Every year on the last Saturday of July, the Brushy Mountain Peach Festival takes place in Wilkesboro, North Carolina. That’s about two hours and some change to the southwest of Martinsville. I’ve had so many things going on closer to home since then that this post kept getting put off and pre-empted but I finally have time to say what a treat it was to be invited along with some fine friends and to discover the Wilkesboro area.
North Carolina has been hit hard by the tropical storm known as Fred. I had already planned on going back at some point for reasons I’ll explain at the end of this post but they are really going to need us, all of their neighbors, to help them through the damages of the recent floods.
This particular festival is huge. It completely surrounds the Wilkesboro Heritage Museum with tents and food and music and artisans. And peaches.
We had a fantastic time. We went in all the shops along the road and then took in the festival itself.
We stopped by Cook’s Outfitters to see if they might be able to set us up with a tube ride a little later in the summer. Cook’s does kayaks and bikes but no tubes. I may look into going back for a kayak trip.
Tents packed the area next to the museum. There were some good crowds but it didn’t feel too crowded.
This is a good fair for hand-crafted and locally sourced items. One of my favorites is pottery. Not only was there a lot of pottery for sale but there was a woman spinning a bowl as we watched.
Call Family Distillers had a display out to promote their apple pie sour mash moonshine labelled Willie Clay Call’s The Uncatchable. Displays like this are ubiquitous not only at fairs but at the numerous classic car shows you’ll find around but I’m always a sucker for it.
There were also a lot of skilled wood workers. I normally do a good job of grabbing cards and linking back to the artisans but too much time has gone by this time.
I bought one of the small wooden pieces that fits on top of a bottle of wine and holds two glasses. You can see one in the picture below, sitting on the top of the half-barrel wine bar. I thought the wine bar was pretty cute too.
Several people, including myself, just loved this quilt cabinet. The artist’s wife is a quilter and this cabinet allows the quilts to still be shown off a little while they are being stored.
There were easily dozens of tents plus an almost equally large concession area. A band played on a sound stage that opened out onto a grassy lawn filled with chairs.
There was an exhibit that we didn’t get to (it sounded hot) but check out the log cabin. According to the Wilkesboro Town website, this is was the home of a gentleman farmer named Robert Cleveland. The home was built in the 1770’s in western Wilkes County and housed Mr. Cleveland and his 17 children.
There is a lot of history here.
This would be a great area to tour in the fall and take it all in.
We eventually had seen everything except the log cabin and it had gotten just incredibly hot so we wrapped up our day with lunch and drove up to the Wilkesboro downtown area (the festival is held in North Wilkesboro) to plunder all the shops there and there were quite a few. It’s a very good shopping area with clothing boutiques, home decor shops, and even a Hallmark store.
North Wilkesboro has a few other claims to fame that you don’t have to wait for the festival to enjoy.
For one thing, they have their own local craft brewery, Two Boros Brewery.
Right next door to the Heritage Museum and across the street from the brewery is Dooley’s Grill and Tavern, where we stopped for lunch. I suppose the name should have tipped me off, but it didn’t.
It was the menu that did that. The first selection on the menu is “Executioner’s Choice”.
Perhaps the selection below it is ringing a bell, “Laura Foster’s French Dip”?
As it turns out, this is where the story that would be immortalized in the folk song Tom Dooley played out.
Long story short, and there may be different versions, Tom Dooley (actually Tom Dula) was a local man who had become involved with two women (cousins). My understanding is that one of the women became pregnant and he agreed to elope. She then disappeared and was found murdered some time later. Tom was tried and convicted of the murder but there are some that think that Laura was actually killed by the other woman, her cousin, Anne.
The Kingston Trio was a bit before my time but they were a favorite of mine when I went through a folk music phase. I had no idea that there was really any possibility of truth to the story.
Talking about Tom Dooley, one of my lunch mates said that there were still bullet holes in the courthouse steps. I have no idea what she was talking about and the stream of conversation moved away from the subject so I left no better informed. But I’ve made a mental note.
I’d like to go back and learn more about this community. And Tom Dooley.
And why are there bullet holes in the courthouse steps?
I think the North Wilkesboro may just be like that. It’s always going to leave you asking about something.
If your curiosity can’t stand it, check out Save the Speedway.