Peach growers

BRUSHY MOUNTAIN COMMUNITY CENTER volunteers organizing the inaugural Brushy Mountain Peach and Heritage Festival include, sitting left to right, Sandy Miller, Debi Davis and Natasha Faw. Standing are Phil Fagg, Larry Melton, Gray Faw and Arthur Lowe Jr. Not in the photo are Warren Staley and Jim Isley.

The Brushy Mountains are best known for apples, but a new festival on the last Saturday of this month will bring attention to the peaches they also produce.

The inaugural Brushy Mountain Peach and Heritage Festival is from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. July 27 at the Carolina West Wireless Community Commons and Wilkes Communications Pavilion on Main Street in downtown Wilkesboro. Admission is free.

With no spring freezes or other adverse weather this year, orchardists on the Brushies have started harvesting their largest peach crop in over five years. The festival is scheduled just before the peach harvest peaks, so there should be plenty for sale at the event.

Participating peach growers in the Brushy Mountain community at the festival will include Armit Tevepaugh of Vannoy Ridge Road, Gregg Hendren of Hendren Road (off Bethany Church Road), Gray Faw of Brushy Mountain Road and Lewis Carpenter of Bethany Church Road. Nectarines will also be for sale.

Volunteers with the Brushy Mountain Community Center are organizing the festival and say they’ve received strong support from the Town of Wilkesboro and the Wilkesboro Merchants Association. They said all net profits from the event will go to the community center and its programs.

Activities, demonstrations and displays reflecting old ways are planned as part of the festival’s additional objective of celebrating and sharing the heritage of the Brushy Mountains. Among others, these will include Mary Bohlen of Purlear with a cooking demonstration and Brian Call of Call Family Distillers in Wilkesboro with a moonshine still and a moonshine car on display. These will be various old-fashioned games for children, as well as face painting.

The Beekeepers of Wilkes organization and H.S. Greene of Hidden Happiness Bee Farm will have displays on beekeeping and will be selling local honey. Hidden Happiness Bee Farm is a beekeeping equipment retailer about a mile out Chestnut Mountain Road from U.S. 421 West near the Wilkes-Watauga county line.

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.

A wide variety of craft vendors will also be demonstrating and selling their products. Debi Davis, among community center volunteers organizing the festival, said some of the artists from the Blue Ridge Artisan Center in the 1915 on Main Street, Wilkesboro, plan to be there.

Davis, said this Friday, July 12 is the deadline for people to sign up as vendors by calling her at 336-921-3773.

Organizers said restaurants and other businesses in downtown Wilkesboro will be open during the festival. There also will be food trucks on hand.

The Brushy Mountain Chorus, with representation from New Hope, Bethany, Liberty and Cherry Grove Baptist churches, will perform on the Wilkes Communications Pavilion. There will also be music by the Community Choir from Ashe County, Benjamin Barker, R.G. Absher, Cherry Grove Baptist Church Choir and Redeemed.

The Brushy Mountain Baptist Association’s Ministry of h.o.p.e. will have a hospitality tent with free water for festival-goers. The Friends of the Blue Ridge Parkway will have a booth.

The nearby Wilkes Heritage Museum will offer donation-only admission on the day of the festival. Festival guest of honor Louise Fuller of the Brushy Mountain community, known for serving as a county nurse in Wilkes for many years, will be at the museum greeting people. Author Charlotte Corbin Barnes will be at the museum gift shop signing copies of her new book, “The Tom Dooley Files.”

The Heritage Square Splash Pad on the museum front lawn will be open. The Wilkes Cruisers will have classic cars on display in the vacant lot behind the museum.

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.

Updated festival information will be posted on the Brushy Mountain Peach and Heritage Festival Facebook page.

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