Mad River Union
WESTHAVEN – It’s the 58th annual Blackberry Festival, a benefit for the Westhaven Fire Department, on Sunday, July 29 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., so plan on getting there early for pie.
Folks in the know drive to Westhaven early and find a parking spot for the festive day of music, crafts and pie. Folks even more in the know bring their ice chests to nab whole pies to take home for later.
The hardworking volunteer bakers of the Westhaven Ladies Club have been meeting every Tuesday since January to roll out the pie crusts and fill them with blackberries, huckleberries, or, new this year, strawberry-rhubarb. The strawberries are locally grown in the Arcata Bottom. All the blackberries and huckleberries are picked locally.
The pies are frozen in the fire hall’s giant freezer and baked just before Sunday. This year there were so many pies that Murphy’s Market in Trinidad offered their freezer space to help out.
Whether you buy a piece of pie à la mode or a whole pie, you can do so with no guilt about eating sweets because you are supporting the all-volunteer fire department. The festival is their main fundraiser to keep gas in the fire engines, to buy equipment, and to keep the volunteers up to date with training requirements.
The department supports over 800 properties which include 450 homes. In addition they respond to medical calls from Clam Beach north which often can mean car accidents and over-enthusiastic beach cliff climbers.
Westhaven Fire Hall is located on Sixth Avenue in Westhaven. Humboldt Transit buses, which run on Sunday, stop across from the hall. Organizers request that festival goers leave the family dog at home.
Music on the festival stage will include The Sand Fleas, That Buckin' String Band, The Bret Hartebreakers, Moonstone Heights, and The Rinky Dink String Band. Smokey the Bear is rumored to be attending.
Local beers and wines as well as non-alcoholic beverages will be on sale. This year’s offerings will include Blackberry wine made by a winemaker in Hoopa. The fire department will also sell beef brisket sandwiches, hot dogs, veggie dogs and chili.
The Westhaven Ladies Club will also sell jams. Last year the pies sold out early. You have been warned – don’t be in that sad group of folks saying, "what? no more pie?"