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Cane Hill Harvest Festival tradition continues

by Lynn Kutter | September 13, 2023 at 11:34 a.m.
File photo Volunteers demonstrate the process for making sorghum during the 2022 Cane Hill Harvest Festival. The 2023 festival will be held Saturday, Sept. 16 on the grounds of Cane Hill College.

CANE HILL -- For those who have been to the Cane Hill Harvest Festival, the event brings to mind demonstrations and crafts of years gone by, beautiful quilts, live music, food -- all enjoyed within the natural setting of this historic town in western Washington County.

The 2023 Cane Hill Harvest Festival will be held Saturday, Sept. 16, beginning with a country breakfast at 7 a.m. and closing at 3 p.m. after a full day of activities.

The festival has had a few changes in recent years. A volunteer committee coordinated and planned a two-day festival for more than 30 years, through 2019.

The festival was canceled in 2020 and 2021 because of covid-19.

In 2022, Historic Cane Hill, a non-profit organization that owns and has restored most of the historic buildings in Cane Hill, took over the festival and changed it to a one-day event. Many people of all ages attended last year's festival.

The 2023 festival will have an expanded Kids Zone with free face painting and hands-on activities offered by the Amazeum, Shiloh Museum of Ozark History and University of Arkansas Entomology Department.

In addition this year, the festival for the first time will charge an admission fee. Parking has been $3 in the past but will be free this year.

Carly Squyres, administrative assistant with Historic Cane Hill, said an admission fee is being collected this year to make sure the festival is a sustainable event "that can keep going for years and years."

Visitors can purchase tickets for the festival only, breakfast only, or a combination ticket for both breakfast and festival.

Tickets are $5 for adult festival only; free for child festival only ages 12 and under; $12 for adult breakfast/ festival; $5 for child breakfast/festival 12 and under; $8 adult breakfast only; $5 child breakfast only 12 and under.

Tickets can be purchased the day of the festival or online,

Squyres said the 2023 festival will have a larger vendor area, called the Arts & Eats Market, but still will have its "cornerstone" activities: sorghum production and craft demonstrations. The sorghum pressing demonstration includes cutting the sorghum grown in Cane Hill, pressing the juice from the stalk and cooking it down into sorghum molasses.

Visitors will be able to watch a blacksmith and spinners and lace makers at work, tour the historic buildings in Cane Hill and learn about the history of the area in Historic Cane Hill Museum.

Beautiful, handmade quilts will be on display in Historic Cane Hill College, the first collegiate institution of learning established in Arkansas. Historic Cane Hill reopened the college in 2017, following a 2 1/2-year project to extensively restore and refurbish the two-story brick building. The college was founded by Cumberland Presbyterians in 1834.

The Museum Gallery at Historic Cane Hill, located on Highway 45 in Cane Hill, will have a new exhibit for the festival featuring local artists from Cane Hill and the surrounding area.

Live music is scheduled throughout the day and visitors are encouraged to bring blankets and chairs to enjoy the music.

Cane Hill Harvest Festival is held on the grounds of the historic Cane Hill College, 14219 College Road, (WC4762). The college is located just off Highway 45 in Cane Hill, west of Fayetteville and east of Tahlequah, Okla.

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