Sourwood Festival to return in August

Ty Roush
Black Mountain News
Black Mountain's annual Sourwood Festival returns for its 43rd iteration after being canceled in 2020.

The Sourwood Festival is back.

The annual event returns to Black Mountain Aug. 14, the Black Mountain Swannanoa Chamber of Commerce announced. Amusement rides, 100 vendors throughout downtown, a petting zoo and a town square exhibition highlighting Appalachian heritage are featured in its return.

A restriction holding the event to 100 vendors is required as “we move from (COVID-19) to normal activities,” the chamber said in a release. All vendors will have signs designating them as official festival participants.

The chamber estimates an attendance of 20,000 for the two-day event. Prior to its cancellation in 2020, the festival had averaged an annual attendance of 30,000 for 200-plus vendors.

Executive director Sharon Tabor added that lost revenue from the event was an estimated $20,000.

In addition to the festival’s return, it has joined the N.C. Association of Festivals and Events, the chamber announced. The organization functions to allow other North Carolina-based festivals to coordinate events and train, network and identify resources.

This follows an April 12 vote by Town Council to allow the town square to host public events once per month. The proposal was initially suggested as an expansion for the Sourwood Festival.

Events with structures must follow the following criteria after receiving written permission from the town: a site plan with tent locations, tents are limited to 10 feet by 10 feet dimensions and must be anchored, a maximum of five tents are allowed for a maximum of five hours and the town “shall be left in the same condition as received prior to the event.”

Beginning in 1977, the Sourwood Festival is an event held in downtown Black Mountain featuring live music, amusement rides and local vendors. The festival is named for the honey made from the nectar of Sourwood tree flowers, which bloom each year in July and August.

‘Glad to be back'

The Sourwood Festival is the “most important thing” for Ray Revis’ yearly revenue.

As the owner of Southern Buzz-N-Honey in Marion, Revis moved to online sales to make up the deficit for the in-person exposure his business would normally have at the event. 

He says he recently had customers “track me down” from Connecticut and Kentucky after being unable to connect in Black Mountain. Though he was able to have some success in the last year with online sales, Revis added that customers buying in bulk cut year-to-year profits down “a little bit.”

For the bees, everything went on as planned.

“We’re finally getting back up to where there’s some sanity in this world,” Revis said. “But the bees, they keep on going no matter what.”

Revis and his wife have already sent in their money and necessary registration for the festival and will be planning what is included with their booth in the near future.

The pair look forward to showing off what the bees can create.

“The bees are in good shape,” Revis said. “They’re probably in the best shape they’ve been in a long time. Our babies are healthy, and we’ve got more beehives for bees. That’s a recipe for making honey, so now we need Sourwood trees to participate.”