The weather forecast is favorable and organizers say everything else is falling into place for Saturday’s inaugural Brushy Mountain Peach and Heritage Festival in downtown Wilkesboro.
Volunteers with the Brushy Mountain Community Center, organizers of the festival, have over 40 craft and food vendors, live music and heritage demonstrations lined up.
Thousands of people are expected, based on Facebook page visits and other indications of interest.
The venue is the Carolina West Wireless Community Commons and Wilkes Communications Pavilion and nearby North Bridge Street. Festival hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., but opening ceremonies are at 8:30 a.m.
The Rev. Jonah Parker, a veteran orchardist in the Brushy Mountain community, will talk about the history of growing peaches on the Brushies during the opening ceremonies. Spokesmen for the town and the Brushy Mountain Community Center will speak.
Also at this time, a peach tree (big red variety) will be planted near the Cleveland log house behind the commons by orchardists Armit Tevepaugh (who donated the tree), Gregg Hendren and Gray Faw.
Orchardists will have peaches, nectarines and early varieties of apples for sale at the festival. Harvesting of a bumper crop of peaches on the Brushies is underway.
Food vendors will include the Brushy Mountain Fire Department with homemade peach ice cream, Cherry Grove Baptist Church with fried peach pies, Gurney Royal of Meadows of Dan, Va., with peach butter, the Brushy Mountain Community Center with barbecue chicken and others.
Mary Bohlen of Purlear will demonstrate the process of making brandied peaches, a traditional method of canning peaches with brandy, at the Cleveland log house from 9-10 a.m. Saturday. This will be followed by a program on colonial kitchen gardens by Bohlen, inside the nearby Wilkes Heritage Museum, starting at 10:15 a.m.
There will be a blacksmith demonstration by John Cooper, as well as quilting and pottery and a demonstration of “robbing” a honey bee hive.
Live music will start on the Wilkes Communications Pavilion stage in the morning.
Cherry Grove Baptist Church Choir will sing from 10:30-11:30 a.m., with a message by the Rev. Tom McCann, pastor of the church.
The Brushy Mountain Chorus, with representation from New Hope, Bethany, Liberty and Cherry Grove Baptist churches, will sing from 11:44 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.
Benjamin Barker will play the hammered dulcimer from 3-3:30 p.m. Redeemed Trio will sing from 4-4:45 p.m.
There will also be live music by R.G. Absher and others and other activities at the Wilkes Heritage Museum, which will be open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Museum Director Jennifer Furr said no admission will be charged since admission to the festival is free, but donations will be accepted.
The splash pad will be open on the museum front lawn and there will be children’s games in the commons area.
Free parking will be available at Cub Creek Park, at the Wilkesboro Baptist and Wilkesboro United Methodist church parking lots and in the field at Midtown near the intersection of Oakwoods Road, Wilkesboro Avenue and East Main Street. Local Boy Scout troops will provide free shuttle bus services (including handicapped) between the festival grounds and the parking areas at the churches and the field at Midtown.
Festival organizers say they’ve received strong support and assistance from the Town of Wilkesboro and the Wilkesboro Merchants Association.
Restaurants and other businesses in downtown Wilkesboro will be open during the festival. There also will be food trucks on hand.