Along with fulfilling their original purpose at apple stands, many of the thousands of vintage one-bushel wood slat crates at Saturday’s Brushy Mountain Apple Festival were being used to display goods of arts and crafts vendors.
It’s an example of how utilitarian products made decades ago are now in demand for decorative purposes, largely due to their weathered or antique appearance.
Orchardist Lindsey Deal of the Sugar Loaf community in northern Alexander County, one of the area’s largest apple growers, estimated that he has sold about 2,000 of his old one-bushel wood slat crates over the years and now only has about 200 left.
Deal said that with the wood slat crates no longer being made for the apple industry, he doesn’t plan to sell any more of his old crates.
Orchardist Armit Tevepaugh of the Brushy Mountain community said he has about 500 of the crates, all more than 50 years old. They bear the inscription, “Tevepaugh Orchard, Brushy Mtn. N.C.”
Tevepaugh said his remaining crates also aren’t for sale.
Old apple crates that appear to be no different from the ones used by Tevepaugh and Deal at their stands at the Brushy Mountain Apple Festival on Saturday are advertised for sale for $25 and more on the Internet.
Area apple growers said they’re accustomed to being paid around $3 to $5 for their old crates.
Vintage one-bushel apple crates still in circulation bear the names of commercial orchards and orchardists that have been out of business for decades.
Deal said some of his old crates are from the Ritchie orchard, which was off Price Road in the Pores Knob community in the early 1900s.
Several crafts booths at Saturday’s apple festival had wood-slat crates, newly made in the style of boxes used to hold apples. Such crates are advertised for over $10 each on the Internet.