Festival celebrates community spirit | ParkRecord.com

Festival celebrates community spirit

It’s a small celebration but big in spirit. On Saturday, Sept. 22, the Woodland community will celebrate its chokecherry heritage during the Woodland Chokecherry Festival, located at the Church Farm on Bench Creek Road across from the Provo River.

The event will kick off at 9 a.m. with a 5K run for adults and a kids’ race at 10 a.m. The other festival activities will also begin at 10 a.m.

Everyone will meet back together at 3:30 p.m. for an old-fashioned barbecue dinner and a live historical musical theater show, depicting the first settlers of Woodland.

"The Chokecherry Festival is a celebration that was formed by a few people from Woodland who really wanted to celebrate the heritage of the community," said Billie Sue McNeil, who is heading the festival. "In searching for what we might do and what identity we wanted to give this celebration, we thought about the people every single fall who you see up and down the highway on the side of the hill picking chokecherries."

The valley around the Provo River is full of chokecherry bushes, which people from all over come to pick, McNeil said.

And the chokecherries are always mentioned in the local history books, she added.

"It’s just a fun celebration," she said. " We always have a boutique so local people can come and vend their wares. And we have lots of kids activities: a pumpkin patch, a hayride, arts and crafts and a petting zoo."

A group will also be taking a trail ride up to the mountains, where they will play poker and have lunch.

Chokecherry jelly will be for sale. One man, who can’t make the celebration due to a wedding, tracked down McNeil on the festival grounds earlier in the week because he wanted to purchase some chokecherry jam. Two generations before him, he had family who lived in Woodland.

"And that’s why he comes back," McNeil said. "We have found that people who have either lived in Woodland or whose families have lived in Woodland come back for this celebration. I just find that so interesting, that there’s that connection. It’s nice to have a connection and that feeling of belonging."

A full event schedule can be found at http://www.chokecherry.org.

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