OSWEGO, NY – It’s like Thanksgiving – but, with a distinctly Oswego County flavor.
A cornucopia of locally grown products will be on the menu Friday for Cornell Cooperative Extension of Oswego County’s first ever Harvest Dinner.
The feast will be held at The American Foundry.
“It’s been done elsewhere. We decided to incorporate it into our fall harvest season,” explained ,” Valerie Walthert, agricultural economic specialist at Cornell Cooperative Extension of Oswego County.
Three Oswego chefs will create culinary delights freshly harvested fruit, meats and vegetables grown within Oswego County, Walthert said.
Taking part will be Chef Raymond Jock from La Parrilla, Chef Shawna Gallton from Kristi’s Restaurant and Chef Emil Nymander from The American Foundry.
“It wasn’t hard at all to get everyone onboard. They were all very happy to do something different and help the community as well,” she said. “All the chefs are in tune with what we want to do and will add their own special flavors to the event.”
She hopes to have more chefs involved next year.
“We have a great agricultural community in Oswego County. It’s their event. We’re showcasing foods that are very fresh – right out of the fields. Agriculture in this county generates $31.5 million in annual revenue. It is very important to the local economy,” Walthert said. “I was thrilled with the response I got. Everybody is excited about doing this.”
The funds raised will go toward the cost of the event and then to help continue the educational programs at Cooperative Extension.
“I hope this really takes off and becomes an annual event,” she said. “I hope it continues to grow over the years.”
The menu includes things like beef, pork, elk, potatoes, leeks, cabbage, carrots, onions, honey, apples, and dairy products.
“We tried to run the entire gamut of local products,” she explained. “Agriculture is still a big part of Oswego County.”
Farmers are unique, she said.
“When farmers do business in an area, they utilize all the services there. They hire local labor and buy products in their community. And, consumers in the community buy the farmers’ goods,” she said.
Farms are very vital to their communities and also tie into tourism, she added.
“Mucks, for instance, are a curiosity. Only a few places have them; we have the only cranberry farm in New York State. We’re very unique. People who don’t have orchards in their backyards come to this area in the fall to get their apples,” she pointed out. And when people visit a farm, they also frequent other area businesses, she added.
Julie Powell, author of the critically acclaimed New York Times bestselling memoir, “Julie & Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously,” will be the guest speaker Friday evening.
There will also be a gift basket auction. Proceeds will go to support Cooperative Extension’s educational programming throughout Oswego County.
The doors open at 6:15 p.m. There was close to 200 people already signed up as of last week.