Things are really sweet in Augusta County.
A timed 5-K race with no entry fee. Sweet!
A free t-shirt. Sweet!
After-run treats that include lollipops and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Really Sweet!
Is it a dream? Nope. It is the opening event of the Sweet Dreams Festival in Stuarts Draft. The town with a population of about 10,000 is Virginia’s version of Hershey, Pa. It is home to a chocolate factory that, according to the Hershey web site, makes Reese’s Whipps and Pieces, Take 5s, Mounds and Almond Joys.
We got to sample some Reese’s Pieces at the festival, although we were really hoping for more free nibbles. The festival included a Little Debbie lookalike contest, local business displays, schlocky crafts and some homegrown gospel and country music. It was nice enough, although not an event typically worth a seven-hour road trip.
The race itself was an out-and-back along a slightly hilly country road featuring corn fields, cow pastures, farm houses and old barns. The participants ranged from the super serious sub-six-minute mile runners to leisurely strollers.
Hershey isn’t the only major company in Stuarts Draft. Target has a humongous (1.6 million square feet) distribution center. You can see part of it in the map of my run. McKee Foods (maker of Little Debbies) also has a factory, as does Hollister, a maker of medical products.
The town is in Augusta County, the second largest county in Virginia at 970 square miles. When it was originally formed in 1738, it was even larger, encompassing what is now southwestern Virginia, most of West Virginia and even parts of Kentucky. It started to get carved up in 1769.
24 runs down, 110 to go
View Stuarts Draft in a larger map