Small bites: Asheville VeganFest

VEGANS CONVENE: On Sunday, June 9, food, beverage, craft, wellness and animal welfare vendors will gather on Pack Square for the fifth annual Asheville Vegan Fest. Photo by Sarah Whelan

Vegan advocates, chefs and lifestyle vendors will convene at Pack Square and the YMI Cultural Center on Saturday and Sunday, June 8-9, for the fifth annual Asheville VeganFest. But for the first time in the festival’s history, Brother Wolf will not be organizing the gathering.

“VeganFest as an event is special to me,” says Leah Craig Fieser, Brother Wolf’s new executive director. As the organization’s former event director, Fieser says she helped build the annual festival from the ground up. But with the nonprofit’s new exclusive focus on companion animals, along with its recent financial woes, Fieser notes, “Brother Wolf just doesn’t have the capacity to do [VeganFest] anymore.”

Helene Greenberg, founder of Triangle VegFest, has taken over as the event’s lead organizer. Under her direction, she has expanded this year’s festival into a two-day event, doubling what Brother Wolf had originally planned.

On Saturday, June 8, the YMI Cultural Center will host a free education day from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. featuring a roster of speakers, including Sadrah Schadel of No Evil Foods, Gray Jerigan of MountainTrue and Shayla Toombs-Withers, founder of Essence of Health Wellness Clinic. Donations will be accepted.

On Sunday, June 9, an assortment of food, beverage, craft, wellness and animal welfare vendors, including Action for Animals, Build a Better Salad food truck, The Hop Ice Cream, Highland Brewing Co., Moonlight Makers, Soul Vegetarian, The Hemp Food Co. and the WNC Holistic Center, will be set up at Pack Square from 11 a.m.-6 p.m.

“My hope is that our event is a warm welcome hug,” says Greenberg. “Anyone and everyone is welcome.”

Asheville VeganFest happens Saturday, June 8, at the YMI Cultural Center, 39 S. Market St., and Sunday, June 9, at Pack Square, 80 Court Plaza. For more information, visit

Honey and mead tasting

In honor of Pollinator Month, Wine Sage and Gourmet in Hendersonville will host a honey and mead tasting event Thursday, June 6. Along with samples, local beekeepers will be on hand to answer questions about the pollination process. The event is free to attend, but guests are asked to RSVP.

The tasting runs 6:30-8 p.m. Thursday, June 6, at Wine Sage and Gourmet, 416 N. Main St., Hendersonville. For more information, visit

Grand opening of Cookies & Creamery

French Broad Chocolate’s Cookies & Creamery, located at the company’s original Chocolate Factory, will celebrate its grand opening Saturday, June 8. A rotation of free treats will be available at the top of each hour, 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Highlights include free ice cream mini-sandwiches, cookies, ice cream scoops and beer or wine mini-floats. The creamery will have its sundae bar open for guests from 1-4 p.m.

The grand opening runs 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturday, June 8, at Cookies & Creamery, 21 Buxton Ave. For more information, visit

Filipino-American Friendship Day

The Filipino-American Community of Western North Carolina, a local social organization, will host a picnic to celebrate the group’s Filipino-American Friendship Day. The family-friendly potluck will take place at Patton Park in Hendersonville, which offers tennis and basketball courts, a swimming pool and skateboarding ramps. Attendees are asked to bring a favorite dish and beverages to share. Hot dogs and hamburgers will be provided.

The picnic runs 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, June 8, at Patton Park, 1730 Asheville Highway, Hendersonville. For more information, visit

Hemp Food Challenge

Hemp will be the main ingredient at a fundraiser Sunday, June 9, at The BLOCK Off Biltmore. The Hemp Food Challenge will raise money for My Daddy Taught Me That, a local program designed to support the development and education of young males. A panel of youth members of My Daddy Taught Me That will judge the competition, which will feature local chefs, including Graham House of Sovereign Remedies, Nate Kelly of Simple, Jillian Ashley of The Nohm Co. and others. Door prizes from Bluebird Botanicals will be up for grabs during the event for those who donate to the fundraiser.

The Hemp Food Challenge runs 2-4 p.m. Sunday, June 9, at The BLOCK Off Biltmore, 39 S. Market St. For more information, visit

Black Jar Honey Competition

The Center for Honeybee Research’s eighth annual International Black Jar Honey Tasting Competition returns Thursday, June 13. “We will feature 15 notable honeys from unique areas of the world to enlighten guests of the diversity of taste among plants on which bees forage,” says Carl Chesick, executive director of the Center for Honeybee Research. Local celebrity judges will decide the winners. The event will also include live music, food and drinks. Tickets are $25.

The event runs 5:30-8:30 p.m. Thursday, June 13, at Renaissance Asheville Hotel, 31 Woodfin St. For tickets, visit

Farm to Fork Fondo

Tickets are now available for the Farm to Fork Fondo, a bicycle event series that will pass through Western North Carolina on Saturday and Sunday, June 29-30. All events, including ticketed dinners, will be hosted by Hickory Nut Gap Farm.

To register to ride and for a complete list of events, visit

Bone & Broth beer and burger pairings

Each Monday in June, Bone & Broth will host burger and beer nights. Beer will be a key ingredient in each of chef Chris Benson‘s specialty burgers, which will be paired with local brews. The June 10 pairing will feature Lazy Hiker Brewing Co.’s porter paired with a burger topped with porter cheese fondue, caramelized onions, Goodnight Brothers bacon and balsamic aioli. Upcoming pairings will highlight Catawba Brewing Co.’s Hopness Monster (June 17) and Innovation Brewing’s Soulvation (June 24).  The combo costs $12.

Bone & Broth is at 94 Charlotte St. For more information, visit

Summer Meals Program

YMCA of WNC, Asheville City Schools and Buncombe County Schools are teaming up once again to provide free summer meals to children ages 2-18. Sites include Hillcrest Apartments, Crowell Apartments, Klondyke Apartments, Livingston Apartments and Pisgah View Apartments. To find the nearest program site, text FOOD to 877-877.

For more information, visit


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About Thomas Calder
Thomas Calder received his MFA in Fiction from the University of Houston's Creative Writing Program. His writing has appeared in Gulf Coast, the Miracle Monocle, Juked and elsewhere. His debut novel, The Wind Under the Door, is now available.

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