A Labor Day Weekend tradition, this year’s Taste of the Mountains Main Street Festival offered something for all the senses with its variety of flavorful fare, live music and shopping opportunities galore all set in a friendly small-town where everyone seemed to know everyone else.
“Peace and quiet – no issues,” said Madison County Sheriff Erik Weaver, hanging out beside the stage near the library with his wife, Terri. “Nobody’s upset, everybody’s getting along and it’s a lot of people, children and animals.”
He admitted the day was a bit humid, but it was mostly overcast and stayed dry unlike last year’s rainy event. Hundreds wandered elbow-to-elbow on Saturday through downtown Madison for the 26th Annual event featuring around 175 vendors peddling everything from alpaca sweaters and jam to license plate signs and original art.
There was a magic show, pony rides, antique cars and serious people watching.
It was Judy Derrow’s first time visiting Taste of the Mountains. She traveled more than an hour with her husband, Jerry, from Broadway in the Shenandoah Valley to check out the street festival.
“We heard about in on Facebook,” she said.
Derrow usually works in an orchard near her home on Labor Day Weekend, but decided to take a rest this year.
“We’re taking it easy,” she said, noting, “It’s our first time in Madison County.”
Mike Skelton, who works for Culpeper County Parks & Recreation, stood in the middle of Main Street handing out stickers to passersby with a simple message, “No room in my heart for prejudice,” as part of a Baha’i Faith exhibit.
“It’s a very pertinent message,” he said.
Skelton said he’s been long associated with the religious teaching that espouses world unity. The Flock, a Madison-based Christian church, handed out green balloons that were a common sight on Main Street in Madison as were dog on leashes and babies with flushed faces sleeping in covered carriages.
“I think it is quaint,” said Spotsylvania County resident Janet Bykowski of downtown Madison.
She and husband Joe Cornett displayed a 1930s Mercedes Benz near the library along with at least a dozen other vintage vehicles, including a 1955 Ford, hot pink in color. Bykowski did the wax job on her German auto, but said it wasn’t up to her husband’s standard.
“Isn’t that just like a man?” she joked. “He loves his car though and it goes fast.”
Nearby, Culpeper musician David Gilmore could be heard playing acoustic guitar and singing from the main stage from where various other artists also performed in a laid back setting. Around lunch time, the lines started to grow at a variety of food trucks, including Bavarian Chef, parked near the historic Kemper House. People lounged on blankets and in chairs on the library lawn that also housed the beer & wine tent with its locally produced selections. Children posed near the LOVE sign while parents snapped pictures, including Fred Falgiano, of Reva.
“It’s the food,” he said of what attracts him to Taste of the Mountains. “And running around here after the kids.”
On the other end of Main Street, members of Main Uno Church, of Rochelle, fried fish and fixed Italian sausage for sandwiches. Minister Richard Gordon was the main chef, battering up whiting fillets and frying them to a golden brown.
“It’s because of the scenery,” he said of the success of Taste of the Mountains. “And people come out for the food.”
Ham biscuits, burritos and 4H ice cream were all for sale as well as a variety of hand crafts and plant-based soaps. SS Fragrances vendor Sonny Schmuck, of Pennsylvania, has been selling his soaps at Taste of the Mountains for at least six years running. He makes about 30,000 bars per year in his home-based studio and does about 35 shows per year.
“This is a good show for me – a lot of repeat customers,” said Schmuck.
Kim Rumsey, of Madison, was one such customer, purchasing five bars of soap for $12. She rarely misses a Taste of the Mountains.
“I like seeing the same people every year,” she said. “I like seeing all the new crafts, tasting the food and just being able to support the community.”