The original VLGS gourd enthusiasts met online in Yahoo Group, Gourds For Art and Utility.
Virginia is the Delta chapter of the American Gourd Society, and was active for many years as the New River chapter based in Blacksburg, VA. After a period of inactivity, the chapter restarted with a core group of gourdheads in the upper Shenandoah Valley who met online at a Yahoo Group called Gourds For Art & Utility, begun by Nancy Shrum of Woodstock. The group had begun to gather at each other's homes to talk about gourds, show new techniques, and of course eat! At that time no one wanted to get involved with the bureaucratic effort of forms, officers, and schedules that restarting a chapter would incur. Several meetings passed with the members of the group voting to not have a chapter.
Eventually the little group grew much bigger and wanted to meet on a grander scale, a festival! At about the same time, Eddie Richard became enamored with gourds and offered to play host to a festival at his farm and market, Richards Fruit Market. We started with one festival, and had so much fun we knew we needed to restart the Virginia chapter, but under guidelines we could live with: no officers, no monetary dues, a public outreach program, and only doing what the membership volunteer efforts could produce. In other words, if we couldn't walk the walk by ourselves, we wouldn't do it at all.
Richards' Fruit Market hosted the fun at our annual festivals for 13 years.
We became a nonconformist group with Coordinators and not officers, Membership Agreements and not by-laws, membership donations to the common goal a book of first class stamps and not dues. Our annual festival was held at a member's facility, and our public outreach project supported state youth agricultural programs to further gourd knowledge in the coming generations. We were a loose, flexible group of gourdheads that worked together to get the gourd word out. Our biggest event was the annual festival set up as a marketplace that benefited all who attended.
In our 11th year it became clear the time had come to incorporate and obtain nonprofit status to continue our path of public outreach. We became an incorporated business entity and a federally recognized nonprofit status. Members can participate in the four annual events we hold, Winter WonderGourd, Spring Gourd Fling, Summer PlayDate, and of course the Virginia Gourd Festival (which gets larger and larger every year with interesting workshops, varied vendors, and friendly gourdpatch competitions). Members can also vend under the VLGS banner at any of the various state-wide events we attend such at the Blandy Mother's Day Plant Sale or ArborFest, and various wine festivals. In 2015 we hold our 14th Annual Gourd Festival.
Now, members of the VLGS take the show on the road to school and Master Gardener events for public outreach events.