Rhubarb, Pinatas & Hairstyles? Time for the Midsummer Garden & Art Faire!

Contributed by Brooke Heppinstall, Midsummer Garden & Art Faire 2016

Yes, we’re busy planning another Midsummer Garden and Art Faire here in beautiful downtown Palmer, on the town green and at the Palmer Museum grounds and gardens. Over the years we’ve pruned and fed this event into a rich opportunity for learning about gardening, art, cooking and plenty of fun. 

Where else can you learn about everything from rhubarb, sheep, and brewing to piñatas and painting in the garden? And it’s all free, thanks to generous support from our community and sponsors.

The Rhubarb Rumble, our certified chef challenge, is back with a beverage, savory, and sweet category for you to taste. Local chefs have served up everything from cocktails and cannoli to chocolates and ice cream. But, don’t short the rhubarb by serving her up as a sweet. These chefs have proven that this ancient vegetable is perennial, sustainable and very versatile. You can explore how to prep and use rhubarb with nutrition educator, Winona Benson, from 1 to 1:45 at the Information Tent on the green before the tasting begins at 2pm. So, save your appetite and vote for your favorite recipe! The People’s Choice overall winner takes home the coveted Ruby Award. This event supports local agriculture and restaurants by challenging our chefs to use locally grown rhubarb and at least one other local ingredient. With luck some local restaurateur will add a new rhubarb dish to their menu!

Our ever popular workshops are held in several locations this year. On the green, fiber art lovers can learn about sheep and wool crafts from Tara Pollock, local yarn crafter, at her family’s art and crafts Forever Endeavor booth. Anchorage glass artist and designer, Tam Johannes, is also a veteran beekeeper who will lead you through the mysteries of the bee world and beeswax and its artistic use at her Killer Designs booth. Got a yen for bonsai and circus arts? We’ve got that covered, too!  

Over at the Palmer Public Library’s meeting room, gardeners can learn about everything from invasive weeds, exploring new challenges and crops in a changing climate to safe ways to cook up the now legal herbs.  

At the Museum patio, local native plant expert and agronomist, Peggy Hunt, will discuss ways to use local plants in salves and remedies. And piñata lovers will have fun making real Mexican papier mache creations with Alma Ortega. We promise they’ll work and you won’t find yourself on Funniest Home Videos making a fool of yourself with a tire iron!

This year the Museum Garden is in full swing with a new event: The Topihairy Challenge! This garden-inspired hair styling event teases the creative wiles of local salons to styling heights never before achieved in our windy gardens. Come vote for your favorite creation! Who knows how cool a trowel embedded in a beehive will look! Will there be any bearded folk embellished with flowers and ladybugs?  

The gardens will have talks on everything from compost to plein air painting. Join award-winning painter, Nancy Angelini Crawford, and learn how you can paint the roses red or carmine or vermillion or blue! Learn how to sculpt a hypertufa alpine trough with Jaime Rodriguez, The Alpine Nursery, and Museum Gardens head gardener, Alicia Greene. Later they’ll show you how to plant the trough and lead a walking tour through the Mat-Su Agricultural Showcase Gardens after they’re done playing with concrete. Soils expert, Jodie Anderson, will show you how to turn all of it into a golden pile of compost with humor and wit. She’s the only potato expert I know who’s allergic to her specialty!

Off campus at local Arkose Brewery, head brewer, Stephen Gerteisen, will demystify the brewing technique and hopefully inspire your inner brew master. We’re hoping for an entry from him in our Rhubarb Rumble. Will there be a limited cask of something rhubarbish and ale-like? 

For more information about our event and workshops go to http://palmergardenandart.org. Or stop by our lovely Palmer Museum of History and Art, Visitor’s Center. Pick up a fair brochure, browse the current exhibits and enjoy the gardens.