As shuttle buses began dropping off visitors to the 29th Annual Burke Centre Fall Festival, local dignitaries joined for the opening ceremony that honored the Burke VFW Post 5412. The post has volunteered for more than 20 years at the festival, and this year was especially poignant since it came near the fifth anniversary of Sept. 11.
“There are young veterans [from Afghanistan and Iraq], and some of them really need our help,” said Dave Meyer, vice commander of the VFW Post 5412.
The VFW’s tent was one of the first stops for passersby at the festival. Veterans were there signing up fellow veterans for the VFW, and also signing up eligible people to vote. They took advantage of the opportunity to recruit veterans at the festival, since Meyer said so many residents in the Burke area are military families. Donation boxes were also scattered throughout the grounds to collect health and comfort items for active duty troops deployed in the Middle East.
In addition to the many booths of crafts, knick-knacks and food, two elected officials set up tents next door to each other. Supervisor Sharon Bulova’s (D-Braddock) tent sold copies of "Braddock’s True Gold," the book about the Braddock District’s history that came out earlier this year. Next to her tent were Rep. Tom Davis (R-11) and his campaigners. They passed out campaign literature and wore T-shirts supporting the congressman.
“I’ve been coming [to the festival] for 15 years,” said Davis, at the opening ceremony. “It gets better every year.”
Dancers and bands entertained spectators in front of the Conservancy’s offices, while children played on moon bounces and play areas a few feet away. The more adult area was in the opposite direction — a wine garden featuring wines from Virginia. Organizers said the festival will be even more eventful next year, in celebration of its 30th anniversary.