Strawberry Jam and the Heritage Festival

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dogwood blossomsWarmer weather and longer days are just a few reasons to look forward to the outdoor festival season. Local gatherings offer several opportunities to celebrate our rich and unique Appalachian culture, pay tribute to those who have served and protected our country and to show appreciation for local farmers whose hard work provide food for our tables.

Many fairs and festivals originated as social and recreational events centered around an important agricultural component. Since the early 19th century, farm families have gathered at fairs and festivals to learn about new farm equipment and farming techniques and to show off their best produce and livestock. The women displayed their handiwork through baked or canned goods, home arts, sewing and quilting.

These festivals and events brought neighbors, friends, church groups, and relatives far and wide to share information, develop a sense of camaraderie and instill local traditions.

Today, community festivals are similar in their reach and benefits. The economic benefits, social engagement, educational opportunities and relationship building are still important factors.

Community fairs and festivals attract visitors and visitors spend money which helps boost the local economy both on and off the event site. Local vendors, artisans, craftspeople, hotels and restaurants can reap the monetary benefits provided by a festival.

Being involved in a community festival fosters a sense of ownership and engages people from the community. Festivals promote pride by celebrating a communities’ uniqueness and what makes a town special.

Festivals are usually filled with educational opportunities that offer lots of hands-on learning in a fun and lively setting. Most festivals offer some type of instruction or demonstrations that provide a look into the history and culture of the region.

cloggers at Darnell FarmsOn Saturday, May 14, Darnell Farms kicks off the festival season with the Strawberry Jam. Darnell Farms is serious about maintaining the identity of Appalachian culture and provides a fun-filled day for the entire family with hayrides, storytelling and fishing. Where else can you see a field plowed with Teamsters, have a chance to pick your own strawberries, listen to bluegrass music and an opportunity to learn how to clog dance?

Darnell Farms is located at 2300 Governor’s Island Road, Bryson City, NC Musicians or vendors interested in having a part in this festival should contact Afton Roberts at (828) 736-8047.

heritage festivalThe 22nd Annual Heritage Festival returns on Friday, May 27, and Saturday, May 28 with gospel music, storytelling, mountain music, clogging and lots of activities and demonstrations for families. This time-honored tradition is known for it’s dedication in honoring those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom and having strong roots in upholding and showcasing mountain heritage.

The Heritage Festival is held at the Riverfront Park located at 101 Mitchell Street in Bryson City, NC. Vendors, volunteers or musicians interested in being a part of the Heritage Festival, should contact the Swain County Cooperative Extension at (828) 488-3848 for more information.

Click below for a copy of the 2016 Heritage Festival Vendor/Crafter Application.heritagefestival