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!
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.
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.