The Brushy Mountain Ruritan Club announced that its 2020 edition of the Brushy Mountain Apple Festival in downtown North Wilkesboro won’t be held due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Club president Debi Davis said members of the civic organization voted by email to cancel this year’s festival. Davis shared this with members of the club’s board of directors in a meeting Monday night.

Davis said, “The Brushy Mountain Ruritan Club is dedicated to helping the Wilkes County community. We wouldn't want to put anyone at risk. Our number one priority is the health and well-being of the community, attendees, vendors and volunteers.” 

A press release stated that the Brushy Mountain Ruritan Club encourages everyone to visit local orchards because they’re open and serving customers. It said more details about peach and apple orchards on the Brushy Mountains are on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/BrushyAppleFestival

The Brushy Mountain Apple Festival, one of the largest one-day arts and crafts festivals in the Southeast, has been held annually on the first Saturday in October since the inaugural event in 1978.

The first festival was held where a shopping center now stands between U.S. 421 West and Winkler Mill Road in Wilkesboro. It was moved to downtown North Wilkesboro the next year and has been there since.

Festival organizers have always maintained a policy of holding the event regardless of the weather, but it appeared that the 2015 Brushy Mountain Apple Festival might have to be cancelled when Hurricane Joaquin was bearing down on the Carolina coast.

The late Jerry Smithey, president of the Brushy Mountain Ruritan Club that year and an original organizer, said the festival would have been cancelled if Joaquin had moved farther inland and had threatened public safety. The weather eased and overall attendance reached about 10,000, a far cry from the normal estimated turnout of tens of thousands to more around 100,000 people.

The festival offers Appalachian heritage crafts including woodcarving, chair and soap making, pottery throwing, beekeeping, knife making and quilting just to name a few. It draws over 275 arts and crafts and 60 food vendors. The festival also features bluegrass, Americana and gospel music, as well as dancing.

Local orchardists set up throughout the festival grounds selling apples, cider and dried apples. Over 100 civic, church and other nonprofit groups participate, making the festival one of Wilkes County’s most important fundraisers.

The Brushy Mountain Ruritan Club uses proceeds from festival to benefit the Wilkes community in multiple ways.

The 2021 festival is scheduled for Oct. 2, 2021. For more information contact the Brushy Mountain Ruritan Club at info@applefestival.net.

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