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Festival of Family Farms

As working farms are winding down from the growing and harvesting season, they’re eager to showcase what they do well.

Visitors can experience the bounty firsthand during the annual Skagit Valley Festival of Family Farms on the first weekend of October.

The tour ranges from a cattle ranch in Concrete and alpaca farmers in Sedro-Woolley to shellfish growers in Bow and berry and produce farmers in Mount Vernon and Burlington. You can get a good idea of the time, energy and effort our area farmers expend to keep us happy, healthy and well-fed.

Activities at participating farms aim to keep the kids engaged, too. Youngsters can race crabs or veggie cars, milk an artificial cow (and pet a real one!), get lost in a corn maze, build a scarecrow or ride a pony. Meantime, mom and dad can sample the apple cider, eat barbecued oysters or corn on the cob, or pick out a pumpkin for Halloween.

www.festivaloffamilyfarms.com



More about Skagit farming

Many of the small farms across the Skagit Valley raise an array of crops and animals, and are welcoming to visitors. A growing number of them use organic practices, as well.

Among the top crops are specialty potatoes, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, tulips, daffodils, apples and vegetable seeds, though specialized wheat and barley are returning to fields as valuable rotation crops. More than 114 crops are grown in all, most of which can be found at roadside stands and farmers markets.

Livestock, poultry and dairy products are big sellers, bringing in more than $73 million for local producers.

Residents and visitors can get a firsthand look at working farms and talk to their owners and managers during the annual Festival of Family Farms in October. The event got its start in 1999 and now attracts 20,000 people.

The Skagit Valley Tulip Festival, launched in 1984, is held every year during the entire month of April, peak time for tulip blooms. It is the second-largest tulip festival in the world, as the rainbow-colored fields draw an estimated 300,000 visitors.

The most recent census of agriculture in 2007 shows the county was home to 1,215 farms covering 108,541 acres. In 2011, farmers here sold $281 million worth of product.