Saving a farm ... and a heritage.
For years, Gene Stafford has watched and harvested the persimmons
that grow on the family property in Colfax, North Carolina. The farm
itself has roots that date back to pre-Revolutionary War days. The
house still standing in the middle of the farm dates back to at least
1820, and a preceding building could very well have greeted Gen.
Cornwallis and his British troops as they passed on the way to the
pivotal 1781 battle at Guilford Courthouse.
In a time when the land is no longer farmed and urban and suburban
development are encroaching on old family farms across the country,
Stafford - a professional photographer by trade - went looking for a
way to celebrate the persimmon harvest, showcase area craftspeople
and country traditions, and raise a little capital to save the family
farm at the same time. With its many surviving outbuildings, open land
and recently restored barn, the Stafford Farm seemed the perfect
place for a family-friendly fall festival.
Accordingly, on the proverbial wing and a prayer, Gene kicked off the
first annual Colfax Persimmon Festival on Saturday, November 8,
2008. Though treated as a start-up and lightly promoted for a test run,
the event drew 1,000 enthusiastic visitors to the farm for persimmon
puddings, cider, stew and other goodies.
In short, the test run went very well indeed. Accordingly, an improved,
expanded event was held on November 7, 2009, with about 2,000
people of all ages in attendance. The 2010, 2011 and 2012 gatherings
were equally well attended.
"We want the Persimmon Festival to be a lot of fun, but also to honor
our heritage and the things that make places like this farm unique and
worth saving. In 2010, we added more activities that helped all ages
understand and enjoy what makes rural life still have a value in the
21st century. We're looking forward to another event in 2013."
To see the types of events to expect at the Colfax Persimmon
Festival, click here.