“Wow, You’re One of Us!” It was an exclamation I heard from across the way at the iris booth. The venue was the National Heirloom Expo which took place recently in Santa Rosa, California and is billed as The World’s Pure Food Fair. And though I don’t know what exactly the reference was toward, the sentiment very well summarized the feeling of the event.
I was there as a vendor for my book series, Seed Savers, but also to meet people, attend workshops, and hear nationally known speakers in the food movement. It was an awesome time, and I hope to return next year. As an author, I like in-person events rather than just focusing on online sales, but that’s another post. Right now I’d like to write a summary of what I saw and did in the three days of the expo, and hopefully follow up with more posts.
This was the fourth year of the Heirloom Exposition, and you get the feeling it has grown maybe a little too fast for the organizers. There didn’t seem to be a list or map of vendors, so a lot of people would stop and ask if I knew where so-and-so’s booth was. I think it also would be nice for vendors to have little tags to wear like the speakers had.
That being said, I liked the laid back county fair feel of the event. Having a vendor table, I didn’t get to partake in as much of the fair as I would have liked, but because my husband graciously assisted me, I did get out a little. And it was all great.
What was there to do?
One of my favorite areas was the exhibition building. There were long tables spilling over with all kinds of vegetables in their glorious varietous beauty! And of course, the giant squash tower showcased on the expo’s website. This building also housed the school gardens displays, gourd carving, watermelon and vegetable carving, tasting, artwork, an aquaponics display, and pumpkins weighing over a thousand pounds.
There was also a music stage. I didn’t get to stop and listen, but every time I walked by there was wonderful music playing. In the food court there was a guy playing piano (Petaluma Pete) despite the heat. Lots of healthy food and drinks were available in the food section. And all day long there were workshops, classes, tastings, and more. I never even made it to the animal barns.
I, of course, spent most of my time in the vendor building–a gardening and foodie shopping paradise. There were baskets and fermenting pots, heirloom seeds and how-to books, mushroom growing kits and jewelry, iris bulbs, and much, much more. For a photo montage, see my previous post.
Everyone was supportive and cared about healthy food. It was a warm and welcoming atmosphere. Though many of the folks were local, I came from out of state. Still, the exclamation “You’re One of Us!” made me smile. That’s the way I felt. I’ll be happy to return.