The Collegian
Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Local Flavors Shine: Harvest Week at the University of Richmond

<p>University of Richmond's Harvest Week's vendor fair at the Tyler Haynes Commons.&nbsp;</p>

University of Richmond's Harvest Week's vendor fair at the Tyler Haynes Commons. 

As the colors of fall painted campus in warm hues, local vendors brought the University of Richmond to life during Harvest Week's vendor fair. On Nov. 1, several local vendors set up their booths and colorfully displayed their products in the Tyler Haynes Commons, where students learned about their businesses and tasted their delicious, locally made products. 

From Oct. 31 to Nov. 4, Dining Services celebrated the fall harvest season and showed their appreciation for local businesses. The entire week was filled with Harvest Week specials such as 8:15 at Boatwright serving apple cider donuts and Organic Krush making pumpkin espresso. 

Tyler Betzhold, the executive chef at the Heilman Dining Center, said the fair was a way for UR to support its local vendors. 

“Each of these companies is extremely unique in their own way,” Betzhold said. 

At the center of the fair stood Keany Produce and Gourmet, a local produce company from downtown Richmond. It supplies the dining hall with fresh fruits and vegetables. Its booth featured gala apples and pumpkins, catching the eye of nearly every student and prompting them to snap a quick picture.

During Harvest Week, you can find a delicious and comforting butternut squash soup in the dining hall supplied by Keany Produce and Gourmet.  

Just around the corner, you'd find Kai Bear's Popcorn, a booth managed and created by nine-year-old Kai Walker. They sell homemade popcorn bags priced $8 each, with flavors ranging from red sangria to blueberry cheesecake, including a unique UR specialty called blue raspberry cherry. If you're at a UR football or basketball game, consider stopping by the concessions to try out these unique flavors.

The most popular booth was potato chip company Route 11, which regularly can be found on campus in Everything Convenience and Lou's. Their table displayed a variety of chip flavors, ranging from dill pickle to lightly salted. The chips were so enticing that almost every passing student couldn't resist grabbing a bag.

Next to Route 11 is Salsas Don Sebastian, a salsa company founded by America DeLoach, ‘10. DeLoach said that after graduating from UR in 2010, she initially pursued a career in teaching. Eventually, she delved into crafting her own salsa and chips, transforming her passion into a thriving business. Today, Salsas Don Sebastian products are available in 120 stores, including on campus at ETC. 

Kirsten McKinney, director of marketing for campus operations for Dining Services, shared her admiration for DeLoach. 

"She built that business from her basement, and now she is in stores like Whole Foods and Wegmans," McKinney said.

Another popular booth was Hub's, which is a family-owned specialty peanut company. 

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"My grandmother was the first to start a specialty peanut category in the state of Virginia in 1953. We are about to celebrate our 70th anniversary and are based about an hour south of the University of Richmond," Director of Sales and Marketing Marshall Rabil said.

Hub's was offering a myriad of specialty peanut flavors to UR students, such as sweet heat, honey kissed, peanut brittle and choco-covered peanuts. 

Next to Hub's was Ironclad Coffee Roasters & Baking, which served freshly baked browned butter chocolate chip cookies and gluten-free espresso brownies. 

"We are a family-owned business that began as a coffee roasting company but expanded into a baking program. Everything is made from scratch, and we have four dedicated bakers on our staff, so it's steadily expanding," Head Baker Ellie Wicker Vaught said.

Ironclad's delectable treats can be found at 8:15 at Boatwright, Passport Cafe and Organic Krush. 

Finally, another noteworthy vendor was Blanchard's Coffee, owned by David Blanchard, ‘02. Blanchard started his business in 2004, initially roasting coffee as a hobby for friends and family. Blanchard's Coffee offers a variety of flavors, all roasted in Richmond, including Ethiopian chelbesa teshome, Honduras San Isidro and a unique UR blend named balanced cocoa caramel.

Harvest Week at UR infused the campus with local vibrancy, showcasing a diverse array of flavors and entrepreneurial spirit. From Keany Produce and Gourmet's fresh produce to the creativity of young entrepreneurs like Kai Bear's Popcorn, the event celebrated community and culinary innovation.

Contact lifestyle writer Emma Galgano at emma.galgano@richmond.edu

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