U.S. Sen. Mark Warner talks to Brook Ladd, an operation firefighter with the Strasburg Volunteer Fire Department, at the department’s annual Pancake and Sausage Breakfast. Warner visited the 36th Annual Strasburg Chamber of Commerce Mayfest on Saturday.

STRASBURG- U.S. Sen. Mark Warner dropped by Mayfest Saturday, the first Senate member to appear at the event in its 36 years.

His first stop was the Strasburg Volunteer Fire Department Annual Pancake and Sausage Breakfast

“How many people you serve today” Warner asked as he stepped up to be served.

“About 400 this morning,” said Brook Ladd, an operation firefighter.

“Those are big pancakes,” Warner said as he watched them cooking on the griddle.

“So much for the diet,” Warner joked.

After asking questions about the department, Warner, a Democrat, sat at a table where he was joined by Shenandoah County supervisors Conrad Helsley and Dennis Morris, as well as William Huck, owner of the Front Royal-based C&C Frozen Treats, Laura Berryman, who sits on the Board of Directors for the Strasburg Chamber of Commerce, Scott Turner, vice mayor of Strasburg and others.

They talked about education, funding of education, SOL tests and the importance of technical schools.

“We encourage too many kids today to go to four-year colleges today,” Warner said.

Helsley and Morris discussed Triplett Tech.

“Twenty-one kids were just part of signing day,” Morris said about the day when graduating seniors signed commitments to the employers they planned to join or the colleges where they will continue their education.

They discussed the opportunities those kids have and the career choices they made that will lead to good salaries.

The conversations were interrupted at times as Warner greeted people and, one time, by a siren that signaled the firefighters to respond to a call received at the station.

“I have two kids. An 11-year-old and a 3-year-old. Education is important to me,” Berryman said afterward.

Huck said he enjoyed meeting and walking around with Warner.

He said he was excited to hear some of Warner’s thoughts on education and small business that “on a federal level, if implemented correctly, could benefit the entire country.”

Warner spent the morning and part of the afternoon visiting businesses downtown along King Street, including Nancy’s Coffee Bar and Box Office Brewery and the brewery co-owner, Thomas Price.

Price, along with his wife Mary, showed Warner around the brewery.

They explained it was formerly an old theater and how they have salvaged it and incorporated a lot of what is unique about the building into the renovation.

“We want to encourage these kinds of restorations. That is what makes these towns unique,” Warner said.

Town Manager Wyatt Pearson, along with Turner, continued accompanying Warner on his downtown tour, explaining the town’s recent spurt of development and its community development block grant projects.

As the tour continued, Warner stopped into business after business. Warner bought lemonade from a festival vendor and honey at Pot Town Organics.

Warner also spent a couple of minutes in Strasburg Hobbies, where he tried his hand at drag racing slot cars.

– Contact Melissa Topey at