Organizers of this year’s annual Fernwood Days encourage folks to come out and meet their neighbors. Brock Rodriguez, president of the UpRiver Community United (UCU), the group that organizes the event, said that he is excited to meet all the new faces. “There’s a lot of new things at Upriver and Fernwood Days is not one of them,” he said. “There are new faces, new roads, and even entire new neighborhoods, yet Fernwood Days is still Fernwood Days.” This year’s celebration kicks off Friday (July 29) with a car wash and bake sale run by the High Country 4-H Club from 2 to 5 p.m. at the fire station. It’s followed by the community dance from 6 to 10 p.m. The event will include live music performed by the local band JamShack in the gazebo outside the community center across from the fire station. A beer garden and food vendors will be available. The party is followed the next day (July 30) with the Fireman’s breakfast from 6 a.m. and then the parade at 10 a.m. Organizers are expecting several different groups to participate in the parade, which begins at Old County Road and runs through the center of town to end at the community center. The parade’s Grand Marshal will also be revealed then. The Grand Marshal is an honorary position bestowed upon a local resident who has really invested themselves in the Fernwood community. Each year the UCU board members discuss worthy candidates and vote for the annual honoree. Prizes will be awarded for the best parade entries. The community fair also opens at 10 a.m. Approximately 15 vendors are expected to be present selling local handmade foods, crafts and other miscellaneous items until 4 p.m. Children’s events begin immediately after the parade with digging for treasure in the sand pile, followed by a watermelon eating contest, egg and spoon race, water balloon toss, gunny sack race and water balloon fight. Children ages 4-13 will be eligible to compete in the events, which are expected to last approximately an hour. Entry costs $1 and prizes will be awarded. The traditional horseshoe tournament (men’s, ladies, teams) also follows the parade and lasts throughout the day. The senior center will host bingo games and offer sandwiches and salad from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. as well. Events wrap up with a benefit Auction at 4 p.m. The auction supports Upriver Community United, a 501(c)3 nonprofit whose mission is to support the families of the Upriver community. The UCU does this with the Fernwood Food Bank, hosting Fernwood Days and the Lighted Parade, as well as working with various other groups seeking to brighten lives in the Upriver area. This year’s auction items include loads of firewood, loads of rock, photography sessions, gift baskets, baked goods, ammunition, a shooting target, fire pit, limo ride, camp chairs, popup canopy, BBQ grills, gift certificates to local businesses and locally-made crafts. Fernwood Days returned from a 2020 pause in 2021 and raised more than $6,000 to support the community. More than 2/3 of the UCU budget funds the Fernwood Food Bank. The food bank helps an average of 70 families to meet their nutritional needs. During the rougher and more chaotic periods of the last two years, the food bank was supporting upwards of 100 families. UCU’s annual budget is approximately $31,000. UCU is an all-volunteer organization with a loose board membership of about 14 individuals. Recently, UCU partnered with the Fernwood Senior Center and funded the new speed signs in Fernwood. Everyone is invited to join, and meetings are typically tat 6:30 p.m. on the third Thursday of each month at the CAF building. Current officers include President Brock Rodriguez, Treasurer Debby Powell, and Secretary Maureen Ryan Buchanan. Email Brock at with_a_paddle@ protonmail.com for additional information or to register for a vendor booth or the parade.

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