CAC Beardsley Community Farm will present its sixth annual “Snow Day” fundraiser Friday at 7 p.m. at Barley’s with music, soup, silent auction and a beard contest.
Started in January 2009, Ben Epperson, former farm manager, decided on the name “Snow Day” because of its connotation with staying warm and cozy and having a free, fun day. Since then, this fundraiser has come to raise approximately 15 percent of the farm’s annual operating budget, with more than 200 involved.
“As a non-profit organization, it's imperative to fundraise so that we can continue serving the community,” Khann Chov, the farm’s manager said. “Our vision was to bring the community together for a fun event during the winter months when we aren't farming. Music and food were obvious choices.”
In the search for music, coordinators try to create a diverse line-up of popular, local musicians with loyal followings. This year’s bands are Marina Orchestra, Hudson K, Jamie Cook and Blue South, Greg Horne, Sarah Morgan, Four Leaf Peat and Jodie Manross. While not completely familiar with every band that will be playing, Justin Powers, guitarist and vocalist of Marina Orchestra, said he is excited for the different sounds that will be at the event.
“Hudson K is a staple in Knoxville; Christina Horn constantly amazes me with her ‘outside-of-the-box’ approach to music,” Powers said. “Jamie Cook may be Knoxville's greatest songwriter ever. I have a soft spot for traditional Irish tunes and Four Leaf Peat definitely delivers on that.”
Marina Orchestra played the show last year despite inclement weather and is excited to play again, just hopefully in better conditions.“I remember it was the infamous night of freezing rain and everyone expected it to be cancelled," Powers said. "It was quite stressful for the event coordinators I'm sure, but they ultimately decided to follow through and a good amount of people showed up. “Hopefully this year we've already had our share of brutality from the weather and everyone can make it out safely.”
While held at Barley’s, other restaurants, chefs and caterers compete in the “Soup Off” that feeds participants. This year’s competitors include Sunspot, Good Golly Tamale, Tupelo Honey Café, Gourmet’s Market and The Bistro.
“We got restaurants involved and thought that soup would be a great choice to keep people warm in January," Chov said, "not to mention it could feed a lot of people."Besides music and soup, there is also a silent auction with donations from nearly 100 local businesses and a Beard Pageant with two categories: homegrown and homemade. Compete in homegrown if you’re a man with a manly beard or homemade if you’re feeling crafty and make your own out of anything you have lying around.
CAC Beardsley Community Farm has held "Snow Day" at Barley’s every year because of its central location, its massive square footage and their continued support, Chov said.
“Barley's embraced an event that supported the community in a big way,” Chov added. The goal of the farm is to provide access to fresh produce to those in need and use the revenue from this event to continue reaching that goal. Through various outreach programs, Chov said the farm is a community opportunity to help each other by donating produce to food pantries, homeless and women’s shelters, and refugee families with the help of more than 1,000 volunteers a year.“
CAC Beardsley Community Farm promotes food security and sustainable urban agriculture through practice, education and community outreach,” Chov said. “Our efforts include a large urban demonstration garden that generates produce donations for those in need, a community garden and education programs through workshops, field trips and classroom teaching in Knox County Schools.”
After welcoming more than 800 patrons to last year's event, Chov said the workers hope to meet last year's total again. She was also quick to note one important element that keeps visitors coming back each year.
“The event is successful because it is fun," Chov said. "The soups are delicious, there are wonderful silent auction items and the Beard Pageant with a homemade and homegrown category is a hoot. The music is always great too."