As we count down the days to the 13th annual festival, let’s think back to all the folks who have helped to make this a great event in the past! The remembrances below have been culled from member emails and the Terre Haute Tribune-Star, which has been very consistent in providing coverage of the event.
More than anything, the festival re-energizes us all to continue to build the co-op and make our store a reality! While the event raises some funds, the most important aspect is raising awareness for what we are and what we hope to become. To date, this annual event is our best-known community outreach event.
It is also an opportunity for current members to see each other and perhaps bring new members into the fold. New memberships for families, individuals, and businesses have slowed down and we need to continue to build that base. Please help us spread the word and as you make plans to attend, bring along a friend or two who would want to learn more about what Terre Foods brings to Terre Haute. We're counting on a big crowd to celebrate summer and to come together with the community, for the community.
2009, July 16 at Central Presbyterian Church: Andrew Conner noted that this newly formed cooperative was inspired by the strawberry festival to create its own summertime niche. The plan was to purchase blueberries from local farmers. Ice cream was provided through the Yegerlehner Farm located in Clay City. Keeping with the sustainability model espoused by both organizations, compostable materials were used at the event. More than 1,000 people attended. Profits were shared with Downtown Terre Haute.
2010, July 15 at Central Presbyterian Church: Coop Founder Robyn Morton reflected on the 1st event in 2009, saying “we expected 250-500 people and almost ran out of supplies.” The goal for 2010: double the attendance. 1,000 pounds of fresh blueberries were on hand, more than triple the amount for last year’s inaugural event. The event included music, kids’ activities, a Blueberry Pie Eating Contest and bake sale. A bin showed how much the compostable utensils from the previous year composted. The church hosted an art show. Terre Foods membership: more than 350. Profits: 2/3 to Terre Foods and 1/3 to Downtown Terre Haute.
2011, July 14, Central Presbyterian Church: Materials about Terre Foods were available to give visitors a better understanding of the advantages of a food co-op in Terre Haute. Vendors sold blueberry bushes, honey and baked goods. 1,500 pounds of blueberries. 1,000 sundaes sold. New members: 20.
2012, July 19, Central Presbyterian Church: Tribune-Star Mark Bennett wrote a great article about the event and the group, highlighting that we were in the midst of a near-record Midwest drought. Terre Foods volunteers Dave Voltmer and Rob Bunch drove four hours to the Blueberry Ranch, situated between the towns of Granger and Mishawaka in St. Joseph County, on Wednesday, to pick up the certified-organic fruit, which was ready thanks to an overhead irrigation system. Total members before the festival: 446 [since 2007], after festival: more than 600!
2013, July 11, Central Presbyterian Church: A Tribune-Star article [one of several that year] quoted: “They can get some great, organic, local blueberry ice cream (that is, ice cream with blueberry compote), sit underneath a tent and listen to music,” said Holly Hudson, Blueberry Fest coordinator. Goal: 50 new member-owners. Aaron Warner ( Terre Foods Cooperative Market board and owner of Yellow House Farm) promised a free blueberry plant to anyone who signed up as a member-owner and paid in full at the festival.
2014, July 17, Central Presbyterian Church: Visitors who brought a reusable bowl and spoon could register to win a rain barrel. Blueberries: $8 per quart. Ten-pound boxes: $40 [members] and $50 for non-member-owners. Those who signed up to be Terre Foods member-owners at the festival received free blueberries.
2015, July 16, Central Presbyterian Church: Tribune-Star article: Work began to secure a store site when 600 member owners joined the co-op in 2013. The number of member owners must continue to grow as it prepares to open its store. The e-newsletter said that it required 120 volunteer hours on the day of the festival.
2016, July 21, Masonic Temple (8th Street): Press release stated: Work continues to secure a Terre Foods store site and the number of member owners must continue to grow as it prepares to open its store.
2017, July 20, Masonic Temple: It was HOT!!! Face painting was added to the usual list of events. Food vendors Petty Pit Stop and Wildflour Bakery and Catering provided additional options during the lunch period. Requests for volunteers emphasized that there were jobs for people who needed to [mostly] sit as well as jobs for the energetic. Blueberry food purchase options included pierogi. A ‘mascot’ appeared! Jason Saavedra dressed in costume as Blueberry Bob. 788 members as of about noon the day of the festival, with the final total: 791. Blueberry Bob said: "I'm passionate about natural, organic foods. I think there's still a market in Terre Haute, even with the Big Box chain stores that are moving in. The co-op offers those options, but also Terre Foods is a unique opportunity to connect people with their community through a mutually-owned grocery store. They have a say in how the store is governed — it's a democratic process."
2018, July 12, Masonic Temple: Festival shortened time by 1 hour, closing at 6 p.m. Still hot but humidity tolerable. 1,300 pounds of blueberries. 797 members at end of festival.
2019, July 11, Masonic Temple: From a Tribune-Star article: For 9-year-old Ochro Angar and 6-year-old Sophie Angar, the ice cream bested the blueberries, but they were happy to hang out with their uncle visiting from Mongolia and share in the blueberry festival. Members: 801. Member, now Board President, Jim Speer: “Hot is fine; I think this is the best weather we’ve ever had,” recalling past festivals with heavy rain or miserable conditions. Blueberries: 1,350 pounds.
2021, July 12 [Monday]: At the building purchased in April! Mostly in the parking lot east of the storefronts. Some vendors were in the building but most were outside along with seating, serving line, vendors and musicians. "I enjoy attending the Blueberry Festival because it supports our local food co-op, Terre Foods," said Jennifer Mullen co-founder of 12 Points Revitalization. "We are so excited to have a grocery store coming to the 12 Points neighborhood, and the community's love for blueberries is helpful in making that brick-and-mortar store a reality." [Tribune-Star]. Members: 835.
FAREWELL TO T.J. HELLMAN: TJ has handled website matters and Terre Foods Times newsletters for many years and served on the Communications Committee. He is now in Indianapolis and is turning to other matters. Thanks for everything he has done for Terre Foods!