The second I heard ‘Cherry Picking’ and ‘All you can eat’, I made a mental sticky note. YES and YES.
The festival was taking place on a Friday(just in case we didn’t have enough to do on a Friday), in the rolling hills of Gush Etzion.
My husband was reluctant to go at first, giving me the ‘if anything, you can ask your mom to go with you’.
He was no doubt fantasizing about actually for once sleeping in on Friday, and not being woken by a blow in the nose from a cranky toddler.
Sorry, babe! I have grand plans for us!
I contacted the company putting on the festival- Tayarut HaGush– a travel site that provides everything Gush related, and asked them if they wanted me to advertise on the blog. Of course, what with the festival being a once a year deal(such a chaval), I would get footage and content and promote it for next year.
CHAVAL- a shame
Finally- I was REALLY excited for this outing FYI I hadn’t seen a cherry tree since my childhood home in Washington- Friday arrived. I hustled everyone and maybe for the first time ever, we were actually waiting for Sim to get dressed so we could leave.
Elianna is in her soft and comfy Wild Thing Tee- you can get yours here.[It’s on sale right now!]
The road into the Gush is curvy and the hills are dotted with far-off villages and olive trees. The occasional sheperd can be seen herding goats if you look for him, and sometimes you need to slow down not to hit a flock of passing sheep. The kids always love that!
Following Waze a mere 15 minutes from our house, we parked at the designated area, and were shuffled onto a waiting bus. Hubby, who worked in security, was very impressed with the amount of officers around and noted that everything was so organized. I think he was expecting to just stop by at a field and eat a couple cherries, but the event was actually huge and packed with a wonderful mix of people.
We got to the fair grounds, paid 30 NIS for the tickets[adults and children over 3] and were ushered in by a light breeze. Following the stream of people, we headed straight for the fields.
I hadn’t eaten, knowing I was soon to be filling my tummy with cherries, and I plucked a small red fruit off the first tree I saw. It was so sour!! Sim translated the sign I had failed to see – “sour cherries, not for picking”, and I sighed with relief that the trees for picking would be normal, fat, and sweet cherries.
Throngs of people had already attacked the first trees we passed, and we barely saw fruit. I asked Sim to video the first fruit we found [in this video] and we were cracking up afterward that the one tree we got close up on film was such a scraggly one.
We moved on till we found an area not touched, and I could barely contain my excitement at the sheer amount of fruit. Juicy clumps of red cherries dripped into arms reach..
Loudspeakers were set up along all the paths playing Israeli music, and it created a wonderful festive feel. We stuffed ourselves, stained our shirts red, and filled up a bag to take home.
There was so much more going on, and while I could have stayed plucking fruit all day, Lani wanted to explore. We headed to the fair grounds and straight to the bouncy houses.
While Lani cut the lines(I tried to be polite and restrain her but if you’ve ever seen a 3 year old at a the ‘jumpee-deen’ -aka jumpey thing in Lani-language, you would know that’s a lost cause), so I turned a blind eye and surveyed the festivities.
There was an interactive drumming ‘circle’, kids passing out watermelon on sticks, face painting, clay making, and magnetic photos to be taken at will- all for free. Read- no extra charge one you were in.
Once Lani was on to the next thing-the rock climbing wall at the playground, I set Sim up in charge of the kids, and went to get us lunch. There was typical fair food, which in Israel is schnitzel and chips(not corndogs and fries like in ‘merica).
Of course there was also cotton candy..except here it’s called se-ah-rot savta, which translates as ‘grandma hair’. HAHA.
A whole craft fair bit was also going on, with booths giving tastes of chocolate liquor, and selling hand knit kippot, headscarves, and Israeli clothes. A photographer had us pose for a family photo, and I waited on line for it to be printed on a magnet. Theres a whole collection gathering on our fridge at home!
When the time came to leave- we were going away for the weekend, but I still had to pack up the kids things, there was a bus that took us back to the parking area, and we said goodbye with smiles on our faces.
The day had been perfect, and I only wished we had picked more cherries to take home, as we pretty much ate them all on the ride home!
The Cherry Festival takes place once a summer, but there is picking all summer long at various orchards in the area.