Midsummer is the only time of the year when thickets of lush blackberries emerge in the heart of Shenandoah National Park. The appearance of the blackberries’ deep indigos and vivid reds can be found almost anywhere along the park’s open roads, trails and streams. As a result, July has been designated as National Blackberry Month, and the Skyland Resort has made the fruit’s annual arrival into a celebratory festival.
This year, the Blackberry Delight Festival will take place on Saturday, July 23, between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. It will be held at Skyland, which is located between mile markers 41.7 and 42.5 on the picturesque Skyline Drive. Throughout the day, there will be live music, pony rides, dance performances and, of course, lots and lots of blackberries. Festivalgoers must pay the park entrance fee of $20 to partake in the festivities.
To kick things off, country music artist and Madison Heights local Glen Shelton will perform his award-winning songs from 10-11:30 a.m. Following his performance, the Shenandoah Valley Cloggers will take the stage from 11:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. As frequent performers at the Skyland Resort, the dance troupe is known for combining Scottish, English and German traditions into their steps and performing routines to pop, rock, bluegrass and country.
Then the sounds of Appalachia will come alive as Davis Bradley Bluegrass, an acoustic duo, performs from 2-3:15 p.m. and Kinda Celtic, a band that mixes Irish, Scottish and Appalachian musical heritage, performs both popular and lesser-known Celtic songs from 3:20-4:45 p.m.
However, the festival wouldn’t be complete without delicious dishes prominently featuring the local blackberries. Throughout the day, the chefs at Skyland will serve up blackberry cobbler, blackberry barbecue, blackberry wine and blackberry ice cream that visitors won’t be able to resist.