Brunswick Stew – A Local Tradition

Every year, just before the leaves begin to make a serious effort to start changing (we’ve got about two more weeks for that), the community of Spencer throws an annual community fair.  2017 marked the 81st annual fair.  The local Ruritan Club Building opens its doors from 10 to 6, serving up huge bowls of Brunswick stew, plates loaded with fried chicken, and homemade desserts.

There are two lines and seating is family-style.  It’s such a small community that it seems like it is always easy to meet up with someone you know.  Since Mother attends the local Horsepasture Christian Church, we seem to always run into friends even at the grocery store. If this post is making it to someone who lives in what feels like a soul-less metropolitan area, please know that this kind of community does still exist. I have never met a friendlier bunch of people in my life.

The Brunswick stew is the main attraction here. They take it very seriously.  I didn’t really know what it was so people kept trying to describe it to me.  “It’s got several different kinds of meat” is what most people told me. One man said that he thought that it might have rabbit in it.  I have now had the Brunswick stew. I still don’t know what is in it and I don’t care.  It’s delicious.

Brunswick Stew at the Ruritan Building

Outside of the Ruritan building there is a live music stage set up (I think it is a trailer the rest of the year) and there are wagon rides throughout the day.  Bring a chair to sit down and listen to the music and you’ll be glad you did. In fact, I’ve gotten to just leaving our folding chairs in the car instead of taking them out when I get home.  In this area, it’s amazing how often they come in handy.

Across the parking lot from the Ruritan Club Building, the Spencer Penn Center coordinates a Craft Festival from 10 to 4.  Spencer Penn used to be a functioning school here and that’s how most of the locals know it.  When the doors were set to close a few years ago, the community got together and kept it open as a community center.  It has a library,  a photography club, a book club, lots of exercise classes and is now often used as a rental venue.

The Spencer Penn table at the craft fair

When Spencer Penn holds a craft fair (they do this in the spring too, during the Pig Cooking Contest weekend), they fill the auditorium, hallways, class rooms, front lawn, and part of the parking lot with vendor booths.  It really is a fantastic fair and there are a lot of unique, handmade items for sale in every direction you turn.

Spencer Penn Craft Fair

Not all of the vendors have handmade crafts.  Avon, Mary Kay, and Scentsy dealers were there too.  The handmade crafts fall all the way along the spectrum from crafty to true artistry.  Some are local brick and mortar stores, like Unique Gifts & More in Ridgeway.  Many are local artisans that sell exclusively at fairs.  One of the most fascinating booths was the spinning wheel and loom.

A spinning and loom display

This is just the beginning of the fall festivals.  Be sure to check out some of these fall festivals that will be coming up shortly:

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Author: Beth Barton

I like to joke that I am a Texan living abroad. My husband is a Mainer and we chose to live in Henry County, Virgina because of its abundant natural beauty, temperate climate, and slow pace of life. We love small town America, the outdoors, cats, and chickens. I keep hoping to someday discover my inner artist but have so far only excelled at purchasing supplies. I am an accountant at heart. Sad, but true.

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