You know, Rappahannock County, you really are a special place. Two weekends ago was the eighth annual Rappahannock County Farm Tour where visitors from near and far visited 17 featured farms and two special venues: from pick-your-own apples to fiber demonstrations, pasture walks to monarch butterfly watching, beekeeping demos to vegetable production field tours, a chef cook-off to llama and goat snuggling, cider pressing and mead tasting and so much more.
My heart was filled with pride throughout the weekend for all of the dedication and enthusiasm from our 100-percent volunteer committee that we had all co-created this event together. This was my first year as chair and while it consumed more time than I had imagined and, admittedly, I was nervous (“Would people come?”), but they did come! We’re still tallying final numbers and feedback from our venues but I heard several say, “That was the most number of visitors we’ve had yet!” and that is very exciting indeed.
As we were planning this event and I took to social media — Instagram being my favorite way to share our county’s (agri)culture with you (instagram.com/rappfarmtour) — I was giddy with the beauty and bounty of this county. We have so much to be proud of and so much talent to share: I’m really honored to be a part of our local food culture and I thank you for encouraging my heart to help tell the story.
Some of the highlights this year: We rebranded the event: Four Calling Birds Gallery in Washington took an incredibly primitive and rough sketch of mine and my verbal vision for a logo and created a beautiful, Rappahannock-esque Farm Tour Logo for this year and beyond. Several venues hosted local nonprofits and artisans to further engage our visitors. We also placed on-site volunteers at venues for the first time to help direct our visitors and gather statistics. Locally, we raised enough money through ads and sponsors in our gorgeous printed guidebook to come in under budget, giving us a leg up on the 2017 season.
I want to especially thank this year’s committee: Carol Felix, Wayne Dickson, Rachel and Kevin Summers, Emily Harris (and Cheri Woodard Realty for the use of her time and office), Karissa Epley, Sara Loveland, Amanda Marie Frye, Sandra Maskas, Beth Hall, Colleen O’Bryant, Susan Blake, Van Carney and Laurie Smith — for without you we would not have had an event!
Thank you to our additional volunteers Jen Perrot, Mike Peterson, Hal Hunter, Tracy Eisenmann, Deverell Pedersen, Bart Ciuba, Candy Wroth, Gena Zek, Theresa Wood, Joshua Racer, Madeleine Prince, Jill Vitick, Kathy Christie, Maddie Wells, Ryan Saunders, Doug Saunders, Kate Wofford, Debbie Massie, Debbie Keyser and all of the volunteers gathered by each venue (if I had your names, I’d list you, too!). And last but not least, thanks to every single one of our “Friends of Our Farmers”: advertisers, sponsors, Rappahannock Media, and those who helped promote the event with your love for this county’s agriculture through your own web of friends and family.
It takes a village, and our village is pretty amazing. See you in 2017?
Molly M. Peterson
Farm Tour chair