Labor Day weekend in Hendersonville may not typically be cool and crisp, but at least it marks the promise of fall, as well as the indisputable harvest of Henderson County’s prime cash and cultural crop: apples.
A quick crunch of numbers confirms that Henderson remains the top apple-growing county in the state, and seventh in the country. According to the Blue Ridge Farm Direct Market Association, “if the number of apples from a normal crop grown in the county were laid two abreast, they would reach from Hendersonville to Tokyo and return.”
You don’t have to go that far to enjoy the area’s orchards and experimental apple venues (some 200 growers in all).
As part of the four-day North Carolina Apple Festival, happening this weekend (September 4-7), the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service will lead a tour on Saturday the 5th. The caravan leaves from the NCCES parking lot (100 Jackson Park Road) at 9am. Stops include the Apple Variety Block in Dana (home of exciting new types and flavors) and the Direct Market Apple Fruit Stand in Edneyville. The tour winds up at 1pm. ($10; pre-registration is required.)
Although the star attraction – “the fruit of our Labor Day,” as festival coordinators have dubbed it this year – hails from surrounding farms, the festival proper mostly happens on Main Street in Hendersonville. Bake-offs, window-decorating contests, live music, crafts, kids’ rides, dancing, and more happen over the weekend, and the King Apple Parade crowns the event on Monday.
The 2015 North Carolina Apple Festival happens September 4-7. For a complete schedule, see www.ncapplefestival.org.