Touring agriculture a Sky Valley Farm Festival tradition

Every year, the Sky Valley Chamber of Commerce ushers in the fall season by inviting hundreds of guests to experience the Sky Valley Farm Festival.

The seventh annual farm festival takes place 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 3, on lower Fern Bluff Road near Sultan. The event is organized by community volunteer Elizabeth Emmons and Sky Valley Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Debbie Copple, who work collaboratively with the Snohomish County Dairy Women and several local farms.

Meant to showcase and celebrate the Sky Valley's rich agricultural heritage, the free event includes tours of working farms, activities for kids, horseback rides, fresh food, rope-swinging, guided wagon tours and more.

"The Sky Valley Farm Festival invites everybody to "Get Their Mud On,' while spending the day enjoying the sights, smells and sounds on the ranch,GÇ¥ Emmons said. "Boot up and prepare to get dirty as you pet cows, ride horses and stomp through the corn maze and pumpkin patch.GÇ¥

Farms participating in the festival this year are River's End Cattle Ranch, located off of Fern Bluff Road at 16603 275th Ave. S.E.; Johannsen's Farm at 16308 275th Ave. S.E.; Groeneveld's Dairy Farm at 29524 Fern Bluff Road and Mott's Fresh Fruit at 29900 Fern Bluff Road.

All farms have Monroe addresses but are located just outside of Sultan. Festival organizers encourage families to park once, at either Groeneveld's Dairy Farm or Rivers End Ranch, and then hop on one of the tractor-pulled wagons, which will be ferrying passengers back and forth between farms all day. The event is free to attend, but guests are encouraged to make a $5 donation. Donation bins will be available on the tractor-pulled wagons.

The Sky Valley Farm Festival provides a uniquely interactive educational experience for kids and parents alike. Each farm on the festival circuit provides its own adventure, from the newborn baby calves at Groeneveld's Dairy Farm to the riverside tours at Rivers End Ranch.

Jerry and Stacy Labish have operated Rivers End Ranch since 1989. During the festival, their beef ranch is transformed into a country-style carnival, including hayloft rope swinging, horseback riding, roping lessons, educational displays, arts and crafts and guided tours along the Skykomish River. Guests will be able to see plenty of pink salmon, which return to the Skykomish and Sultan rivers every two years to spawn. -á -á

Further east at Groeneveld's Dairy Farm, guests will find an array of informational signs with facts about dairy farming. One of the highlights at Groeneveld's is the baby cow barn, where parents with younger children can enjoy watching their little ones literally get nose-to-nose with the newborn dairy calves. Folks can stay to view the milking process at 4 p.m.

This year, Groeneveld's historic milking barn celebrated its 100-year anniversary.

Situated in between Groeneveld's and Rivers End Ranch, Johannsen's Farm will feature animals for petting and hot food, plus a place to sit and relax.

At Mott's Fresh Fruit, award-winning chefs Gordon MacDonald and Mimi Stockmann will conduct live cooking demonstrations, with a selection of bite-size samples for guests to enjoy and snacks for sale. In years past, the duo has dazzled attendees with freshly made cheese, squash soup and flatbread pizza, all made with just-picked ingredients.-á

"You will leave with a happy heart and a greater appreciation of the time and work it takes to get your food from the field to the table,GÇ¥ Emmons said.

For more information on the Sky Valley Farm Festival, visit To sign up as a volunteer, email Elizabeth Emmons at

Photos by Chris Hendrickson Sultan resident Dakota Johnson pets a young dairy calf during the 2014 Sky Valley Farm Festival. Sky Valley Farm Festival volunteer Ben Emmons enjoys chauffeuring guests each year.


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