Sourwood Honey Festival in Black Mountain - TribPapers

Sourwood Honey Festival in Black Mountain

Lots of delicious items are offered to eat and drink over the weekend. Photos courtesy of The Black Mountain Swannanoa Chamber of Commerce.

Black Mountain – For two days, August 13 and 14th, bees and local sourwood honey will be celebrated at the Sourwood Festival in downtown Black Mountain. Saturday, the vendors open at 9:00 a.m. and remain open until 8:00 p.m.; and Sunday, the 14th, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.The Black Mountain Swannanoa Chamber of Commerce has been organizing this festival since 1977.

Sourwood Honey is considered a Western North Carolina delicacy, as the honey bees have gathered the pollen and nectar from the local sourwood trees found in the Appalachian mountain area. It is known for its buttery caramel flavor and beautiful amber color. Sourwood honey is specific to the United States, since the sourwood trees only grow within the Eastern Mountain corridors.

There will be hundreds of visitors coming to this annual festival—some years as many as 30,000 visit. Black Mountain’s State Street (considered their main street) and many side streets as well will be filled with vendors of all types.  Appalachian heritage and items related to that heritage are the main features. You will be able to find incredible pieces of pottery, paintings and jewelry of all types, crafts, new and old books, and many activities for children, such as pony rides, a petting zoo, and face painting. This is a non-alcoholic, family-friendly festival.

Galleries, stores, and restaurants will remain open for business. On Saturday, August 13, from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., the Swannanoa Valley Museum and History Center will be hosting Black Mountain’s Second Annual Classic Car Show in conjunction with the Sourwood Festival. Themed “Rock the Classics,” this show will feature cars from the 1890s through the 1980s. Last year, one of the oldest cars was a bright yellow 1930 Model A Coup owned by John Loveless. The People’s Choice winner was a bright red Nash Rambler 1953, owned by Mike Greene. Attendees will again be able to vote on trophies for vehicles, with the categories of “Oldest Car,” “Best in Show,” and “People’s Choice.” Various raffles for prizes will take place, including a 50/50 raffle, with half of the winnings going to support the Swannanoa Valley Museum. The car show will display dozens of American and European cars, including historic Edsels, Shelbys, Chevys, Dodsons, Volvos, and more.

The Seven Sisters Gallery will be open at their 119 Broadway Avenue location. The store represents over 250 talented craftsmen and artists—with handmade jewelry, leather items, pottery, and textile items. In addition, the Swannanoa Valley Fine Arts League members will be having an exhibit at the Red House Studios and Gallery at 310 West State Street, next to the Monte Vista Hotel. The Red House is home to life drawing sessions, art groups, programs, and workshops. It also features working studios that are open to the public and gallery spaces with rotating exhibitions. The 2022 Juried Show is currently on view. Only members of the Art League were permitted to enter this juried show where prizes were given. The Best of Show went to Rick Self for his Four in the Morning oil painting. 1st Place: Diane de Grasse, Oil, At Mellie Mac’s; 2nd Place: Lisa Steffens, Oil on canvas, View from Cecil’s.

Musical events are played continually every two hours during the festival at the Music Stage at 102 Black Mountain Avenue. A number of groups will be playing, such as the Gin Mills Pickers, the Circuit Riders Academy for the Arts, and J & the Bootleggers on the 13th of August, and on the 14th you can hear Jack Sorrell and the Band Watkins. At 4:00 pm will be the highly energetic The Queens Court Party Dance, a showband out of Charlotte.

On Sunday evening, August 14th, the White Horse Salon at 105 Montreat Road will feature The Foreign Landers from 7:30-9:30 pm. This is a duo hailing from opposite sides of the Atlantic, united by their love of bluegrass and traditional folk music and their love for each other. Together, they combine the musical styles of their respective homelands, along with their instrumental prowess and haunting vocals, to create something new. Their musical sound is considered refreshing and direct. It will add a wonderful final touch to your visit to Black Mountain.

Sourwood Honey and Facts About Honey

A booth at the festival will be maintained by The Center for Honeybee Research, a highly knowledgeable research organization, with Carl Chesick as the Executive Director. This booth will be at 113 Black Mountain Avenue. The Center for Honeybee Research, a non-profit organization, is working hard to try to understand what is currently killing so many bees and what can be done about it. The issue is a major concern, and it is of great importance to unravel this mystery. At this festival, the Center will have a number of unopened 1 pound jars to buy at their booth, brought to their earlier Honey Festival held in Asheville this past June at the Salvage Station. This allows someone to taste some delicious international honeys that are hard to find and have been winners in the Black Jar Honey Contest.

Carl said: “”Sourwood” comes from boxes which are placed empty when Sourwood trees begin blooming (about June 20-July 15th this year, depending on elevation and local circumstance) and removed/extracted as soon as the bloom is over. It is up to beekeepers how conscientious they are, but honey collected thusly will have a high sourwood content in a good year. Pure Sourwood is a dull light amber, about the color of Brut Champagne, with a unique and delicate taste. The tree is common in the forests of Southern Appalachia and yields a honey considered premier by aficionados.