Wine To Wheels
By Adrienne Wallace Editor
Nov 23, 2016, 12:00
Frances Babb packs up some sweet potatoes from her Dinwiddie farm. Though she and Leroy Jarratt with Jarratt’s Produce try to attend several different markets, they often come to Hopewell.
Street Dream Cruisers member Willie Harris shows off his car at the Sons of The American Legion Car Show on Saturday.
Farmers’ Market attendess play cornhole at the final market of the season on Saturday.
HOPEWELL – Wine enthusiasts and community supporters gathered inside the historic walls of the Beacon Theatre for the Kiwanis Club’s annual Wine Tasting Festival that helps raise funs for its many causes including money for Hopewell Public Schools.
On Saturday, hundreds came out for the event that also was surrounded by other activities with the final fares market and fall festival and the Sons of the American Legion Car Show featuring Magnolia performances.
Kiwanis member Richard Strongin was excited about this year’s wine tasting with more than 850 tickets sold while even more spectators were purchasing tickets at the door. He said the event wouldn’t be possible without all the local support including 40 corporate sponsors who purchased 10 or more tickets, as well as the many volunteers who not only hit the streets to sell tickets, but also came in on the day of the event to serve those who attended.
“It’s truly a team effort,” Strongin noted. “Well even more, it’s a community effort and I think people are willing to support it because of how the funds raised go back into the community.”
Though they weren’t there to see a well-known band, there was plenty of excitement in the air as six vendors poured their flavors of grapes into glasses, which are included in the price of attending the festival.
On they first floor, Jeanette Evans, with Mattaponi Winery, proudly displayed bottle of the company’s cranberry wine and other fall flavors just in time for Thanksgiving.
“There is our first time here,” she said. “But it’s great – it gives us a chance to get the word out about our winery and share products we are proud to serve. We are glad to be here. I love it.”
She wasn’t the only one.
Many others shared their enthusiasm. Lara Pitcoch and Ginger Pearson took sips of wine from vendor Castle Glen Winery. For each of the Hopewell residents Saturday was their first time to the Kiwanis Club-sponsored event.
“I think it’s great,” Pearson commented. “It’s great to see so many people at the Beacon, and this seems to be a great event.”
Strain said that the sixth annual festival is at least a three-fold in its results for the community as it brings money in for their club’s worthy causes, bringing people to the Hopewell community and helping to attract possible new and future visitors to the Beacon Theatre.
Of course, the final Hopewell Farmers’ Market, also one of the three events that made up the Harvest Festival, attracted even more to the downtown area as about 20 vendors, a local band and corn hole games attracted buyers and spectators to the field across the street from the theater where Patrick Copeland School once sat. The open field that connects to the Appomattox River was filled with Hopewell residents and others who traveled from as far away as Norfolk to feature their homemade wares. From handmade soaps to butchered meats, a variety of items were available for purchase.
Beth Judy, of Disputanta, has come out throughout the season to display her homemade weaved baskets, cake plate covers and handbags.
“I love the location,” she said. “Even in the summer it doesn’t get too hot.”
Though Sunday was a cold day, those who walked the grassy area on Saturday didn’t care about the abnormally warm and bright late November day. Even few wore jackets.
Bryan Aycock travels from Fluvanna to sell his items that often includes lamb, bacon, sausage, and other meats that he butchers personally from animals raised at Willow Family Farms.
From the theater to the field and then across Broadway onto City Point Road, the American Legion Post 146 was the site of a block party where attendees viewed classic cars, had hamburgers and hotdogs and listened to sounds of Hopewell’s hometown favorite bands Magnolia.
All three events have been featured on the same day for the fall festivities, and that is something organizers say helps attract a variety of guests to downtown and continues to promote Hopewell as a stopping place for fun and entertainment.
“We had a robust market on Saturday, with new vendors, 17 soldiers from Fort Lee there volunteering, and a crowd of customers who were out and about due to the three events in close proximity of each other,” said Mary French Elder, one of five on the committee who organizes the Farmers’ Market (she and Kathy Ash were responsible for the market on Saturdays. “I think the perception of Hopewell is changing. The Beacon has generated positive publicity, the successful effort of the Downtown Partnership to revitalize West Broadway with new businesses opening, and its improved appearance. Walking around downtown is becoming a pleasant experience instead of a depressing one!”