The Sudbury Blueberry Festival, which has dwindled in size in recent years due to a lack of volunteers to organize the event, has been taken on by Autumnwood Mature Lifestyle Communities.
In announcing the seniors’ residence company is taking on responsibility for the annual Sudbury event, Autumnwood said it is “committed to preserving the cherished traditions of the Sudbury Blueberry Festival while also infusing new energy and exciting initiatives.”
Autumwood also extended its “sincerest thanks to the dedicated volunteer committee who has worked tirelessly for the past 35 years to bring joy, blueberries, and a strong sense of community to the festival.”
The festival is set to run from Aug. 16-20. A schedule of events, which is still in the works, will be posted on the Autumnwood Mature Lifestyle Communities Facebook page.
"We are honoured to be entrusted with the Sudbury Blueberry Festival, and we want to express our heartfelt appreciation to the volunteer committee for their years of dedication," said Justine Landry, manager of operations at Autumnwood, in a press release.
"Our primary goal is to support and promote this beloved festival, creating an unforgettable experience for the Sudbury community."
Organizers of the Sudbury Blueberry Festival had been looking for another organization to host the event, which was started by former Sudbury Mayor Peter Wong in 1987.
John Lindsay, chair of the festival for many years, said he thinks Autumnwood taking the reins is a good fit for the blueberry festival.
He said Autumnwood, along with other seniors’ homes and organizations, has been hosting blueberry-themed events as part of the festival for years.
“They seem quite enthusiastic,” said Lindsay, who said he and the other original festival volunteers have offered their services to Autumnwood as resource people. “They came to us with some regret that the festival was not continuing, as it had for so many years.”
Autumnwood’s version of the festival will feature beloved events, including the traditional celebrity blueberry pie-eating contest (watch out for possible participation from Sudbury.com) and the blueberry bash, both hosted at the Red Oak Villa.
Additionally, The Amberwood Suites will be hosting a delectable blueberry pancake breakfast in partnership with the Minnow Lake Lions Club that is sure to delight blueberry lovers.
To add to the community spirit and excitement, Sud-Berry Blueberry Bear and Sudbrina Bear will be making appearances at various events. These beloved mascots are ready to share their love for blueberries and togetherness.
Autumnwood also encourages organizations across Sudbury to participate in the festivities by hosting their own blueberry-themed events during the festival week.
For those interested, registration can be done by reaching out to Renee Oystrick at [email protected].
Heidi Ulrichsen is Sudbury.com’s associate content editor. She also covers education and the arts scene.