The Sourwood Festival returns

Ezra Maille
Black Mountain News
The Sourwood Festival plans to offer live music as well as arts and crafts in Town Square on Saturday, Aug. 14.

The widely anticipated Sourwood Festival returns to Black Mountain this August after its cancellation last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Black Mountain Mayor Larry Harris said he hopes the new variant of the virus will not affect the festivities in any way. 

"It's a big time," he said. "The town is very proud of the Sourwood Festival. We certainly hope it's a successful and safe one this year." 

The festival, named for the native Sourwood tree, focuses on Sourwood honey and offers vendors and demonstrations. After missing the festival a year ago, this year's celebration brings a new feel to downtown Black Mountain. 

Music and crafts will take place in Town Square on the first day, Saturday, Aug. 14, with more to come on Sunday in Cherry Street Court.

Roughly 100 vendors have been invited to the festival to showcase their crafts, art and talents. 

For this year's festival, the chamber of commerce reduced the number of vendors and focused on the arts and crafts aspect to provide additional revenue to those who lost business due to last year's cancellation.

Activities will also be reduced so as to allow for the festival to be more spread out, following COVID-19 protocols, but will incorporate the addition of pony rides and a petting zoo. 

Because the festival takes place outdoors, there will be no additional protocols. 

"We'll just play it by ear and see what happens between now and the festival day as far as any other protocols go," said Sharon Tabor, executive director of the Black Mountain Swannanoa Chamber of Commerce. 

Hand-washing stations will be placed throughout the festival, namely at the pony rides and petting zoo, but the organizers plan to follow whatever the latest recommendations from the CDC and state guidelines entail. 

Most of the vendors are local though some come from as far as Florida and Tennessee. Many have been attending the festival each year it has taken place. 

"Typically in the past, the merchants have not been impacted by the festival," Tabor said. "Black Mountain never slowed down there during the pandemic."

Black Mountain's Town Square provides an ideal location for the outdoor festival.

In addition to the avid participation by the Black Mountain citizens, Harris said the festival brings in many people from out of town and across counties.

The event, hosted by the Chamber of Commerce, not only functions as a fundraiser for the chamber and helps fund the festival, but also provides opportunities for the community to enjoy their town. 

"We're hoping that we're able to move forward with it and that it's a great festival," Mayor Harris said. "It's usually a great time for the town citizens."

Although previously expecting a downturn in attendees, Tabor said based on what other events and vendors have experienced, she expects the usual turnout of roughly 25,000 festival-goers. Around 30%-40% of these attendees come from out of town. 

"This year we're actually going to keep a license plate count," Tabor said. 

The plan is to identify how many out-of-state versus in-state plates are seen to showcase the variety of people at the festival.

Regardless of where participants come from, organizers agreed that the festival is loved by all. 

"It is a great time for Black Mountain," Harris said. 

While the Town Square hosts the majority of the events the first day of the festival, Cherry Street Court will host additional activities the second day.

The annual Sourwood Festival will take place Aug. 14-15, running all day beginning at 9 a.m.

Parking can be found in the former Bi-Lo's lot on N.C. 9, just off Interstate 40.  Additional parking on Saturday will be at Ingles on N.C. 9 South, with shuttle service provided from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

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