By Jessica Isaacs
Folks from all over will pour into town this weekend for one of the High Country’s most popular harvest time traditions. It’s a perfect way to spend a day in the mountains, but it’s also one of the most successful single-day fundraising events in the area and a major contributor to many local nonprofits.
Crowds will fill the valley this weekend on Saturday, Oct. 15 for the annual Valle Country Fair, which brings together incredible food, great shopping, local art and crafts, fun for the kids and crisp, cool mountain air.
Since its inception in the late 1970s, the fair, operated by the Holy Cross Episcopal Church and a tight-knit network of caring community members, has been a fun-filled day of excitement for all, but it’s so much more than that. It’s also an opportunity to collect thousands of dollars in one afternoon, the total of which is set aside and later distributed through an annual grant cycle to local agencies in need.
“It’s part of an ethical and Christian obligation to try and help others who are less fortunate,” said Raymond Lutz, who will serve as chairperson of the fair committee in the next two years. “There are a lot of less fortunate people, and this is one way that they can be helped.”
Each year, that money is raised through a variety of ways during the fair.
The church sponsors and sells a number of concessions, like Brunswick stew, sausage with onions and peppers, chili, barbecue and take-home treats like apple butter, jams, jellies and baked goods. The church sells these products to festivalgoers and contributes 100 percent of those proceeds to the grant cycle fund.
Additionally, a vast assortment of juried exhibitors offer up handcrafted items of all sorts, shapes and sizes. By the end of the day, and on the honor system, exhibitors tithe and contribute 10 percent of all proceeds from sales made at the fair.
“We have great food, 168 arts and crafts vendors, a wide variety of food to include Brunswick stew,” said Lutz. “It’s a good fair day for a good purpose.”
With an estimated 13,000 or more attendants on the way, hundreds of volunteers are coming together this week to get ready for the fair.
“The elementary school here in Valle Crucis is heavily involved, as well,” Lutz said. “It’s truly a community event.”
Last year, the fair distributed $40,000 into programs that support families and individuals in need in the High Country by funding grant applications for agencies including:
- Appalachian Senior Program
- Children’s Council of Watauga County
- High Country Caregivers
- Hospitality House
- Hunger and Health Coalition
- Mountain Alliance
- Parent-to-Parent Family Support Network
- Quiet Givers
- Spirit Ride
- WAMY Community Action
- Watauga County Library
- Western Youth Network
Want to go and show your support this year? Here’s the scoop on all the fun!
What? Valle Country Fair 2016
When? Saturday, Oct. 15 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m
Where? The field along N.C. Highway 194 across from Holy Cross Church and the Valle Crucis Conference Center (122 and 146 Skiles Way, Banner Elk 28604)
Parking? Adjacent to the fair: $10 per car or personal vehicle, $25 per small bus or van, $50 per large bus or motor coach
Remember: No Pets.
For more information, visit vallecountryfair.org or call 828-963-4609.