What’s The Buzz About? Oregon Honey Festival Comes to Ashland
Bees make up such an important part of our ecosystem it’s surprising there aren’t more festivals dedicated to them. As pollinators, bees are crucial for countless agricultural products that we depend on—including delicious honey and mead. An eclectic community of beekeepers, artists, educators, and pollinator protectors are bringing The Oregon Honey (and Mead) Festival to the Historic Ashland Elks Lodge on Saturday, August 20. Partially to educate, and partially to celebrate the work that bees do, the Honey Festival will showcase a wide range of bee-related exhibitions.
The festival, held on International Honey Bee Day, is “a fundraising event bringing art, honey tasting and honey bee conservation together in a delightful way for Beekeepers and the public,” according to host and Cascade Girl founder, Sharon Schmidt. Attendees will have the chance to sample cheese, chocolate, honey, mead (a beverage made by fermenting honey), and other natural products. Musicians Carla Bauer, Jen Ambrose, and Sequoia will add to the buzz with performances throughout the day as well.
Impressive and diverse speakers are also prepared to present their work to bee-curious festivalgoers of all ages and interests. Col. Pam Mindt will educate about beekeeping helping veterans, Dr. Lynn Royce will discuss honey bee health, Joe Jordahl will cover beehive basics for aspiring beekeepers, Katharina Davitt will talk about teaching kids beekeeping, Nicholas Cunnigham will delve into new hive monitoring technology, and Amazing Adventures of Melissa Bee author Aimee Lissantheia will share a special reading. Schmidt adds, “Speakers will talk about mead, recipes, use of bee products for health and healing [and] honey tasting.”
An especially unique speaker will be Meesha Goldberg, who is an artist and activist for bee conservation. Goldberg is one of six women beekeepers, artists, and crafters, called Equilibrium Rites, who walked 100 miles through the pollination fields of California’s Central Valley interviewing beekeepers, townspeople, and travelers.
Goldberg says, “85 percent of our nation’s commercial hives converge in the almond orchards for the month of February, and this year the word on the ground is that there are not enough bees. Parallel to this past decade of die-offs has been a doubling of the almond monoculture to nearly one million acres, which has put a huge strain on the country’s hives.”
At a time when droughts are extreme and hive populations are dying off at a rate of around 40 percent yearly, Equilibrium Rites’ goal is to raise awareness and spark creative solutions to the ecological crisis. Culminating artwork that represents their experience and a video of their project—which was funded through Kickstarter—will be shown at the festival.
Oregon Honey and Mead Festival
10 am – 7 pm, Saturday, August 20
Historic Ashland Elks Lodge, 255 E. Main Street, Ashland
$8, advance. $10, door. Free, kids under age 8.
Credit: Meesha Goldberg