Old Farm Day ends

By Heather Michon

A Fluvanna tradition for more than two decades has come to an end.

“The Fluvanna Historical Society and the Old Farm Day Committee have made the difficult decision to bring Old Farm Day to a close,” the Fluvanna County Historical Society wrote in an announcement in late November.

The annual event dates back to around 1998 as a way to celebrate Fluvanna’s rich agricultural heritage. In recent years, thousands of people gathered at Pleasant Grove each May to enjoy displays of historical farm equipment and techniques, arts and crafts, entertainment, and food.

Tricia Johnson, executive director of the Fluvanna Historical Society, said that the combination of COVID, and a critical lack of volunteers lead to the decision to permanently shutter the event.

“We canceled 2020, of course, [and] knew we would have to cancel 2021, and suspected we would probably have to cancel 2022 because of the pandemic,” said Johnson. After a two to three year suspension, the feeling was that many of the volunteers with the most institutional knowledge of the event might no longer be available to participate.

Johnson said that someone from the state’s tourism bureau told her that Old Farm Day was likely the biggest all-volunteer festival in Virginia, but that came at a price. “Because we struggled to find volunteers, there were never enough hands on deck, leaving our core volunteers exhausted,” she said. “It took at least six months of planning and meeting, and a couple of weeks of intense volunteering before and after, and full-time efforts the week of the event.”

While they were able to draw on cadets from Fork Union Military Academy and the Fluvanna High School girls’ track team, they ultimately couldn’t get the level of community involvement they needed to continue for the long term.

“I think a good lesson for all of us to come out of this is, if there is a community event or effort or organization that means a lot to you, consider asking if you can help,” Johnson added. “All of the nonprofits in Fluvanna, from Meals on Wheels to the local animal rescues to our own Fluvanna Historical Society, volunteers are our most precious resource and more volunteers are always needed. Even if you don’t think you would have the skills or available hours that group might need, ask anyway! You might be surprised.”

Johnson said she was grateful for everyone who had helped in recent years to make the event a success, including the Rotary Club, the sheriff’s office, and other groups.

“Our Old Farm Day Committee members poured their heart and soul into OFD every year, and our committee co-chairs, Jackie Bland and Mary Tilman, were the driving force behind making OFD happen in recent memory,” she said. “A long line of dedicated volunteers, stretching back 20-plus years, are deeply appreciated.”

She also thanked the generations of families who celebrated Old Farm Day with them. “We hope everyone treasures their memories of Fluvanna’s Favorite Family Festival as much as we do.”






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