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SperryFest - The Mighty Thornton River Street Festival


Family, friends, food and fun were in abundance at Sperryfest, the annual Sperryville street festival held in April. 

The event, which began in 2019, was initially started by the non-profit Sperryville Community Alliance to generate funds to help maintain and expand the Sperryville Walking Trails. Alliance member Kim Nelson said the community project has grown to include the eradication of invasive plant species like English Ivy and restore native plants that were being pushed out. 

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The area involvement continues to grow. For example, there are now Adirondack chairs placed along the walking trails that were built and donated by some Rappahannock County High School students.  When asked what was the most important thing about Sperryfest, Nelson replied,  “Bringing the community together---and the ducks!”

The ducks are a reference to the two rubber duck races held during the festival.  The first is for kids only and is held in the early afternoon.  The second is the Great Rubber Duck Race down the mighty Thornton River.  This race, a main attraction of the festival, is held at the end of the day and sees 1,000 numbered rubber ducks released into the river to bob, twirl and spin their way to the finish line.


Before that dramatic ending, festival-goers enjoyed games like corn hole, music by the bands Grassfed and the Gold Top Country Ramblers.  They were drawn like magnets down Main Street by the wafting aromas of pork BBQ, hot dogs, smash burgers, sausages, French fries, jambalaya and chicken kabobs.  Once at the food truck corral, deserts such as snow cones, cookies, cakes, homemade ice cream and cotton candy were available.  It was a feast.


Also participating in the festival were many non-profit agencies including AARP, the Rappahannock Food Pantry and the Rappahannock Benevolent Fund. 

Rosi Beachy, assistant director of the Central Virginia Small Business Development Center in Culpepper, offered information for small business owners. Also available was advice from social media experts, web design experts and information technology experts. 

Rappahannock Social Services staffer, Sam Edwards found herself flooded with questions throughout the day about the office, its address and driving directions.  She laughingly shared that the building can be a little difficult to find.


As the day ended and the festival drew to a close, Carl Hamiel, AARP Virginia associate state director for Community Outreach was selected start the 2023 Great Rubber Duck Race by dropping 1,000 numbered rubber ducks into the Thornton River.  The raceway ran from the Main Street bridge to the finish line behind Headmasters Pub.  First, second and third place winners were awarded.  It was another successful Sperryfest for all.

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