Farm fun returns to downtown Winchester
Winchester — The Loudoun Street Mall will once again embrace the area’s rural roots with the return of Main Street Agriculture.
The day of activities presented by the Frederick County Farm Bureau will bring all aspects of country living to the city from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sept. 28, said Kitty Hockman-Nicholas, event chairman.
It will feature fresh produce, educational exhibits, animals, live music, cooking demonstrations and children’s activities. The event is free and open to the public.
“It is an educational event involving the local food movement in our community and bringing Winchester and Frederick County together,” said Hockman-Nicholas, owner of Hedgebrook Farm in Frederick County, which will have a booth at the event.
New to the weekend this year is the addition of a “Farm to Table Dinner” at 6:30 p.m. on Sept. 27 in the George Washington Hotel at 103 E. Piccadilly St. The cost is $60 per person and includes a five-course meal and cash bar.
“We have been trying to do this for five years. All good things are worth waiting for. If you want to eat wonderfully locally sourced food, come over,” she said.
The meal will feature: Duck Rillette en Croute; a local cheese display; Butternut Squash and Pear Soup with Crouton; Fennel and Pear Slaw and Chantilly; Pork Chop with Apple Glaze and caramelized cippolini onion and Swiss chard; roasted heirloom carrots; Walnut Bread Pudding; sweet corn ice cream; candied bacon chiffonade; and a churro disk.
For the agricultural event’s second year, organizers want to build on the success of the first and “keep getting bigger and better” as people become more in tune to their food, its sources and the importance of buying fresh local food, Hockman-Nicholas said.
The event was a pilot program started in Winchester and meant to expand to the rest of the state eventually, said Philip Shenk, district director of the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation, which launched the event last year. It raises awareness of local sources of food and agriculture in general — something he wants to continue.
The idea has experienced “growing pains” elsewhere, but he hopes to move forward with similar projects in other cities next year, Shenk said.
“Winchester proved to be a very good place to start because of the availability of the pedestrian mall, where we don’t have to worry about traffic, and local businesses are receptive,” he said.
At the heart of the event is more than 20 local vendors offering items such as fruits, vegetables, herbs, plants, dairy products, wine and honey, Hockman-Nicholas said.
Some of the vendors are Marker-Miller Orchards Farm Market and Bakery, Richard’s Fruit Market, Opequon Presbyterian Square Foot Gardening, Agricultural Chalk Drawing by Chalk Full of Grace, Sheep Shearing by Brian Whitacre, The Herds Inn at Hedgebrook Farm, Woodbine Farm Market and the Southeast United Dairy Association.
Rodeo Bee Co. will display a live beehive throughout the day.
“Something that is really important to me is bringing Winchester and Frederick County together,” Hockman-Nicholas said.
The Feltner and Hable parking lots will offer a variety of educational activities and children’s activities, she said — such as pony rides, face- and pumpkin-painting, Nerf gun target-shooting, grain art, seed activities, bobbing for apples and pedal tractors.
Shenk, who considers himself a “big kid at heart,” said he was pleased with the reception to the children’s area last year. “The 4-H clubs and FFA did a really good job of entertaining and educating young people about agriculture.”
Visitors may view miniature ponies, rabbits, chickens, goats, sheep and other livestock, some of which will be taken on walks along the mall “so people can be up close and personal with the animals this year,” Hockman-Nicholas said.
Boscawen Street will be closed to traffic between Indian Alley and Cameron Street, she said. A stage will be set up on part of that area and Linda Lay and Springfield Exit and the Hampshire County String Band will play bluegrass music throughout the day.
Cooking demonstrations from four downtown restaurants will be held throughout the day under a tent on the lawn of the Old Court House Civil War Museum, she said. Chefs from the Dancing Goat, eM, La Nicoise and Violino Ristorante Italiano will give demonstrations using fresh local ingredients and provide recipes and tips.
Garber’s Ice Cream will offer free ice cream from noon to 2 p.m., and Marker-Miller will give away apples.
Forrest Pritchard, owner of Smith Meadows Farm in Clarke County, will sign copies of his book “Gaining Ground, A Story of Farmers’ Markets, Local Food and Saving the Family Farm” from 2 to 4 p.m. in front of the Winchester Book Gallery (185 N. Loudoun St.), Owner Christine Patrick said. The book costs $18.95.
The event will end with a complimentary food- and wine-tasting event from 4 to 6 p.m. in the ballroom of The George Washington Hotel (103 E. Piccadilly St.), Hockman-Nicholas said. Winemaker Doug Fabbioli of Fabbioli Cellars will offer a free educational program on growing grapes and making wine. Certified sommelier Debbie Hottinger will discuss pairing wines with food.
“That was extremely well attended last year, with over 150 people attending three different sessions,” she said.
Winchester’s Main Street Agriculture will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sept. 28 on the Loudoun Street Mall. The offerings include fresh produce, live animals, entertainment, children’s activities, educational displays and demonstrations. The event is free and open to the public.
A “Farm to Table Dinner” will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Sept. 27 in The George Washington Hotel at 103 E. Piccadilly St. The cost is $60 per person and includes a five-course meal and cash bar. To reserve tickets, call the hotel at 540-678-4700.
— Contact Laura McFarland at email@example.com