Pecan lovers can gather nuts at the Family Pecan Festival on Nov. 10.
The event will feature folklorico dancers from Los Angeles, children’s games, hayrides, food, live country western music, and animals such as miniature ponies, opossums, llamas, exotic birds, and more. “A lot of pecans will be on the ground because of the Santa Ana winds that are to come,” said park interpreter Sherrie Chandler. “That is what we wait for: the winds.”
American Indians in California also waited for wind to blow to gather the pecans.
In the Midwest, European settlers would sometimes cut down pecan trees to get to the nuts from the tall, 100-foot high trees because in some areas they did not have the high wind to bring down the nuts.
American Indians used the pecan as a food source for thousands of years, and many varieties were used by the tribes, including the Mohawk, Cheyenne, Shawnee, Sioux, and Choctaw.
The nature center has large groves of pecan trees. The trees love rich soil near water, in this case, the Santa Ana River. Pecans are the only nut native to North America, and the U.S. grows 80 percent of the pecans in the world. The word pecan means “a tough nut to crack,” from the Algonquin language. Chandler says until September, inside of a pecan is liquid.
Chandler states the wildlife in the park, coyotes, raccoons, squirrels, skunks, birds, bobcats and opossums, will eat what is left on the ground after the gathering, and she said it is important humans share the nuts with the wildlife.
The nature center will provide a bag for your nuts. Outside containers are not allowed. Children can craft a paper bag in which to store the nuts they gather.
Entertainment will include the Flat Out Country Band. There will be an area for dancing. Children can play pumpkin ring toss, make a leaf headband, and a fall plaster pumpkin necklace.
Self guided walking tours of Sunny Slope creek in the riparian forest on the interpretive trail will be offered at the center.
Hot food will be available by the Rancho Jurupa Gopher Hole Campground Store. The public is not allowed to gather pecans before Nov. 10. The public is invited to come enjoy the park’s river bottom forest this fall and to bring a blanket and chair and spend the day, Chandler said. The festival is set for 10 am to 4pm at the Louis Robidoux Nature Center, 5370 Riverview Drive, Jurupa Valley. Cost of the event is $4 per adult and $3 per child.