Native Americans to gather for Harvest Festival

BERRYVILLE – Native American Indians from across Virginia are traveling to Berryville to celebrate The Gathering: a Native American Harvest Festival this weekend.

Rene White-Feather, a participant in this year’s event, described the Saturday and Sunday gathering as a unique event for the Clarke County community.

“This event came about because our elders wanted to do something in the community about Native American culture,” White-Feather said. “We felt the call and knew it was something we could do. We knew we could handle the responsibility.”

The Gathering, an “Agri-Cultural” event, is a two-day celebration that will include dancing, storytelling and giving thanks, White-Feather said.  A 12-piece honor guard will kick-start the celebration each morning and children will offer up a harvest in honor of the season.

“It’s symbolic of us giving thanks for the plentiful harvest,” White-Feather explained.

Also Native Americans and neighbors alike will enjoy Indian harvest dancing & singing, a Military Veteran & uniformed service tribute, trading post vendors & living history exhibitors, and a multicultural Thanksgiving including bison and frog legs.

This years theme is “Painted Ponies.” Real horses will be featured on Saturday ad iron horses on Sunday in the form of a charity motorcycle ride. There also will be living history exhibitors, a military and veterans uniformed service tribute, a trading post and a multicultural Thanksgiving that includes bison and frog legs.

Over 40 exhibitors will be on site, including Gail Feather Jewelry, Emeline Potomac Appalachian Trail Club, Sun Woman Trading, Inca Maki Erika, and Geo’s Joy Herbal Medicine. The eight-part documentary on Native Americans – “500 Nations” hosted by Kevin Costner – will be shown in pieces to guests.

“People attend The Gathering from all over the country,” White-Feather said. “Canada, Florida and even visitors from Europe have attended in years past.”

A core group of 40 volunteers have made this event possible, White-Feather said. She expects there to be well over 300 volunteers by the end of the weekend.

White-Feather said she hopes The Gathering will bring an awareness to Native American culture.

“Native American people are the only people who are spoken about in the past tense – no other culture –  and its not fair how we’re kept in the past,” she said. “We want people to embrace us in the present for what we can offer in the future.”

The funds gathered from the celebration go rback into the event, she added.

If you go

When: Saturday and Sunday.

Where: Clarke County Fairgrounds, 890 W. Main St., Berryville.

Admission: $7  at the gate. Children 6 and under are free.