Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company, one of the area’s largest attractions, is celebrating the return of its Spring Planting Festival on Sunday and Monday, May 8-9.
Back after a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the event is set for an exuberant return and runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day.
“There will be at least five food trucks there and many, many vendors,” said Kathy McFarland of Baker Creek. “We’ve refocused our offerings on sustainable living and gardening particularly. The food vendors are serving more natural treats and drinks; there will be less of a ‘carnival’ atmosphere this year.
“We’re returning to our roots, you might say, bringing it back to the start.”
The return of the event is welcome news to gardeners and businesses in the area and around the country. But there will be a notable change from past festivals.
Importantly for people who plan to attend, admission to the festival will be handled very differently this year. While the grounds are able to accommodate 10,000 or so guests, the capacity for parking is only around 2,000 cars.
“We’ve made so many additions over the last couple of years that parking is our limiting factor,” McFarland said. “So we’re going to charge by the carload instead of individual tickets. There is no admission fee anymore – it’s just a parking fee.”
Pre-registration of vehicles and payment online is required to allow best use of the available space. The charge will be $20 per car (a typical two-axle vehicle), regardless of the number of people in it.
The parking pass is good for both days of the festival.
Large vehicles such as R.V.s and trailers will be charged an additional $30 fee (per vehicle) at the gate.
As a special gesture to neighbors, on Monday, all cars with in-state license plates will be given free admission after 11 a.m., without the need for pre-registration.
The Bakersville facility at the Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company has grown over the past couple of years, and the folks there seem eager to show off the improvements.
Tours of the greenhouses and gardens will be available during the event, with smaller-scale tours in the works for the following Tuesday at the Seymour facility. Baker Creek will have starters for sale, and an assortment of plant vendors will be there as well.
“We’re going to (charge) $2 per seed packet this year,” McFarland said. “It won’t be all about the plants, though; plenty of entertainment will be happening as well. Live music on multiple stages will be going on both days, and Rick Mansfield will be there, too, as a roaming storyteller.”
In addition to the festivities, an auction will be held Monday selling surplus goods from I.T. equipment to seeds, and the Baker Creek Restaurant will be hosting Chef Tong of Springfield, who will be preparing a special vegan Thai menu for the event. The proceeds from the auction will go to the non-profit STAG, a veterans’ advocacy group, while the money raised by the restaurant will be donated to an orphanage in Thailand.
There will be a dozen speakers over the two days of the event, presenting talks on subjects from hot peppers with Richie Ramsey to homesteading by Lucy Hutchings. Again, the topics have been carefully selected.
“They are really focused on the heart of the topic,” McFarland said. “We are aiming at our gardeners.”
Festivalgoers are advised to bring cash for transactions, as the rural location makes it impossible for vendors to take credit or debit card payments. ATMs, however, will be available on the premises.
A schedule and complete list of speakers, as well as pre-registration information, is available on the Baker Creek website, www.rareseeds.com.
McFarland and the staff at Baker Creek look forward to the event this coming Sunday and Monday on the grounds at 2278 Baker Creek Road, about four miles northwest of Mansfield.
“We’re very excited about this one,” she said. “It’s the big one, something we think about and look forward to all year, and to have it coming back is really – well, it feels good.”