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Fairy Stone State Park adding market to its list of summer activities
Enjoying lunch Saturday at Fairy Stone State Park are (at left, front to back) Vickie Lecompte, Joe Prater, Lynn Prater; (at right, front to back) Butch Morris and Sandra Morris. (Bulletin photos by Ashley Jackson)
For decades, people have gone to Fairy Stone State Park to swim, hike, canoe and more.
Now they can go for veggies and home-baked sweets.
Today, the park will launch Monday Market, which will offer local farmers a chance to sell their produce, baked goods and honey to park visitors, said Park Manager John Grooms.
Beginning today, the Monday Market will be open from 6 to 8:30 p.m. each Monday at the park’s Allied Picnic Area. Free parking is available for those visiting the market.
Fairystone’s traditionally popular activities have gotten off to a strong start this season, Grooms said.
Since opening the swimming area on Memorial Day weekend, “we’ve had good attendance,” he said.
On Memorial Day May 28, Grooms estimated that about 1,300 swimmers came to the park; during the three-day Memorial Day weekend, the park saw about 3,000 swimmers, he said.
“That was a good weekend,” he added.
Since then, the other facilities at the park have been successful, with all camping sites and cabins rented out each weekend, Grooms said.
Each summer, the park offers children’s activities, such as making pine cone bird feeders; fishing clinics; canoeing with ghosts in which park employees take children out on a canoe at night, travel to the back part of the lake and tell ghost stories; archery; sand castle contests; and volleyball, according to Grooms.
This Saturday, the park will host a Family Fun Day with free hot dogs and drinks and activities for children.
At 10 a.m., there will be a fairy stone hunt; free food will be served from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.; at 1:30 p.m., water rockets will be set off; at 2:30 p.m., children will make paper airplanes; and at 7:30 p.m., kids can go canoeing with ghosts.
All activities are free except the canoeing with ghosts, which will be $6 per person for ages 10 and older. There will be a reduced parking rate that day of 99 cents, Grooms said.
This past weekend, many people were taking advantage of the park’s beach and the campground.
Mike Ketron of Troutville was taking a week-long family vacation at Fairystone. He and his wife, Cynthia, and sons Tanner and Chase came down on Friday to stay in one of the cabins.
The family first visited the park last year and liked it so much that they decided to come back, Ketron said. “We love it here ... it makes for a great vacation for everyone,” he said.
During last year’s family vacation, the family went fishing, kayaking, biked around the campground and enjoyed the beach, which was all fun, Tanner said.
“Me and my brother, Chase, like to go on the diving board” in the lake, Tanner said. “It’s just awesome here.”
Butch and Sandra Morris of Staunton were visiting the park for the first time. It also was their first camping trip to a state park.
“I don’t see any negatives at all,” Butch Morris said. He and his wife have traveled to campsites along the East Coast, and Fairy Stone State Park ranks in the top sites that they have been to, he added.
Sandra Morris liked that the campsites are patrolled to keep everyone safe, she said. She also liked the reasonable price to camp, how clean the sites were, the picnic tables and built-in fire pits at each site, and all of the trees that provide shade, she added.
The couple is considering returning to Fairy Stone to camp during the Martinsville Speedway fall race, Butch Morris said.
The Morrises came to town to visit their friends Joe and Lynn Prater of Bassett, who got married at the Woolwine Covered Bridge Festival on Saturday.
When Joe Prater invited the Morrises, he recommended that they stay at Fairy Stone, Prater said.
“I love the state parks ... I’d recommend them to anybody” because they have some of the most pristine lakes in the country, he said.
“If we don’t have anything else, we’ve got our parks,” said Vickie Lecompte, who also was spending time at the Morrises campsite.
Chris Bowyer of Greensboro, N.C., has been camping at Fairy Stone for about 10 years. He enjoys visiting each year because the park reminds him of the mountains in Roanoke, where he grew up, he said.
Visitors can expect another new feature this fall. Construction is ongoing on an equestrian campground where campers will be able to bring their horses and have access to trails directly from the campground, Grooms said.
There will be 10 campsites and 10 horse stalls in the campground, which is scheduled to open in the fall, Grooms said. The purpose of opening the new equestrian campground is so that guests who enjoy riding their horses for a day at the park will have an opportunity to stay longer, Grooms added.