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Brushy Mountain Apple Festival


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.Inflatable Pub

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.


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 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.


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 bumper sticker. See you there.

Apples and Orchards


Every town has its claim to fame and it just so happens that Wilkes has several. We have MerleFest, Stone Mountain, W. Kerr Scott Dam and reservoir, Cycling, Tom Dula, Bluegrass and Apples!

Wilkes County Apples

A visit to Wilkes is a trip for the senses. See the beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains, feel the breeze or the cool river waters, listen to local musicians, and taste apples fresh from the tree.

Ever since I was a little kid I have made several trips a year to visit the apple orchards of Wilkes. One of my earliest memories is one of my sister and me walking with our parents through an apple house during harvest. We watched as apples were sorted and each of us received a huge apple from a friendly man in overhauls. I remember peeking over the edge of the baskets filled with chocolate covered peanuts and cream drops at Christmas.  I still drop in to search the shelves for the perfect jar of honey and comb just as I did with my family when I was a child. For many families, trips to the orchards of Wilkes are part of a family tradition.  To them it is just as important as the yearly trip to choose a Christmas tree. Others have traveled to Wilkes in search of long lost apple varieties. One such individual described Wilkes as “mother load of heritage apples” and with more than 400 varieties having been found here it is easy to see why.

Where are they?

There are several orchards in Wilkes and each one is well worth a visit. The bulk of the orchards are along highway 16, between Wilkes and Taylorsville although there are several on Brushy Mountain, near Stone Mountain and throughout the county.  You can look at our list of orchards to find the one, or many, that you wish to visit.

When to go and what to get?

Many of the orchards sell apples throughout the year with the aid of refrigeration during the cold months. The right time for harvesting the apples depends on the weather and variety but apples are generally harvested from late June to early December. Other goods can be found at the apple houses besides the usual variety of fresh picked fruit. Some houses offer cured meats, local honey, various seasonal produce, traditional candies and caned goods.

Apple Festival

If you are a fan of the apple orchards be sure you don’t miss the Brushy Mountain Apple Festival. This festival is one of the largest events in the area and has far more than apples to offer. Each year, on the first weekend in October, the streets of Downtown North Wilkesboro are closed to traffic and filled with vendors and their goods. Food, music, art and crafts line the streets and people flock downtown to join in the spectacular.

Click here to read our Insider view on the

 Brushy Mountain Apple Festival.