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Organizer: Blackberry Festival won’t happen this year

By Shavonne Walker

shavonne.walker@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — Although it has been wildly successful, a festival that was becoming an annual celebration of blackberries won’t happen this year, organizer Lisa Hill said.

Hill’s family owns Hill’s Minnow Farm, where the festival was held the past two years. She has started an event planning business that requires more of her time. She also is still a big part of the family business, making homemade ice cream and organizing a crappie fishing tournament.

She also buys products for the store.

She opened the Barn at Cedar Hill on Clark Road at the end of last year and has 15 to 20 appointments a week with brides interested in the venue.

“This year, the wedding venue is my priority,” she said. ” I see it as my career.”

Hill said the blackberry festival typically took at least six months to plan. She would start planning the festival and the fishing tournament in January.

She said she feels terrible that the festival won’t continue since it was her idea. She wanted to provide an annual festival for the community but said that it was a lot of work. She had to find sponsors, map out the vendor tables and parking lot spaces, put up road signs, and even mow the yard.

Her father and husband helped when they could.

What made the festival so special was that it was staged among blackberry vines at the store, Hill said.

She said it wouldn’t really be the same if the location were changed.

“The whole uniqueness is having it here and picking it up and moving somewhere else would lose that specialness,” Hill said.

The first year, 80 vendors participated; the second year, there were 125.

“It got really big really fast,” Hill said.

The festival didn’t bring in a profit. Hill said she was barely making enough money to pay expenses.

Before deciding to discontinue the festival, Hill said, she reached out to a local organization to see if it would be willing to take it over. Members of the organization said it was too big a project. She’s willing to work with other organizations to take over the blackberry festival.

“It’s a lot of work, and I have a new respect for event organizers now,” she said.

Contact reporter Shavonne Walker at 704-797-4253.

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