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Sunday 19 November 2017

Hoes Down Harvest Festival 2017

Back at the start of October we attended one of my favorite annual festivals: the Hoes Down Harvest Festival at Full Belly Farm. This was our fourth time going to the Hoes Down and the event's 30th anniversary so it was a pretty big celebration.

As usual, we camped out in the car camping section, so upon arrival we set up our tent, grabbed a few snacks and then made our way towards all the farm fun.

Our first stop was at a big chicken coop filled with chickens that were not quite full grown but not longer baby chicks. The girls thought they were so cute (if smelly!) and spent quite some time talking to their new feathery friends.

We then moved onto our first activity for the day: painting prayer flags. The girls donned large t-shirts as art smocks and got to work painting. Ava and Lola painted colorful flowers and Mathilde painted smiley faced school buses. We hung our flags up to dry with all the other flags and I've got to say they looked so good hanging up in the sun with all those bright colors.

We then headed over to the zip line where both Ava and Lola had a few turns. In the past Lola has been a little scared to take a turn but she was excited about it this year.

While the girls were zooming across the zip line Kim lined up to buy chocolate fudgsicals. It was a pretty hot day so these frosty treats were just what we needed - even if the girls did make a huge chocolately mess!

Every year the Hoes Down has amazing entertainment and Circus Bella is always our favorite performance to watch. They do several performances on the day and one was just starting as we finished our fudgsicals so we headed over to watch all the acrobatic fun.

We then headed to the hay bale fort, which is always a favorite with the kids (as long as Ava takes her allergy medicine first!). The girls climbed to the top, jumped down the bales and wriggled their way through the tunnels underneath. I'm always a little daunted by all those tiny tunnels under the hay (way too claustrophobic for me) but the kids loved them as usual. Mathilde stuck to the simple tunnels where we could see both ends at the same time, but Ava and Lola went right through the middle. 

We then moved onto a farm themed obstacle course, where the girls did various farm chores to move through the course. They milked a pretend cow, looked for eggs under a fake chicken (or through the top of the chicken in Mathilde's case), built some farm machinery and dug for potatoes, with a little balancing thrown in to make it more fun.

At the end of the obstacle course the girls had to weigh the potatoes they had dug up. Lola and Mathilde thought it was fun to try and weigh themselves too - or just pose for silly photos by the scale. As you can see, the girls were getting pretty dirty by now! I swear I cleaned all that chocolate fudgsical off their faces but they were still pretty filthy none the less!

It was then time to carve pumpkins. We've always missed out on this in the past so the girls were keen to make sure they got a turn this time. Mathilde carved a pumpkin with  me, while Ava and Lola carved a pumpkin with Kim. It was tough work as we just had regular butter knives to work with, but we got there. Mathilde's pumpkin had a simple jack-o'lantern face, while Ava and Lola carved an elephant with the stalk as its trunk. Or at least that's what it was supposed to be. It proved to be a little trickier than they had imagined.

Oh, and in case you're wondering, this is Mathilde pulling a jack-o'lantern face!

It was starting to get a little late in the day and the girls were keen to head down to the creek to play in the water. We made our way back to the tent to get changed, stopping along the way to look at the cows, some horses, the various scarecrows and pose for funny photos.

Once the girls had changed into their swimsuits, we made our way down to the creek where there was more fun to be had.

Ava took a few turns riding a board into the dunk tank but Lola and Mathilde were not brave enough to try it this year.

The water in the creek was pretty cold, so there wasn't much swimming to be had this year. In fact, Mathilde didn't even want to wade in the water because it was too cold. Ava and Lola were happy to wade across the creek and play on the other side, but we didn't stay in for as long as they had hoped as the water was just too cold.

It was starting to get dark by now so we headed back to the tent to change into warmer clothes and grab some dinner. Usually we'd line up with everyone else to buy burgers but this year we decided to skip the line and brought pizza with us instead. We ate at the tent and then headed back to the festival to check out the now glowing pumpkins. That's Ava and Lola's elephant there with the long stem trunk.

Mathilde was now asleep in the baby carrier, despite it being an hour or two before her usual bedtime - hooray for that country darkness! Ava was keen to go through the tall grass maze in the dark but Lola was a little scared of it, so Kim took her back to the tent while Ava and I (with Mathilde strapped to me) grabbed our glow sticks and made our way through the dark maze. We spent about half an hour or so walking around lost in the dark before heading back to the tent, stopping to check out the pumpkins again on the way.

Back at the tent I put Mathilde to bed with Kim who was now fast asleep, while Ava, Lola and I sat around our glow sticks pretending they were a camp fire (real campfires are not permitted). We drank hot chocolate and ate s'mores chocolates and played with glowing balloons until the girls were ready for sleep.

The next morning we woke up bright and early to the sound of roosters crowing. Actually, the roosters started crowing around 4am but we definitely weren't ready to get up that early! We did get up much earlier than we usually would at home though. We ate some breakfast at the tent, packed everything up and then went for a walk back to the festival site to check out a few of the farm animals, the pumpkins and some farm equipment. A few of the chickens that we'd seen the previous day had managed to get out of their coop and Ava was pretty excited to catch one. The pigs were still her favorite though.

We had planned on visiting a few neighboring farms like we had done in previous years, but the wind picked up incredibly strong making it uncomfortable to be outside for long so we decided to head back to the Bay Area instead.

We had a wonderful time at the Hoes Down and can't wait to go back again next year for more farm fun!

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