Countdown begins for Sourwood Festival

Barbara Hootman

Black Mountain's 39th Sourwood Festival is coming up. It will be in full swing on Saturday-Sunday, Aug. 13-14. Averaging some 30,000 visits, the festival is the Black Mountain-Swannanoa Chamber of Commerce's biggest fundraiser of the year, one that many residents and visitors look forward to because of its family-oriented, non-alcoholic vibe.

Elena Jones takes twin daughters Isabella and Natalia for a spin on the Ferris wheel at last year's Sourwood Festival.

The festival got its name from the sourwood tree and the honey produced from its nectar.  For the past two years, sourwood honey has been scarce, if present at all. This year, there is some, but not as much as in year's past.

Edd Buchanan, one of the Valley’s best known bee keepers, will be at the festival with his bee demonstrations and honey.  He hasn’t missed a Sourwood Festival since it started.

“A late spring freeze hurt the early honey, and the daily rains have hurt the sourwood honey, although the area is still suffering a drought,” Buchanan said.  “I always tell people that bees can’t swim, or hunt during a rain. We will have some sourwood honey, but the supply is definitely limited.  Sourwood honey depends on the weather, as all honey production does."

As usual, Buchanan will have his booth at the festival, as well as bee demonstrations - and honey. He's just part of the entertainment and food that Sourwood Festival visitors can expect.

“We have some new food vendors this year, and that should add even more variety to the festival,” Bob McMurray, executive director of the Black Mountain-Swannanoa Chamber of Commerce, said.  “Visitors can expect kettle corn and corn dogs as usual.  There will be blooming onions, Polish sausage and Philly cheesesteaks.  The big turkey legs are back, as are French fries. There are some new food vendors this year. The Oriental food is back, as is Steak Boy and the Onion Factory.”

The Owen High School Booster Club will be selling barbecue (your stomach and nose will take you to it under the big tent by the railroad tracks close to the SunTrust Bank parking lot).

Scarce in recent years, Sourwood honey is as precious  this year as it was at last year's Sourwood Festival.
Yummy things you wouldn't normally eat will once again be available at the Sourwood Festival.

New foods this year include funnel cake and cheese cake on a stick. Kona Ice and Gallery Mini Donuts will be at the festival, along with Sherries Crab Cakes and Old Texas Sodas, which makes homemade sodas and serves them in  32-ounce mugs.  Folks who come to the festival for the food won’t be disappointed.

There are carnival rides and the Kids Free Fun Park to entertain children during the festival.

There are always unique items at the Sourwood Festival. Among the 200 booths, shoppers will find items such as clothing, plants, photography, and yard art items.  Bonsai trees are favorites, and they will be back this year.  Pen and Ink drawings, pottery candles and soaps will be available.

Although the Sourwood Festival is pet-friendly, it is  a good idea to leave your dog at home because of the excessive heat  the Valley has been experiencing (imagine walking on hot paved streets in bare feet).

The Sourwood Idol Contest, under the big tent across from the Old Depot, is 7-10 p.m. Friday, Aug. 12. With no entry fee, it is open to non-professionals who sing or otherwise perform for cash prizes.

There's no telling who you'll see at the Sourwood Festival, now in its 39th year.

Festival hours are 9 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday.