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The Center for Agroforestry

UMCA News Release

Missouri Chestnut Roast
offers fun for the entire family Oct. 13

September 18, 2007

COLUMBIA, Mo. - Fall family fun is what the Missouri Chestnut Roast is all about.

The fifth annual roast will be held Saturday, Oct. 13, at the Horticulture and Agroforestry Research Center in New Franklin, Mo. This family-oriented event has attracted a growing number of attendees each year, with more than 5,000 people sampling fire-roasted chestnuts in 2006.

At the University of Missouri Center for Agroforestry, which hosts the event and supports the MU farm where it is held, part of the celebration is about having a strong chestnut crop this year, said Michael Gold, the Center's associate director. There will be plenty of Missouri-grown chestnuts on hand for roasting.

"A late spring freeze hit fruit, chestnut trees and wine grapes hard in Missouri," Gold said. "We are thrilled to have a crop approaching 75 percent of a full chestnut harvest this year. The survival of the crop shows the toughness and adaptability of the chestnut, even in unpredictable Missouri weather."

Activities begin at 10 a.m. and continue until 4 p.m. The Ironweed Bluegrass Band will provide musical entertainment throughout the morning and into the afternoon, and the New Franklin High School Athletic Booster Club will operate a concession stand offering grilled elk, buffalo and beef products for sale.

Craig Cyr, executive chef of The Wine Cellar and Bistro in Columbia, and Eric Cartwright, executive chef at MU Campus Dining Services-Plaza 900, will prepare eight different recipes that incorporate chestnuts and local foods during cooking demonstrations.

In addition to samples of the event's namesake, vendors will feature a variety of locally grown agricultural specialty products including chestnut, pecan and walnut products; wines and specialty beers; ice cream; mustard; goat cheeses; tomato products; honey; meat products; and elderberry products. Recipes and nutritional information will be available.

"Many vendors will have free samples and products for sale, so be sure to bring a few extra dollars with you so that you can take home your favorites," said Julie Rhoads, event coordinator.

Children will have plenty to keep them busy at the Chestnut Roast. Activities include face painting, a chestnut-themed craft and a straw bale maze. Children also can hear book readings by Sara Ann Denson, local author of the book "Christmas Turtles."

Many new attractions have been added to this year's Missouri Chestnut Roast program, Rhoads said.

"Attendees will enjoy seeing furniture-making demonstrations by Mike's Custom Ozark Cedar Furniture and a presentation by the MU Raptor Rehabilitation Project," she said. "There are always many new vendors of wonderful Missouri agricultural products. This year, new vendors include those showcasing pickled black walnuts, roasted pine nuts, salsa and marinara, gourmet mustard and pecan candies."

Although there are many new things to see and taste, one thing that doesn't change at the Missouri Chestnut Roast is the official chestnut vendors - both Chestnut Charlie's and Red Fern Farms will be selling fresh chestnuts at the event.

The Horticulture and Agroforestry Research Center also is the site of the 1819 Thomas Hickman house, one of the state's oldest intact brick houses. The Hickman house, now on the National Register of Historic Places, soon will undergo an extensive restoration to bring the house and grounds to historic condition and develop the site as a visitor center for the Horticulture and Agroforestry Research Center.

Guided bus and walking tours of the research center will be offered to those interested in learning more about agroforestry practices.

The event also kicks off National Chestnut Week, which runs Oct. 14-20.

Admission to the event is free. Most activities are held under tents, rain or shine. Service animals are permitted at the roast, but pets are not allowed. For directions and a schedule of the day's events, go to, or contact Julie Rhoads at 573-882-3234 or

--Michelle Hall
Senior Information Specialist
Center for Agroforestry
University of Missouri
(573) 882-9866

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