The 6th annual Loudoun Grown Expo took place at the Historic Bush Tabernacle in Purcellville last Saturday, Feb. 27. Approximately 1,500 visitors came from near and far to enjoy the produce offered by community-supported agriculture (CSAs), information from growers and producers, tastings from Loudoun's wineries and breweries, local food vendors, and arts and crafts from local artisans.
The Town of Purcellville had organized this event until this year, but when it was cut from the budget, the non-profit Bush Tabernacle stepped up to the plate and continued the tradition. Philip Message, president of the Bush Tabernacle, said that "this is one of the Purcellville's Signature Events that people have come to expect, and we're thrilled to keep it going."
Purcellville Town Councilwoman Joan Lehr attended the event and said she is thrilled that Message was able to take over the event and do so well this year. "I am looking forward to watching the event grow," she said.
With assistance from his wife France, co-organizer Daniel Abramson, the Purcellville Citizen's Support Team, and the 40 vendors that show-cased the best of Loudoun, Message helped make this year's Expo as successful as ever. Several changes were made to the event this year, including a $2 admission charge for those who live outside the Town, extended hours, and a balanced variety of vendors.
According to Message, "The vendors loved the extended hours because there wasn't the "mad rush" seen in prior years, and it gave them more time to interact one-on-one with the attendees."For Message, this was a learning curve, he said, â€œbut we think it went really well."
Kellie Bowles, Agricultural Development Officer for the Loudoun County Department of Economic Development, said she was pleased with the visitor turnout in this transition year for the Expo. "One farm winery vendor reported a 23% increase in sales over the 2015 Expo. We always meet new customers for Loudoun Grown products and talk to landowners interested in expanding their agricultural operations,” said Bowles.
Another vendor, Helen Polishuk of Potomac Vegetable Farm, shared Message's sentiments. She was pleased that she had the opportunity to talk with the attendees about the CSAs and share her interest for farming.
The primary sponsors of the event were the Town of Purcellville, Loudoun County Dept. of Economic Development, Tari Orthodontics, and Movement Mortgage.
Message said, "At the end of the event, we surveyed all the vendors asking what changes they'd like to see for next year, and the overwhelming response was "none just keep on doing what you're doing; thank you, and we'll be back next year!"