“The valley has a historically strong agricultural background and it went by the wayside with the ebb and flow of the different farmers’ abilities to keep up with expenses and technology. With the rebirth of family farms we became excited and wanted to share this history.”
Boyd began the festival in 2007 after asking for the Mount Snow Chamber of Commerce’s blessing. Boyd says the chamber expected the festival to include two events, the blueberry parade in Dover and the block party in Wilmington, but a total of 54 events came to fruition as the idea ballooned into valleywide participation.
“It’s not one person doing one thing,” said Boyd. “Every business has the opportunity to get creative and highlight their strengths. Our locals work many jobs to live here and with so many wonderful events available for next to nothing, it’s like a valley appreciation festival.”
The festival opens Friday night at 5 pm at the Sitzmark on East Dover Road with a sticky situation: 200 gallons of blueberry Jell-O to slide on, swim in, and play in. Up the road in Dover, the first weekend of the festival will be melded together with the commemoration of 50 years of service by the West Dover Volunteer Fire Department. This includes a presentation by Bob Edwards at 6:30 pm, “The History of the West Dover Fire Department – 50 Years of Service,” and the dedication of a 1927 fire truck, in memory of Hank Sweeney. The “touch a truck” event at 1 pm on July 27 will allow children to check out the fire trucks and equipment.
According to fire department member Rich Werner, the combination was a no-brainer. “Together we have created a much bigger event,” said Werner. “The fire department has always been an important part of the parade, and it’s really special to commemorate 50 years of volunteers in Dover.”
Perhaps the pinnacle of the entire festival is the blueberry parade on Saturday at 10:30 am, which goes from Tollgate Plaza to the Dover Forge. This year’s parade will not only feature floats, antique cars, and marching bands, but include “The Wearin’ of the Blue,” a spectator’s costume contest.
Other new events include a hike with “Mr. Haystack,” Jacob White, up Haystack Mountain on Monday morning, a blue eye contest at Honora Winery, and a Deerfield Valley Community Partnership-sponsored high school dance party with a DJ, for teenagers, at the Sitzmark.
Up and down the valley, stores will have blue dot specials, and of course, blueberry flavored edibles from pancakes to pie, while restaurants feature blue drink specials. A second parade will take to the water with a boat parade on Lake Whitingham complete with boats decorated blue and carrying bands.
According to Mount Snow Valley Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Adam Grinold, the festival is an annual success for local businesses. “Throughout the valley, for all 10 days, this brings people into businesses they might not frequent,” said Grinold. “There are big parts to the festival like the craft fair, parade, and the block party, but through the week there’s all these different businesses providing new reasons to attract people inside.”
“Agriculture is not an easy business,” said Boyd. “There are family farms going under every day, but to be able to be lighthearted about a crop so important to so many family farms, it lightens that load up. Just the fact we’re saying blueberry 1,000 times, it brings it home that while these events are silly and fun, agriculture is at the root of it, and we have to pay attention to buying local.”
With the blueberry festival named a top 10 summer event by the Vermont Chamber of Commerce, and the Deerfield Valley’s coronation as the blueberry capital of Vermont, it will be a hard task to miss the fun from July 26 to August 4. For a complete schedule of all 70 events and directions to each go to Vermontblueberry.com.