Friday July 26, 2013

WILMINGTON -- Several years ago, Janet Boyd started the Blueberry Festival with the concept of creating a 10-day event spanning over two weekends.

"It is filled with a variety of ways to get visitors to interact with all the valley's businesses and attractions," said Mount Snow Valley Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Adam Grinold. "What makes the event so unique is the opportunity for businesses to reach back and give the visitor a reason to frequent their establishment that is tied to the festival."

The 6th Annual Deerfield Valley Blueberry Festival starts on July 26. It will be occurring throughout the towns of Wilmington, Dover, Jacksonville, Whitingham, Searsburg and Marlboro until Aug. 4.

Over 70 different events are offered through the Blueberry Passport, which can be purchased through the Chamber of Commerce.

"All the local businesses can participate," said Grinold. "From having a blueberry shake to having a blueberry cocktail, everyone just gets into the spirit of things and turns everything blue for the festival."

The first night, there will be an opening of ceremonies starting at 5 p.m. on July 26 at the Sitzmark, located at 54 East Dover Road in Wilmington.

There will be gallons of blueberry Jell-O to slide on, swim in and play in. According to a press release, there will be new activities introduced this year at the opening of ceremonies.

"The opening event is always the Jell-O slide," said Grinold.


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"People jump and roll in Jell-O. It's a sight to be seen."

He told the Reformer that this year, a separate slide will be set up for young adults and those who are young at heart.

The 5th Annual Blueberry Festival Parade will be held on July 27 at 10:30 a.m. It will also commemorate the 50th anniversary of the West Dover Volunteer Fire Department.

The parade begins at the Tollgate Plaza and goes to the Dover Forge. It is one way only and will feature marching bands, local floats, fire departments, vintage cars and anything blue.

"This year, the West Dover Fire Department will be celebrating in conjunction," said Grinold. "It's nice to have that happening at the same time."

On July 27, from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m., a blueberry pancake breakfast will be held on the parade route at Layla's Riverside Lodge and Restaurant. The breakfast is sponsored by the Deerfield Valley Rotary and it will feature maple syrup and assorted breakfast meats. There is no cost, but donations are welcomed to support the rotary's community funding efforts.

From 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., the Living History Association will be having its 27th annual Time Line event at the Dover Forge on Route 100. People can walk through re-enactor camps in history, which will range anywhere in time from 3rd century Rome to modern day. It is a free event but donations are accepted.

At night, there will be a Blueberry Ball at Grand Summit Hotel starting at 7 p.m. There will be hors d'oeuvres and dancing. Proceeds are to benefit Jessica's Closet. Tickets are $50 and can be purchased at the Mount Snow Valley Chamber of Commerce.

On July 29, Wilmington Selectboard Member Jake White will host a hike to the top of Haystack. He has earned the name Mr. Haystack, as he regularly hikes the mountain and has been working with the Wilmington Trails Committee to ensure all the trails are safe.

On Aug. 1, the Blueberry Splash at Lake Whitingham will be held from 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.. An employee from TransCanada will explain the lake's history. There will be floating musical groups and a Parade of the Boats.

"There will be entertainment on pontoon boats playing back to a crowd on the beach," said Grinold.

A press release states, "If you've got your own boat, decorate it blue and meet at 4 p.m. at the High Country Marina for parade of boats line-up."

The Blueberry Block Party will be held on Aug. 3. South Main Street will be blocked off for dancing, pie-eating contests and more. A street art chalk contest will be held as well. Bringing hula hoops and bubbles is encouraged.

If it rains, Memorial Hall will be used for the Block Party.

For more information, visit VermontBlueberry.com or call the Mount Snow Valley Chamber of Commerce at 802-464-8092.

Chris Mays can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or cmays@reformer.com. Follow Chris on Twitter @CMaysReformer.