Traditional Blessing of the Hounds Ceremony Held in Keswick - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Traditional Blessing of the Hounds Ceremony Held in Keswick

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Blessing of the Hounds ceremony Blessing of the Hounds ceremony

For close to a century, the Blessing of the Hounds ceremony has drawn visitors from far and wide to Keswick. It's a Thanksgiving Day tradition that dates back 85 years, with roots from the Colonial Era.

The blessing before a Thanksgiving Day fox hunt drew crowds by the hundreds to Grace Episcopal Church. 

“You know we're from West Virginia so you don't see fox hounds and horses at all,” said Jenna Keefover, who attended the event. 

Visiting family in Charlottesville for the holidays, Jenna and Robbie Keefover say the ceremony has become a new family tradition.

“It's so unique it's something you don't get to experience and just kind of turned into a family tradition,” said Robbie Keefover.

“To come out, interrupt their Thanksgiving morning to be here, it's really an honor to be apart of such a gathering,” said Miles Smith, rector at Grace Episcopal Church.

Smith presided over one of the country's oldest Blessing of the Hounds services Thursday morning. 

“It was one of the first things they told me about, this church, because it is such a distinctive tradition,” said Smith.

The service dates back to Thanksgiving Day in 1929 - a tradition that stands the test of time, and gives attendees a glimpse into years past.

“It's a good mix, I think, of the past and the new Charlottesville and Keswick,” said Smith. “They've been coming to this for years and years, it's part of their Thanksgiving tradition.”

Apart from the ceremony and the fanfare, the Blessing of the Hounds is also giving back on Thanksgiving Day, with portions of its offerings going to the Service Dogs of Virginia, the Lafayette School and Treatment Center, and the MontaNova Stables.

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