All posts in Attractions

The Wilkes Heritage Museum

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Wilkes Heritage MuseumMy first visit to the Wilkes Heritage Museum greatly exceeded my expectations. There was so much more to see than I had expected. I was fascinated by the wonderfully preserved architecture of the building and surprised at the quality of each exhibit. This may be a museum in a small town but it is not a small town museum. The Wilkes Heritage Museum serves to preserve the history and culture of an entire region.

The Wilkes Heritage Museum is home to numerous exhibits relating to industry, racing, music, folk-art, education and much more. It is also home to the Blue Ridge Music Hall of Fame. The building in which the artifacts are displayed was once the Wilkes County Courthouse and was built in 1902. Wilkes Heritage Museum, NASCARSeveral other buildings accompany the museum, including the Old Wilkes Jail, built in 1850, the Robert Cleveland House, built in 1779, and others. Some of the surrounding buildings are included in the museum tours and are also part of the Candlelight Ghost Tours. Among the most popular exhibits are the old schoolroom, Junior Johnson’s first racecar, and a moonshine still from the 1800s.

Wilkes Heritage MuseumEvents throughout the year include concerts, a Veterans Ceremony, book signings, theatrical performances, and a Christmas Open House each December. Candlelight Ghost Tours of the haunted sites in downtown Wilkesboro are given on scheduled evenings in the summer and fall.  The tour includes the Old Wilkes Jail, where Tom Dooley was held, the Robert Cleveland Log Cabin and much more!

The Wilkes Heritage Museum is a great place to visit for families, school groups and any who enjoy history, racing or music![divider] [/divider]

Wilkes Heritage Museum Hours and Admission.

The museum has a minimal entry fee and a gift shop where you can find great gifts, postcards and souvenirs.  The fee includes guided tours of the Old Wilkes Jail and Robert Cleveland Log Home. Guided tours are offered at 11 am, 1 pm, and 3 pm Tuesday through Saturday. The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 am to 4 pm and is closed on Sundays, Mondays, and major holidays.Historic Wilkes Heritage Museum

Admission is as follows:

  • Adults: $10
  • Seniors (age 55 & older) and students: $5
  • Children (age 4 & under): free

What to bring.

You will likely want to bring comfortable shoes as the museum is larger than it appears. Comfortable footwear may also come in handy if you chose to go on one of the ghost tours or want to walk the Yadkin River Greenway which has a trailhead beside the Robert Cleveland House. There are also several good restaurants and shops within easy walking distance from the museum.

How to get there.

The Wilkes Heritage Museum is located in Downtown Wilkesboro at 100 East Main Street.  Parking can be found on both sides of the museum and along the street.

The following video was uploaded by WXII in 2010 and much has been added to the museum since.  Don”t miss your chance to explore history at this great place!

Raffaldini Vineyards

Raffaldini Vineyards

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I have heard it said that life is a journey, not a destination and that is true, but in the case of Raffaldini Vineyards, the destination is worth the journey. Getting there is a little challenging, but don’t give up. There are a few lefts and rights, a few dirt and gravel roads, but the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow makes the trip seem fun.

Arriving at the vineyard, I was struck by the setting and the architecture. The Tuscan-style villa sits atop a gentle rolling hill with views in almost every direction. It was a clear day and the mountains were especially beautiful. I parked in the lot adjacent to the winery and took a stroll through the flower gardens that lead to the entrance. Being greeted by roses and seasonal flowers, put me in a great mood before I entered the tasting room. I must admit, leaving the beauty of the setting and the amazing vistas was difficult, but I tore myself away and ventured into the villa.

The winery was no disappointment. While I have not been to Italy or visited a vineyard there, I would imagine that this is a faithful reproduction. I was certainly transported to somewhere other than the foothills of North Carolina. I was greeted with a warm hello and given instruction on how the operation works. I paid my dues and stepped up to the wine bar and was given a list of available wines to taste. I am certainly no wine connoisseur, but I know that if I must taste wine… the sweeter the better. I found a few that tilted towards the sweet side, but even the dry wines were enjoyable.

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The experience was excellent and the stories told by the tender filled the time with interest. My problem was focusing on the wine when the view was so incredible. I left the tasting room and found a comfortable chair on the patio outside and just soaked in the setting. I could try to communicate what I saw and how I felt, but I am telling you that you need to go and see and hear and touch the place to fully understand. Several couples purchased bottles and made their way onto the ornate patio and sat together to enjoy the wine and the day.

I was informed that the vineyard had become a wedding destination and that they were booked up nearly a year in advance. I fully understand! What a setting to make a vow to the one you love. The only thing that I can think that would rival the beauty of the setting is a glowing bride on her wedding day. So, if you are making those types of plans, call early and often to book your weekend.

My wife and daughter enjoyed the visit as well and we plan on making a return trip this year. This time, I will know to allow for an afternoon rather than an hour and a picnic basket as well. Enjoy or as they would say “salute”.

Carolina In The Fall

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Heart of Folk’s Carolina in the Fall™ presented by Wilkes Communications, Inc.

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Insider’s Guide to Carolina in the Fall™

Hello Festival fans! With Carolina in the Fall going into it’s second year in 2016, some of you know the ropes and some of you don’t! So, here is what we know today and this Insider will be updated regularly to get the latest info out to you.

Location

The festival is located in the heart of downtown Wilkesboro. Main Street is closed from West Street to East Street. Bridge Street is closed from South Street to North Street and Broad Street is closed from Main Street to North Street. Additionally, North Street is closed form West Street except for residents. Hope that helps!

The Carolina Stage (main stage) is located in the Open Air Market Park. The Foothills Stage is located right beside The Carolina Stage and will serve as a side stage during Carolina Stage evening changeovers.  The Hall of Fame Stage is located in The Heritage Museum(old courthouse) and will showcase mostly local bands.  The Great State Stage (located in Great State Auction Co.) will feature workshops, dancing and a kids showcase.

Food trucks will be lined up on Main Street from West Street to Bridge Street. The Beer Garden is located in a large tent in the Open Air Market Park. Vendors are set up along North Bridge Street.

Artists Scheduled

This year’s festival will feature some of Bluegrass/Americana/Roots music’s best bands. The Kruger Brothers will serve as the Festival’s host band and will feature prominently throughout. The Infamous Stringdusters, The Steel Wheels and Symphony of the Mountains are all headliners for 2016.

With over 100 awards, Rhonda Vincent and the Rage is the most award winning band in Bluegrass Music today. Balsam Range is the 2014 IBMA Entertainer and Vocal Band of the Year award winner. The Secret Sisters have been featured on late night television with David Letterman and Jimmy Fallon. They have been busy filming their own PBS special with Elvis Costello and Jakob Dylan, and recorded music for the platinum-selling soundtrack to The Hunger Games.

Other bands scheduled to perform are Flatt Lonesome, Snyder Family Band, Nora Jane Struthers & The Party Line, Front Country, Slocan Ramblers, and Locust Honey String Band.  Additional bands are to be announced.

Hours

The festival begins at 11:00AM each day and concludes at 10:30PM. Gates will open at 10:00AM. Seating is festival style and is first come first serve, so get there early for the best seats! For those that purchased a VIP ticket, The Carolina Jam™ sessions begin at 11:00PM at the Yadkin Valley Event Center at the Holiday Inn Express each evening. These sessions are scheduled for two hours, but you know musicians.

Parking

Downtown parking is available at area churches, public lots and private lots. My best advice is to take the Brushy Mountain Rd/ Oakwoods Rd exit off US Hwy 421 or the NC Hwy 268 exit onto Main Street. Each exit will bring you to downtown Wilkesboro. I am sure there will be lots of signage for parking, so pay attention and find the best spot.

What you can bring into the Festival

Like most other festivals… no coolers, no beverages, no drugs, no alcohol, no pets, no blankets. Bring your best folding chair, a jacket or sweater (this is Carolina in the Fall!), comfortable shoes and a camera to capture the memories.

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Food

The Carolina in the Fall Food Truck Championship™ will bring the region’s best food trucks to Main Street to serve up some great food to festival goers. There will be something for everyone as the Festival planners are working hard to bring trucks that serve every kind of food the region has to offer. Plan on NC Barbeque for lunch, fish tacos for dinner and some Thai for an evening snack! The next day, some southern fried chicken and turnip greens followed by some Italian creation for dinner. The food will be fun!

Of course, no one will stop you from bringing your own food in! Just remember… no coolers and no beverages can be brought in.

Beverages

All of your standard beverages will be available. A local coffee shop, Talia Espresso will be set up onsite to give you that shot of caffeine to keep you going all day and evening.

As this region has become home to some of the nation’s best wines and craft beers, there will be a beer and wine garden available for those of age to sip on locally made adult beverages while they take in their favorite bands.

Seating

This is first come, first serve festival seating at each stage.  Chairs will be available at The Hall of Fame Stage and The Great State Stage, you will need to bring your own chair to The Carolina Stage.

The Carolina Stage seating will fill up fast for the big name artists, so get there early and stake your claim. Regardless of where you sit, the sound will be amazing!

Where to stay 

Local hotels are offering festival packages. Local hotel rooms are very limited, so get your room now!! My best advice is to go online to the brand reservation website and give it a try. Camping is a great option and the Town of Wilkesboro is opening up Sewerfest for this event!! This is great news for all of the Merlefest® campers that want to come back in the fall and close out the festival season. To book your camping spot, go to http://www.wilkesboronorthcarolina.com/explore-wilkesboro-2/wfd-campgroundsewerfest and contact them to reserve a spot! They will begin taking reservations beginning in mid-July.

In Conclusion

The Festival organizers say that Carolina in the Fall ™ is about celebrating the region and the season. It is all about the music we love, the food we crave and the beverages that we share. This festival provides plenty of all three and more!

So what is Carolina in the Fall™?

My take on it is this… two days of Western NC magic that makes the other 363 days seem long. But then again, the wait makes it all the more special. The clock is ticking, the musicians are picking, the food trucks are cooking and the grapes are growing… see you downtown Wilkesboro the last weekend of September!!

Ski Wilkes?

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Ok, ok… I know there is not a ski mountain in Wilkesboro, but there are several in our backyard! We are close enough to make the short trip up the mountain, but far enough to avoid the severe weather issues.

I grew up making the short one hour drive up the hill on U.S. 421 to Sugar Mountain or Appalachian Ski Mountain. (Actually, my very first experience was at Hawksnest) The NCDOT always makes sure that the highways are clear and skiers can get to the slopes, so travel is rarely an issue. So, why would anyone chose to stay in Wilkesboro instead of going up the mountain? Well…

  1. Great hotel accommodations… the Wilkesboro Hampton Inn is a great place to stay and offers great weekend rates for skiers.
  2. Great restaurants… Wilkesboro is home to many of the best sit down and fast food chain and “mom and pop” restaurants, with many more under construction. (http://visitwilkesboronc.com/dine/)
  3. Better weather… by being down the mountain, Wilkesboro doesn’t experience the same extremes that you get up there. (www.wilkesweather.com)
  4. Shopping… Wilkesboro is home to some of the best chain and boutique shopping available. (http://visitwilkesboronc.com/explore/shopping/)
  5. Time savers… Cooks Sporting Goods in North Wilkesboro has all the latest and greatest Ski and Snowboard equipment rentals. You can pick up your equipment here locally and not wait in lines and miss your time on the slopes. Call Roy at 336.667.4121 and tell them that the VisitInsider sent you. (www.cookssports.com)
  6. Did I mention you will save some dough…

Here is how I do my daytrip to Sugar… I rent my equipment the night before and save an hour of waiting at the ski rental shop at the ski mountain. I get up early, eat a good breakfast at the Hampton Inn (free of course!). Hop in car with a cup of hot chocolate in my hand, ski equipment in the trunk, and head up the mountain. I arrive at Sugar at 9:00, purchase my lift ticket and hit the slopes for the day. The slopes are open for day skiing from 9 am – 4:30 pm. Have a great day of skiing. Load up my gear, head down the mountain and arrive back in Wilkes by 6:00 pm. Take a wonderful hot shower and work out the kinks and head out for a great meal at one of the many excellent restaurants in Wilkesboro. If I am up for a second day, repeat.

Here is the good news… the Hampton Inn will extend your checkout to accommodate your schedule. Also, they work with Cooks Sports and is the designated return location for your equipment on Sunday. Now that makes life easy!!

So, to sum it all up… SkiWilkes is the way to go! You will actually save time and money and enjoy your trip more. Call the Hampton Inn at 336-838-5000 and begin making your plans for a great ski weekend today!

MenaRick Vineyard & Winery

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MenaRick Vineyard and WineryMenaRick Vineyard and Winery is a special treat nestled in the foothills of North Carolina. This family owned and operated vineyard specializes in Spanish and Portuguese varietals. With more than 8 acres of vines planted, including Syrah, Merlot, Chardonnay, Albariño, Grenacha, Tempranillo and Tinta Roriz every guest is sure to find a new favorite wine.

Mena and Rick have built this winery from the roots up! They cut the timber, cultivated the land and built the tasting room with logs from the property. Each year they make a trip to Portugal where they visit the vineyard operated by Mena”s family and search for special treasures to bring home for the winery. These treasures add a special touch to the tasting room and help to tell stories of their Portuguese history. For Mena and Rick, wine making is a passion and labor of love that they gladly share with all who visit. They encourage their guests to take in the scenery by taking a stroll by the pond, having a picnic on the hillside or relaxing with a glass of wine on the patio. This vineyard is a place to escape the bustle of everyday life and is a must see while you visit Wilkesboro NC.

How to get to MenaRick

• Head East on 421 from Wilkesboro towards Winston-Salem (about 10 miles)

• Take Exit 276 toward Red White and Blue Road

• Turn Left after exit and follow until road ends at NC-268 E/Elkin Hwy

• Turn Right onto 268 and follow for about 4 miles

• Turn Left on Hoots Road and follow for 1.5 miles

• Turn Right on Austin Little Mountain Road and follow for 2 miles

• Turn Right on Luffman Road and look for the MenaRick sign and gravel drive shortly on your Right

What to bringMenaRick Vineyard and Winery

Feel free to bring anything you may want for a picnic and be sure to pack your camera to capture the scenery. MenaRick Winery accepts debit and credit (except for American Express).

Where to stay

The Hampton Inn and Holiday Inn Express are only a short drive away and are located just off of Hwy 421 making them easy to find.  Both offer a delicious hot breakfast and cozy accommodations.  These two hotels frequently offer romance or wine packages which are sure to make your visit extra special!  

 

Click here for details.

 

Paddle Boarding in Wilkes

Paddle Boarding

Love being on the water? Love kayaking or wake-boarding?  Then why not give Paddle Boarding in Wilkes a try?  Cook’s Sporting Goods is one of the local stores that offers paddle board rentals and they are $25(per board) by the day.  Simply swing by Cook’s, load the boards(onto a vehicle that can haul them of course!), and hit the W. Kerr Scott Dam or travel along the Yadkin River.  The type of trip you are looking to experience is completely your choice!

Tricks of the Trade

What to Wear.  Swim suits of any kind will work.  Girls- one or two piece, Guys- shorts (& a tee if you want the protection from the sun)  I typically wear a swim suit and shorts just to give myself a little extra coverage when sitting/standing on the board, but anything is fine, as long as it is water-proof and comfortable.  Sunscreen- Be sure to put on a good layer of sunscreen before heading out!  You will most likely not be able to take any out on the water with you, so be smart and put it on in advance!  Sunglasses/Hat-  Again, it will most likely be sunny when you go out and the water only reflects the brightness of the sun.  Wearing sunglasses and/or wearing a hat helps cut down on the sun, so that you can enjoy the experience better!

The Paddle.  The paddles used with paddle boards adjust in length so that they are the right size for the user at the time.  In a standing position on land, hold one of your arms straight up-  The paddle should be adjusted to reach the palm of your hand.

Life Jackets.  You are required to have a life jacket on board, however you are not required to be wearing it unless you are 13 or under.  I have found that it is easier to paddle without one, but if you choose to get in the water, you may want to put it on so you can float around a bit.  My recommendation is tie the life jacket to your board and let it lay on the back of the board- it shouldn’t go anywhere!  However, if you feel more comfortable wearing one the entire time, then definitely do:)  Your safety is the most important thing!

The Board.  Before you begin standing on the board, I recommend starting out in a sitting position on the board once it is in the water.  Give yourself a little time to get comfortable on your board and then work your way up to a kneeling position.  Balance is key when it comes to paddle boarding and you want to make sure you have your balance before you try to stand!  Once you feel confident in a kneeling position, try standing shoulder width apart on the middle of the board.

Paddling.  Now you are up and look like a pro!  But wait- How do you get around??  You have a paddle(that should be adjusted to fit you perfectly) and you will be surprised at how fast you are able to get around just by using it!  If you are interested in going to the right, paddle on the left and if you are interested in going to the left, paddle on the right.  If you want to keep moving forward, alternate paddling on each side.

Fitness.  Paddle Boarding is a great way to workout and challenge your body in new ways.  As you paddle, you have the option of just working your arms and shoulders, or getting your entire body involved and working several different muscles- the choice is yours!  *For those of you looking for an even bigger challenge- try out some yoga poses on the boards!  Yoga classes on the water are becoming very popular and they take immense concentration and practice!

The View.  While you are floating around the Yadkin or W Kerr Scott, take in the views of the Blue Ridge Mountains, of the wildlife, and of the sun setting.  You never know what you might see!

*Tip-  When paddle boarding on a lake or in an area where there are boats and jet skis, there will definitely be a few moments of bumpy waters.  This is not something I prefer to experience standing on a paddle board, so I typically get in a sitting position either indian style or legs out in front of me and continue paddling.  The main thing is to stay calm, the chances of your board flipping are slim.  Just stay aware of your surroundings and of the water.  Make sure you are comfortable and if you are not, paddle to a different location to where there is calm water.

Most ImportantlyHave FUN!!! Paddle Boarding is a blast, especially if it is something you have never tried before.  Bring your friends, bring your family, bring your significant other- and Give Paddle Boarding in Wilkes a Try!!

Zaloo’s Canoes (Canoeing in NC)

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Canoeing in NC

The New River is truly a treasure. It has been designated a National Scenic and Wild river and an American Heritage River. Tubing, kayaking or canoeing down the New is the best way to explore this remarkable natural treasure. The water is crystal clear (and cold) and with the exception of a small section of white water here and there, is smooth as glass. This is a great family getaway.cheap jumpers for sale

Guide to MerleFest

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It is difficult to put into words what MerleFest is and what the four days around the last weekend in April are all about, but here goes….

This year we get to enjoy again what many people consider to be the best outdoor Bluegrass/ Americana music festival in the world. Held annually on the campus of Wilkes Community College (Harvard on the Yadkin, as the locals call it), the festival that began on the back of a flatbed truck in 1988 has evolved into a campus wide, multi-stage music extravaganza. The festival is held in honor of Merle Watson, the deceased son of Doc Watson who was killed in a farming accident. Merle was a devoted musician who loved to play the guitar with Doc. For more information on Merle and the history of the festival, please visit www.merlefest.org.

Read more below the break!

Camp Harrison

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Camp Harrison

About

Camp Harrison is affiliated with the YMCA of Greater Charlotte and is a destination for many kids ages 6-16 each summer!  It is a place where new friendships are made, beneficial life skills are learned, and a deeper level of faith is gained.  Campers have the opportunity to choose the camp track that they are most interested in, which makes camp even that much more enjoyable and memorable!

Tracks 

Traditional- This includes a variety of land activities- ropes courses, sports, team paintball and crafts

Dude Ranch- Campers get to take care of animals and fulfill ranch duties.  They work with horses, goats, chickens and a pig.  Campers learn the value and satisfaction of hard work.

Sportsman- Campers learn fishing and hunting techniques at the private lake front base camp.  They have the opportunity to use the rifle range, clay target shooting, archery, and open water fly fishing.

Farm to Feast- This is great for campers interested in learning more about cooking!  Campers take part in farm to table practices for food prep, nutritional information and meal planning, while also learning culinary skills from chefs and counselors.

Beyond the Ridge- This is for the teen campers at Camp Harrison!  Campers get to camp in the woods, and cook meals over an open fire.  They learn to experience life with other teens and navigate through life”s tests.  This is a wonderful program that promotes leadership while growing in spirit, mind, and body.

CIT Program- Counselor in Training-  Campers interested in being a part of the future Camp Harrison staff, have a wonderful opportunity in this program to learn the leadership and supervisory skills it takes!  Through interaction in cabins, leading devotionals, team building projects, and teaching activities, campers learn through experience what it takes to be a leader and an example to fellow campers. (16-17 year olds)

Camp Harrison

Why Camp Harrison? 

  • Only individuals who are positive Christian role models are hired as counselors
  • Counselors give individual attention to campers and are there to teach and be an example
  • Camp allows kids to branch out of their everyday routine, make new friends, and learn new life skills
  • There is a spiritual influence at camp and each day is a new opportunity to grow closer to God and grow stronger in their faith and character
When?

There are 10 different weeks of camp each summer, all with their own theme!  Camp runs from June through the beginning of August.  Kids are always looking for something to do during the summer, and I”m sure mom and dad wouldn”t mind to have them out of the house for a week!  There really isn”t a better place for a kid to spend a part of their summer.  They get to be outdoors, experience some new things, make new friends, and enrich their faith.

Mission

The Mission of the YMCA of Greater Charlotte is to put Christian principles into practice through programs that build healthy spirit, mind and body for all.  Promoting the character traits of respect, responsibility, caring, honesty, and faith are all a huge part of what makes Camp Harrison such a wonderful place.

Becoming a Counselor

If you are a person filled with energy, adventure, and a passion for kids and Christ, Camp Harrison would be a great fit for you!  Each year, counselors go through in-depth interviews, must have multiple references, and a background check.  The highest quality staff is hired each summer, trained in First Aid/CPR and most are lifeguard certified.  If you think you are qualified, definitely apply online!  Each summer they count on hard-working, quality people to make camp the success that it is.

*Insider Tip- I was actually a counselor for one summer and it was the best summer of my life.  I was surrounded with individuals who encouraged and built me up every day, I was able to influence lives, and coach kids through new activities and challenges.  It was a ton of fun for not only the campers, but for myself as well.  I was able to try lots of new things I had never done before and was pushed outside of my comfort zone.  It was truly a joy working as a counselor that summer and I would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a meaningful summer job!

Suggestions

1.  Sign Up!  Find the session and track that best fits your kid, and get them signed up!  This is a wonderful way to spend a week during the summer, try new things, and make new friends.

2.  Become a Counselor.  Spending a summer with the focus of enriching the lives of children, is not only rewarding to them, but is an even bigger reward to you.  Being a counselor at Camp Harrison is a meaningful experience and is worth it if you feel that you have what it takes!

3.  Send a Kid to Camp on Campership.  There are kids each and every summer that are only able to go to camp because of donations made towards camperships.  There are several different options and donation amounts that can be found on the Camp Harrison website.  Camperships are such a wonderful way to help send a kid to camp that wouldn”t be able to go otherwise.

Camp Harrison Website: www.campharrison.org

Brushy Mountain Apple Festival

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The first Saturday in October brings the masses to North Wilkesboro for the Brushy Mountain Apple Festival. They come to town for what has become one of the largest single day arts and crafts festivals in the Southeast US. Over 160,000 people crowd the downtown streets enjoying a day of food, fellowship and downright fun.

How to get to the Apple Festival.

The festival is held on the streets of downtown North Wilkesboro, so regardless of where you are coming from, just follow the signs once you get into Wilkes County. If you are coming from the east, I would advise you to take the NC Hwy 115 exit and turn right on 115. This will take you to NC 268, turn left on NC 268 and you will run right into the festival.

If you are coming from the west on US 421, take “421 Business” into the downtown area. This left turn is the next left after the Taco Bell. Business 421 will take you directly into the down town area. If you are tech savvy, just enter North Wilkesboro into whatever device you have and hit the road.

Parking

Like most large events, parking is the challenge. The downtown area is closed off, so parking has to be in the surrounding areas. Many public and private lots are open for paid parking (the closer the parking, the higher the price). In addition, the Festival provides free shuttle service to and from parking at West Park where there is lots of free parking. Visit www.applefestival.net and click on the parking link for information on this service.

You will find a place to park, so be patient and decide if you want to walk in from paid parking or ride in from free parking. Also, a word to the wise, the neighbors around the festival are wonderful people, but they draw the line when you park in their yard or driveway, so play nice.

Food and Beverage

The Brushy Mountain Apple Festival is famous for its food selection. My wife always shows up early (7am) and enjoys a country ham biscuit or apple pie. Food is available throughout the festival grounds, so be sure to bring your festival map or pick on up the intersection of Main and 9th and do your food research ahead of time. (Nothing worse than eating something at one location only to realize that you missed out on your favorite just a block away)

Prices are reasonable and the food quality is excellent. The variety is expansive and you will find more that you want to eat than you can eat (very frustrating J). Again, research is the key to finding just what you are craving. My favorites are always the ice cream, the homemade apple pies, awesome Carolina pit cooked bar-be-que, anything with grilled peppers and onions and that really greasy slice of pizza. But whatever your personal tastes are, you will find a place to chow down and enjoy.

An honorable mention here, a local water bottling company sets up a location at the Main and 9th intersection and gives a cold, clear drink of mountain water to every festival goer. Kudos to Brushy Mountain Water and Coffee Company!!

Things to do at the Apple Festival.

Every corner brings a surprise and every street a new series of crafts to enjoy. My favorite times at the festival are watching the artisans at work. Blacksmiths, quilters, potters, wood workers and many others are hard at work and you can quietly watch or ask questions as the work their magic. Where else can you watch cane be turned into molasses or hear southern gospel singers while your child is having their face painted? To say the least, diversity reigns supreme. Take your time, get into the crowd and see what each vendor has to offer.

And don’t forget, this is a celebration of the apple harvest on the Brushy Mountains. The orchards produce some of the best apples in the nation and are available for purchase at the end of almost every street. My favorite apple is the Pink Lady, a wonderful combination of sweet and sour that leaves your mouth watering.

The festival has added a Friday night event known as the “Apple Jam” that is centered on local music. It is held in the Festival Park located on the corner of 10th and Main in downtown North Wilkesboro. The Friday night festivities begin at 6 PM, so come early, bring your chairs and enjoy some beautiful mountain music.

Suggestions

1. The crowds are large, but the people are wonderful. If you are opposed to large crowds, show up early or arrive late and you will miss the biggest crowds.

2. Do your homework ahead of time; this will save you time and lots of walking, nothing worse than backtracking at a street festival.

3. Bring something to carry your awesome purchases in. Backpacks or shoulder bags are excellent choices.

4. If you bring children, allow adequate time for them to have a blast in the children’s area. My kids always loved the sand art and face painting.

5. Wear great walking shoes. You are on streets and sidewalks the entire time and some nicely padded walking shoes will seem worth their weight in gold.

6. Dress in layers. You are in the foothills of North Carolina and as Forrest Gump said… “You never know what you’re going to get”.

7. Get a good night’s sleep the night before and bring a big bag of patience. If you get in a hurry, you will miss something pretty special or you will be very frustrated.

8. Get a bag of apples! This festival is still months away and I am already craving one of those wonderful Brushy Mountain apples.

 Leaving the Apple Festival

Because it is an all day festival, leaving is no big deal. There is no mad rush or clogged highways, so take your time, leave when you want to and enjoy the view as you go. Before you go, be sure to stop by the Festival headquarters at the intersection of 9th and Main and get your free VisitWilkesboroNC.com bumper sticker. See you there.