PIEDMONT -- Lonnie Simonson has got the champion apple butter, and she's not afraid to spread it.
The Piedmont resident, whose pickled green beans have also drawn acclaim, will once again enter her award-winning preserves in the ever-popular edibles contest at this weekend's Piedmont Harvest Festival. She is also bringing a giant zucchini to compete.
"It's the greatest community get-together," said Simonson, remembering autumn days growing up in South Dakota. "Harvest was always a really fun time. There are a lot of people around, preserving and pickling and freezing garden crops."
Piedmonters will mark 14 years of homegrown fun during this weekend's festival, which will include a new do-it-yourself clinic, 5K run-walk, public safety booth and the town's best pumpkins, pestos and pies.
The festival began humbly in the late 1990s when longtime resident Bill Drum and former Mayor Susan Hill created a way to celebrate local gardening and the change of the seasons. As usual, the event at the Piedmont Community Center will include a farmer's market-style produce stand and scarecrows decorated by local schoolchildren.
Last year, organizers added a run-walk, the proceeds of which are given to the Piedmont Unified School District Wellness Center. The Fall Fest 5K run will begin at 8:30 a.m. Saturday followed by the festival from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday.
Inside at the community center Sunday, visitors will sample the jellies,
"Before buying local became the 'it' word, we always bought from our local farmers because the product was so much fresher," Claire Bryant, co-owner of Village Market, said in a news release.
Albany's Fix-It Clinic will teach people how to take apart appliances, computers or other things, and put them back together in an effort to help people become more self-reliant around the house. The festival will also feature a kids' carnival, art show and live jazz by the Piedmont High School Jazz Band and Combo.
The city's public safety committee has invited members of the Alameda County Sheriff's Office and Red Cross to meet with residents. Committee member Michael Gardner said the goal of appearing at the festival is to encourage neighbors to get to know each other.
"What we are trying to do is get neighbors to host an event in their neighborhood to learn about crime prevention and disaster preparedness," he said.
WHAT: Piedmont Harvest Festival and Fall Fest 5K Run and Walk
WHEN: Run and Walk at 8:30 a.m. Saturday; Harvest Festival from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday
WHERE: Piedmont Community Hall, 711 Highland Ave.
INFORMATION: To learn more about the festival or to get entry forms for the edibles contest, visit www.piedmontharvestfestival.org. To register for the Run and Walk, visit www.piedmontfallfest5k.org.