Gaining momentum in its 38th year, the annual Sourwood Festival draws about 30,000 people to the streets of Black Mountain, attracting lovers of food, entertainment and, most of all, a sweet little treat from Mother Nature.
“Sourwood honey is like the Cadillac of honeys,” says Bob McMurray, festival organizer and executive director at the Black Mountain Swannanoa Chamber of Commerce. “It’s crystal clear. It’s the best-tasting honey money can buy.”
Black Mountain was nicknamed “The Sourwood City” years ago for its proliferation of sourwood trees, he explains, and that’s why the chamber has stuck with the theme for its free and alcohol-free celebration.
“We’ve got about four vendors that sell local honey,” he says, “and then Edd Buchanan — our main honey guy — has honeybee demonstrations.”
But honey isn’t the only thing on the menu. Kettle corn, produce, fresh-baked breads, funnel cakes, gyros, kebabs, corn dogs, cheesesteaks, ice cream, cupcakes and other festival foods will all be available, as will artisan food products such as pickles, chow chow, salsas and jellies (some made with honey). For the adventurous foodie, True Holiness Fellowship church brings fried pies, and Lunchwagon Food offers gator-on-a-stick.
About 200 vendors sprawl across downtown during the weekend, with the bulk of the action on Sutton and Black Mountain avenues and surrounding blocks. Most of these exhibitors are local, McMurray says. The Owen High School Band Boosters, for example, have sold their barbecue at the Sourwood Festival nearly every year the festival has been held.
In addition to food, the event boasts live music, handmade arts and crafts, carnival rides, clogging performances and “lots of fun stuff for kids to do,” says McMurray. “It’s a very family-friendly, fun festival.”
The Sourwood Festival kicks off with the Sourwood Idol competition on Friday, Aug. 7, from 7-10 p.m., and continues on Saturday, Aug. 8, from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sunday, Aug. 9, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, visit sourwoodfestival.com.
Experimenting with hops
To hop or not to hop is rarely the question for Asheville homebrewers, but just how and when hops are added to beer has a significant impact on the beverage’s final taste and aroma. Hops & Vines owner and resident hops guru Alex Buerckholtz is leading an instructional event, Experimenting with Hops, to explore the many methods of harnessing this fragrant ingredient. Topics include varietals, alpha acids, dry hopping, dual-stage and first-wort hopping, kettle additions, hop timing and more.
Experimenting with Hops will be held at Hops & Vines, 797 Haywood Road, Suite 100, on Tuesday, Aug. 11, from 6-7 p.m. Visit hopsandvines.net/events for more information.
Grow your own herbal medicine chest
During a recent workshop hosted by Living Web Farms, attendees learned how to grow and use herbal medicines from their own backyards. “Participants learned to propagate, grow, identify, harvest, dry and use many beneficial herbal plants,” reads a release about the course. Because the event was such a success, organizers are planning round two of “Grow Your Own Medicine Chest” — a condensed version of the original lesson — for those who missed out the first time around.
The event is 12:30-2 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 13 at the Hendersonville Community Co-op, 60 S. Charleston Lane. For details or to register for the class, visit avl.mx/1dl.