Highland County’s Hands & Harvest Festival (Part 1 of 2)

Highland County’s Hands and Harvest Festival is nearly upon us and we wanted to get a sneak peek as to this year’s events and offerings, so we invited the man in charge to give is a run-down.

This is Chris Swecker, the executive director with the Highland County Chamber of Commerce. I’m excited to talk to you all today about our upcoming annual Hands and Harvest Festival. It will be held Friday through Sunday, October 11th through the 13th.  Of all the events held here in Highland County, where you can get a sense of what we’re all about, this festival would definitely be in the top three. Everyone is invited to celebrate the food, entertainment and traditions of fall in our rural mountain community.

When you come to a festival, food is at the top of the list and there is no shortage here. Our local restaurants have come up with specialty fall-themed menus and some will have extended hours.  For instance, the Curly Maple in Monterey will have treats like maple pumpkin raisin cookies, maple pecan cinnamon rolls and pies, butternut squash, apple soup and trout sandwiches.

High’s Restaurant will feature pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin Alfredo and Big Fish braised chicken as part of their special menu.  Hulls Hideaway and Tavern will have pumpkin pound cake, salted caramel ice cream sundae, pumpkin rolls and savory items like maple barbecue sandwiches, ribs and boiled Hanovers. And if that’s not enough, Southernmost maple sugar camp, which is especially convenient for Bath County visitors, will have three buffets including BBQ, breakfast and all you can eat.  They will also have a stand at the Monterey courthouse lawn that will include their popular donuts.

Laurel Fork Sapsuckers sugar camp will have vegetarian and gluten-free options within their menu that includes chili and a baked potato bar. Blue Grass BBQ will be at the Monterey firehouse for breakfast and lunch on Saturday and there will be food available at various locations on our Harvest Trail and there will also be food at our Friday Highland farmers market at the Highland Center starting at 3:30 pm, at the Blue Grass Ruritan building on Saturday and cider options available at Big Fish Cider during the weekend.

Now, if the food isn’t enticing enough, then you have a weekend’s worth of entertainment that won’t be break your budget because everything I’m about to let you know about is free of charge. On Friday, especially convenient for those coming from Pocahontas County, there will be a square dance at Laurel Fork Sapsuckers at 7:00 pm with some of the best callers in the business – Ellen and Eugene Ratcliffe – and music from popular local band Mountain Air.

On Saturday, award winning storyteller and author Barb Lawson has two performances that children should enjoy – at 11:00 am and 2:00 pm – at the Highland County Public Library.  You can catch even more family-friendly fun between those shows around 1:00 pm in front of the library with a clogging performance from the Little Switzerland Cloggers. Live bluegrass music will be held throughout the day at Southernmost Maple. And, then, Saturday night at 7:00 pm, we’ll be expecting a large crowd for the Original Rhondels from Virginia Beach. They’ve had three top 10 hits that you may have heard here on AMR before, like May I, I’ve Been Hurt and What Kind of Fool Do You Think I Am. Donations will be appreciated at all the entertainment stops but, again, everything I just stated is free for our visitors. You can get all of the details by going to highlandcounty.org, clicking on the Events tab and choosing Hands and Harvest Festival.

I do want to acknowledge our primary sponsors:  Big Fish Cider, Summit Community Bank, and our top sponsor this year, Positive Momentum, LLC.

In part two, Chris will tell us about this year’s Harvest Trail and other events that are part of this year’s festival.  

This is Mickey Frank Thomas for Allegheny Mountain Radio News.

Story By


Mickey Frank Thomas

Mickey Frank began his radio career in October 2017 when he was offered the impossible-to-fill 9:00 p.m. to midnight slot on Saturdays, where his coordinated mix of pop, soft rock and R&B from the 60s through the 80s met with little acclaim. Deciding that he needed a more awake audience, he added the 3:00 to 6:00 p.m. afternoon drive slot to his workload when it became available in December 2018. Originally from Morton, Illinois, good, old Mickey Frank has lived in more places than he can count on his fingers and toes, but now resides in Highland County.  Email Mickey Frank at  mickeyfrank@amrmail.org.

Current Weather