Asparagus Festival back in business

  • Freshly picked asparagus is shown at Jeff Sadlowski’s farm in Hadley in April 2021. FILE PHOTO

  • Fiona McNutt, 4, of Amherst takes a turn sitting in the driver’s seat of a McCormick Farmall tractor that pulled the Boisvert Farm asparagus float to the WGBY Asparagus Festival on the Hadley Town Common, June 2, 2018. FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 5/28/2022 1:06:14 PM

A significant amount of locally grown and produced food, including dishes prepared with asparagus, will be available at a festival celebrating the crop that has given fame to the region’s agricultural fields.

New England Public Media’s Asparagus Festival returns June 4, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., for the first time since 2019. It will be the eighth time the event, which in part promotes the region as the asparagus capital of the world, has been held on the Hadley Town Common.

While live music, craft beer and specialty foods will be part of the day, special guests will talk about agricultural resilience, food scarcity and the challenges facing farmers due to a changing climate.

Those guests will include John Lebeaux, state commissioner for the Department of Agriculture; Scott Soares, the regional director of USDA for Massachusetts; State Rep. Dan Carey; and U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern.

“It’s an opportunity to tell different stories about agriculture,” says Marie Waechter, director of audience engagement and events for New England Public Media.

One of the new attractions this year will be the horse-drawn stagecoach that will bring people from the Town Common to the Hadley Farm Museum, where tours will be offered.

During the first part of the event, until 3 p.m., there will be family-friendly offerings that include games and activities, such as the Valley Scramble, the Asparagus Valley Pick Game and the Wally Hibbard Memorial Bundling Contest. The Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association’s Jurassic Roadshow will teach kids about the geologic history of the region.

At noon, Mister G and the Global Citizen Ensemble with Marcos Carreras, director of music at the Springfield Conservatory of the Arts Magnet School, will perform. There will also be the African Dance Co. doing Zumba following that.

Local singer Kimaya Diggs will take the Rooted in the Valley stage later in the day, followed by Mamselle Ruiz, of Montreal, and Boston’s Session Americana. All were selected by Northampton’s Signature Sounds.

“It’s like a free music festival,” Waechter said.

For adults, the Beers and Spears tent will open at 11 a.m. and remain open the rest of the event, providing tasting opportunities from White Lion Brewing, Abandoned Building Brewery, New City Brewery, Amherst Brewing, Building 8 and other area breweries and cider makers.

Waechter said the food will include cheese and asparagus pierogies from Jaju Pierogi, tempura from Esselon Café and asparagus ice cream from Maple Valley Creamery.

Other food vendors include Holyoke Hummus Company, the Baby Berk food truck, Snappy Dog, Vibesman’s Jerk Shack, Dean’s Beans, Crooked Stick Pop, Sun Kim Bop and Cocina Lupita.

A Farmers & Makers Market will have crafts, local food products and other agricultural products until 3 p.m.

Tickets, though, have already been sold out for the Chefs’ Spearit Lunch with asparagus-based dishes from local chefs, including Andrew Brow from Jackalope in Springfield and Highbrow Woodfired Kitchen in Northampton, Michelangelo Westcott from Wine Witch in Northampton and Gypsy Apple in Shelburne Falls, and UMass Dining Executive Chef Alex Ong.

The event is free, with donations suggested, and will be mask-friendly, meaning that, while not required, many vendors and others will be wearing face coverings.

Parking will be on the Town Common and at Hopkins Academy, though with the proximity to the Norwottuck Rail Trail the hope is some will walk or bike to the event, Waechter said.


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