By Mark Grandstaff
A new festival at the Fauquier Fairgrounds will treat guests to barbecue, farm fun and pumpkins hurled from a catapult.
The Fauquier Chamber of Commerce’s first Piedmont Harvest Fest comes to the fairgrounds Saturday (Sept. 13) from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 6209 Old Auburn Rd. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for children.
Carole Rodgers, leasing coordinator for the fairgrounds, described the Harvest Fest as “a business-to-consumer event with a family flair.” Attendees will see Piedmont-area business vendors, she said, but the event’s focus lies on a day of family entertainment.
When planning the event, Rodgers and other coordinators used CulpeperFest as an inspiration, Rodgers said. But the Fauquier Chamber didn’t want to mimic the neighboring festival. The Piedmont Harvest Fest will have its own unique draws, she said.
Like the catapult.
Dave Colleran, chairman-elect of the Fauquier Chamber, said they needed to scrounge a four-foot by six-foot leather strap for the “Pumpkin Chunkin’.” Guests can load and fire pumpkins, and will aim for targets printed with the faces of “certain people,” Colleran said.
When asked who, Colleran grinned and repeated, “Certain people. I’m not going to disclose who.”
If attendees don’t want to fling pumpkins, they can take off their shoes and stomp on grapes. Barrel Oak Winery will provide the grapes. They’ll even use them, selling the resultant wine with a “barefoot” label, Rodgers said.
The organizers promise there will be as much food to eat as there is to squish.
The entrance fee pays for hot dogs, burgers and barbecue from Shawn’s Smokehouse BBQ. Piedmont Harvest Fest vendors will sell ice cream and other snacks separately, Colleran said.
Guests will find plenty of agricultural activities as well. Rodgers sees the Harvest Fest as another opportunity to educate residents and neighbors about Fauquier County’s agricultural tradition.
Cow milking, sheep shearing, calf clipping, hay rides and demonstrations from Fauquier’s 4-H Club make up some of the planned activities. Guests will also get to learn more about how farmers use remote-controlled aerial drones to manage their crops, Rodgers said.
Fauquier County firefighters and a K-9 unit from the Sheriff’s Office will also hold demonstrations for the curious, Colleran said.
This is the Harvest Fest’s first year, and Colleran said the Chamber could not have organized it without plenty of support from volunteers and the community.
He hopes to see an attendance of about 500 people. The fairgrounds give the event room to grow, and its new barn will shelter the food and attendees, giving them relief if the weather turns sour.
But rain or shine, he believes the Harvest Fest will snowball in its second and third year, becoming a mainstay in the county’s roll of events.
“We can see ourselves there for a long, long time,” Colleran said.
For more information on tickets or booths, call 540-347-4414 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.