By CAT ROBERTSON
It’s officially autumn, and that means it’s time for the annual Pine Cone Festival at Rim Nordic. Don’t miss out on the fantastic family fun, games, contests and entertainment at the 13th annual event on Saturday, Oct. 5 – it’s all free.
Last year’s event was a smashing success with nearly 1,500 visitors checking out the activities, vendors that included local artisans, interesting exhibits and food as well as informative and educational booths. This event has attracted over close to 10,000 visitors over the years and, like a fine wine, it gets better every year.
The festival will open at 9:30 a.m. with Mountain Fifes & Drums Corps marching throughout the grounds, ending up at the stage at 10 a.m. for the special opening ceremonies as Cub Scout Pack 89 presents the flag. County Supervisor Janice Rutherford will be honored as this year’s VIP and will welcome everyone and officially open the festival.
The World’s Largest Pinecone contest, Pinecone Craft contest and Pinecone Olympics are all highlights of the festival. Enter the World’s Largest Pine Cone contest to win prizes worth over $600, with a special prize for record-breaking entries. The longest sugar pinecone and the heaviest coulter pinecone will be the winners. Green coulter pines will not be accepted; “green” is not referring to the color but the state of the coulter pinecone where the spikes are closed.
When measuring the longest sugar pinecone, the stems are not included. Entries must be turned in by noon on the day of the festival. Winners will be announced at 1 p.m.
The winners last year were Scott Markovich with the longest sugar pinecone – 20.5 inches long – and Theresa Mays with the heaviest coulter pine – 5 pounds 2.8 ounces. It broke the previous record by 0.8 ounces, so those are the numbers to beat this year.
There are three games in the Pinecone Olympics: shot put, archery and hoop toss. There are several age groups, and the winners receive great prizes. Everyone receives one free ticket; to enter more than once to try to improve your score, tickets can be purchased for $2. All profits will be donated to a nonprofit charity.
Adults and older children will have the opportunity to design craft items at the festival or they may bring the ones they created at home. The crafts can be natural, abstract, beautiful or humorous in design. Kids in fifth- grade and under will work on their crafts at the festival. Thanks to Church of the Woods, all craft items and pinecones will be provided at no charge.
Festival volunteers will assist children in their efforts, if needed. The craft designs may be taken home and/or entered in the Pinecone Craft contest. All on-site entries must be turned in by 2 p.m. and entries from home must be received by noon the day of the festival.
Performers at the festival will be Mountain Fifes & Drums Corps, Dan McNay on the banjo and Little Bear Valley Blues.
Last year, more than 100 visitors took a beautiful one- or two-mile nature walk through the forest and discovered more about the mountain’s flora and fauna. Visitors may choose between a guided tour or walk on their own.
The festival’s organizers would like to remind everyone that the festival is held in the forest and the walking area is a natural surface – flat with some irregularities. This is not a paved or concrete trail, so please wear appropriate shoes.
As Mark Twain once wrote, “There’s gold in them thar hills!” Thanks to the Inland Empire Prospectors and Miners Club, folks can have fun panning for gold.
The vendors will be judged on their use of pinecones. For the past two years, Roy Isaac has won first place with his ingenious use of pinecones and gemstones in his jewelry.
“I find pinecones in the Santa Cruz Mountains and I slice them open, sand them, and use gold and silver foil, crushed gemstones, amethyst, quartz and bumble bee jasper,” Isaac explained.
You won’t find a better free family event that has something for everyone: food, live entertainment, great vendors, artisans and exhibits, kids’ activities, pinecone games and contests. And make sure to say hello to Smokey Bear and Cheekers while you’re there.
“This festival has a good family feel,” commented Bryan Smeail at last year’s event. “I like the nature walk because it’s nice if you want to get away for a while. And I really liked the Mountain Fifes & Drums.”
“I was pleasantly surprised,” said Stephanie Renteria. “It’s great community outreach, and not only reaching people up here, but down in the valley too.”
“I liked the different vendors, crafts and natural talent that people possess,” said Roy Isaac. “The camaraderie was nice and everyone was friendly.”
There will be free parking at Snow Valley Mountain Resort and a free shuttle (thanks to Pali Adventures) provided to help visitors cross the highway. Please don’t try to cross on foot; it can be very dangerous.
The festival is a dog-friendly event, provided they are on a six-foot leash. Please come prepared to clean up after your dog as there is no “doggie” area. For safety reasons, dogs are not allowed on the shuttle, but you can be dropped off in the loading zone at Rim Nordic before the driver parks at Snow Valley.
For more information about the Pine Cone Festival, visit www.pineconefestival.org.