King County Parks cancels Aug. 21 food celebration CHOMP! to protect health as delta variant COVID-19 cases surge

August 16, 2021

We have made the difficult decision to cancel our 7th annual CHOMP! 2021 event scheduled to take place on Saturday, Aug. 21 at Marymoor Park. With Covid-19 cases increasing across the region due to the highly contagious delta variant, we believe the risk is too high for the event to continue and our highest priority is to protect the health of our community members, performers, vendors, partners, and staff.

Thank you to all who were planning to spend the day with us celebrating local food, farming, sustainable living, and music. We will miss seeing everyone on Saturday and encourage you and your family to still get outside and enjoy one of our many parks in a safe and #recreateresponsibly way.

For more information https://kingcounty.gov/depts/dnrp/newsroom/newsreleases/2021/August/16-CHOMP-cancel.aspx


July 27, 2021

Don’t miss this free event at Marymoor Park on Aug. 21! Enjoy a farmers market, live music, local food vendors and booths with interactive, sustainability-themed activities.

Since 2015, CHOMP! has been King County’s premier event for celebrating local food and all things green. We talked with Lee Anne Hughes, longtime staff member with the County Department of Natural Resources and Parks, for an exclusive look at why this fun event should be on your calendar for next month.

Over 10 years ago, King County Executive Dow Constantine set a goal that the County should host “a community event where King County residents and visitors could come together and celebrate local food and farming and sustainable living,” Lee Anne said. With her involvement and the incredible work of event producers Artist Home, the CHOMP! event launched in 2015 on the heels of the Local Food Initiative’s start.

“CHOMP! was a neat way to bring life and community together around the work that the Local Food Initiative is doing, while also showcasing and highlighting all of this other great work that King County does as a whole, in broader terms of sustainable living,” Lee Anne said.

While one of the main goals of CHOMP! is to educate citizens on living more environmentally friendly lives, Lee Anne says it’s different from many other events where attendees might walk away with a handful of brochures. Here, Lee Anne hopes folks will take home one-of-a-kind crafts and memories, and maybe learn something new.

“Our program partners come in and bring awesome and engaging hands-on activities that are very family friendly,” she said. “You get to do an activity, and when you experience something in this unique way, you might remember it better. Anywhere from experiencing a mobile on-site zero-waste store, to building nesting boxes for native birds, or taking a carrot and creating a flute out of it. You do something fun, but also learn…and maybe down the road you change your behavior [to be more sustainable] because you actually experienced it, even if it was just for five to 10 minutes in a booth in a park at an event.”

Program booths and partners at the event range from local farms, to nonprofits, to sustainability-focused businesses, and they are critical to the vision of this event.

“Whether they’re farmers who  grow food for us every day, or an organization that’s trying to teach us about how to lead more zero waste-like lifestyles, we wanted to be able to take the passions of these individuals and give them life at an event,” LeeAnne said. “And we wanted to have our community experience that and take away new knowledge about something. For example, getting a chance to meet one of our participating farmers at CHOMP! and learning about where they grow and sell, then perhaps supporting them again at a local farm stand or local farmers market in the future.”

One of these program partners is highlighted each year as the event beneficiary. Past honorees have included FEEST, a youth-led nonprofit focused on food justice; the Black Farmers Collective, a Black-led mutual aid network for BIPOC farmers; and Wakulima USA, a farming collective focused on the growth of farmers and food entrepreneurs.

The 2021 CHOMP! beneficiary is the Food Innovation Network (FIN), which enhances the local food system, increases access to healthy foods, and supports local food businesses in the diverse communities of SeaTac/Tukwila and South King County. For this year’s event CHOMP! organizers have been working closely with FIN’s Spice Bridge program, and three of its incubator businesses will be onsite showcasing the delicious food available at Spice Bridge’s Tukwila Food Hall. 

“If CHOMP! can be a bit of a platform for these organizations to be able to showcase their great work to a wider audience, and if we can help support them in any way, then that is extremely rewarding for not only the event, but all the people involved, and for King County,” Lee Anne said.

The event is especially great for families where the next generation can learn about our local food system and living more sustainably.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 event was virtual, so Lee Anne says they had to get creative in delivering the mission of CHOMP! through a weeklong virtual summer camp. Last year’s pivot to a remote event makes this year’s gathering even more significant for Lee Anne, who says bringing people together again in 2021 is special.

“We’re excited to create a wonderful event with those who are able to participate,” she said. “I hope CHOMP! brings that nice energy back and lifts folks’ spirits, to come together – enjoying music and arts, enjoying local food with our family and friends, and learning something new. I very much look forward to seeing community together again, at Marymoor Park on a summer day, celebrating.”

Having the event at Marymoor is a nice connection to the local food focus of the event. In addition to having plenty of space for social distancing, the park was once agricultural land itself. CHOMP! attendees will find a bustling farmers market with produce and other locally made goods.

“It’s such a great opportunity for us to be able to showcase many of King County’s farmers at CHOMP!,” Lee Anne said. “That was always important to us to bring through a farmers market…so the community will have a more direct connection to the people who grow and make their food.”

In addition to the market, the event boasts a Farmers Village which is filled with educational programming booths about food and agriculture. In past years, Lee Anne says livestock farmers have brought animals to the event so that kids could learn about them and enjoy a small-scale petting zoo. At exhibits with chickens, attendees have learned how to properly handle eggs, and other organizations have brought falcons and owls to teach the impact that birds of prey have on local farms. Other booths have showcased ways to preserve food so that it is not wasted, set up onsite cooking demonstrations, or mapped out all the farmers markets across the county. Lee Anne said some of the greatest attendee feedback they receive about CHOMP! is when people note that they finally know where their closest farmers market is.

Additional activities have highlighted the great sustainability work happening around the county. The Solid Waste Division has set up one of its Repair Cafes, where volunteers fix many household items onsite and extend the usable life of these goods; and their Food Too Good To Waste program booth where visitors learn about making small changes to waste less food and save money. An Upcycle Bazaar has featured ways to minimize trash through repurposing items that were headed for the garbage, and King County Metro has brought one of its hybrid buses for attendees to see. The Wastewater Treatment Division has participated, too, by demonstrating its Loop program, which processes wastewater into a biosolid and natural soil-building product.

This year, attendees can expect to taste delicious food from local food vendors, interact with goats, pigs and rabbits from a small local farm, explore Marymoor Park’s tree canopy with onsite tree climbing, repurpose an old shirt or tote into a CHOMP! souvenir, and enjoy live music from local family-favorite Caspar Babypants as well as the day’s musical headliner Watchhouse (formerly Mandolin Orange).  Check out the CHOMP! website here for details on the 2021 activities as they are announced.  

When asked about a favorite time from past years, Lee Anne remembers soaking in a moment when it was clear the event had taken root in the community.

“It was 2019, and there was this moment in the day where I walked around the event grounds, and it was just buzzing. Every booth and every activity area had people in it, and kids were laughing, adults were smiling. People were enjoying the music, people were eating, people were involved in the event. I remember stepping back and actually getting teary-eyed because that is what it is all about – seeing people enjoy all the heart and effort us event organizers put into it. It felt like we did it, we made it.”

King County is excited to host the community at the 2021 CHOMP! event on Saturday, Aug. 21st from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Marymoor Park. Attendance is free, so tell your friends and enjoy this celebration of local food, live music, and sustainable living.

CHOMP! website: https://www.chomplocal.org/

CHOMP! 2021 Event Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/events/156088579896045

Farmers and organizations interested in being involved as a program partner can reach out to info@chomplocal.org.

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