Bluegrass festival hopes to benefit Special Olympics Virginia Area 4

Published: Sep. 15, 2023 at 11:24 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 16, 2023 at 12:48 AM EDT
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ELKTON, Va. (WHSV) - Area 4 of Special Olympics Virginia is hosting a bluegrass festival in Elkton’s Blue Ridge Park, featuring food trucks and valley bands. The festival is being organized by the parents of the athletes to support the upcoming year.

Special Olympics Virginia Area 4 leaders shared that their division includes more than 100 active athletes, representing the City of Harrisonburg alongside Rockingham, Page, and Shenandoah counties.

Sports offered include softball, soccer, basketball, volleyball, swimming, and bowling. These programs are designed for different skill levels and the programs are free of charge for individuals who have intellectual challenges.

While the event is a fundraiser, organizers say the benefits go deeper for participants.

“Most of the athletes don’t have outside things to do so it gives them the ability to interact, engage, and become part of their community as a whole,” Special Olympics Athlete Parent Sara Smith said.

Smith says Area 4 is typically in at least three competitions across the state, and the process during the year includes travel to regional tournaments and state championships, which require hiring a bus, lodging, purchasing healthy food and snacks, and other expenses.

A monetary goal is not set, but Smith says every dollar raised goes toward resources like uniforms -- and transportation.

The gates open at 10 a.m. on September 16, with music starting at noon and going on until 10 p.m. Athlete introductions and interviews, giveaways, and door prizes will happen between band breaks.

The main opening ceremonies of the show will begin at 4:00 PM. Athletes and coaches will come out onto the grounds and be led on stage while presenting the Olympic torch. The Rockingham County Sheriff’s Department Honor Guard will present the nation’s colors and the national anthem.