The week prior to final exams, often referred to as “Hell Week” by many students, can create a hectic, stressful atmosphere.
However, it is important students take some time off to relax and decompress to help alleviate stress.
Blacksburg’s fourth annual Fork and Cork Festival will take place Saturday, April 28 in the First and Main Shopping District. The festival offers students a chance to take a break from studying by immersing themselves in the event’s abundance of cultural activities including food, wine, art, music and dance.
The festival hosts a wide variety of sponsors, restaurants and companies from around the Blacksburg area with the proceeds of the event benefitting the Blacksburg Partnership — an independent, non-profit organization which attempts to support the vitality of the Blacksburg community by attracting a wide range of visitors and retail prospects.
The organization works on projects that include the development of property around the region, revitalization of retail districts, organizing special events like the festival, and orchestrating community art efforts such as Gobble de Art and the Blacksburg Partnership Collaborative for the Arts.
Diane Akers, president of the Blacksburg Partnership, notes the great success of the event.
“(Fork & Cork is) an exciting community festival that can increase the quality of life in Blacksburg,” she said.
The event provides the community’s many diverse companies with an opportunity to give back, while gaining exposure and visibility for their businesses.
The festival has a variety of activities aimed to meet the individual interests of the diverse community members and students expected to attend.
“We have 18 wineries, local restaurants, and area artists,” Akers said. “There are three cooking demonstration areas — Chef Showcase, Chef-2-Chef and Everyday Gourmet — as well as a Wine Racket demonstration area.”
In addition to wine and food, the festival also provides music and art to accompany the culinary displays.
“There’s live music on the main stage and various activities on the art stage,” Akers said. “We are also having the Can-Do, a canned food sculpture contest, where all the food collected will go to local food pantries.”
Restaurants at the event will include Hethwood Market, the Cellar, Sake House, and Sal’s. In addition, local chefs — such as Randall Spencer from Blue Ridge Mountain Catering — will be conducting cooking exhibits to display the culinary art that goes into the town’s local dishes.
Several local wineries will be offering some of their highest quality wines for the public to sample. Art displayed at the event will incorporate a wide variety of jewelry, pottery, paintings and other beautiful designs from local Blacksburg artists.
While an abundance of locals from the New River Valley come to the festival each year to enjoy the multitude of food, wine, art and entertainment offered, Tech students also flock to the event to represent the university and immerse themselves in the Blacksburg culture.
Student clubs and organizations participate actively in community projects like Can-Do, in which students collect canned food to create sculptures. After the sculptures are judged, they will be donated to local food pantries and relief programs in the Blacksburg community. Exceptional sculpture art will be recognized in a variety of categories, including People’s Choice, Best Use of Labels, and Most Cans Used.
Amber Ettinger, a junior dairy science major, is heading the Can-Do project for the Dairy Club at Virginia Tech. The club participated in Can-Do for the first time last year and is looking forward to submitting another creative sculpture for the festival again this year.
“This year we are modeling our project to look like an American flag,” Ettinger said. “Helping people in need is really rewarding. It’s great to have fun and give back to the local community.”