Editorial: Still loving the Apple Festival!

By Leah Hensley

Despite the Governor’s decree of a State of Emergency, the Brushy Mountain Apple Festival was not canceled, as was the OZ tour and local wine gatherings.

This photo was taken around 10:30am. 

The clock alarm sounded like a screech owl from the woods bordering my yard.  I was in a cozy blanket cocoon. It was truly an effort to move out of this warm space as I had not yet fired up the heat. It is a battle I attempt every year, unwilling to give in to the colder temps of fall; not wanting to let go of summer. And every year I am giving in earlier.  I started checking the weather at 5:30am.  Will the rain check in time for my 8am apple festival sabbatical? After all, I am a eighteen year Merlefest veteran, how bad could it be?  Sadly, it was a downpour and it would continue to be for the next several hours.   

Finally, in the afternoon, the skies lightened! I bolted to the car seeing that I’m only minutes away.  Actually, just a short 15 minutes. I was so close and then I was hit with a deluge of water, the wipers thrashing violently back and forth with the thud, thud thud we’ve all become accustomed to.  It was bad.  So, I side-tracked to Taylorsville; a quick 15 mile side trip to the south.  Might as well run errands. 

Along the way, I had second thoughts that this may not have been a good idea with high wind and hard rain.  Finally, the rain eased.  Some Taylorsville locals were able to show me pictures of a lovely historic home that was shoved off its foundation when an ancient old oak fell in the yard.  The tree did not hit the home thank goodness but the roots did pull the house off its foundation. 

On my return trip along the Apple corridor, the weather had cleared and I thought of the side roads with all the family apple houses that I love to visit.  The narrow winding roads and tree tunnels did not make a mountain apple trek a smart choice today. So I stopped on 16N and purchased lovely Honeycrisp apples.  All of the houses along the Rt 16 Apple Corridor had parking lots that were hopping despite the weather.

I was back to North Wilkesboro and it is now 2pm. I have never been to the Apple Festival this late in the day. I felt a sense of loyalty.  As I parked on the corner of 9th street the festival appeared to be a ghost town; especially for the apple festival vendors. I was able to walk the area in around twenty minutes and there were several others about taking the same trek and everyone seemed to be in good spirits. The folks treking along the streets were of various ages; from singles to couples and even family groups. The ones with the serious rain gear, I suspect were hunters, emergency volunteers or were also Merlefest vets.   

Around 11am, the Korn started selling!

Only a small group of vendors remained from the normal 425 plus, sad, but understandable. Most were food vendors.  Fried pickles, fried oreos, fried funnel cakes, fried foot long corn dogs, fried everything.  I swear I saw fried gristle lumps!  Of course there was a light drizzle and I was trying to read the menus while wearing glasses.  Never very helpful when you’re trying to decipher what random fried foods are presented before you.  But no apples pies!  Any apple pie vendor would have already been long gone by the time I arrived.  However, I did find a BBQ vendor that had hung tight and still cooking it up.  The sweet hickory smoke hanging low in the damp air was uhmmm. I scored a rack of baby back ribs for that evenings’ dinner!!!

Leah, here are some fried apple pies!

So, was Brushy Mountain Apple Festival a bust?  I feel for the vendors, for whom this is their biggest money making event, that it might have been.  For me?  It was a pleasant adventure and a nice walk around the beautiful town of North Wilkesboro.  Also, the tasty ribs didn't hurt either.  Hopefully, I will be free to attend Apple Festival 2016.  Besides, I am still in search of an apple pie that won't make me cry.

Happiness and health from Leahland,

Leah Hensley