The event Highland County is most known for is our Maple Festival, which happens annually on the second and third weekends in March. However, there are plenty of other great events to attend in Highland throughout the year. (And the weather during these other events is typically a bit more enjoyable!) Here is a rundown of some of our other favorite events that happen throughout the year. Book a stay at any of our local lodging facilities, and enjoy a weekend getaway!
Taste of Highland
This delicious event, which is a great place to catch up with old friends and meet new ones, is one of my personal favorites! It features fresh, local, and seasonal foods, including meats, fruits, and vegetables, that help define our county’s agricultural industry. This event also highlights the exquisite drinks produced in Highland County and neighboring communities. This includes our local cidery, Big Fish Cider Co., which won numerous awards for quality and taste, including multiple best-in-class honors as well as gold, silver, and bronze awards at the Great Lakes Cider and Perry Competition. They have also won both the Good Food Award and a Made in Virginia Award. This cidery uses fresh, wild, Highland-County-grown apples to produce their iconic cider.
For more information on this delightful event, check out the Highland Center’s website.
Mountain Mama Road Bike Challenge
This intense, physically demanding bike race flies over two states, three counties, nine mountains, 105 miles, and includes over 10,000 feet of climb. This challenge also features five courses of differentiating ability levels surrounded by clean, mountain air. Enjoy six fully stocked rest stops every 15-20 miles along the route that provide food and drink to fuel your ride. Along the various routes, riders could potentially see a number of wildlife species, including whitetail deer, rabbits, and bald eagles. You might even hear the sweet calls of eastern songbirds.
This event is hosted by the Highland County Recreation Commission, which supports recreational activities for all ages, all people, and all interests in Highland County. For additional information including online participant registration, check out the HCRC website!
Highland County Fair
This annual tradition, which is a highly anticipated event in our community, celebrates our agricultural heritage: past and present. It is held annually on Labor Day weekend, starting with the Highland County Horse Show on the previous Saturday. During the parade, which helps kick off the event, individuals, businesses, and families hold friendly competitions to see who can make the best float. In fact, this was where my grandparents met as children riding their horses through the Fair parade!
The Highland County Fair also features the 4-H and FFA Livestock Show and Sale, which honors and features the next generation of agriculturalists in our county. The show includes market lambs, goats, hogs, and cattle. In fact, most of the livestock featured in the show comes from local family farms across the county. The culmination of this event is the livestock sale, where buyers purchase animals at a live auction. These buyers are usually local businesses, who wish to give back to their community. This show and sale is extremely important as it is how most Highland County kids pay for their college education, trade school, or other post-secondary goals.
Additionally, there are tons of games, rides, yummy food, live entertainment, a demolition derby, a truck and tractor pull, and so much more! For more information, please visit the Highland County Fair’s website.
Hands and Harvest
Join our Highland County community in October the annual Hands and Harvest Festival! This event is a joyous celebration of the gifts of fall. It features live entertainment, artisans, crafters, and the self-guided Harvest Trail. The public is also invited to take part in traditional fall staples like cider pressing, stirring apple butter, or picking pumpkins at local maple sugar camps, or they can try something different like viewing the process of creating colorful barn quilts or taking a tour of a mini equine sanctuary. This event also features a variety of local farms and sugar camps as well as the Barn Quilt Trail. From farms to a fire tower, visitors can experience the sights and tastes of the season while viewing the beautiful countryside of fall foliage.
This is a county-wide event, so stay tuned for more information from the Highland County Chamber of Commerce!
Another community favorite! This event, which is held annually on the first Saturday in December, features vendors, crafts, and delicious treats. It is Highland County’s celebration of the winter season and our chance to show off our holiday spirit.
Wintertide also marks the beginning of the holiday season in our county through the annual county Christmas tree lighting. Before the tree is lit, the Highland County Maple Queen, or another esteemed community member, will read the children a Christmas story. Afterwards, the tree is lit, and the community gathers to enjoy hot chocolate and other sweet treats.
Check out the Highland County Chamber of Commerce’s website for more information!
About the Author
Carly Thomas, a 2022 graduate of Highland High School, resides in the southern portion of Highland County. Growing up as the seventh generation to live on her family’s cattle ranch, Carly learned the importance of family, faith, and devotion to the land. She is passionate about FFA, agriculture, and supporting Highland County farmers. Carly enjoys being challenged and works in a variety of jobs from writing sports articles for her local newspaper to cooking at a local sandwich shop. She can often be found working on the ranch, riding horses with her father, or working on the next FFA activity.