Highland County’s 2023 Hands & Harvest Festival is October 6 – 8


This is Chris Swecker, Executive Director of the Highland County Chamber of Commerce.  I’m here to talk today about our upcoming Hands and Harvest Festival, that will be October 6 – 8, 2023.

Our annual festival celebrates the traditions, harvest and crafts found in our rural mountain community.  From farms to a fire tower, visitors can experience the sights and tastes of the season while viewing the beautiful countryside of fall foliage.  The festival is county wide and there is a lot to see and do on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  On the self-guided Harvest Trail, the public is invited to take part in traditional fall staples like cider pressing, making apple butter, or picking pumpkins at local farms and maple sugar camps or they can try something different like viewing the process of creating colorful barn quilts or taking a tour of a mini equine sanctuary.  While traveling to different areas, guests can get their Virginia Maple Syrup Trail passports stamped at five sugar camps –  get them while you can before the trail program ends on March 31, 2024.  You can learn more about the Virginia Maple Syrup Trail at www.virginiamaplesyrup.com.

At the Hands and Harvest Festival, community activities include an exciting 5K Fall Color Run on Saturday, Valley AeroSpace Team rocket launches, you can climb the restored Sounding Knob Fire Tower, just east of Monterey.  There will be the popular annual sweater and used book sales, historic Monterey walking tours starting from The Highland Inn, and lots more.  New attractions like the historic Charles Pinckney Jones House Museum, the working cattle farm of Hazy Hollow Farm, and the grand opening of the local artist gallery The 3rd Space add to the opportunities to create lasting memories.

Free entertainment in Monterey is available for the entire family!  Kick off your weekend on Friday afternoon with bluegrass music at the Highland County Courthouse lawn from “Eyes on Him” while you shop.  On Saturday, starting at noon, children can take a ride on Andy’s Bug Train that is sure to bring some smiles.  On Sunday afternoon, join in the excitement of an old-fashioned Street Dance on Spruce Street with one of Virginia’s oldest clogging groups, the Little Switzerland Cloggers, as well as local square dance callers Ellen and Eugene Ratcliffe, for a rollicking performance and interactive fun.

Get an early start on holiday shopping at the Arts & Crafts Vendor Market located on the courthouse lawn.  Complete your shopping needs by visiting an old general store or unique venue nestled among our countryside, like Sugar Tree Country Store, Blue Grass Mercantile, Jenny Wren Gatherings, Ginseng Mountain Farm & Store, The Church at the Old Oak, or the new Highland Roots Market.

Bring your appetite to the festival, because there will be abundant food options available around the county.  The Friday Highland Farmers’ Market, Puff’s BBQ, and Martinez Kitchen will be open on the courthouse lawn.  Fall-themed menus at local restaurants with expanded hours are sure to please.  Whether you visit traditional staples like High’s Restaurant and Hull’s Hideaway Restaurant & Tavern or newer establishments like Claire’s Cakes & Café, The Curly Maple, or the Monterey Inn, your tastebuds will thank you!  Plus, Big Fish Cider Co. will be open with their award-winning craft ciders in Monterey.

The full schedule, details, and addresses of all the festival happenings can be found at www.highlandcounty.org/hands-harvest-festival.  Maps with daily schedules will be available at local stores and on the Highland County Courthouse lawn in Monterey during the event.

The Hands & Harvest Festival is brought to you by the Highland County Chamber of Commerce.  Top sponsors include Bath Community Hospital, Fair Lawn Farm, and the Highland County Arts Council.

We hope everyone enjoys our annual celebration of all the beauty and bounty of fall here in Highland County, Virginia.  We will see you October 6 – 8, 2023.

For Allegheny Mountain Radio, this is Chris Swecker.

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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