Berries galore: Parsons’ Blueberry Festival to help fight cancer

Date Published: 
June 23, 2017

Coastal Point • File Photo: The Parsons Family Farm Blueberry Festival will be held on Saturday, June 24, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Parsons Farm Produce in Dagsboro.Coastal Point • File Photo: The Parsons Family Farm Blueberry Festival will be held on Saturday, June 24, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Parsons Farm Produce in Dagsboro.If the antioxidants in blueberries prevent cancer, then the Parsons Family Farms Blueberry Festival could be viewed as an antioxidant to help the U.S. fight cancer.

The Dagsboro festival will be held Saturday, June 24, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Parsons Farm Produce in Dagsboro. A portion of proceeds will be donated to American Cancer Society.

Family-friendly activities include blueberry U-pick, blueberry pie-eating contest, haywagon rides, face painting, petting zoo, moon bounce, a “Hope” blanket raffle and more. Beebe Healthcare will provide screenings for blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol.

Local artisans will sell handmade crafts and products. Guests can grab lunch from Hocker’s BBQ, Nothing Better, the Corn Exchange and Juicebox.

Live music includes country music by the Dirt Road Outlawz and a special noontime performance by Bob Lougheed, local Elvis tribute singer and cancer survivor. People can bring lawn chairs or blankets to watch the show.

The Cancer Support Community in Delaware (“a hidden gem,” Carol Hudson said) will also have a table to share information on their free activities and counseling for cancer patients and caregivers. People can also reserve a butterfly in honor or memory of a loved one, to be released at the Wings of Hope in September in Rehoboth Beach.

Local cooks can break out their best blueberry recipes. The Great Blue Ribbon Blueberry Bake-Off is a community cooking contest. People should submit their favorite blueberry dish and a copy of the recipe for judging at the market on Friday, June 23, between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. The winner will be announced at the festival.

Gate admission costs $7, which includes a bracelet that grants access to the music, programs and activities. Children 2 or younger can attend free of charge. Guests can also bring extra money to purchase food or gifts from vendors.

“It’s really reasonably priced. It’s priced with families in mind,” said Skyler Hudson, a co-organizer and recent high school graduate. “It definitely has a lot of stuff for every audience and helps toward a great cause.

Parsons Farms Produce is located at 30381 Armory Road (Route 20), Dagsboro, Del. Details are available by calling (302) 732-3336 or online at www.facebook.com/ParsonsFarmsProduce/events.

Good day for a good cause

Near the Parsons Family Farm, the Hudson family of Frankford have deeply felt the cruel and persistent bite of cancer.

Their husband and father, Michael Hudson, passed away from pancreatic cancer in April of 2016. He was 59. Skyler, his youngest son, was still a high school junior.

“All cancers are personal, they really are,” said his wife, Carol Hudson. “And everybody’s fight is so personal, because you think of one cell in millions that just decided to go rogue and grow out of control in your body … when you think of your body killing itself…”

His family promised to keep fighting for the American Cancer Society and against pancreatic cancer, which has a particularly high mortality rate but lower funding and awareness.

Cancer has cut through four generations and 20 members of the Hudson family, starting with Michael’s grandmother in the mid-1900s. Since then, the family has suffered cancers of the lung, thyroid, uterus, colon, bladder, breast, prostate, skin, thyroid and ovary and more, down to Michael’s siblings and their children.

Michael Hudson had previously had non-Hodgkin lymphoma in his 30s and 40s.

The pancreatic cancer was diagnosed in his 50s, and it moved fast. That year, his springtime CAT scan appeared perfectly normal. But, by September, he was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer.

Located in the abdomen, the pancreas is a 6-inch gland surrounded by the stomach that aids in digestion and blood-sugar regulation.

This year, an estimated 54,000 people will develop pancreatic cancer. That’s 12th on the American Cancer Society’s list of most common cancers.

But 43,000 will die from pancreatic cancer this year. It ranks third for estimated deaths, after lung/bronchus and colorectal cancers.

Although statistics vary, this much is certain: Less than 10 percent of pancreatic cancer patients are expected to survive the five-year mark. But treatment and medication can still nearly bankrupt a family, even with health insurance.

Skyler switched schools from Georgetown to Dagsboro, partly just to help tend to his father after school.

“My dad, before he passed, said he wanted us to do an event like this,” Skyler Hudson said. “And cancer has heavily affected my direct and extended family.”

Skyler called his father “very honest and very hardworking. His main job was taking care of the farm and house. The old house that we had owned before we moved, he had built. … He was a big family-man. He was really involved with myself and my two brothers,” he said of his brothers Michael and Devin.

Carol and Skyler Hudson spent the whole school year helping plan this event.

“We had known the Parsons for a while, and they had already been planning a blueberry festival, so we asked them about it, so they agreed to work with us on that,” Skyler said.

The family said they’re looking forward to this money doing good work.

The American Cancer Society helps with research causes and treatments; fights for policy changes; provides both emotional support and statistics; and helps run the Hope Lodge, which provides lodging for families during treatment in certain cities.

Although losing a beloved husband and father to cancer is painful, the Hudsons are trying to make a difference.

“Retreating’s not an option, you know?” Carol Hudson said. “But I will never accept that one cell in your body can take away all your dreams and all your passions and the plans we had made. I will not accept it, so we fight for it every day.”

It’s not just the Hudson family. Carol Hudson said she believes the whole Frankford area is very much at risk of cancer, as she rattled off a list of neighbors suffering the disease.

“It’s everywhere. It’s definitely a cluster, for whatever reason,” she said.

But they’re looking forward to a fun Blueberry Festival, hoping that it will “be a fun community event that it raises money for the American Cancer Society, that it brings awareness to the group of Cancer Support [Community] of Delaware,” Carol Hudson said.