This bride’s father passed away before her wedding and so her brother did something special for her.

Sunny Slope Farm Open For New Business

Local Location Serving As Special Event Venue

Posted: November 12, 2013 in Shenandoah Journal

By MATT GONZALES

Jennifer Dayton and Ben Moyers were married at Sunny Slope Farm in June 2013. The farm, which has been in the Wampler family for generations, recently opened as a special-events venue. (Photo by Courtesy Photo)

During the early months of 2011, Harrisonburg native Sarah Jarrett was a bundle of emotions.

On one hand, she felt excited about being engaged to her fiancé, Jeremy Whitmore. On the other hand, she was both nervous and anxious about the fact that she had nearly 300 family and friends hoping to attend her summer wedding — a number in excess of most local venues’ capacities.

Then, one day while visiting her father, Harry Jarrett Jr., at Sunny Slope Farm — the place she called home her entire life — an idea began to take root.

She knew that Sunny Slope Farm was large — 67 acres to be exact. She knew that it was a venue with beautiful scenery. She also knew that her father is a very organized and savvy man who would be ideal to run an event as significant as a wedding. That is when she came up with the idea to have her wedding held at Sunny Slope Farm.

“I knew [Sunny Slope Farm] would be an awesome place to get married,” says Sarah. “There’s a 360 degree view where you can see everything — that’s part of the reason I wanted to get married there.”

In June 2011, Sarah Jarrett became Sarah Whitmore on a day that she describes as “perfect.”

A Rich Tradition

Harry Jarrett Jr., owner and operator of Sunny Slope Farm, currently lives on the land in an old white, two-level house that has weathered nearly two centuries.

“My great-great grandfather, John Wampler, bought this land back in 1828,” says Jarrett, as he points to the original deed, which hangs on the wall near the home’s entrance.

“Then, my great grandfather, Charlie Wampler Sr., lived on the farm and his son, Charlie Jr. — my grandfather — was born right upstairs in this house.”

One of the distinguishing factors of Sunny Slope Farm is its rich tradition. In the early 20th century, Charlie Senior revolutionized the process of artificially inseminating, hatching and growing turkeys, which was a breakthrough achievement at the time.

Wampler’s achievement led to his spot in the American Poultry Hall of Fame and he is widely known as the father of the modern day turkey industry.

The 97-year-old Charlie Junior lives in a grey house on the farm and, on Nov. 12, he will celebrate his 75th marriage anniversary with his wife, Dot Jarrett, and a few close friends.

While the Wamplers will hold a modest celebration that day, Sunny Slope Farm, is capable of holding much bigger events.

An Added Dimension

Sunny Slope currently serves as a venue for weddings, along with a number of other celebrations, including quinceañeras, post-graduation parties and fundraiser events. Jarrett has a variety of roundtables and chairs, a dance floor and a 40-by-120 foot tent available for use. A dressing area and private bathroom is are available on site.

Following his daughter’s wedding, Jarrett says that he and a couple of other family members pondered the idea of turning Sunny Slope Farm into a business venue, given the available space. Jarrett ultimately decided that the idea was worth pursuing and he began to make the necessary moves in order to open the space to the public.

“We opened up for business Sept. 1 of this year,” says Jarrett, who is also an ordained pastor. “[Sunny Slope Farm] has hosted four or five weddings this year, and we’ve already got five booked for 2014.”

However, the process of formally adding this dimension to Sunny Slope Farm was not a simple one. Jarrett underwent an extensive process of working with the county in order to make sure everything was in order according to public regulations and ordinances, while still adhering to the integrity of the farm. This two-year process included attending public hearings in which public officials weighed the pros and cons that come with achieving this special-use permit.

Jarrett received the green light from the county earlier this year.

“[The county] decided that what I was going to be doing would not impact the character or agriculture of the farm, which is important to me,” says Jarrett. “I appreciated the process.”

A Magnificent View

One aspect that separates Sunny Slope Farm from other venues is the scenery, which is used as a backdrop for a given event. Atop the pad of the farm, where events are held, onlookers catch glimpses of the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Massanutten Peak.

“The views here are incredible,” says Jarrett. “You can see Bridgewater and Dayton off in the distance. You can even see when people shoot fireworks. If fireworks are anywhere in the Valley, you can see them from here.”

While the setting may be picturesque, the service provided by Jarrett comes at a close second.

While serving as a pastor for more than 20 years, Jarrett has conducted a countless number of weddings and ceremonies, which, in turn, helped hone his ability to organize and achieve a successful event.

“Working with brides and hearing all of the stories about what can happen when working with vendors gave me a unique perspective,” explains Jarrett. “I try to offer as much as possible at a very reasonable price.

“I don’t believe couples should have to endure a huge amount of debt in order to have an absolutely wonderful, beautiful, and well-executed wedding.”

For more information about Sunny Slope Farm, visit onsunnyslopefarm.com or call (540) 830-5400.
Contact Matt Gonzales at (540) 574-6265 or mgonzales@dnronline.com.

Turkeys are Very Virginia

By CiCi Williamson©, Food and Travel Writer (reprint of archived post found on internet www.virginiawineguide.org, 18 Nov 2004)

If you like turkey, you have a Virginia farmer to thank for domesticating the big bird. Virginia is the cradle of the modern turkey industry. Up until the early 20th century, if you wanted a turkey to cook, you had to shoot one in the wild. Then in 1922, an ingenious Virginia farmer devised a way to brood (incubate and hatch) turkeys from eggs. Charles Wampler, Sr. became “the father of the modern turkey industry.” Today Virginia produces 526 million pounds of turkey a year — that’s 24 million birds — and ranks fourth among the states in turkey production.

Turkeys are native to North America, and “The Old Dominion” is the original turkey-farming state. The industry began in the Shenandoah Valley in the 1920s. Charles W. Wampler, Jr., chairman of the board of directors of Wampler Foods, Inc. before it was sold to Pilgrim’s Pride in 2000, tells the history.

“Back when I was a kid, we had 12 to 15 turkey hens that ran loose on the farm. In the spring when the hens would go into the woods and lay their eggs in a nest, my first job around the family farm was to find where they hid them, gather the eggs, and bring them to my dad.”

“Dad” was Charles W. Wampler, Sr., the founder of the National Turkey Federation, was also the first to contract with farmers to grow chickens. In those years, he was the county agent for Rockingham County and Page County.

“Dad had a small shed kind of like a big dog house with a little oil stove in it to keep the eggs warm. It took 4 weeks to hatch a turkey egg. Then he would let the turkey hens out and they would lead the little birds around the farm just like a wild turkey would. There was no turkey feed in those days. My mom mixed hard boiled eggs with cornmeal to feed them,” relates Wampler. Appropriately for a turkey producer—and a turkey producer’s son—Wampler was born on Thanksgiving Day in 1915.

Turkey the Old Fashioned Way

“In the old days, a man went out and shot a wild turkey. There were no domestic ones. All turkeys were wild. Today all the romance has gone out of the turkey business. We grow hens in one house and the toms in another. They live their whole lives without seeing the other sex.”

“The bronze turkey you see in Thanksgiving pictures came from wild turkeys. But when you plucked the feathers off a brown turkey like a Narragansett or Bourbon Red, it would leave black dots called ‘Ink’–like polka dots all over the bird–and the dots would stay right there. You couldn’t get rid of them. There was a process of breeding to make turkeys white so no color would be left when you plucked the feathers. That’s what the consumers wanted.”

“Back in those days, you’d start growing turkeys in May and sell them at Thanksgiving and Christmas.” During the late 1940s and early 1950s, there were dramatic changes in the poultry industry. Because of breeding, nutrition, and management breakthroughs, the feed conversion improved, the life cycle of birds was shortened for the same weight gain, and the volume of tonnage increased. Virginia became the top-producing turkey state right after World War II,” said Wampler.

Most poultry in the beginning of the 1940s were free-range birds. Chickens were the first to be confined. It was not uncommon even into the 1950s that the processing plant called the farm family to ask them to keep the flock penned up for the pick-up crew.

In 2005, the oldest turkeys on the market are only 5 1/2 months old. Toms weigh more than hens; that’s the only difference in the meat. Both are young and tender. After roasting, deep frying, smoking, or whatever method you use to cook your turkey, you’re sure to have leftover cooked meat. When you tire of turkey sandwiches and turkey soup, try these recipes for a different twist on enjoying that Virginia turkey.

As I talk to couples the question of “What are we going to do with the kids?” always seems come up. Couples want a beautiful stress free wedding and sometimes children, as adorable as they are, can mess things up and add stress. Well a little planning and preparation can create creative opportunities where kids add joy, beauty and positive energy to your wedding celebration.

Here are a few modified ideas i found on Wedding Ideas:

  1. Delegate someone to supervise young wedding guests during the entire event. If children are sitting with their parents, this will be a simple role involving distribution of activity bags or books to kids upon arrival and handling any unexpected kid emergencies.  Have a small first aid kit available.  On Sunny Slope farm there is plenty of room so you can create a private “Kids Only” space, this position expands into a much greater role involving some pre-planning with activities limited only to your imagination.  Fill a pinata with wedding treats, play musical chairs to wedding themed music, have a special cinema corner set up at the end of the pad or play bingo.  Let children express their artistic ability by providing colored calk and they can color on the concrete pad. (YES that is ok with me. I will just spray it off at the end of the night.)  Supply sleeping mats or blankets for the exhausted child who has fallen asleep during the evening or those who just want to lay out and gaze at the stars on the lawn.

    Wedding On Sunny Slope Farm (21)

    Taken On Sunny Slope Farm

  2. Ask family members or friends for names of trusted sitters.  Hire a nanny or ask On Sunny Slope Farm and we can provide a babysitting service.  Ask your church for an experienced nursery staff attendants or responsible teens from the youth group.  Check out nearby universities for college students studying teaching and looking to earn some extra money.  Inquire at local day care facilities to see if there are teachers available for hire during your event.  Be certain to check references, referrals, and CPR certification before employing any child-care worker.
  3. Either under the tent or out on the pad, arrange a small game tables for older children.Puzzles, playing cards, and board games will be popular with pre-teens and teen-agers.
  4. For a more controlled environment and less disruptions, seat children at their parents table. Kids are usually more behaved and less rambunctious when seated next to mom and dad rather than other children.  This will also eliminate children from running between their own seats and their parents table throughout the event.  The wedding activity bag will keep children quietly entertained and in their seats rather than racing around.
  5. Add a juice box, fruit bar, or crackers to each kids activity bag or place in them in the center of the kids table.Children can become cranky when hungry or thirsty and often do not have the patience to wait until the meal is ready to be served.  Parents will appreciate your thoughtfulness at providing snacks to hold them over.
  6. Ask for Kid Friendly meal options.Most caterers are willing to provide a separate meal plan for children.  It will be less expensive for you and the kids will be happier with food they love.  Some popular ideas include chicken nuggets, mini-pizzas, pasta, fish sticks, hamburger sliders, macaroni and cheese, and Jello.  Request cups with lids and straws to avoid messy spills.
  7. Invest in fun by hiring a face painting artist, magician, or balloon artist.The performer can mingle among the tables entertaining guests of all ages. Or rent an inflatable lawn activity.
  8. Encourage the band or DJ to play songs that children will recognize and enjoy.Ask The Master of Ceremonies to announce a “kids only” dance.  Have a dance off contest, a Dad and Daughter dance, or an opportunity to dance with just the bride and groom.  These are great moments for the photographer to capture.  When it comes time to write thank you notes, add a copy of these photos as a small gift to the parents.
  9. On Sunny Slope Farm there are 67 acres! Let us organize a nature walk around the farm. Kids will love the opportunity to run, stretch their legs and see all the farm animals.  Take a hike back to the home place, bring seed and feed the chickens, guineas, turkeys, or white pigeons or some of the wild birds.  Walk up to the top of the hill for a beautiful view and provide each child with a bottle of bubbles.  All these are great photo opportunities.

The Knot also has some great ideas in the article 11 Ways To Keep Kids Busy At Your Wedding

Maybe you have some Ideas that you would be willing to share with us. Please do!

I need your help coming up with some awesome events for On Sunny Slope Farm next year.

OSSF-Speical-Events-Venue-sq-thumbnailMy farm events venue is not just a summer thing anymore. I now have permission to be open all year long! This is very exciting but it also means that I need to think about a variety of events for both summer, fall, winter and spring.

Now anyone who knows me knows that I am creative and have a lot of ideas. But the venue is 67 acres with all kinds of different locations and buildings. So I am realizing that my imagination is not big enough for all that is possible On Sunny Slope Farm.

That is why I am asking for your help. I am asking you to lend me your imagination just for a little while. What kind of events should I try to plan? What kind of things are you imagining that you need a space for? Please let me know!

Here is how:

  1. comment below on this post
  2. send me an email
  3. write something on our Facebook page
  4. Tweet to @onsunnyslope
  5. call me
  6. or just stop by the farm and chat

So what events ideas do you have that would need a big tent and lights or a farm building or 67 acres of beautiful, open farmland?

Wedding Vows Start with the traditional

Reciting traditional wedding vows is still perfectly acceptable. So look at those first. They can get you started on the kinds of things that people say to each other when they are getting married. Someone may have already written what you want to say. I have posted the vows that I have used with couples in the past from my tradition. Feel free to start with these.

Don’t let tradition limit you

Many couples are choosing to speak their own words, which can set a more intimate and personal tone for the ceremony. For those who fear speaking in public, writing vows and expressing personal feelings can be a bit scary, but most couples find overcoming their fear is worth it to ensure a memorable wedding.

Add a little Romance

Plan a romantic evening out together a day or two before writing your vows. Reminiscing about how you met, your first date, and special times you’ve shared together can help get your emotions flowing. Looking through photo albums or reading cards and letters your partner has sent you might also bring inspiration. In my premarital sessions I always encourage couples to write a love letter to each other. You can use this letter as an outline for your vows.

Spend some time alone

These are your vows to your finance on your wedding day. They are words that you want to share with them. So you need to get in touch with yourself to do that. So get alone and listen to romantic songs and write down your feelings and thoughts. Take some time to list the qualities and personality traits you love about your partner, what attracted you in the first place, what made you realize you were falling in love, and why you want to spend your life together.

Use whatever literary form fits you

Some couples believe they have to be poetic in writing vows. Nothing could be further from the truth. Simply stating your feelings about how you met, how your relationship has grown, and how much your partner means to you is preferable to memorizing poetry that may come off sounding phony or stiff. If you can pull off poetry great. But it is not mandatory.

Borrow from other sources

Check out a few books on how to write vows from the library or rent a few of your favorite romantic movies. Using a phrase from a film, song, poem, spiritual text or book won’t be corny if it’s meaningful in some way to you and your fiancé. Just be careful about using long passages or poems. You don’t want your guests to get bored while you’re reciting a sonnet.

Speak simply

Keep your sentences easy to understand. Talk the way you normally do. Use your love language. Avoid using very long phrases and stay away from words that may be difficult to pronounce when you are nervous. Use traditional words like love, honor, cherish, and respect as a starting reference and build sentences around them by putting your feelings for your partner into words. Make your vows sincere and avoid a long-winded recitation that sounds like a speech. Your vows should be short enough for you to remember most of it. It’s okay to glance at a note card while you say your vows, but try and avoid reading them.

Practice out loud

Practice your vows with a friend so that your partner will hear your words for the first time during the ceremony. Consider shortening sentences if they seem too long or change repetitive words. Speaking from your heart at the ceremony will come easier if you review your vows several times before the wedding.

Make them VOWS

Your wedding vows are a statement of your love and a time for promising commitment. They are not just about how you feel about each other. You are describing to each other the level of your commitment. If one partner is really uncomfortable writing vows, the other can help things along by writing some phrases both of you will repeat in the traditional manner, such as, “I will cherish, honor and love you, as long as we both shall live.” The groom would then repeat the same phrase, inserting the bride’s name. If you decide to use this method, keep the vows brief so your guests won’t get bored listening to a string of repeated phrases.

Show them to your officiant

When you have finished writing your vows, show them to the person who will be officiating at the ceremony. They may be able to help you smooth out awkward phrases or suggest alternate words that express what you are trying to say in a more romantic way.

Don’t worry about fumbling over words or crying

When you recite your vows you will be looking into your fiancé’s eyes. This will help ensure that your words are coming from the heart. It also means you may fumble or stumble over a word or forget a phrase due to nervousness, don’t panic. You may even cry. Don’t worry about it. It shows that you are really speaking form the heart. Just pause for a moment, breath and keep going. When you speak with love about how you feel about your partner and your future together, none of your guests will know you forgot a phrase or two.

Wedding mapper is a simple and free online tool that will help you plan your wedding down to the last detail. Wedding mapper offers brides four important free wedding tools that can help keep your wedding plans in order and on track. They offer:

  1. A Free Wedding Website
  2. The Ability to Customize a Wedding Map of All Your Vendors, Hotels, Events and Venues
  3. A Vendor Management Tool That Helps with Budgeting and Payment Tracking
  4. And a Guest Management Tool That Is Awesome for Tracking RSVPs, Creating a Visual Seating Plan of Your Rehearsal Dinner, or Reception and Making Those Last-Minute Seating Changes

I encourage all the bride’s that are planning their wedding On Sunny Slope Farm to create an account using www.weddingmapper.com as soon as they begin planning their wedding.

Many of the tools that you will need to have your dream wedding can be found on wedding mapper.

Groom: According to God’s holy ordinance, I, (groom), take you, (bride), to be my wedded wife, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish till death do us part, and thereto I pledge you my trust.

Bride: According to God’s holy ordinance, I, (bride), take you, (groom), to be my wedded husband, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish till death do us part, and thereto I pledge you my trust.

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Groom: (Bride), I give you the rest of my life—as your husband, your lover, and your friend. I will be faithful to you.

Bride: (Groom), I give you the rest of my life—as your wife, your lover, and your friend. I will be faithful to you.

Together: I accept you as you are, and I expect you to grow with me as we live together, in good times and in bad times, in work and in play, in laughter and in tears, in listening and in speaking to one another. While we will experience sorrow and pain, as well as joy and laughter, all we experience will enter our life through the door of our love for each other. You have already made my life special. I love you, and look forward to being…

Groom: …. Your husband.

Bride: …. Your wife.

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Minister: (bride) and (groom), will you now hold hands and face each other. (Groom), please repeat this vow after me.

I, (groom’s full name) receive you, (bride’s full name) as a gift from God. I joyfully welcome you to become my partner, to love and to cherish from this day forward; in times of sorrow and in times of joy; in times of poverty and in times of prosperity; in times of sickness and in times of good health; to love, to honor, to respect, and to enjoy; until death shall separate us.

Minister: (bride), will you now repeat this vow after me.

I, (bride’s full name) receive you, (groom’s full name) as a gift from God. I joyfully welcome you to become my partner, to love and to cherish from this day forward; in times of sorrow and in times of joy; in times of poverty and in times of prosperity; in times of sickness and in times of good health; to love, to honor, to respect, and to enjoy; until death shall separate us.

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Minister: (groom), wilt thou have this woman to be thy wife, and wilt thou pledge thy troth to her, in all love and honor, in all duty and service, in all faith and tenderness, to live with her and cherish her, according to the ordinance of God, in the holy bond of marriage?

Groom: I will.

Minister: (bride), wilt thou have this man to be thy husband, and wilt thou pledge thy troth to her, in all love and honor, in all duty and service, in all faith and tenderness, to live with him and cherish him, according to the ordinance of God, in the holy bond of marriage?

Bride: I will.

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I, (groom), take thee, (bride), to be my wedded wife. And I do promise and covenant before God and these witnesses to be thy loving and faithful husband in plenty and in want; in joy and in sorrow; in sickness and in health, as long as we both shall live.

I, (bride), take thee, (groom), to be my wedded husband. And I do promise and covenant before God and these witnesses to be thy loving and faithful wife in plenty and in want; in joy and in sorrow; in sickness and in health, as long as we both shall live.

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The following vows may be spoken by either the bride or the groom, or by both to each other;

I love, (bride/groom), and I want to be your (husband/wife) and helpmate. In marriage, I promise to consider your interests and not merely my own. With divine assistance, I promise to show you love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. I promise to communicate with you as openly and honestly as I can and will share with you my life, feelings, hopes, joys, frustrations, disappointments, anxieties, and dreams; and I will listen as you share with me. I will try to meet your needs and will respect your individuality as well as my own. I will work with you to build a lasting relationship of love and commitment for the glory and honor of God. I give myself freely to you, (bride/groom) for as long as we both shall live.

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Groom: I promise to love you, (bride), for the rest of our lives with all my heart and mind and strength. I promise to be faithful to you I thought, word and deed. I gladly accept the responsibilities, as well as the joys, of becoming your husband.

Bride: I promise to love you, (groom), for the rest of our lives with all my heart and mind and strength. I promise to be faithful t you in thought, word and deed. I gladly accept the responsibilities, as well as the joys, of becoming your wife.

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Minister: (Groom), in taking (bride) to be your wife, I require you to promise to love and cherish her, to honor and sustain her, in sickness as in health, in poverty as in wealth, in the bad that may darken your days, in the good that my brighten your ways, and to be true to her until death alone shall part you. Do you so promise?

Groom: I do.

Minister: (bride), in taking (groom), to be your husband, I require you to promise to love and cherish him, to honor and sustain him, in sickness as in health, in poverty as in wealth, in the bad that may darken your days, in the good that my brighten your ways, and to be true to him until death alone shall part you. Do you so promise?

Bride: I do.

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I take you, (name) to be my (wife/husband), loving you now and in your growing and becoming. I will love you when we are together and when we are apart; when life is peaceful and when it is in disorder; when I am proud of you and when I am disappointed in you; in times of leisure and in times of work. I will honor your goals and dreams and help you fulfill them. From the depth of my being, I will seek to be open and honest with you. I say these things believing that God is in the midst of them all.

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It may surprise you but many couples stop dating each other as soon as they get engaged. You would think they would date more but in fact many couples redirect all of their energy towards planning the wedding and forget to notice each other as they move towards their “big day”.

That is why I always use one of the premarital counseling sessions I do with couples and focus on leisure activities. I always give them a dating exercise as homework. It is based on a simple principle.

If you want to keep your relationship alive and growing, date your mate!

Dating really it is the best way to maintain your relationship during your engagement and into your marriage. Ask any married couple you know whether or not they have a healthy, happy and fulfilling marriage. If they say yes I bet you will find that they have some sort of schedule for dating their mate.

My wife and I have been married for 27 wonderful years. We have gone through difficult times like all couples. But we would both say that the secret to our long and happy marriage has been that we have always set aside a date night. In fact, we did this so regularly that when we did not take our date night our children would ask us why we did not go out. As they got older they would actually make us go out because they saw what it did for our marriage and parenting.

So do not forget to date your mate!