Blueberry Festival

Vanessa Crump, 38, and Holly Hine, 30, strike a pose while taking a ride on camel named “Shock Top.” PHOTOS BY EMMA ROUTLEY

There was plenty of pickin’ and grinnin’ going on at the 9th annual Adkins Farm Blueberry Festival Blues & Brews on Saturday, July 18. 

Part of the pickin’ was by the three bands — The Canyoneers, Unplugged, and Dragon Thunder Voodoo — who volunteered to play for free at this charity event. The other pickin’ was done by the fans in the blueberry fields.

“We had a pretty good U-pick turnout,” said Erron Mertz, part of the Adkins family and the “Berry Boss” for this event. 

She said the crowd stayed between 200 and 250 for most of the day — COVID-!9 rules dictated a maximum of 250 people could be there — and Mertz said roughly half of the crowd went berry picking.

“It’s been a very good season. It usually lasts six weeks,” she said. “Normally, it goes from the last week of June until the first week of August.”

After picking some fruit, festival-goers could quench their thirst at the Travelin Taphouse, which also offers up some fruity, tangy options among its varieties of beer, cider and wine. The Taphouse makes the Blueberry Fest one of its “must-go” days on its calendar.

“We had two weddings on the day of this event last year,” said John Greiner, who brought a Taphouse to Goshen for the fourth year in a row. “So sometimes staffing is difficult, since we only have seven bartenders.

“This is a good event. We look forward to it every year. It’s a chance to help people out, and it’s nice to get out in the country with folks on such a perfect day.”

Once again this year, every dollar that was raised goes to Project Koru, which offers young adults who are cancer survivors a chance to enjoy a special experience with Mother Nature.

One of those survivors is Bryce Mertz, Erron’s husband, who has been cancer-free for 12 years after being diagnosed with Ewing sarcoma, a rare form of cancer, in his early 30s. This year’s group went to Maui and spent their days surfing, paddleboarding, snorkeling and just generally bonding together.

 “It was great,” Bryce said. “A lot of great memories from there.”


Bryce had quite the unexpected surprise on his return trip from Hawaii — his mother, Jane Mertz, had planned a trip to Maui with a friend long before Bryce became part of the Koru crew, and they wound up on the same plane together.

“Bryce was really happy after that whole experience and I was glad I could be there to hear about all of his experiences,” Jane said. 

Jane said the only thing that bothered her was seeing so many people here listening to music but not buying anything.

Dragon Thunder Voodoo plays a cover of a Sublime song. 

“We’ve been getting bigger every year. You hope to make a monetary statement — a big dollar factor. People have a tendency to not give much, though. … Bands volunteer to play and people hardly give tips.

“I think people get the wrong idea about charity events. Just because it’s free admission, that doesn’t mean you don’t have to spend a dime. I’m sure it wouldn’t hurt most of the people here to donate $5 or $10.” 



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