When Dave Meyers goes to the annual Burke Centre Fall Festival, he looks forward to vendors dishing out Italian sausages and Philly cheese steaks, since the foods remind him of his home and college towns in the Northeast.
“I wouldn’t miss it for the world,” said Meyers.
Meyers, the vice commander of Burke VFW Post 5412, grew up in Brooklyn, N.Y., and went to college in Philadelphia, Pa. It’s hard to find good foods that remind him of those places, he said, so the festival is always something he looks forward to each year. And the food doesn’t stop with sausages and cheese steaks. The festival will also offer Asian, Indian and Middle Eastern food.
“Whatever you fancy, we have it at the festival,” said Patrick Gloyd, executive director of the Burke Centre Conservancy.
Food isn’t the only thing attracting more than 10,000 visitors to the annual festival, said Nancy Sherman, Burke Centre’s staff liaison for the festival. The two-day event will include games, arts and crafts, antique vendors, face painting, rides, live entertainment and a wine-tasting garden.
“[The festival] is to let people know what Burke Centre is all about,” said Sherman. “It just brings everybody out to get together, so you can have a good time at home and see your neighbors out and about.”
THIS YEAR, the Burke Centre Conservancy is honoring Burke VFW Post 5412 at the opening ceremony, Saturday, Sept. 9, at 10 a.m. The post has coordinated flag-raising and color guard ceremonies at Burke Centre festivals for more than 20 years, so recognizing them was well overdue, said Sherman.
“I couldn’t be more overjoyed,” said Meyers. “This is the year of the veteran I guess.”
To honor the veterans and the Burke VFW, collection sites will be spread throughout the grounds to collect items for troops. Sherman said phone cards are especially needed, so troops “can call home every once in a while.”
The wine-tasting garden has proved to be a huge success since it joined the festival five years ago, said Sande Pfalzgraf, former chair of the festival committee and a volunteer for 15 of 29 festivals. In past years, admission to the wine garden was $10, but Pfalzgraf said the price hasn’t been determined yet for this year. All of the wines available will be Virginia wines, and the garden is fenced in because of liquor licensing laws.
“It has a sitting area; it’s very pleasant,” said Pfalzgraf. “It’s really like a little wine-tasting garden.”
Pfalzgraf, one of the first 100 people to move into Burke Centre, said the festival has evolved since its start 29 years ago. It started with just a few activities, such as making apple cider, and it has blossomed into a huge event that has changed to keep current with the times.
Another way the festival has adjusted to the popularity of certain events is by extending the live entertainment until 6 p.m., on Saturday, and 5 p.m., on Sunday. Randy Bissell, the festival’s entertainment coordinator, said the music is a range of contemporary music, such as country, folk and pop. All of the performers are either solo or duo acts, with the exception of one trio performance. Sherman said the music scene at the festival has become a great way for local musicians to get some exposure, and that the performers this year “are really great.”
“It’s a slowly growing word -of-mouth that this is a great place to showcase yourself,” said Sherman.
The festival is free to the public, but rides, food vendors and the wine garden will charge their own fees. Coordinators want the community to show up, rain or shine, to meet each other and celebrate the togetherness of Burke Centre. Next year, said Sherman, will be the 30th anniversary, so organizers might beef up the festival even more to celebrate.
“This is the truest meaning of the word community,” said Pfalzgraf. “It is the community that runs this and puts this on.”