Oracle State Park harvest event on Oct. 13 will showcase mesquite-tasting, milling, music

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The flavors of mesquite flour and prickly pear juice, hands-on nature activities for children, and the rumble of the famous mesquite bean hammermill doing its grinding job are headliners at Oracle State Park’s harvest event on Saturday, Oct. 13.

Rounding out the day’s activities will be “Grupo Tradiciones,” a Peruvian band residing in Tucson performing from 2-4PM, a cornucopia of mesquite cookies and goodies for sale, desert foods demonstrations, a native- and garden-plant sale, mesquite cookbooks, mesquite flour recipe packets for sale, and recycled-paper blank journals. In addition, Casey Egan’s pulled pork (a tribute to the javalina!) sandwiches for lunch, and Fred Terry with local honey and beeswax candles and bee-creams for sale.

Desert “foodies” who collected 3-5 gallons of clean, snap-dry mesquite beans in late summer will be lining up at the Desert Harvesters mesquite hammermill, located in the park’s group use area. Everyone is invited to watch.

Each three gallons of beans yields about three pounds of sweet, gluten-free mesquite flour for baking. Milling is $5 per batch; milling hours are 11AM-4PM. For those who didn’t collect beans for themselves, three-gallon bags of beans ready for milling will be sold at the ranch house. Full information on mesquite beans and the story of the hammermill is at www.desertharvesters.org.

Laurie Melrood, desert food expert, will demonstrate the bounty of prickly pear cactus from 11AM-4PM

Children’s activities will include planting native seeds and earth-to-table programs.

Kannally ranch house tours will begin at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. The park office now features a small gift shop with prickly pear jelly, syrup, and cookbooks for sale, along with t-shirts from past Fiesta de las Calabazas events.

Friends of Oracle State Park, a non-profit support group, is subsidizing the hammermill rental and live music as part of its continuing support of the park’s environmental education mission.

The park entrance is on Mt. Lemmon Rd. Hours are 8AM to 5PM; the gate fee is $7 per vehicle or free for state parks pass holders. Persons may sign up for upcoming hikes, a nature-journal making workshop, bear-grass basket workshop, worm-composting talk, and other activities at the park office. Information on any park activities is available by contacting Jennifer Rinio, park ranger, at 520-896-2425, or at www.azstateparks.gov

Oracle State Park for Environmental Education is open to the public on Saturdays through November. It features miles of hiking trails in the oak woodlands, picnic areas, the Kannally ranch house, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and breathtaking views ofthe Santa Catalina foothills, San Pedro River Valley, and Galiuro Mountain Range. During the week, the park hosts environmental education field trips for school groups and scout troops by reservation.

Also of interest in Oracle on Oct. 13, the Oracle Community Center is serving a pancake breakfast starting at 7 p.m. and hosting a local crafts show and sale. The Center is located on American Ave.

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