The Foxhollow Fall Festival, now in its 7th year, started out as a Cinderella story. I had a vision of people coming out and experiencing the beauty of fall at Foxhollow Farm. My image of the festival stretched beyond our borders. It happened quickly and was going to include a castle built of hay, pumpkins, and some live music. Our goal was to generate much needed exposure and funds for both Foxhollow Farm and a local non- profit. I would use the Festival’s proceeds to allow children to come out at no cost to them, and experience a working farm.
Soon after the idea was born, I remember a cool day driving down Broadway to watch the West End Boys and Girls Choir practice. I was blown away by how much patience, honor, and pride the young boys and girls had; three characteristics every farmer can relate to. They were a perfect fit for the sound of the Fall Festival. After rehearsal, I enthusiastically asked the director, McDaniel Bluitt, if they would be willing to sing at the event.
“We have never been invited to sing in a barn before” McDaniel chuckled.
I immediately started to feel a bit embarrassed. I was asking a group who had just gotten back from singing at the White House and Carnegie Hall to sing at my dinky Fall Festival, in a barn.
Just as I was doubting my decision he chirped “We are in!”
Back in Crestwood, enthusiasm over the festival spread like ants at a picnic. Like a good ole family farm, my family made this festival possible. My mom, who always had faith in me and encouraged me to shoot for the stars, was enthusiastically on board. After 2 months of dating me; my now husband, Benton Keith, dove right in and offered to provide hayrides for all our guests. Together with the farm team, we all chipped in. Over the next three weeks we constructed a beautifully lopsided Hay Castle outside. We cleaned out the barn and transformed it into our make shift musical theatre with a long wagon for a stage and hay bales for seats.
The day of the Festival, mom and I sat patiently at our welcome table: her throne; a cooler of grassfed ground beef, mine; a cooler of steaks and roasts.
As the clock struck noon, mom leaned over to whisper, “Is anyone going to come?”
I contemplated the question and then squealed back “Suuuuure. Who wouldn’t want to be out on a farm today?”
That first Fall Festival, like magic, 150 delightfully enthusiastic patrons came down the winding drive in droves, casting a cloud of $800 net profit gravel dust behind them as they left. They enjoyed grassfed beef chili, homemade corn bread, and freshly picked vegetables. After lunch, we gathered everyone, hot apple cider in hand, and walked to the barn. The West End Boys and Girls Choir sang beautifully. I remember taking a moment to look up at the crowd while a nine-year-old girl with pigtails stood up and belted out Amazing Grace. I could see the curiosity and happiness in everyone’s eyes.
By the second annual Fall Festival, everyone’s enthusiasm blossomed. I gathered a group of friends, family, and farm folk to start meeting in May in order to get the buzz going. That spring, a young woman confidently gave me a tour of Maryhurst. She lit up with pride as she showed me the raised bed garden, and I knew this was the organization I wanted to partner with that year.
The Festival became a place where everyone involved was able to use their talents. Mom introduced silk dying and face painting; we constructed a fish pond game, and the cattleman offered pony rides. The music moved outside onto a hay wagon and thanks to Joan Shelly, we added a line up of five local folk and bluegrass bands. 1500 people came that year.
Each year, the Festival grows a little more, and each Fall, we renew our wonderful partnership with Maryhurst. Last year, with more than 5,000 people in attendance, we reached our fundraising goal of $20,000.
Looking back, I remember everyone who came to that first Fall Festival, went home with full bellies, a perfectly picked pumpkin, and a music filled heart. I’m grateful for every person who was willing to sow the pumpkin seed that grew into the Fairytale of a Festival we have today!
Co-Founder and 4th Generation Land Steward