the world, they aim to provide a place for people to congregate.
“Several years ago, we found our facility was being greatly underused, so we decided to try and bring some life back into the museum and shipyard,” says Tacha Reed.
Now, the society partners with other not-for-profits like the Full Circle Festival and Avon River Arts (formerly Hants County Arts Council) to host cultural events in the community.