By: Michael Campbell | Twitter: @itsthesoup
Posted: Nov. 5, 2017 | 7:19 p.m.
PRINCE GEORGE – Late October’s comfortable fall temperatures and sky dotted with the occasional cloud or two served as a fitting backdrop for Richard Bland College’s second annual Pecan Festival at the campus, drawing thousands from the area to the college.
After a successful kickoff in 2016 where over 7,500 people came to Richard Bland, “the largest number of visitors to experience an on-campus event in college history,” the college decided to expand to two days for this year’s event but, due to inclement weather expected on Sunday, it was decided to cancel Sunday’s activities.
While Sunday’s festivities were postponed, Saturday saw a packed house of locals and those from beyond Prince George’s borders making their way along the festival grounds, dotted with over 200 vendors, including a variety of food, beer, wine, and spirit vendors, including Tri-Cities’ brewery Trapezium’s Pecan Maple Brew, fitting for the backdrop of Saturday’s event, Richard Bland College’s sprawling pecan groves.
According to college officials, “1,000 pecan trees situated on its 750+ acre campus, Richard Bland College of William & Mary is home to the oldest and largest pecan grove in Virginia.”
The first saplings were planted in 1906 when the campus site was a working farm. During the past century, more trees have been planted, but the pecan grove has never been used for production.
That distinction makes Richard Bland College a popular destination for those seeking pecans for various recipes and other uses, with Saturday being no different as dozens of people carrying plastic bags and other items walked the groves to grab pecans of their own to take home.
The college began harvesting pecans in 2013 with the proceeds from sales are used primarily to maintain the health and productivity of the trees.
In 2015, the groves were expanded with the addition of 425 new trees, which helped restore their groves to their original status and create a pecan tree-lined entranceway along Carson Drive.
Along with the vendors, food, and the return of the “Little Miss” pageants, the popular Richmond-based Trongone Band, which performs a mixture of southern Rock ‘n’ Soul and American Jam was the headlining band for this year’s festival, providing tunes that filled the fall air.