Seventh annual Missouri Chestnut Festival comes to New Franklin

Sunday, October 18, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CDT; updated 2:11 p.m. CDT, Monday, October 19, 2009
Debbie Milks of Chestnut Charlie's roasts chestnuts at the Missouri Chestnut Roast on Saturday.

NEW FRANKLIN —There were chestnuts roasting on an open fire on Saturday.

The MU Horticulture and Agroforestry Research Center, which supports the nation’s most comprehensive research program for developing the Chinese chestnut and black walnut as nut crops, established the seventh annual Missouri Chestnut Roast.


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“We needed an event to give attention to what we were doing, but we wanted something different,” said Michael Gold, associate director of the Center for Agroforestry.

The center has been researching chestnuts for 13 years. The purpose of agroforestry is to support the family farm and involves land management with trees, shrubs, crops or livestock.

One way research is used is to find different ways to incorporate chestnuts into baking. At the festival they were ground up into gluten-free flour and sold. Many recipes can be found online.  

Gold proudly wore his Chestnut Growers of America hat to the event. He is currently the president of the group that any chestnut grower can join.

Chestnuts are not a staple item in Missouri grocery stores, but the center is working to expand its availability.

“I tried a chestnut beer in Michigan, and I asked Flatbranch to play around with the idea of having a seasonal chestnut beer,” Gold said.  

Chestnuts were the headliner of the event, but others competed for the spotlight. There were tours of a house built in 1819 and music by The Ironweed Bluegrass Band. Free samples of wine, beer, mustard, flavored mealworms and goat cheese were given. The New Franklin High School Athletic Booster Club also grilled elk, buffalo and beef products to raise money for the athletics department.


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