Acorn Fest!

Mark your calendar for Oct. 22 when the Cultural & Ecological Enhancement Network will be hosting its annual Acorn Festival, a family-friendly event designed to educate community members about the history of acorns and their use as a dietary staple throughout history. 
Suzanne Vautier, the lead organizer of this event, became inspired over a decade ago when she was teaching an acorn processing class at the White Oak Farm and Education Center in Williams. Acorns once made up approximately 40% of the indigenous diet until the rise of agriculture and colonial erasure of Native American culture took hold. Now, Vautier describes the many complex ways to utilize acorns as something of a forgotten art, not only in America but around the globe. 

Though other countries like Korea still have staples like acorn-based noodles and jelly, in most places people are only vaguely aware that acorns are edible unless they are taught how to process and cook them.
Through her acorn processing class, Vautier realized that there was more interest in the local history of acorns than she had initially anticipated.

From this interest, the idea of an annual acorn festival was born, and after its first year the nonprofit organization CEEN was created predominately to host this festival.
CEEN is described as an organization that focuses on “restoring a healthy relationship between people and the land,” according to its Facebook page. It also states that CEEN teaches plant identification and appreciation, celebrates local wild edibles, helps restore native habitats, supports Native basketry traditions and encourages outdoor activities.
All of these things are exemplified within the many activities that the Acorn Festival itself includes. There will be several hands-on workshops designed to teach community members about various methods of acorn processing, a Yurok acorn cooking basket demonstration by Lena Hurd, a free nature crafts table for all ages sponsored by IRVAC, and even a potluck including acorn-based dishes at 5 p.m.
One of the newer additions to the festival is the scarecrow building contest. Participants are encouraged to create unique, life-sized scarecrows for the competition. The more creative the design – the better. Entries must be submitted by 11 a.m. Oct. 22. The public will vote for their favorite submission until 4 p.m, and the winner of the $100 grand prize will be announced at 4:30 p.m.
Though the festival itself was once held at the Siskiyou Field Institute’s Deer Creek center, early on in its history it outgrew this location and moved to the Selma Center, and from there it eventually found a new annual home at the Kerby Belt Building, where this years’ event is going to be held. Doors open at 11 a.m., and the event is free to attend, rain or shine. Community members are encouraged to come and participate, have fun, eat food, and learn some local history in the process.