Autumnfest adds race, showcases crafts

Barbecue and wine tasters alike can warm up before chilling out – and pigging out – at Shenandoah County Chamber of Commerce’s fifth annual Shenandoah Autumnfest by taking part in the new Autumnfest 5K.

As chamber president Cheri Wright said, the race gives a chance for attendees to “be healthy in the morning and not so healthy in the afternoon.”

The course will start and end at Fairview Park with racers taking off at 9 a.m. Saturday. After the race, participants will be able to use their registration to get into the festival along with a free wine ticket. Racers will also receive a performance T-shirt along with the commemorative stemless tasting glass for all attendees.

The chamber will be working with Corkscrew Racing to kick off Autumnfest a little earlier with the race, something Wright said will hopefully become an annual part of the festival and help morph it into a weekend getaway. With last year’s attendance at around 2,500, she estimates that around 3,000 people will come out for the chamber’s only annual fundraiser.

Area artisans will also be demonstrating their techniques as a new feature this year. Attendees can watch the processes of 3-D printing, wood burning, scarf dying or pick up a screen printed shirt or bumper sticker in an effort to increase artist visibility – and give attendees a few early Christmas gift ideas.

“We have so many talented artists in our area and I think sometimes we forget what’s in our own backyard,” Wright said. “Our thinking was this is a good way to give it to a crowd who wouldn’t normally be their customer or wouldn’t think about it because it is such a different crowd for them.”

Five Virginia wineries will provide ticketed tastings at the festival, including Shenandoah Vineyards in Edinburg and North Mountain Vineyard and Winery in Maurertown. Filibuster Bourbon will offer whiskey tastings, and Wright said the chamber is aiming to offer Virginia-made craft ciders and brews.

“We’re trying to keep all the beverages Virginia based there,” she said.

Wright said she’s hoping for about 42 competitors in the barbecue contest that starts at 2 p.m., with groups earning points from the Kansas City Barbecue Society sanctioned event. One best overall winner and one people’s choice winner will take home prizes, and contestants will be judged in multiple different categories.

Shenandoah local bands Five of a Kind and The Rogue Farmers will bring some bluegrass to the festival, and six competitors are confirmed for the log splitting competition at 1:30 p.m.

“People love the wood chipping competition because they tend to root for somebody…hopefully they’ll keep their shirts on this year,” Wright said laughingly.

Whether it be for the competitive wood chopping, the finger-lickin’ barbecue or taste of Virginia beer and wine, Wright said Autumnfest gives everyone a chance to come out to the scenic fairgrounds for a last hurrah celebration before the cold winter months.

IF YOU GO: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at Shenandoah County Fairgrounds. General admission is $7, wine tasting $12 and tickets can be purchased at the gate or online at http://tinyurl.com/p8g8es6. Race tickets are $40 and can be purchased at http://tinyurl.com/pmf7a5l.

Contact staff writer Rachel Mahoney at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or rmahoney@nvdaily.com