DUBLIN — There will be more than a few grapes underfoot this weekend at Lu Mil Vineyard.
The N.C. Grape Festival is held annually at the vineyard, but the organizers have made a few changes to this year’s lineup.
The day’s festivities will start this year at 8 a.m. with the Rev. David Copeland offering a prayer of thanksgiving for the crop, the harvest, and protection of Lu Mil’s employees.
“We just thought it was good to thank God for what He’s done,” said Lu Mil’s Denise Bridgers.
For the first time, political candidates have been invited to meet on Doc’s Deck at 10:45 a.m. From there, they will be given “a few short minutes,” according to Bridgers, to welcome guests and introduce themselves.
“Some years, it wouldn’t be appropriate, but this year it seems to be especially appropriate to do this,” she remarked.
Some folks look forward all year to the community yard sale, fondly called the “Super Sale” by attendees. Anyone from the community is welcome to bring items to sell and, in a unique gesture, Lu Mil doesn’t charge for the space. Bridgers said between 50 and 70 families or groups usually offer good values.
“We’d like people to fill out an application ahead of time, but if they show up Saturday with a truckload of stuff, I’m not going to not let them set up,” said Bridgers. “We won’t turn anybody away.”
Setup for the yard sale begins at 6 a.m.
One of the highlights every year is the grape stomping competition. Participants line up behind vats filled with grapes, and when signalled, they jump in and hold on to a bar while trying to crush grapes with their feet and squeeze as much juice as they can through a small hole in the bottom of the vat. When time runs out, the juice is weighed to see who produced the most, and the winner takes home a cash prize. Prizes are awarded in both youth and adult categories.
“We try to play fun music during the competition, and children get their parents involved or people might get their boss in there — I think people just have a good time watching other people have fun,” conjectured Bridgers. “People of all ages really get into it.”
Craft and food vendors will be on site and range from homemade wreaths and bows to coin collections, Elvis memorabilia, and a demonstration of cutting up fruits and vegetables for salads. Advertising their goods will be numerous businesses and civic groups.
Of course, a grape festival at the vineyard wouldn’t be complete without tours. The vineyard’s double decker bus and Pedal Party will be available for lazy — or not, depending on how much guests get into the Pedal Party — scenic rides. For $1 per pound, guests can pick their own grapes to take home.
“We weigh the bucket, but we don’t weigh you,” laughed Bridgers. “We know people are going to eat them in the field — you just can’t resist when they’re just hanging there on the vine like that.”
Entertaining folks from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. on Doc’s Deck will be Howard Faircloth. The one-man band will be playing a blend of oldies, beach and country music.
“He really plays a good variety of music, and people will enjoy hearing him,” Bridgers offered.
Anyone needing additional information or assistance during the festival may cal 910-866-5819. The N.C. Grape Festival will take place Oct. 8 from 8 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Chrysta Carroll can be reached by calling 910-862-4163.