Congratulations to all involved for pulling off a great Brushy Mountain Peach and Heritage Festival at the Carolina West Wireless Commons and North Bridge Street in downtown Wilkesboro Saturday.
Brushy Mountain Community Center volunteers who organized the inaugural event were worn out but still smiling as they finished packing up Saturday evening.
Their fatigue was eased by knowing that the work produced a successful first-time event, providing a head start on repeating the success next year.
The estimated 5,000 people in attendance exceeded expectations, but organizers were tipped off by the number (well into the thousands) of people who indicated on Facebook that they were interested in going. That can often be taken to mean that plans depend on the weather, which in this case included high temperatures that at least didn’t reach the 90s.
As the crowd grew larger Saturday, so did speculation about expanding the festival to Main Street in the future. That option merits consideration, but there also is room to grow on North Street and in the vacant lot directly behind the museum.
The weather obviously matters, but the success of Saturday’s Brushy Mountain Peach and Heritage Festival was directly related to a good cooperative relationship between organizers and the Town of Wilkesboro.
The expertise and experience of town staff were generously made available during preparations and on Saturday.
Brushy Mountain Community Center volunteers effusively acknowledged the Town of Wilkesboro’s efforts to do everything possible to make the inaugural festival a success. It isn’t always that way in some towns.
Of course, Wilkesboro officials are eager to see the investments in downtown revitalization bring results. The festival and events like it introduce out-of-towners to downtown Wilkesboro and affirm the town’s status as a place to visit.
During an opening ceremony on the Wilkes Communications Pavilion stage, Wilkesboro Councilman Russ Ferree noted the connectedness of the Brushy Mountain and Wilkesboro communities. “This feels right. It is fitting,” he added about the event. We concur.
Downtown Wilkesboro merchants supported the festival by remaining open Saturday, but they also benefitted from having a crowd in town and several reported strong sales.
The Wilkes Heritage Museum, adjacent to the commons area, was open the same hours as the festival Saturday and benefitted from the exposure. Like the festival, the museum had free admission.
Festival vendors also had a profitable day, including numerous local nonprofit organizations, craftsmen, beekeepers others with local ties. Beekeepers are also in the midst of harvesting a good sourwood honey crop and there was plenty for sale Saturday. Festival organizers might want to consider promoting the fact that the event coincides with honey harvest.
Fortunately, there is a bumper crop of peaches this year on the Brushies and many festival attendees were seen leaving with armfuls of this sweet fruit.
The event fulfilled its goal of promoting Brushy Mountain-grown peaches and making more people aware of the fact that mountain-grown peaches are the best.