The white blossoms that crown the saguaro cacti have given way to bright red fruit. Which means it’s time for the annual Tohono O’odham tradition — welcoming in the monsoon season with a harvesting of the fruit.
You can steep yourself in that tradition at the 16th annual Ha:San Bak Saguaro Festival Saturday, June 24, at Colossal Cave Mountain Park.
The festival will feature the harvest of the saguaro fruit, sampling of the fruit’s syrup, traditional Native American storytelling and demonstrations on crafting traditional tools.
Think of the harvest as the prelude to a new year — the traditional Tohono O’odham calendar begins with the monsoon season in July, says Lauren Hohl, of Colossal Cave Mountain Park, where the event will be held. The harvest is a sort of invitation for the rains to fall.
The event is free to the public, but if you’re eager to learn more about the saguaro harvest, reserve a spot for the workshop.
The sunrise workshop begins with a blessing. Participants will then help harvest the fruit of the saguaro with the tribal members. A traditional breakfast will follow.
“The tribal members are able to give you a wonderful glimpse of their culture.” Hohl says. “It’s really a privilege.”