One of the most popular activities in the Shenandoah Valley is the small informal town festival that occurs from the moment that spring arrives and wraps up with the fall leaf change and the arrival of winter. The Autumn Fest is just one of these festivals occurring this weekend at the Shenandoah County Fairgrounds in Woodstock, Virginia.
Sponsored by the Shenandoah County Chamber of Commerce, the festival celebrates its third year opening at 11 am on October 19th. This year’s event promises to combine past event favorites such as delicious BBQ, local wines, craft beers and live music with some new and improved features including a lower admission price.
Event Chairperson, Jenna French explains, “Our goal is to create a signature annual event for local residents and visitors alike. We take the feedback of our participants and attendees very seriously and each year, work to make improvements based on the suggestions we receive. We want people to walk away from the event having had a fun, unique experience and great value for their money.”
Tickets start at just $7 in advance and admission is free for children 16 and under. The ticket price may be lower but this year’s event is sure to offer higher entertainment value. New features include the Virginia Golden Ax Wood Splitting Competition, a chain saw carving contest, and expanded children’s activities.
Also added to the line-up is the second annual Virginia Golden Ax wood-splitting championship, a very popular Chamber-sponsored event that made its debut at Bryce resort in 2012.
“The Virginia Golden Ax wood-splitting championship debuted at Bryce last year, and the feedback we received from spectators was tremendous. It really is a jaw-dropping event that you have to see with your own eyes to believe. The brutes who are swinging away for the title are extremely talented athletes, and we are excited to see many of these fellas returning to compete again this year!” explains Chamber President Wade Zirkle.
Event chair, Jenna French has also been working closely with local artist, Glenn Richardson to organize the event’s first chain saw carving contest. As the visionary behind the signature wooden Autumnfest trophies and having organized a similar event at this year’s Shenandoah County Fair, Glenn was a natural partner for this event. The contest will feature 6 chain saw artists from throughout the Mid-Atlantic region including Glenn Richardson himself, Joe Stebbing, Joe King, Jack Veara and Rusty Rayfield.
Event attendees will be able to watch the carvers in action as they create their masterpieces which will be available for auction at the end of the event.
The event will also feature live performances by The Instigators and Danni Leigh. In addition, this year’s event will include an expanded children’s area thanks to City National Bank. Activities include pony rides, bouncy castles and obstacle course, rock climbing wall provided by Bryce Resort, fall crafts, straw bale maze and hands-on video game trials from Game Stop.
“It is exciting to receive calls from people all over the country interested in attending,” says Jenna. People have been calling from as far as Illinois interested in attending the event thanks to an increased marketing campaign after the Chamber received a marketing grant from the Virginia Tourism Corporation aimed at attracting visitors to the area.
Jenna also notes that the event would not be possible without the support of the business community through sponsorships including Shenandoah Valley Memorial Hospital/Valley Health, Mary Ellen Ruddy- Financial Representative for Edward Jones, Northern Virginia Daily, 105.5 Big Country and many more. “The support and enthusiasm around this event is tremendous,” says Jenna. “It is encouraging to know that so many of our local businesses stand behind this event and its mission year after year.”
Proceeds from the event support the Shenandoah County Chamber of Commerce and help fund programs such as business workshops and educational seminars, networking events, and college scholarships.