There won’t be a festival in Wilkesboro this year to celebrate the bountiful crop of peaches being harvested on the Brushy Mountains.
“With a heavy heart, we must report that the 2020 Brushy Mountain Peach and Heritage Festival has been cancelled,” stated an announcement from the festival board posted Thursday on the event’s Facebook page.
It said the board made this decision after considering information from other festivals and events in the area and mandates issued by the governor to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Restrictions needed because of the virus “to ensure safety for the festival patrons, vendors and festival personnel would make it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to provide a festival that would be enjoyable for everyone,” the announcement said.
The second annual Brushy Mountain Peach and Heritage Festival was scheduled July 25 in the Carolina West Wireless Community Commons and nearby in downtown Wilkesboro.
“While we truly saddened about having to cancel the festival for this year, we have already begun preparations for the 2021 festival season and we look forward to sharing our heritage and our peaches with you then,” the announcement stated.
The event is organized by volunteers with the Brushy Mountain Community Center to promote peaches grown on the Brushies and celebrate the heritage of that area.
The festival also raises funds for upkeep and other expenses of the community center, which is on Brushy Mountain Road. This recently included a new well. The announcement said the festival is also held to provide fun, entertainment and education for the public in a safe and open environment.
Apple festival still on
Members of the Brushy Mountain Ruritan Club, which puts on the Brushy Mountain Apple Festival each year on the first Saturday in October in downtown North Wilkesboro, are still moving forward with planning for this year’s event, said Debi Davis, a spokesman for the Ruritan club.
“We are working with the town and will follow any state and city mandates that are put in place,” said Davis, who also is a member of the peach festival board.
Peach harvest underway
Orchardist Gray Faw, also a member of the peach festival board, said there is a good crop of peaches on the Brushy Mountains this year despite issues related to excessive rain. A late spring freeze reduced the yield from some peach orchards at lower elevations.
Harvesting of clingstone peach varieties on the Brushy Mountains of Wilkes and Alexander counties started in June. These are being sold now at retail stands in the Brushy Mountain community, along N.C. 16 in the Sugar Loaf and Pores Knob communities and elsewhere. Harvesting of freestone varieties will start in about two weeks.
As their names imply, the fruit of clingstone peaches adhere or “cling” to the single large seed or “stone,” while the fruit of freestone peaches more easily separates from the stone. There also are semi-clingstone that fall between clingstones and freestones.
The flavors differ among white and yellow clingstone, freestone and semi-clingstone peach varieties.
Prices of peaches at retail stands in Wilkes and Alexander counties are generally about the same as last year. Donut peaches, a relatively new and popular variety, are a little harder to grow and bring a higher price.