PAYETTE — Lovers of lavender have a unique opportunity to gather up bunches of this aromatic flower this weekend in Payette. The first ever U-Pick Lavender Festival will be hosted by Lavender Gardens of Payette. This venue is not easy to miss as two bright, lavender-colored banners stand at the entrance to welcome visitors to the site, not to mention the robust scent of lavender in bloom.

Pam Hemenway, the owner and operator of Lavender Gardens of Payette, said this festival has been in the works since 2016. With encouragement from her daughter, Cari Tschirgi, Hemenway decided to make this festival a reality.

She said her daughter offered a further push by saying, “And I’ll help you!”

Hemenway raises four different varieties of lavender including: Melissa, Grosso Edelweiss and Hidcote. The last of these is a culinary variety used in a wide selection of recipes. Hemenways said all of the types of lavender she raises are English lavender, not to be confused with the other main types — Portuguese, French and Spanish.

Hemenway said that Lavender Gardens of Payette started out small with only 50 plants and continued to expand. This festival is the culmination of an “overwhelming response” from the community as she put it. The Facebook page devoted to this event has more than 5,000 people listed as “interested” in going and more than 300 planning on attending.

“You never know what to expect when you start something,” said Hemenway.

This first festival will feature 10 different vendors, including: Kona Ice, Rustic Pig, and local representatives from Scentsy and Paparazzi. Along with the great selection of vendors, festival-goers will have a chance to gather a bouquet of fresh lavender for themselves using a twisty-tie that can be purchased for $5 apiece. There will also be an assortment of lavender-infused foods and beverages available for purchase.

Hemenway wanted to remind visitors to the festival that she hand-weeded the lavender crops herself without the use of commercial herbicides.

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