By Nathan Ham
The Valle Country Fair is back after a “virtual” fair last year due to COVID-19 and will feature around 150 craft exhibitors for the 43rd year of the event. Each year, the fair takes place on the third Saturday of October on the grounds of the Valle Crucis Conference Center off of Highway 194. As always, admission to the event is free and parking is $10 per vehicle.
Locals and tourists alike gather in Valle Crucis each fall for the fair, and after a year off from the traditional event, people are ready to get back out to one of the most popular fall events in Watauga County.
“The fair is so much about community and community celebration. Being together is a really important part of that experience. You don’t get that full sensation of community without connecting with other human beings,” said Catherine Morton, who helps organize the event each year.
The biggest change that folks at the fair can expect to see this year is how traffic will move in and out of the area.
“We have figured out how to open up two entrances to the fairgrounds so that will allow cars to move off of NC 194 into the fairgrounds twice as fast so we are really expecting to see improvement on the way traffic moves getting into the fair, and then later in the day when more of the crowd is waiting to leave, that second entrance will become a second exit,” Morton said. “I really think we are going to have a noticeable improvement in the traffic issue and I know that that is the main barrier for local people to come to the fair, they all say they want to go to the fair but they don’t want to deal with the traffic. We really want to encourage the locals to come.”
Morton also said that people need to be prepared to have a mask with them and to socially distance themselves where possible.
“There will be more space between booths this year so that people can move around with more space. This is all about celebrating community and we want to continue taking care of each other,” she said.
There will be two stages set up to host entertainment throughout the day. The stage located near the dining tent will feature local bluegrass, country and gospel music. A second stage will be located near the children’s activity area and it will feature cloggers, magicians and more. Things offered in the kids’ area will include games like Twister and pumpkin bowling, arts and crafts and creating Halloween treats.
Almost all of the food concessions are operated by Holy Cross Episcopal Church or by other non-profit organizations that return 100% of their earnings to local charities.
Even with last year being a “virtual” fair, Morton said that they were able to collect $50,000 to give back to the Valle Crucis community. In 2020, they were able to give $60,000 back to the community.
“Money is given in grants to non-profits like Hospitality House and the Hunger and Health Coalition, and other money is distributed through the church that is given to people dealing with crisis, such as fuel bills, prescriptions and medical bills,” Morton said. “Over the years we have been able to put over $1 million back into the community.”
Recipients of the 2021 Valle Country Fair grants are Appalachian Senior Foster Grandparent and Senior Companion Programs, Blue Ridge Women In Agriculture, the Children’s Council, Community Care Clinic, High Country Caregivers, the Hunger and Health Coalition, LIFE Village, Mountain Alliance, Parent to Parent Family Support Network, Spirit Ride Therapeutic Riding Center and Watauga County Schools Extended Learning Centers.
For more information on the Valle Country Fair, contact Holy Cross Church at 828-963-4609 or visit the Valle Country Fair website.