Driving along highways and back roads along the Shore, it’s common to spot a combine or two out in the fields. The massive mechanical beasts chug along purposefully, and if you’re local to the area, they’re practically a fixed part of the horizon. While we’ve all driven past a combine, or admired one from afar, not many of us have ever gotten up close and personal with the agricultural giants. Each year, as a nod to the importance of agriculture here on the Eastern Shore, the Town of Snow Hill opts to celebrate with the Blessing of the Combines. Embarking on their 15th year, the annual event is ever-growing and ever-popular, with a host of activities, vendors, displays, and of course, tractors.
Last week, ShoreBread went Day Trippin’ to Berlin, with an afternoon spent at the Calvin B. Taylor House museum. This week, ShoreBread is paying homage to our agricultural heritage with an afternoon spent at the Blessing of the Combines. Saturday morning, local farmers will embark on a different path than usual, climbing behind the wheels of their combines and heading not to the fields, but instead to downtown Snow Hill. Several Worcester County farmers – including George Lee Clayville, Bill Figgs, Byron Hauck, Lee Holloway, Buster Powell, Roger Richardson, David Shockley and Virgil Shockley – will bring their combines to town for the day. The farmers will undoubtedly be joined by swarms of locals and visitors, with an estimated 1500 people expected for Saturday’s turnout.
Event organizer Kathy Fischer gave us the run-down on the farming festival this week, including the events humble beginnings. “Fifteen years ago, a group of people in Snow hill were talking about ways to bring visitors to town, and someone suggested that we should bless the combines. Becky Payne (Event Chairperson) liked the idea, checked with area farmers who had combines…and the event began.” The rest is pretty much history, with the crowds growing bigger and bigger each year. What started as a small, local parade has grown into a day full of free, family-friendly festivities.
“The event usually attracts about 1500 people, ” said Fischer, adding “which looks like a real crowd in downtown Snow Hill.”
Event-goers nab spots early on Saturday, in preparation for the the parade at 11am. Combines – led by a collection of antique tractors and Orem Perdue’s horse-drawn combine – moves south along Route 12, crossing the drawbridge over the Pocomoke River, before heading west onto Green Street. Each piece of machinery is carefully maneuvered into place before kicking off the day with the ‘throttle thrust’. The ear-splitting throttle thrust signals the start of the event, bringing whoops and hollers before the official blessing begins. Snow Hill’s Reverend Seth Nelson will conduct the official blessing, followed by this year’s guest speaker, Jim Perdue, of Perdue Farms. The Snow Hill High School Marine Corps ROTC will also be on hand to present the American flag.
Activities, exhibits and displays continue throughout the day until 3pm, with the bulk of the activity taking place along Green, Pearl and Bank Streets. Live entertainment will take place on the Program Stage, starting with God’s Country Crossroads and followed by North Carolina-based country band, Too Far Gone. Craft vendors will set up along Bank Street, complimenting the area’s charming store fronts, for a day of browsing and shopping. For food, the options are seemingly endless, with festival vendors along Bank Street, along with Harvest Moon Tavern, Miss Patticake, The Emporium, The American Legion, and The Palette.
Kid-friendly events include the children’s tractor pull – a crowd favorite according to Fischer – as well as the petting barnyard, face painting, a soybean pit, a slide and moon bounce, and activities hosted by Lollipop the Clown. Families can also take a brief tour of the town via pony and carriage rides or hayrides. Don’t forget about the dunking booth or the pie-eating contest either.
While the festivities officially come to a close at 3pm, the fun will undoubtedly continue. For starters, there’s the annual lawn mower tractor pull, at 3:30 at Preston Motors Snow Hill Auto Body. There are also a host of sights, restaurants, stores and activities to enjoy in and around Snow Hill. Local museums include the Julia A. Purnell Museum and the Furnace Town Living Heritage Museum. There’s the Pocomoke River State Park and the Pocomoke River and Canoe Company for outdoor adventures, local art galleries and studios to stroll through, and several locally owned restaurants like the Blue Dog Cafe, The Palette, and Harvest Moon Tavern to choose from for dinner. There’s plenty to keep you busy in the Snow Hill, so plan on making a day of it…after all, you are Day Trippin‘ with ShoreBread.
Until next week…