Return to the Valle Country Fair
9 a.m.: Emily Stewart and the Baby Teeth
9:55 a.m.: Tom Shirley
10:35 a.m.: The Major Sevens
11:25 a.m.: The Neighbors
12:25 p.m.: Holy Smokes
1:15 p.m.: Roan Mountain Moonshiners
2:05 p.m. Kinsey Greene and the Bluegrass Mafia3
3 p.m.: The Croonin’ Creakers
10 a.m.: High Country Cloggers
11 a.m.: Appalachian Rhythm Cloggers
11:45 a.m.: Thistle Dew, Roady Jane Sharpenotes
2 p.m.: Country Magic Cloggers.
They’re on a mission from God to help out their community, one
bowl of Brunswick stew, one jar of apple butter and one homemade craft at a time.
The Valle Country Fair, now in its 35th year, boasts some of the best food, music, arts and crafts and good times around, but the main focus is to have a positive impact on the community of Watauga and Avery counties.
“It is an authentic event in that it started for the local people, and it was started to give money to the community,” Catherine Morton, publicity coordinator, explained.
The fair is sponsored by the Holy Cross Episcopal Church in Valle Crucis. Initially began as a bazaar to raise money for a new parish by a group of women in the church, in just the second year of the event it evolved into a fair to raise money for local nonprofits and citizens.
“We had the first one, and it was for the people of Valle Crucis … nobody ever imagined it being a tourist destination,” Morton said.
But now, with an annual attendance hovering between 10,000 and 11,000 people, the little church bazaar has most certainly grown.
“What’s important is that it’s one little church in Valle Crucis that sponsors it, but people come in from all over to attend and help make a difference, which is really wonderful,” said Pan McCaslin, wife of the Rev. R. Allan McCaslin of Holy Cross Episcopal Church and a volunteer for the fair.
Morton said the old-fashioned nature of the fair is what attracts so many attendees. She describes the scene of sorghum fields, bales of hay and tents set up in the middle of a gorgeous valley with fall colors, live mountain-style music, home-cooked food and a variety of arts and crafts. “People from off the mountain find it extremely attractive because it’s so picturesque,” she said.
Breakfast, hot chocolate and coffee are served in the morning. Around 10:30 a.m., people start standing in line for the Brunswick stew, McCaslin said, and by 12:30 or 1 p.m., the big items like the stew, the chili and the barbeque are sold out. However, the fair boasts a wide variety of food, including cakes, pies, sauerkraut, freshly bottled apple cider, jars of jams and jellies and, of course, the famous apple butter.
There are also elementary and middle school children who dress up in chicken costumes to walk around and sell tickets to the fried chicken dinner and bingo, which take place at Valle Crucis Elementary School after the fair ends. “So, when you see a chicken coming toward you, it’s time to buy your ticket,” McCaslin laughed.
But the fair isn’t only about the food. There are more than 150 exhibitors who bring in a variety of arts and crafts, including pottery, paintings, photography, sculptures, woodwork, handcrafts, jewelry and more. The exhibitors are juried, and the standard is that everything must be handmade.
“We make a conscientious effort to have a lot of variety,” Morton said. “The quality is very high, the variety is very high, and there’s the experience of just wandering through and seeing what catches your eye.”
For the first time this year, there will also be a children’s area with arts and crafts, games, pumpkin carving and more, just for the kids.
Whether it’s your first time attending or your 35th time attending, McCaslin offered this advice: “Grab a cup of chili or a bowl of Brunswick stew, sit down on one of the hay bales and watch the apple butter gang at work, tap your foot to the music and reach out and meet new people.”
Morton, who is in her third decade volunteering with the event, said it’s the big picture that keeps her coming back.
“It reflects the core values of our church in that we care about the community and care about those less fortunate than us, and we want to help support the different human service ministries in our area,” she said. “The camaraderie, the fellowship that builds as we all work together for a common goal, is unlike anything I’ve found anywhere else. The church and the fellowship in the community we build through this is the reason I live up here.”
The 35th annual Valle Country Fair will be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 19 in Valle Crucis. Admission is free, and parking is $5 per vehicle. No pets allowed. For more information, visit http://www.vallecountryfair.org.
Proceeds from this year’s fair benefit the following nonprofit organizations: Children’s Council of Watauga County, Circles of the High Country, Community Care Clinic, Feeding Avery Families Inc., High Country Women’s Fund, Hospitality House, Parent-to-Parent Family Support Network of the High Country, The Hunger and Health Coalition Inc. and Western Youth Network.