The Youth Garden Project’s annual Harvest Festival—an event that marks a shift in the seasons, from summer to fall, growing to harvest—will this year take place on Saturday, Sept. 24, from 3 to 7 p.m. at YGP (530 S. 400 E.). 

“The Harvest Festival lets us look back at a year of growing and the whole process of the growing season,” said Outreach and Development Coordinator Jessie Shalvey. “The Harvest Festival is a way to celebrate both local food and community in Moab.” 

This year’s festival brings newness—there will be new food and activities, Shalvey said. On the menu will be a variety of garden veggie burgers, instead of pizzas, and sides like pasta and chopped veggies. There will also be sweet treats and popcorn. 

There will also be a slew of activities and games for all ages: one of the most popular activities is the scavenger hunt, which will take participants all over the garden as they look for clues and items in order to win prizes. Classic lawn games, such as cornhole and pumpkin tic tac toe, will make an appearance, and there will be activity booths for face painting and flower pot decorating. 

The soundtrack for the Harvest Festival will be supplied by live music performed by two bands: The Violet Pines, from Grand Junction, and The Beck Brothers, from Spanish Fork. Both bands play bluegrass music. 

It wouldn’t be a Harvest Festival without a celebration of the harvest: there are a number of exhibitions and contests celebrating both YGP’s harvest and the harvests of local gardeners. The Blue Ribbon Produce contest, which takes place each year, has seven categories: classic (most true to type fruit or vegetable), floral arrangement, silliest fruit or vegetable, rarest fruit or vegetable variety, heaviest tomato, largest melon or squash, and best veggie creature. 

The “best veggie creature” category was created for Moabites who maybe don’t grow food, but still want to participate—participants have to create a creature from vegetables, like an ear of humanoid corn on the cob with a tomato head and chive hair, and the vegetables can be sourced from the grocery store. 

There will be prizes for each category of the produce contest; drop-offs are on Friday, Sept. 23 from 5 to 7 p.m. or on Saturday, Sept. 24 from 9 to 11 a.m. Shalvey said the contest will have three guest judges, and an award will be given to the “People’s Choice” winner. 

There will also be contests for preserved produce: a jam contest and a hot sauce contest, which is new this year—Shalvey said YGP wanted to celebrate the abundance of peppers grown in Moab, in addition to the fruits used for jams. Participants can only submit one of each to the contest, and prizes will be awarded. The pie contest is back this year as well: participants must bring two of the same kind of pie, one for judging, and one for the “pie walk” activity. 

“It’s really a big community celebration,” Shalvey said. “It’s always impactful to get everyone together in a free setting for all ages.” 

The Harvest Festival is also looking for volunteers to help run activity booths, set up, and sell food. Call 435-259-2326 or email Jessie Shalvey at jessie@youthgardenproject.org to inquire about volunteering.