Riverdance Farms, an organic farm located along the meandering Merced River in Livingston, has some fun family “Pick & Gather” events planned for May 29, 30 and 31.
Farm owner Cindy Lashbrook told the Times, “This year, we didn’t know if we could do anything due to COVID. Our event this year is more spread out, so there is less chance for people grouping together. It’s spread out over three weekends this year, instead of the usual two-day event, and there is a theme for each weekend.”
“Everybody should have a mask in their pocket in case they get into a situation where they need it. We’re just trying to be safe.
“I’d love to see more local people here.”
The first of three weekends, May 22 and 23, was a low-key version of Riverdance Farms’ annual U Pick River Fair with a focus on the Merced River, and there were people sharing about science and nature relating to the river.
The weekend of June 5 and 6 will focus on fruit and vegetable harvesting, drying and canning.
Those interested in visiting on Memorial Day weekend or the weekend of June 5 to 6 need to make an appointment by emailing [email protected] The farm is located at 12230 Livingston Cressey Road
Memorial Day weekend
Lashbrook told the Times, “Memorial Day weekend should be a time when the fruit will all be ripe at the same time. We have cherries and blueberries, and some strawberries.
“Part of what we used to do with the festival is kids’ activities. We are going to do some of those activities, and it’s going to be relaxed and low-key.
“We will have camping in the walnut orchard fairly near the river accesses on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights.
“On Friday, May 28, we’ll start with camping in the late afternoon.
“The festival on Saturday starts at 9 in the morning and lasts until dark, and Sunday, we’ll open at 8 a.m. On Saturday, there will be music starting at 11 a.m. and going until 8 p.m., and on Sunday it will last the first half of the day. We will have live music, mostly bluegrass with fiddlestix. The sound of the live music wafts over the blueberries and cherries while you’re picking.
“We will have Jorge Trinchan who does Brazilian barbecue, and it’s cooked on a spit with juices running constantly into the meat, and there will be omelets for Sunday breakfast, and we’ll have my Riverdance oatmeal with almost every health seed in the world in it. The food will be organic as much as possible.
“We have ladies who work here who have a hobby and a talent making agua fresca, which is fruit water and it’s almost a smoothie the way they make it. We’ll use the blueberries, strawberries and cherries.
“We will have a farm packing shed that’s converted into a kitchen, and that’s where we will have the U pick fruit weigh in, and it is like a little market under the shade.
“The festival is growing and we may have booths such as fly fishing, and we will probably have someone walking around talking about native plants and habitat, but there won’t be as many businesses this year as at the fairs before.
“The river is pretty and warm. There are no lifeguards but visitors can go in the water at their own risk and stay close to the edge if they can’t swim. It’s pretty to listen to. We’re the last property on the river that has cobble, and the shallow water going over the rocks and cobble sounds pretty. The water is pretty warm down here because we suck so much water off the top to irrigate things that it’s shallower, so it’s warmer.
“On Monday, people can hang out at the river and pick fruit. We’re family friendly. There will be some guided kids’ nature activities.
“There will be a hay ride, which is basically a farm tour, and we’ll do some nature hikes, and people can bring blankets and they can picnic at the river. They can bring their own food or buy what’s here.
“This year, I’m not charging for people to come in. But as usual, people will pay for the fruit, and we hope they will donate for the music.”