Sunny Slope Farm Open For New Business
Local Location Serving As Special Event Venue
Posted: November 12, 2013 in Shenandoah Journal
By MATT GONZALES
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.