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Tickets Still Available for Good Fields Festival on June 24, 2023

By Kris Testori

Celebrate the 150th Year of Shipley Farms on Saturday, June 24th at the inaugural Good Fields Appalachian Food & Farms Festival.

The food festival is aimed at raising awareness of the importance of local farms. “Part of the theme of the food festival is that commodity agriculture is not viable in some places,” Gray Shipley said. The festival will highlight the rich agricultural heritage of the region, with top chefs from across the state drawing from Shipley Farms and other local farm products. With the theme “Local Food Elevated,” Good Fields aims to draw attention and support to the decline in family farms and agricultural land in the High Country and across North Carolina.

Bob Shipley, R.G.’s son, is the festival’s co-founder and host. He says his goal is to strengthen the local agricultural community so that this way of life can stay around for several more generations. “I grew up in this community and on this farm. My dad used to ride his horse to Mast General Store as a kid to get flour, salt, and canning supplies for his mother. This was all normal to us – we didn’t call it local or pasture-raised, it was just food. I didn’t know it was great food, because I barely knew processed food existed.” Shipley said. “It never occurred to us that our experience was a bit unique at the time – but it’s far more unique now. North Carolina has lost over 40,000 farms since I went to college. Fewer and fewer people are getting exposed to local farm experiences, and it’s getting harder and harder for local farms to compete, and to make it to the next generation. We think this festival can help bring some attention to that issue, and get some momentum to turn that trend back a little in the other direction.”

Currently, North Carolina ranks second in the country for farmland projected to be lost to development in the next two decades. To address this issue, Good Fields will support the programs working on the ground to support local food and farms. They are donating a percentage of proceeds to the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project, Piedmont Culinary Guild, the NC Choices initiative of the Center for Environmental Farming Systems, and the Watauga High School chapter of Future Farmers of America. “Part of the theme of the food festival is that what we’re doing here is commodity agriculture’s getting to the point where it’s not viable in places,” Shipley said. 

Experience a variety of dishes using Shipley Farms meats and all the flavors of the High Country prepared by leading chefs and restaurants from across the region.

Chef lineup:

  • Andres Prussing, CEC (Golden Owl Tavern, Charlotte)
  • Andy Long (Over Yonder, Valle Crucis)
  • Ashley Boyd (300 East, Charlotte)
  • Gerald Hawkins (Wa Mi Dounou Collective, Raleigh, NC )
  • Courtney Evans (Leah and Louise, Charlotte)
  • Daniel Wheeler (Culinary Instructor, CCCTI, Charlotte/Hudson/Boone
  • Preeti Waas (Cheeni Indian Food Emporium, Raleigh)
  • Sam Ratchford (Vidalia, Boone)
  • Sera Cuni (Cafe Root Cellar, Chapel Hill)
  • Jamisen Booker (Weathered Soul)
  • and more to come!

The festival will also feature storytelling, sunset around the fire pit, and a book signing by Evan Peter Smith, author of “Here By The Owl”, the story of Shipley Farms patriarch R.G. Shipley, from his days of top secret research in World War II, through his entrepreneurial ventures at age 101. Hear live bluegrass music from Nick Chandler and Delivered. Ticketholders will have access to the Pasture, with complimentary food and beverage tastings from all participating chefs.

To purchase tickets go to https://goodfieldsnc.com/. Discounts are available for seniors, veterans, Watauga County residents, Ruritan club members, and former students of RG and Agnes. Call (828) 484-1872 for a discounted rate.