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Sonoma County Gazette
Bee in Flight by Samantha Harmon

In Praise of Pollinators
Gravenstein Apple Fair

Aug 2, 2017


PHOTO © Samantha Harmon

By Holly Hansen

While it’s already known as “the sweetest little fair in Sonoma County”, this year’s Gravenstein Apple Fair becomes even sweeter, in the form of bees and honey. This year’s theme is “In Praise of Pollinators”, drawing attention to the critters, especially bees, who keep our food systems alive. 

The fair is scheduled for August 12 and 13 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Ragle Ranch Park in Sebastopol. 

Guests at the Gravenstein Apple Fair will learn more about pollinators and the important role they play in the health of our planet. They’ll also learn simple tips everyone can do to keep pollinators healthy and happy. Michael Thiele is a bee expert who lives in Sonoma County and is known around the world for finding new ways of living with bees. He will share his innovative knowledge in a discussion on Saturday, August 12, at 1:30 p.m.

The Sonoma County Beekeepers Association will give an up-close view of bees at work inside their demonstration beehive. At the Do-It-Yourself Arena, Master Basket Weaver Charlie Kennard will show fairgoers how to make a natural beehive, called a skep, and demonstrations on planting a pollinator-friendly garden, and mead-making will follow throughout the weekend.

Kids will enjoy watching their peers perform a bee dance and “pollinate” flowers in Ragle Ranch Park. They’ll also learn to make a seed ball at the fair, which they can take to a parent-approved location to throw and let wildflower seeds take root and attract bees.

Adults will have a bevy of beverages to enjoy during the fair, including microbrews, local ciders and wine. One of the “must try” beverages is a Honey Cider from Tilted Shed Ciderworks, created just for this year’s Gravenstein Apple Fair. Another new discovery for many will be mead, a sparkling wine made of honey. 

In the Chef’s Demonstration Tent watch local chefs like Marianna Gardenhire from Backyard Restaurant in Forestville, create magic with a California version of a Greek doughnut called Loukoumades, made with Gravenstein apples and local wild honey. More local chefs will share creative uses for Gravenstein apples, and local vendors will offer a wide variety of delicious foods. 

For the third year, the fair will offer an exclusive experience In the Artisan Tasting Lounge, where visitors pay an additional $20 to enjoy locally grown produce, artisan cheeses, and of course, local honeys.

All the favorite activities that kids and grown-ups alike have come to love at the fair will be there for visitors to enjoy, too: music on two stages, arts and crafts vendors galore, fresh Gravensteins and pies to take home, strolling entertainers, fun activities like the Hay Maze for the kids, family-friendly performances such as puppet shows, storytelling, sing-alongs, Circus Waldissima (the acclaimed local youth circus inspired by Waldorf Education), contests, and more. The Life on the Farm features sheep shearing, cow milking and farmer panel discussions and the Do-It-Yourself Arena offers free demos on fermentation, fiber arts, herbal medicine making, and much more.

Tickets may be purchased at, or in person at Harmony Farm, all Oliver’s Markets, and the Farm Trails office for $12 for adults and $8 for children aged 6-12. At the fair, prices increase to $15 for adults and $10 for children. Adults riding their bicycles to the fair will receive $3 off the at-gate adult ticket price (with a voucher from the Bike Parking area). Children 5 and under FREE. Premium on-site parking at Ragle Ranch Regional Park for $5/day

(Sonoma County Regional Park passes will be accepted). FREE PARKING will be available and free shuttle service will be available at the Holy Ghost Hall and O’Reilly Media.Pets other than certified service animals are not allowed.

Visit for more information.


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