WEEKEND: Chimacum farm to celebrate agriculture with Wassail event Saturday
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Crystie Kisler ties bread to a fruit tree in preparation for Saturday’s Wassail celebration at Finnriver Farms in Chimacum. — Charlie Bermant/Peninsula Daily News

By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News

CHIMACUM — Finnriver Farm & Cidery has revived a centuries-old tradition to celebrate the connection of agriculture to the community.

The farm will hold its eighth annual Wassail Celebration from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Saturday at 62 Barn Swallow Road, offering a “family-friendly” version of the traditionally bawdy events.

Admission is free, with a dinner of soup and bread costing $10.

“We are involved in small-scale family agriculture,” said Crystie Kisler, who owns and operates the farm with her husband, Keith Kisler.

“With the Wassail, we are celebrating the 'culture' part of this that celebrates good food and good community.

“It also comes from me examining my own role here,” she added.

“I'm not getting my hands dirty in the fields, so I want to plan events so we can build that culture.”

Aside from the winter Wassail Celebration, the farm sponsors Spring Blossom Festival and Fall World Apple Day.

“When agriculture was introduced, it was what brought people together,” Crystie Kisler said.

Saturday's celebration will include a bonfire, games and a re-creation of the original wassail toast, dating from the Middle Ages, as performed between a medieval king and a Saxon lass. A non-alcoholic punch will be available for underage toasters.

The oldest apple tree in the orchard will be decorated. Bread will be tied to trees to attract robins, and local children will be recruited as goblins as an old ritual is re-enacted.

“The robins were considered to be protectors of the orchards,” Kisler said.

“And the most fun comes from making lots of noise to scare away the goblins.”

Kisler said several children have signed up to be in the “Orchard Mischief Posse.”

They will dress in black and hide in the trees, ready to run out and make noise at the appropriate time.

Participants are asked to bring drums, horns, whistles, pans or other noisemakers as well as a special mug for the wassail brew.

The celebration is “weather-dependent,” Kisler said, so visitors should bundle up. If it rains, the celebration will move into a covered pavilion.

The annual celebration has remained pretty much the same throughout the years, Kisler said, adding that it lost momentum because of bad weather two years ago and last year's event was sparsely attended.

“The idea is to create a family tradition that grows, so we haven't changed it up too much,” she said, categorizing it as “intimate.”

She is preparing for about 50 people but will be ready for more.

One thing she would like to change is to increase people's willingness to participate.

“It's interesting how people get so involved in wassail celebrations in Europe, which isn't the case here,” she said.

“We aren't so much into the dress-up traditions,” Kisler added.

“It takes a little more courage to become active participants in these activities instead of just observers.”

To RSVP for supper, email info@finnriverfarm.com.

For more information about the farm, visit www.finnriver.com.

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Jefferson County Editor Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or cbermant@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: January 16. 2014 7:35PM
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