Taste of the Mountains returns to Madison Saturday for its 26th annual event.

The family-friendly street festival, organized and sponsored by the Madison County Chamber of Commerce, is a celebration of the region’s artistic, culinary and musical traditions and will be held Sept. 1, 9 a.m. - 4 p.m., on Main Street.

The festival offers a variety of activities, events and food including live music, living history demonstrations, local beer and wine tastings, pony rides, multiple vendors and a variety of food choices. According to Tracey Gardner, director of economic development and tourism for Madison County, dozens of food, craft, art, club and business vendors from the area and far beyond will be attending this year’s event.

Gardner said many vendors are returning from previous years including local businesses, E.A. Clore and Sons furniture which recently rebranded as Clore, Plow and Hearth and the Bavarian Chef. Clore will be introducing its new product lines and offering giveaways at its booth. In addition, the business will be offering workshop tours at its location at 303 Clore Place in Madison from 8 a.m. to noon.

“Clore is one Madison company that is known throughout the state and beyond,” said Gardner. “I couldn’t be happier about [its] newfound success and I am so excited to see the unveiling at this year’s Taste of the Mountains.”

The wine and beer tasting tent also returns. Visitors to the festival who are over 21 can purchase a ticket for $15 which includes tastings from local wineries and breweries and the first 100 will get a special Taste of the Mountains glass. Local wines from Early Mountain, DuCard, Prince Michel and Revelation and beer from Madison-based Bald Top Brewery will be featured. Once inside the tasting tent, festival goers will be able to purchase wine or beer by the glass or bottles to take home.

Visitors can experience a variety of food choices. Local favorites Bonanno’s Madison Inn, the Bavarian Chef and Pig N Steak will return and two new Madison eateries, Burrito Baby and Jenny Lynd’s Pizza, will be at Taste of the Mountains for the first time.

For history buffs, there is a living history demonstration of Civil War camp life at the Kemper Residence and the Fredericksburg Antique Auto Club of America will have a display of antique cars. The Kemper Residence, the 1852 Greek-Revival home of former Virginia Governor, James Lawson Kemper, will be open for tours.

Live entertainment will be provided throughout the day. Scheduled musical acts include a variety of bluegrass, country and rock featuring Leon Rector, David Gilmore, Bennie Dodd, Dark Hollow and Jessica Weaver and the Silver Linings Band. Magic shows will be held at the Madison Drug parking lot at 10 a.m., 12 p.m. and 2 p.m.

Even the pets are included in the festivities. Goody Paws Bakery will be selling pet treats, Willow Hill Pet Salon will be holding an open house during Taste of the Mountains and equine enthusiasts can visit Mad Tack at the south end of town. For those wishing to adopt a furry friend, the Madison County Animal Shelter will be holding an adoption event with available dogs and possibly cats.

“We are looking forward to coming back to Taste of the Mountains,” said Tammy Owens, a worker at the shelter. “We have a bunch of adoptable dogs and will be bringing them. If it’s not too hot, we’ll bring some cats too.”

The animal shelter isn’t the only non-profit with a presence at this year’s festival. Canines for Christ, a faith-based canine assisted therapy community outreach ministry, will be set up outside the park. The Madison County 4-H Dairy club will have a food booth to raise funds and awareness and outside the festival boundaries, the Rappahannock Rapidan Regional Commission will be promoting the Purely Piedmont brand and the Tween Rivers Artisan Trail and the Madison Senior Center will be holding a yard and bake sale to benefit the Orange and Madison Senior Centers.

“We are also hosting a Taste of the Mountains party,” said Shirley Workman, site supervisor of the Madison Senior Center. “Please come out and visit. All the proceeds go toward our trips and activities. Right now, our senior center is serving over 90 Madison area residents and this helps support our activities.”

Taste of the Mountains began in 1993 as an exclusively local event. Now in its 26th year, the event brings thousands of visitors from across the United States to downtown Madison. Through the years, Taste of the Mountains has stayed true to its roots and celebrates the mountain culture and heritage of the county. Participating crafters and artisans are encouraged to demonstrate their skills during the festival and all items not originating in Madison County should be handmade by the vendors.

“Over the years the festival has grown,” said Gardner. “We expect well over 10,000 people to attend and it often doubles the population of Madison County for the day. Vendors regularly come from surrounding states and in the past have come from as far as Canada.”

Admission to the event is free. Free parking is available at the Madison County High School and a free shuttle service is available from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. Parking by donation is also available at the former grocery store on Washington Street. The festival will be held rain or shine.

For more information visit the Madison County Chamber of Commerce website, madisonva.com, call the Madison County Chamber of Commerce at (540) 948-4455 or e-mail tourism@madisonva.com.

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