- Last Updated on 07:39 AM 06/10/13
- BY Doug Ford
There were no ripe Halifax County cantaloupes at the 33rd Annual Virginia Cantaloupe Festival at Berry Hill Resort on Friday, but a late-arriving crowd didn’t seem to mind either that, the change in venue or the threat of rain from Tropical Storm Andrea.
A diverse gathering of all ages included those attending their first cantaloupe festival, others who had not been in years and still more who have attended at each of the festival’s three venues, Berry Hill Resort, the Halifax County Fairgrounds and Wade’s Farm.
Ward Reynolds, a Gladys resident, has been to cantaloupe festivals at all three locations since he first started coming in the early 70s, and each offered something a little different.
Friday’s event wasn’t the first time inclement weather has made an appearance, according to Reynolds, who recalled a number of occasions in the past where a number of festivalgoers got vehicles stuck in the mud.
“It rained and rained, and a number of vehicles got stuck (at Wade’s Farm),” said Reynolds, who attended Friday’s festival with Justin and Becky Reynolds, also multi-year attendees.
“It was more laid back at the farm, a different atmosphere, and it was a different crowd and different bands at the fairgrounds,” Ward Reynolds noted.
“It seems like it’s going to be a good setting here. The rain has kind of gone by, I believe, and everybody is going to have a good time. This is a good location, a good place.”
Danville resident Jane Burks attended her very first festival Friday.
“The main reason I’m here tonight is my son (Jason Collie) is executive chef here,” explained Burks.
Burks added she had no idea why she waited so long to attend a cantaloupe festival.
“I didn’t know what I was missing, evidently. I love coming to Berry Hill, and it’s an absolutely great turnout.
Virgilina resident Jaime Tutt, also was attending her first cantaloupe festival, and her friend, Brynn Smith, was attending her first in many years.
“I just never had the opportunity and never put the effort into it until this year,” explained Tutt.
“I heard it was a good time, a down-home, sociable event.
“I’ve heard the last location was better, but everybody’s opinion is different.
“This is a historical location, the scenery is nice, and you can enjoy good drinks, good people and good company.”
Smith was 10-years-old when she attended her last festival, and agreed with Tutt that Berry Hill was a good location.
“It’s a nice place,” said Smith.
Chamber of Commerce President Nancy Pool was pleased with the turnout despite rain showers leading right up to the start of the festival, which is the largest fundraiser for the chamber.
“We are just so pleased,” said Pool.
“At the 11th hour the rain subsided, and the folks have been pouring in ever since.
“I think we had a sellout, 1,500. It’s hard to judge, but I’ve got to say it looks like 1,500 people.
“Berry Hill has been wonderful to work with, and we have a number of people who are here for their first festival and have a number of people who haven’t been in many, many years.
“I think the change has brought back some vibrance to the event, and from looking at the crowd, I think everyone is having a nice time.”
Another festivalgoer, who hadn’t attended in several years, said it took courage to make a change.
“This was the right decision. Sometimes change can be a good thing.”