Sunday fall festival benefits North Columbia Schoolhouse |

Sunday fall festival benefits North Columbia Schoolhouse

Photo submitted by David Lovere

For the last seven years, the Autumn Shindig on the San Juan Ridge has been a reliable harbinger of fall. An annual event to benefit the North Columbia Schoolhouse Cultural Center, this fun and family-friendly festival features live music, local crafts, games for kids and adults alike, and various contests.

“When we survey our members about which event is their favorite,” said Board President Michelle Cowie, “the answer most often comes back as the Shindig. There is just something about gathering community together during the fall season — once the all the activity of summer has subsided — that feels timeless and right.”

The festival is a daytime affair beginning at noon and going until dusk. Gourmet tamales, comfort food and drinks and cotton candy at the “sugar shack” are on sale throughout the day.

Admission for the festival is free. Attendees purchase quaint wooden tokens to spend on the food and game booths. Local craftspeople and farmers will also have booths with goods on sale. And the dunk tank sponsored by Covert’s Pump Service is always a raucous scene where folks get to cleanse some karma and playfully settle scores.

This year’s music will be headlined by hometown favorites The Belfry Brothers, as well as Ruckrich Family Band, Redbud Ramblers and Aedryann Gantt with special guest Cherisha Heart Giacoma. Irish folk and rock virtuoso Obo Martin soulful songwriter and banjoist Heather Normandale and visiting South African folk artist Nate Maingard round out the lineup. The musicians all generously sponsor the event by playing pro bono.

“The Belfrys don’t perform that often anymore, but whenever they do, the magic of these longtime friends comes back to life,” said Schoolhouse member, Amber Cone. “I just love dancing with my friends under the open sky when they play at the Shindig.”

Anyone entering the pie making competition must bring their delectable offerings early at 11 a.m. for judging. The winner will receive a gift basket with donations from local businesses. Pumpkin carving (bring your own), mustache (real and fake) and hot-pepper-eating (for the brave) competitions are also being hosted.

Longtime supporters Extasia, The Ridge Café, Sweetland Garden Supply, Mother Truckers and BriarPatch Co-op are all providing assistance as Gold Sponsors for the Autumn Shindig this year. Many other local businesses provide additional sponsorship to keep this treasure of the San Juan Ridge vibrant and healthy.

“It’s always a pleasure to play at the Schoolhouse,” said Sean Kerrigan, member of The Belfry Brothers. “I went to first grade there and feel like it is part of my journey to come back from time and time to support the place.”

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