By Callie Hietala
‘Get them while they’re hot,’ will be heard when the Bassett Heritage Festival gets underway Sept. 11.
The festival traditionally begins with a pancake – or rather, a lot of pancakes – and this year’s event will be no different.
“We start selling pancakes around 8 in the morning until about 10, when the vendors are all set up,” said Larry Turner, a member of the Stanleytown Ruritan Club, which organizes the festival.
Avis Turner even included pancakes it in her brief history of the club, written to commemorate its 50th anniversary: “They have served pancakes almost from the beginning of the Bassett Heritage Festival,” she wrote.
The pancake breakfast supports the Stanleytown Ruritan Club, Turner said, and added the festival itself begins around 10 a.m. and is free to attend.
Festival goers can wander around the grounds, perusing displays by local vendors such as CharmCat Creative LLC, Gilinita’s Gifts, Taylor’d In Thyme, Bon Bons Wreaths, Usborne Books, and many more.
Local nonprofit agencies and other organizations also will have booths set up on the festival grounds so folks can chat with representatives from local churches, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and both the Republican and Democratic Committees of Henry County.
As a service to the community, the Martinsville Henry County Coalition for Health & Wellness is sponsoring a mobile unit to provide blood pressure and cholesterol checks, health screenings, and COVID-19 vaccinations.
There will be plenty of activities to keep youngsters busy too, with children’s games and even a climbing wall set up for the more intrepid young festivalgoers.
Be sure not to miss a photo op with the Bassett Volunteer Fire Department, which will have some of its trucks and equipment on display while also selling its festival-famous hot dogs.
Other vendors, including D’s Hot Ice food truck, will offer concessions for sale throughout the day.
The Southern Gentlemen, who describe themselves as the “barons of Southern bluegrass,” will provide musical entertainment. The group’s energy and soaring southern harmonies are sure to elicit some toe-tapping.
The festival culminates in a community parade, sponsored by Bassett Funeral Service, which Turner said is always a highlight of the day.
The Bassett Heritage Festival has been going on for so long that locals can’t quiet recall just when it started.
What is certain is that the Stanleytown Ruritan Club took on leadership for organizing the festival in 1993, in partnership with Bassett Furniture Industries. Though no one may be able to pinpoint when it began, one thing is certain, the festival continues to be popular.
“We didn’t get to do the festival last year because of the pandemic,” Turner said. This year, the Bassett community is ready to gather and celebrate its heritage once again.
Festival sponsors and supporters include Collinsville Printing, the Bassett Volunteer Fire Department, Bassett Funeral Service, the Bassett Volunteer Rescue Squad, the Henry County Sherriff’s Department, and the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT).