WILMINGTON — Blueberries will be hard to get away from in the Deerfield Valley over a 10-day span.
But nobody's complaining. They're actually celebrating.
This year marks the ninth annual Blueberry Festival.
"We wanted an agricultural festival that recognized our agricultural roots in the Deerfield Valley," said Janet Boyd, event coordinator. "Blueberries have done really well over the years and they have certainly become more popular. It's become a natural evolution of activities."
While not everyone grows blueberries, businesses and organizations participate in a multitude of ways. A blueberry Jell-O slide, blueberry margaritas and activities based around the fruit or its color are offered throughout the 10 days. The local Lions Club, Masons, banks, churches, restaurants, shops, art studios and inns all join in on the fun.
Boyd counted 74 events this year, where last year had about 60.
"Every year, it's gotten a little bit bigger and better," she said.
The length of the festival ensures that everyone can make it to at least part of it.
"Some people can't get to Vermont on a specific weekend so they miss out on a lot of things," said Boyd, noting that organizers are "overwhelmingly" finding that many grandparents stay throughout the festival with their grandchildren, then the grandkids' parents return the following week. "It's a way to get together really in more than one thing. And we're celebrating our natural resources and our agricultural roots."
The Jell-O slide will kick off ceremonies on Friday, July 29, at the Twin Valley Elementary School in Wilmington at 5:30 p.m. Food will be sold there.
A blueberry pancake breakfast will be held Saturday, July 30, from 8 to 11 a.m. at the Matterhorn Inn in West Dover. The Time Line event will offer attendees a walk through re-enactor camps on Route 100 at the Dover Forge.
The parade, which starts at 11 a.m., will include floats, music, vintage cars and festivities afterwards.
"We're also doing a new Don't Be Blue Kid Zone," said Boyd.
At the parade along the Valley Trail in Dover, there will be bouncy houses, hula hoops and the Southern Vermont Natural History Museum will have live animals. Adams Family Farm will bring animals from its petting zoo. A craft fair is being hosted at Layla's Riverside Lodge. Special dining options that night can be found at the Matterhorn and Adams Family Farm.
The Blueberry Splash on Sunday, July 31, will see bands performing on boats and a boat parade on Lake Whitingham at 2 p.m..
"That's really going to be a blast," said Boyd.
Wilmington firefighter and former Select Board member Jake White will lead another hike up Haystack Mountain from 9:30 a.m. to noon.
A pajama party is scheduled for Tuesday, Aug. 2, at the Boyd Family Farm from 7 to 7:30 p.m. Singer and researcher Linda Radtke and pianist Arthur Zorn will perform a concert with songs from the Vermont Civil War Songbook at Memorial Hall at 7 p.m.
Blueberry bingo and tie-dye t-shirt design activities are planned for Wednesday, Aug. 3. On Thursday, Aug. 4, from 4 to 8:30 p.m., there's a Substance Free Family Event at the Twin Valley Elementary School hosted by the Deerfield Valley Community Partnership.
On Friday, Aug. 5, the Jacksonville Village Chalk Walk and Street Fair will be held from 4 to 8 p.m. A spaghetti dinner at the Jacksonville Community Church from 5 to 7 p.m. costs $8 for adults and $5 for children under the age of 5.
Prizes can be won at Blue Trap Day at the Deerfield Valley Sportman's Club from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 6. The Country Roads Ride and Rally will be featuring motorcycles, and antique and specialty cars from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Mount Snow is hosting the Blueberry Bash from noon to 5 p.m. Barbecue, beer, free live music and an eating contest are part of the plan. Wilmington's Blueberry Block Party starts at 5 p.m.
More activity listings and shopping specials are available at vermontblueberry.com.
"We're really excited," Boyd said. "Each year, we try to do some new things and the valley's really embraced it as a whole. It's kind of a self-driven festival of sorts."
Contact Chris Mays at firstname.lastname@example.org or 802-254-2311, ext. 273.