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3 Oxford festivals offer the best in local food and scenery

Autumn is a peak time for festivals in Oxford, and three upcoming annual events are of special interest for local food and the environment.

First is the Latin American and Caribbean UniDiversity Festival on Sept. 21 from 5:30 to 9 p.m. in the Oxford Uptown Parks. This festival, which kicks off Oxford’s observance of the month-long National Hispanic/Latino Heritage Month, will include Caribbean, Colombian, Mexican, Panamanian from food trucks, as well as local chefs.

The next day, Sept. 22, is the Annual Harvest Moon Festival from noon to 4 p.m., also in the Uptown Parks. The festival includes presentations about buying and cooking local and organic food, as well as offering healthy locally grown and produced food for sale.

Harvest Moon Festival is sponsored by the local Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA), a statewide organization that promotes the growing of healthy organic food within Ohio, and the sale of that food to us living in Ohio. The local chapter is the Miami Oxford Organic Network (MOON) OEFFA.

OEFFA is the organization that certifies local farmers as organic. Back in the 1980s, the U.S. Department of Agriculture looked around for organizations to certify organic farms, and OEFFA was one of the first in the country to be picked by the USDA to do organic certification.

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The harvest full moon (Sept. 24 this year), gets its name because the moon rises soon after sunset, giving growers more time for harvesting. It is the full moon closest to the autumnal equinox, which is the same day as the festival this year.

The following Saturday, Sept. 29, is the annual Hike-a-Thon Plus from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., a walk in the Natural Areas that surround Oxford. The hike sets off from the Dewitt Log House parking lot on Ohio 73.

Miami’s Natural Areas encompass more than 1,000 acres of permanently protected lands, forming a backward C around the north, east, and south sides of Oxford. The largest piece was bequeathed in 1947 by retired Miami professor Joseph Bachelor.

Inside the Natural Areas are 15 miles of hiking trails. Having walked on the trails nearly every day for the past two decades, I consider them to be at the top of the list of Oxford’s assets.

Miami established the Natural Areas in 1992, bringing together several bequests and purchases. Most of the Hike-a-Thon routes are in the portion of the Natural Areas bequeathed in 1947 by Joseph Bachelor (for whom Bachelor Hall is named).

In addition to the hike, a couple dozen environmental groups will have displays. The Dewitt Log Homestead and nearby bird blind are open during the event.

The two Saturday events fit in with other local food and healthy living activities. In the Uptown park, Oxford Farmers Market continues Saturday mornings from 8 a.m. to noon. Hike-a-Thon Plus is part of Miami’s Family Weekend events, including a football game at 3:30 p.m. and entertainment in Millett Hall at 8:30 p.m.

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