The Hootenanny: Our Annual Fall Party Tradition

November 25, 2015

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This past weekend, we held our annual Hootenanny.  It’s a tradition that warms the very core of my heart and soul for so many reasons.
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This is my big sister.  10 years ago, I told her I wanted to start a tradition — a big fall party called The Hootenanny.  And in Kendra-style, who is usually ALL-IN, bursted, “I want to have a Hootenanny too!” And so we decided we’d do it together.  And I can’t imagine it being any other way.
We know who is crossing what off the list- who’s calling the jump castle, who is getting the 4-H kids to come with their rabbits, who is buying the baskets, who’s bringing the generator for the crockpots (we learned the hard way on that one when the jump castle deflated with a slew of kids in it, and all of the crock pots went cold), and who is making the Costco run. The party now runs like clockwork, but it didn’t happen overnight.  It’s been going for a decade now.  And we are forever Hootenanny Sisters!
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 So, my sister’s family hosts the party with us.  And my parent’s help too… a lot.  Cousins, uncles, aunts, grandparents and grandkids run around setting up tables, cooking, filling water and lemonade jugs, and making sure the games are ready and the music is cued.  My Dad makes pickles and pickled eggs for the occassion- and who really makes pickled eggs anymore???  He does. For the Hootenanny.
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When all is ready,  people come bearing crock pots full of soups, chills, or desserts for the Hootenanny cook off — it’s legit.  I get texts all week long from people who are roasting their peppers, letting their chili flavors meld, or forming part of their dessert.
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Even children have their own dessert cook-off competition with kid judges – 100% KIDS.
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And then there’s the tug of war, arm wrestling, and three-legged and potato sack races…all ages participate.  I live in Idaho, and my sister lives just across the state line in Washington, so we do Idaho vs. Washington Tug o’ War events – we even have a mom division.  It is so funny to see grown men pulling on that rope like their life depended on it.
Feats of strength – it does somethin’ to a man!
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Meanwhile, the judging takes place and it is serious business.  We have a grading scale to rate taste, presentation, seasonal flavors, and spice.
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We shop all year long for the cook-off prizes.  They are no joke.  We try to make the baskets reflect the bounty and fragrance of the season.  The wrapping process begins 3 weeks earlier as my sister and I fill the baskets with what we’ve gathered throughout the year.
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 Here are just a few of this year’s Hootenanny Cook-off winners!!!  We are collecting the recipes and will one day soon put together a cookbook of all of the prize winning recipes!
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There is one reason we host this party every year:  deep roots.  We believe that this kind of gathering and tradition makes a difference for our kids right here: IMG_8438
 And also for these people in our community that we love right here —
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It is born out of the belief that FAMILY AND COMMUNITY ROOTS MATTER.  Our experiences together become a big part of who we are and how we feel about the world.  And when we are secure in our place on this earth, we get to pass that legacy on, creating that strong root system in others.
We are better together.  
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  1. KC England says:

    SO AMAZING!!! I really hope we can come again to this unbelievable event! Love the heart and soul behind every little detail – truly a gift for friends, family, and community! xoxo

  2. this makes me homesick for YOU!!!! I miss you and your amazing heart!!! Your family is SOOOOOO blessed to have you. Thanks for inspiring us along the way!! xoxo.

    • kristagilly says:

      As I am blessed to have you, dearest Francie. The feelings could not be more mutual! Maybe you and Wyatt can come one of these years 🙂 Love you friend!

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Home Coach. Writer. Speaker. Podcaster. Jesus girl. Problem solver. Self Taught Cook. Designer.  Party thrower.

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