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Martinsville, Virginia 24115
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Peach fest offers free admission

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

By DEBBIE HALL - Bulletin Staff Writer

For the first time in its 26-year history, admission to the Virginia Peach Festival in Stuart will be free.

The festival will be held from 6 to 10 p.m. Friday at DeHart Park in Stuart, according to Tim Collins, director of the Patrick County Chamber of Commerce.

Collins, who assumed his post after Tom Bishop retired in March, said that when he became director of the chamber, “I wanted to give back to the community. My first goal was to make admission to the Peach Festival free.”

During times of economic hardship, Collins said he wanted to ensure that Patrick residents and others could attend the event and not be dissuaded by the ticket prices. Last year, tickets were $8 in advance and $12 at the door, he said.

“We wanted to make it an event the community would be proud of and that people would be talking about,” Collins said.

“We got together with our sponsors” and the free admission became a reality, he said. “We hope people not having to pay for admission can enjoy some of the other activities.”

Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, a Republican who is running for governor in November, will be at the festival. He and other candidates will be given time for brief comments beginning at 5 p.m., Collins said. Kim Adkins of Martinsville will speak for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe if he is not able to attend, Collins added.

In addition to the traditional peachy atmosphere, with peaches for sale, peach cobbler, peach ice cream, barbecue and other food, Collins said there are many other firsts associated with the 2013 festival.

“For the first time ever, we will have a Kid Zone with a Jurassic Adventure, a train for people to ride and face painting,” he said. “We want this to be an event where you can bring everybody in the family and there’s something for everybody to enjoy.”

The Embers beach music group will headline the event and no doubt perform some of its biggest hits, Collins said. While known for many hits since its inception in 1958, the Embers are best known for standards such as “I Love Beach Music,” “Summertime’s Calling Me” and “Cool Me Out.”

“Where else could you go and hear a top-rated band like the Embers for free?” Collins asked.

The musical lineup this year also will feature Les Moore and Southern Remedy.

Even though there are some changes, Collins said festival goers still will enjoy traditional Peach Festival fare, with crafts, vendors “and loads and loads of homegrown peaches.”

Along with the chamber, other sponsors include Walmart, River Community Bank, BB&T Bank, Brian Jessup & Associates, Carter Bank & Trust, CenturyLink, Mountain Valley Hospice, SunTrust, Stanburn Winery, Surrey Bank & Trust, B99.9, Cooking with Paul, The Enterprise and WHEO Radio, he said.


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