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Record turnout at SPCA

The Southside SPCA held a “record-breaking” sixth annual Holiday Donation Drive on Saturday and Sunday, according to Southside SPCA Fundraising Coordinator Steve Smelcer.

The event was held for the first time over two days, with Saturday’s event held at Fuqua Lower School with live music, cocktails, appetizers, live and silent auctions. Sunday’s event was held at the Hampton Inn in Farmville and saw a performance by Taylor Rodriguez, who is one of the top 20 Elvis Presley tribute artists in the world, and also saw raffles, donation drop-off and guest speakers including Captain Tami Gray of Wicked Tuna: Outer Banks, a silent auction and a presentation from a Banfield Pet Hospital veterinarian.

Smelcer said Saturday’s event saw “a full house.”

“We’ve already gotten a lot of positive feedback,” Smelcer said regarding Saturday’s event. “People (telling) us to, ‘please do it again,’ and just letting us know what a great time they had.”

He said a big thing that stood out to him is that there was no dress code for the event.

“I actually had some prominent folks tell me, ‘you know it was nice to come out for a nice evening like this and not have to put on a evening dress or tuxedo,’” Smelcer said. “Not saying that people weren’t dressed up

Members of the Prince Edward County Extension Office and community members in the Heart of Virginia listened to a presentation from the founder of the Southern Virginia Food Hub (SVFH), which will seek to unite farmers and producers throughout the Heart of Virginia to sell products from a main site.

SVFH Founder Ann Taylor-Wright said during the presentation that she had previously worked as a farmer in meat production. She said she had noticed friends and colleagues expressing needs for more venues to sell products—more venues than four hours a Saturday at area farmer’s markets— and a commercial kitchen to create products, Taylor-Wright said.

“These people get to be your family,” Taylor-Wright said about area farmers and producers. “It’s a great community.”

She said the process to become fully funded to open the SVFH was approximately four years. Taylor-Wright said the SVFH has received substantial grants from the Southside Planning District, The Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission and the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development, and the SVFH but we wanted to do this to where it was not like people felt pressure to be like a formal event.”

He said people, “went nuts,” for Taylor Rodriguez.

“He’s an excellent entertainer, and he’s just a class act,” Smelcer said. “Just a real pleasant guy, a real crowd pleaser. I think he was kind of the life of the show.”

He said, “quite a few people,” stayed following the performance to see the presentation from a Banfield Pet Hospital veterinarian.

This year is the second year the Southside SPCA has partnered with Haley Auto Mall for the event.

Smelcer said in January the Southside SPCA will hold an open community meeting.

“We do it every January, we invite the community to come out to our local groups meeting and ask questions about volunteering or give us feedback,” Smelcer said. “Present ideas to us (regarding) things they’d like to see us do or things they wouldn’t like to see us do. (It’s) kind of a chance for the committee just to drum up interest in the community to drum up volunteers and see what people have been enjoying or what they haven’t been enjoying.”

He said the organization hasn’t set up a date for the meeting yet.