The Ashland Strawberry Faire committee wants to again shout out a big THANK YOU to our wonderful community of “Berry Good People Making a Difference” and make the Faire happen!
THANK YOU – Thirty-five years ago a small group of citizens, including the mayor of the town of Ashland looked to find signature event for our community. Considering our area’s agricultural base and after traveling to other states they decided on a concept of a faire featuring strawberries; where folks get together for a family event, non-profits have bake sales or sell their crafts all together, artisans sell their hand crafted wares, and where any profit goes back to the community in the form scholarships and grants to local non-profit services who also support us; including Hanover/Ashland Fire, EMS, police, etc.
THANK YOU – With great support of the Town of Ashland, Randolph-Macon College, and The Herald Progress in 1982 that group of less than ten volunteers had fund raisers to start the Faire, gathered vendors, set up, ran, cleaned up, and went to the fields to pick the strawberries. For about 30 years it was run by most of the same benevolent folks, including three of our current directors. At first they set up their new Faire in the football field of the college. after a few years in the sun the college cordially invited the Faire to move under the trees with the sidewalks as public walk ways. Ashland has hosted YOU and 20-40,000 other wonderful guests each year and we have moved to where we are now on the town streets, still surrounded by the beauty and gracious resources of the College.
THANK YOU – We have grown to over 300 great vendors, over half returning each year and adding just Hanover businesses. This year one new business provided pony rides, we hope they will come back. A number of years ago we had to add commercial food vendors to feed the crowds of visitors, all donate a percentage of their profits to non-profit groups. 2016 food vendors with workers from the non-profits they have chosen were – The American Cancer Society, Inc., STEP-VA, Immanuel Episcopal Church, Adopt Rescue Cats, Inc., Zion Chester AME Zion Youth Ministry, BSA Troupe 800, Church of the Redeemer, Charles City Athletics, Bethel UMC, Amelia Volunteer Fire Dept., Clay Springs Ruritan Club, Mechanicsville Christian Center the Link.
THANK YOU – We continue to have more and more volunteers from non-profits man their booths, we live in a philanthropic community. This year they include: Amazing Grace Mission, Ashland Open Door, Hanover Cares, Ashland Church of God, Families Under The Rail, AIM Church, Circles of Ashland, Lebanon UMC, Sprite’s HERO, Inc.-Paws to READ Program, Ashland Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses, Pig Placement Network, Hanover Fire/EMS CERT, Hanover Mental Health Association with Girl Scouts, First Baptist Church, Ashland, Ashland Kiwanis Club, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Saint Andrews Society of Richmond, Inc., Boy scout Troop 793, CJ’s Thumbs Up Foundation, Bikers Against Child Abuse, of Virginia, The Bair Foundation of Virginia, American Legion-Ashland Post 206, Rise Phoenix Rise, Inc. (service animals), Operation Christmas Child, St. Ann’s Haiti Ministry, Hanover Master Gardeners, NAMI Central Virginia, Family Life, Virginia League for Planned Parenthood, Hanover Republican Committee, Homes For Heroes, Hanover County Farm Bureau, Hanover Democratic Committee, Ashland Masonic Lodge No. 168 AF&AM, MAP-Market Ashland Partnership, Ashland Main Street Assoc. & Historic Museum.
THANK YOU – Much of the physical labor the last two years has been defrayed from the committee through a “Grants for Work” program. The Boy Scouts-Troop 706 of Montpelier these hard working boys and leaders have for years come in the early morning to help vendors set up and then come back in the evening to help them take everything down, they use their grants to supplement costs for camp. Starting last year, the supporters of Ashland ARC come in to set up and take down signs all over town, their grants are used for programs for citizens with intellectual disabilities. The Ashland Knights of Columbus come in to help set up and take down the Faire along with a group of students from the Judicial District Court Service Unit who helped with clean up. In addition, this year the Knights took on the tremendous job of taking care of all trash and recycling. Their grants are used for their scholarships and other philanthropic activities that they support.
THANK YOU – The events that have evolved at the Faire have included multiple local volunteer entertainers on 1-3 stages supported by local sponsors, which defrays the cost of stages, seating, canopies, and entertainer’s travel expenses. This year the sponsors were The Crossings @ Hanover and WTJU radio.
THANK YOU – The Youth strawberry pageant where we all get to enjoy wonderful youth practicing stage presence wearing cool outfits and then one gets their name pulled out of the hat to be Ms. or Mr. Strawberry for the day. The past few years this has been sponsored by Ferber Tire and Auto of Atlee. Fun hair and beauty services have been provided by Indulgence Spa and Boutique. The Ms. Mechanicville team have been a wonder on stage and off supporting and having fun with the applicants. Bill Bevins of CBS has been the masters of ceremony and is always great. And, the Ashland Berry Farm has provided luscious strawberries as prizes for the little ones.
THANK YOU –For the past nine years Hanover Kids, a small group of parent volunteers with young children, have developed our Kidz Zone where kids play, jump, and make joyful memories for all. For the little games the children play they have collected 50 cents at a time to go toward camp scholarships for Comfort Zone Camp, a Hanover started camp counseling experience for bereaved youth. This year we were thankful to have additional Comfort Zone Camp adult volunteers came to play with the hundreds of children attending. This was the second year for the Patrick Henry YMCA youth leadership group to come to help run the area, it was amazing to see them energize the area. In spite of exams, SAT’s, and other pressures this weekend students working with Hanover Youth Services also volunteer at the Kidz Zone. Kidz Zone focuses on making the area a safe fun place for our children, which includes hundreds of little and big prizes graciously donated local businesses including: Ashland Wal-Mart, Ashland MacDonald’s, The Caboose Wind & Cheese, Tiny Tim’s Toys, Olde Town Cycles, Fin-n-Feather, Sportspage Bar & Grille, Brick Oven, Game Stop, Comfort Zone Camp, YMCA, Wendy’s, and Applebees.
THANK YOU – All around to the other nameless volunteers and supporters, including a couple who likes to provide baby pools filled with water for the dogs who bare the hot streets and crowds for us to look at their neat costumes or happy tails wagging. And of course, to the ten directors this year who worked all year round to set up this party up for you. We hope you enjoyed it and thank YOU for coming!