I went to the Cherry Festival in Emmett for the first time on a Saturday afternoon last month.
What a disappointment.
With visions of cherry jam, cherry shakes, cherry ice cream, cherry pie and the anticipation of so much more delectable cherry goodness dancing through mind, my husband and I drove 30 minutes north from Boise to catch the event.
I expected to see a farmer’s market kind of paradise with fresh fruits, early summer vegetables and herbs in season all highlighted by table after table of fresh, ripe cherries overflowing their bushel baskets. The thought of so many different varieties and colors and flavors made me swoon. I couldn’t wait to sample jellies, salsas, relishes and other clever cherry concoctions. Totally psyched was I for full-on cherry overload.
What we found deflated my vivid cherry dreams like a lawn dart piercing a red vinyl kiddie pool full of water. Goosh!
Walking from our car toward Emmett’s city park my nose picked up a heavy aroma like that which hangs over the greasy food court at the state fair. As we entered the belly of the festival beast we noticed signs boasting funnel cakes, gyros, hamburgers topped with grilled onions, French fries, corn dogs, hot dogs. Everywhere we looked we saw booth after booth of artery-clogging fare. (And table after table of folks who looked like they’d clogged their arteries pretty well already.)
I found it strange that out of about 30 food court vendors we found only one selling anything cherry-related. We bought two whole pies and one slice of cherry pie.
But we weren’t about to give up yet.
After searching through several rows of arts-and-crafts booths, we found just one lone stand selling fresh cherries by the cup. It was the Chamber of Commerce tent and they had clear plastic cups of fresh cherries for sale at astoundingly high prices. I’d hoped to bring home an entire case of fruit for the amount of money they wanted for a quartet of 16-ounce Solo cups.
We asked one of the chamber reps why there weren’t more cherry pies and fresh fruit for sale, let alone shakes, ice cream and jam.
She looked at me with a flustered look on her face and said it was because “the vendors don’t want any competition.”
The cherry monster inside me wanted to scream, “I didn’t set aside this afternoon to drive out from Boise so I could eat greasy carnival food … I WANT RIPE CHERRIES!”
Later that night we went to our neighbor’s house for dinner and brought the cherry pie we bought from the sole pie vendor at the Emmett Cherry Festival for dessert.
I mentioned my disappointment to my middle-age neighbor and his father. It didn’t used to be like that, they told me. There used to be more fruit for sale than you could shake a stick at, they said. And pies, oh there were pies galore. And preserves galore. And a host of other cherry treats.
I’ve heard it from others since then, too.
What happened? The cherry festival of last month was a total let down. Hopefully the Emmett powers-that-be will drop the politically correct act and start selling a cornucopia of cherry goodness next year.