Whitesburg held their annual Mountain Heritage Festival this past weekend and Grow Appalachia, Letcher County Farmer’s Market and Cowan Community Center shared a booth to promote our programs and have a presence in this highly visited festival. Our booth was simple and as my Dad said while taking his turn at the booth, “we aren’t selling anything, we aren’t giving anything away, we are just here.” We actually did accept donations for a drawing, but I liked his message, WE ARE HERE! We care about you, we offer you a place to sit a spell, a cold water and we served as a porch for those needing a break from the festival and wanting to learn more about our programs.
We did a drawing for a wheelbarrow loaded with canned fruits and vegetables from this summer harvest and a huge pumpkin, grown by our own Logan Dollarhide, GA Intern. It is a humbling experience to offer that opportunity for folks to be in the drawing for a $1.00 donation for three days of twelve hour shifts. Without good company and support from GA participant and Farmer’s Market grower, Abby and her friend Lisa, I would have been lost for sure. Thank goodness for good friends and plain ole good people.
We promoted our upcoming Season Finale of the Farmer’s Market, the play Cowan Community Center was doing on the stage this week from origins of last years Brushy Fork Institute and Cowan Creek Music School. Actually, we generated $612 in revenue for the combined programs and hopefully lots of interest and contacts for the future. We estimate 6,000 folks walked past our booth during the event and figure receiving donations from one tenth is not a bad percentage.
John Paul Dejoria was my inspiration throughout this experience and I recalled his advice on the “cold sell” and being prepared to hear “no.” I also knew our product was great, and that did help tremendously in offering to festival patrons. Believe me, it hurt when someone said “no” that I knew could/should have been on board with our mission, but that just reminded me, we have to be careful to not make it “my” mission but have all see and believe in the worth.
Observing folks and their comments passing by was interesting also. The wheelbarrow got lots of attention, perhaps that was part of the ploy as well, due to strategic placement, so we spoke to most who passed by. One thing for sure, there is a definite appreciation for those jars of canned goodness. Many stopped and picked up a jar, several commented on how “white” the kraut was. Many shared proudly they had “all that at home.” Some asked questions, about particulars of the canning.
There were a number of comments that were somewhat alarming as well. “I wouldn’t know what to do with that.” “We wouldn’t eat that.” Again, just hard to believe a significant group of people are not comfortable with a “jar” of food. Grow Appalachia is helping create an awareness in this area, thanks!
When our winner was drawn, I was sort of disappointed as so many had come by that I really wanted to win and I did not know this name. However, when our winner arrived to claim his goods, we could not have been more pleased. Congratulations to Peyton for winning the goodies. Peyton was a young boy, so the wheelbarrow was just his size. He was so happy to push away w/his family helping. I spoke to his mother the next day and she said he had announced first thing at church the next morning that he had won a wheelbarrow of food. Also, as soon as he got home from church he wanted to put on his “old timey clothes” and go work in his little garden with his wheelbarrow and told his Mom to fix him an “old timey dinner.” It’s sweet when it works out that perfectly.