Hands & Harvest Festival in Highland County is October 7 – 9 : Part 1


This is Chris Swecker, Executive Director of the Highland County Chamber of Commerce.  I’m excited to talk with you all today about the Hands and Harvest Festival here in Highland County.  That will be county-wide fall fun during the weekend of October 7 – 9.  Our annual Hands and Harvest Festival celebrates the traditions, harvest, and crafts found in our rural mountain community and we are excited for visitors to experience the sights and tastes of the season while viewing the beautiful countryside of fall foliage.

One of the main attractions that we have every year is our Harvest Trail and this is a self-guided trail of farms and our local maple syrup producers sugar camps where people can go and see all types of fall activities like cider pressing, making apple butter or picking pumpkins.   There’s also other activities like viewing the process of creating colorful barn quilts that adorn Highland County or taking a tour of a mini equine sanctuary.  So that’s a lot of fun for the entire family, to kind of pick and choose your adventure on the Harvest Trail.

Five of the sugar camps that are on the Harvest Trail are also part of the Virginia Maple Syrup Trail.  Even though they’re not making maple syrup this time of year, you can still take a tour of the process of making maple syrup and other things that are going on at the farm.

New community activities and attractions this year include a 5K Fall Color Run, this will be on Saturday starting at 10 am with registration at 9am, brought to you by the Highland County Recreation Commission.  It’s an untimed, non-competitive event where participants are covered in fall colored powder, so that should be a lot of fun.  There will also be gemstone mining from Heart and Soul Massage and that’s where some sand buckets are filled with crackable geodes and raw crystals and other stones to explore.   And then we’ll also have a sneak peek of the historic Jones/McCoy House Museum.  That will be in downtown Monterey.  It’s a beautifully restored and renovated home with not only beautiful interior, but the exterior of gardens in that area.  So that will be something new from the Highland Historical Society to come check out.  Of course, we’ll have our past staples like Valley AeroSpace Team Rocket Launches, you’ll be able to climb the restored Sounding Knob Fire Tower, which is always breathtaking views of Highland County overlooking Monterey to the west and McDowell to the east.  And we’ll have our annual sweater and used book sales, those are very popular. And local art demonstrations from the Highland Arts Academy, that’s part of the Highland County Arts Council, where you will be able to see all types of different artists working in different types of multi-media and you will even be able to purchase some of that artwork.

We’d also like to thank our top sponsors Fair Lawn Farm and the Highland County Arts Council.

We’re excited to see you here in Highland County during this beautiful time of year.  The Hands and Harvest Festival is just a lot of fun for the entire family.

So, we’ll have more about other activities and events coming up in part two of this story.


Story By

Bonnie Ralston

Bonnie Ralston is the Assistant Station Coordinator at WVLS and a Highland County news reporter. She began volunteering at Allegheny Mountain Radio in the fall of 2005. In 2006 she became an AMR employee and worked in Bath County for eight years as the WCHG Station Coordinator and then as the news reporter there. She began working in radio while in college and has stayed connected to radio, in one way or another, for more than thirty years. She grew up in Staunton, Virginia, while spending a lot of time on her family’s farm in Deerfield, Virginia. She enjoys spending time outside, watching old TV shows and movies and tending to her chickens.

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