By Jan Mercker
Every fall, western Loudoun’s towns and villages roll out the red carpet for visitors and locals alike with regionally (and nationally) famous fall festivals. The pandemic took a toll on those beloved events, with all three festivals in Loudoun’s autumnal triple crown canceled or moved online in 2020. Last year saw scaled-back events as organizers juggled uncertainty and COVID-related restrictions. But this year, The Bluemont Fair, Lovettsville Oktoberfest and Waterford Fair are back in their full glory, with fun-filled weekends for Loudouners and tourists over three upcoming weekends.
Family Fun and Agricultural Roots in Bluemont
Bluemont Fair organizers have always prided themselves on staying true to the village’s rural roots.
“Bluemont Fair is a country fair at its roots. That’s our focus and we try to stick to that,” said Co-chair Cynthia Morris.
After canceling the 2020 fair, organizers brought it back last year with COVID protocols in place, including a reduced number of vendors to allow distancing. But attendance levels were close to pre-COVID numbers in 2021, Morris said.
“Surprisingly, our attendance numbers were pretty average,” she said. “I think people were ready to get out there.”
And this year, the fair returns to its normal density—and a full, family-oriented slate of events.
This year’s theme is Bluemont’s agricultural roots with a focus on draft horses. The fair will include a field with draft horses and old-school farming implements on loan from the Loudoun Heritage Farm Museum, including farrows, platers, and horse-drawn wagons.
“We’re excited about that. It’s something new we haven’t had,” Morris said.
In keeping with this year’s theme, organizers have set up a special exhibit in the historic E.E. Lake Store. “Bluemont—Our Agricultural Roots” features interviews and information about the history of agriculture in and around the village.
The 2022 fair will feature several music stages, booked by local musician Todd Brooks who will also perform Saturday afternoon with his full band. The Bluemont Community Center stage features traditional music and dance, while the Wine & Beer Garden stage features well known country and rock acts including Gary Smallwood, Delta Spur and Rowdy Ace. The fair also offers a speakers stage with talks from local authors and historians and presentations from noted archaeologist David Clark.
Bluemont continues to focus on its niche as a source of old-fashioned family fun, with its popular fiber arts field where families can follow wool from source to finished product, with sheep and llamas, spinning wheels making yarn and looms making textiles. There will also be a petting zoo and traditional games and activities for children.
The Bluemont Fair takes place Saturday, Sept. 17 and Sunday, Sept. 18 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Bluemont. For tickets and information, go to bluemontfair.org. Tickets are $10 for visitors 10 and over. Admission for children 9 and under is free.
The Oktoberfest Party is Back in Lovettsville
In Lovettsville, town leadership ruffled a few feathers in 2021 when it decided not to move forward with the town’s annual Oktoberfest for a second year in a row. The popular festival, which celebrates the Northwest Loudoun town’s German roots, was named one of the top 28 Oktoberfest celebrations in the world by OktoberfestBeerFestivals.com in 2018. But pandemic uncertainty and upheavals in the festival’s leadership led the town to cancel the event once again last fall.
Jeff Schutte, a local educator and longtime town resident, wanted to help bring back his town’s beloved festival—even if that meant stepping up to run the show. As Oktoberfest chairman and festmeister, Schutte has worked with Town Council members and other volunteers to rebuild the event organizing committee. The result is a return to a full two-day schedule with food, beer, children’s activities and lots of live music.
“Like everyone else, we were bummed but understood in 2020, and then we were really bummed in 2021,” Schutte said. “We said we’ll do whatever it takes to bring it back.”
Schutte has worked with volunteer coordinator Lizzy Fontaine (wife of the town’s mayor Nate Fontaine), Town Council members Joy Pritz, Tony Quintana and Vice Mayor Chris Hornbaker and a committee of volunteers to bring the fest back to its former glory Sept. 23 and 24.
“We want to redo as much as we can, pick up where we left off and build on it,” Schutte said.
The jam-packed 2022 schedule includes the traditional Friday evening German-themed dinner from the Lovettsville Lions Club, which also hosts the annual Oktoberfest royalty competition—reigning king and queen Chris Gardner and Rebekah Ontiveros have held their titles since 2019—and a Friday evening concert from ’80s band The Reflex. Saturday’s events include a new 5K and fun run, traditional Bavarian music and Kinderfest children’s activities in the historic downtown and the main tent with food, beer and music throughout the day on the nearby Town Green. The committee is bringing back stein hoisting and hauling competitions and another fan favorite on Saturday: the annual wiener dog races, featuring 32 adorable dachshunds in two afternoon brackets. With the construction of a new town hall building since the 2019 festival, organizers have moved the races from the town hall lawn to Zoldos Square in the town’s Squirkle. Town leaders have named the championship cup in honor of Kaiser, an Oktoberfest wiener dog race superstar and multi-year winner who died unexpectedly this summer at the age of 9.
The time-honored tradition of a Rocktoberfest concert from local favorites Ghost Pepper and the annual attempt to break the world record for a group rendition of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” moves from Friday night to Saturday night this year because of band availability. The singalong is one of Schutte’s favorite traditions, a longtime community bonding experience that locals eagerly await each year.
“It’s such a cool thing that we do, and the song is awesome. Over the last two years, whenever I hear it on the radio, it brings that memory back to me,” Schutte said. “It’s a huge party and I love it being right here…It’s a great community event. It’s really well organized and very positive for the town.”
Lovettsville Oktoberfest takes place Friday, Sept. 23 from 5 to 11 p.m. and Saturday, Sept. 24 from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. Admission is free. For more information and a complete schedule, go to lovettsvilleoktoberfest.com.
The ‘Waterford Welcome’ Returns
At the 78th Waterford Fair, residents of the historic village are once again opening their doors to visitors for homes tours. And the juried crafters from around the U.S. that the fair is known for are returning for the three-day event Oct. 7-9.
“We’re looking at being back to normal,” said Fair Director Tracy Kirkman. “Our demonstrating artisan numbers are back up. It’s wonderful to see that they’re feeling comfortable getting back out.”
After taking the fair online in 2020 and operating a scaled-back event in 2021 featuring garden tours instead of the traditional interior tours, the fair is back to a pre-COVID layout and program. Kirkman adds that the longtime tradition of villagers and nearby residents hosting traveling crafters in their homes has also returned this year, with 30 artisans staying in local homes.
“To me, that’s a huge confidence booster that shows the Waterford welcome,” Kirkman said.
Visitors can once again get a peek inside some of the village’s iconic historic homes, while garden tours will also be offered if folks prefer to stay outside.
Organizers are expanding the fair’s musical offerings this year with a first ever Friday afternoon show. Award-winning California-based bluegrass band AJ Lee and Blue Summit perform two shows Friday afternoon. Local favorites Fiddlin’ Dave and Morgan take the stage Saturday, and the Danny Knicely Trio performs Sunday.
Kirkman says this year’s fair also features new fodder for “history nerds,” including an exhibit on Waterford’s “remarkable Quaker women” and talks from living historian and salt maker Jim Bordwine (who appeared on the History Channel’s “Mountain Men”) and historian Rebecca Suerdieck who explores perfume-making practices in 18th Century Virginia.
The 78th Waterford Fair takes place Friday, Oct. 7 through Sunday, Oct. 9 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Single day tickets are $16 for adults, $12 for students 13 to 21 and free for children 12 and under. Three-day passes are available for $30. Pre-registration is also available for in-demand talks and workshops. For a complete schedule, tickets and information, go to waterfordfairva.org.Create your own user feedback survey