Highland County’s Hands & Harvest Festival is October 8 – 10

This is Chris Swecker, I’m the Executive Director of the Highland County Chamber of Commerce.  I want to talk to you all today about the 2021 Hands and Harvest Festival.  We’re excited to see a return of the festival in full on October 8 through the 10.  It’s a county wide event in Highland County, so things to see and do all over the place, all weekend.

One of the highlights is our Harvest Trail and this is where visitors can take the opportunity to go and visit a lot of different farms and agritourism activities in the community.  Several of our maple sugar camps are open and a lot of them are stirring apple butter, pressing cider, you can pick pumpkins.   The Harvest Trail includes five maple sugar camps that are part of the Virginia Maple Syrup Trail.   Or you can try something different in other areas, like see the process of creating our colorful barn quilts that adorn the county or you can take a tour of a mini equine sanctuary.

We’ll have other community activities and attractions, like the Valley Aerospace Team Rocket Launch where they launch model rockets.  You can bring your own rocket or they have some there where you can try out and that’s a really fun event for the whole family.

Our restored Sounding Knob fire tower on Jack Mountain, just east of Monterey, is open from sunrise to sunset.  The Highland County Museum and Heritage Center over in McDowell will be open for tours and they have two new exhibits over there.    The Highland County Public Library’s annual used book sale, that’s a real hit and is always really popular among our guests.  There will also be walking tours of historic Monterey on Sunday at 12:30, 1:30 and 2:30.  You can take a tour around Monterey, check out some of the buildings and you can get some information on The Highland Inn renovation project.

Our arts and crafts vendor market on the Highland County Courthouse lawn is another major highlight.  You can get one-of-a-kind items like pottery, wooden signs, handmade soaps, wool items, therapeutic balms, the list goes on and on.  And for foodies, the Friday Highland Farmers Market will take place there instead of at The Highland Center and we’ll have Puff’s BBQ on Friday and Saturday.  And while you’re out and about, several of our restaurants will have specialty fall themed menus.

For entertainment, we have Larnell Starkey and Spiritual Seven.   They provide a blend of traditional gospel with a twist of contemporary and they will be at The Highland Center in Monterey on Saturday at 2pm.   At The Highland Center Pavilion the Highland County Arts Council, they’ll be providing the hands of Hands and Harvest, with exhibits of art from basketry to broom making and much more.

You can gather the children in the evening for free games, activities and a bonfire celebration with s’mores at The Highland Center as well.  You can cap off the night with a free outdoor showing of the classic 1921 silent movie Tol’able David, that was filmed in Highland County.  That movie celebrates it’s 100th anniversary this year.

You can finish your weekend with entertainment on Sunday with a free performance from one of the oldest clogging groups in Virginia, The Little Switzerland Cloggers, at 2pm on Water Street in Monterey in front of the public library.

For the full schedule, details, and addresses of all the festival happenings you can go to www.highlandcounty.org and click on the Hands and Harvest Festival link there.  Maps will be available at local stores and on the Highland County Courthouse lawn in Monterey during the event.

Most of the events are outside, most of them are free, Friday through Sunday October 8 through the 10.

We look forward to seeing you there.

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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