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North Carolina Apple Festival

There is nothing like watching a parade from the curb of Main Street. The floats, antique cars, and bands mesmerized us. Each blast from the band, waves from those in cars, and the laughing clowns were within touching distance of my brother and me at the annual Hendersonville, NC Apple Festival Parade.

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Since our grandparents and great grands lived in the town, Labor Day was always the destination for this holiday. The parade was in the afternoon, but there was lots to see in the meantime.

Apples were everywhere. Local growers and orchard owners anchored every corner along Main Street, selling everything from apple cider and apple turnovers to apple pie and apple ice cream to candy apples. It was apple heaven, and we loved it.

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This hometown celebration was a highlight of the year. It was all about fun!

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The city closed the streets and opened them to vendors and foot traffic. Restaurants, antique stores, McFarland’s Bakery, and boutiques opened their doors to invite the public in.

Each year, more and more people celebrate the weekend there. Whereas it was once one day, now it is four days.

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Apples are one of the most important agricultural crops grown in Henderson County, NC. In fact, they generate an average income of 22 million dollars each year! The NC Apple Festival celebrates Western North Carolina’s rich agricultural history and the great apple harvest which takes place each autumn. It features arts and crafts, free entertainment, and all of the things that we love about autumn in Western North Carolina.

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The 2018 NC Festival kicks off on Friday, August 31, with live entertainment by the Buddy K Big Band. If you love swing jazz and the music of Les Brown, Count Basie, and Glenn Miller, then you need to check out this dynamic group! On Sunday, September 2, you can look forward to the smooth sounds of Atlanta Pleasure Band with covers from Motown to Downtown.

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North Carolina is the 7th largest apple-producing state in the nation and Henderson County is the largest apple-producing county in North Carolina – with 20+ varieties. Because of the nine blocks of vendors, there will be plenty of apples to buy at the festival!

GRANDMOM’S APPLE PIE

5 to 6 cooking apples (Rome apples a good choice)

3/4 cup sugar

3 tablespoons corn starch

2 tablespoons lemon juice or 1 tablespoon vinegar

3 tablespoons cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

3 tablespoons butter

Dash of salt

2 pie crusts (top and bottom)

Peel and slice apples. Add lemon juice and toss. Sprinkle some of sugar and cinnamon in bottom of crust. Add 1 tablespoon of cornstarch. Put half of apple slices in crust. Add half of sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and 1 tablespoon cornstarch. Repeat layering of apples, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and cornstarch. Apples will pile high in crust. Dot with butter. Top apples with second crust. Seal crust. Cut vents in top. Bake 50 to 60 minutes or until done. Yield: 8 generous servings.

Source: NC Department of Agriculture

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For sixty years, visitors to downtown Hendersonville have enjoyed a weekend of celebrating the changing of the seasons. Since 1946, Hendersonville has bidden farewell to summer and welcomed apple season with the N.C. Apple Festival.

The event owes its longevity to the continued significance of the apple-growing industry to Henderson County. As noted on the festival’s website, the fruit has been influential in the area since the 1700s, and the region currently has about 200 growers, accounting for 65 percent of the apples harvested in North Carolina. Annually, the industry brings an average of $22 million to the region.

In case you are wondering, we will go to the Apple Festival again this year, and no, I won’t sit on the curb to watch the parade. But we will buy apples, and there will be an apple pie in my oven next week.

“An apple tree is just like a person. In order to thrive, it needs companionship that’s similar to it in some ways, but quite different than others.”
― Jeffrey Stepakoff

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Family Roots and “Christy”

My mother’s parents and great grands were all four born in Hendersonville, NC. This small, mountain town, only twenty-two miles from Asheville, still has a simple and nostalgic atmosphere about it. Everywhere benches and tables invite its visitors to “set a spell.”

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When we would visit my grands, there always seemed to be time for an excursion downtown. There was never an agenda; it was only a stroll. But somewhere in the roaming was a stop by McFarlan Bakery.

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No one can walk by the open doors to McFarlan Bakery. The smells will drag you in the door. All items are made from scratch daily; this family-owned bakery uses the same recipes from their past sixty years ago. Their salt rising bread, toasted with butter, is one of the best ways to start any day; it doesn’t require preserves or jelly.  A piece of  lemon meringue pie is the perfect conclusion to any meal. Decorated or undecorated cookies, cakes, donuts, and special orders are always available. As a child, I always chose a sugar cookie. Now as an adult, it is hard to make only one decision.

Besides sharing with me a love for her birthplace, Nanna, my grandmother, loved historical novels of all eras. She introduced me to famous women authors like Inglis Fletcher, Gwen Bristow, and Catherine Marshall. All three wrote about strong women who faced life with gumption and faced its challenges with passion.

Christy was one of her favorites when it was published in 1968, and it soon became mine. This was my first read about Appalachia and the struggles with daily life in this region. There is drama a-plenty in this novel that would be categorized with a coming-of-age theme. Catherine Marshall retold the story of her mother, Leonora Whitaker, and her time in Cutter’s Gap.

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In 1912, and against the wishes of her parents, nineteen-year-old Christy Huddleston leaves her life of privilege and ease in Asheville to become a missionary teacher in an impoverished and isolated valley in the Smoky Mountains. Cutter Gap is the fictional community. The job turns out to be more difficult than she had anticipated, as she comes to know and care for the wild mountain people with their fierce pride, terrible poverty, dark superstitions, and their yearning for beauty and truth.

The villagers have old-fashioned ways. For example, they maintain rules and vengeances similar to the Highland clans of old Scotland. They also have a strong belief in folk medicine. Sprinkled with Appalachian sayings, like “twitter-witted,” as a husband calls his wife and son, realism takes a front seat. Teaching in one-room with 70+ children made me grateful for the class sizes in my profession.

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Christy never took her eyes off her goal of teaching. Daily choices like how to get new books for the children or how to buy a black hat on her salary line up beside feuds, moonshine whiskey, rape, and the death of a baby. Her faith is severely tested—by her students and by the suffering of the people she comes to love. When her dearest friend dies during a typhoid epidemic, Christy questions the sovereignty and power of God.

The story line pulled me into this unique sense of place, people, and culture, and I fell in love with Appalachia for the first time. It’s time to read Christy once again.

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