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YOU CAN’T EAT TOO MUCH FOOD AT THE VALLE COUNTRY FAIR 45th Annual Fundraising Event Takes Place on October 21

The Apple Butter Gang accepts volunteers of all sizes to help stir the copper cauldron full of bubbling hot apple sauce as it cooks down over an open fire for more than 8 hours before it turns into the sweet, spicy condiment that is apple butter. (Photo by Catherine Morton)

VALLE CRUCIS, NC — When you think about fall festivals you think about crafts, music and FOOD! At the foremost of Northwestern North Carolina’s fall festivals, the Valle Country Fair in Valle Crucis, NC, food is more than just something to think about. At the Valle Country Fair, FOOD is the reason to arrive early and to stay late!

“Come hungry,” said Food Chairperson Trish Lanier. “Nibble your way through Fair flavors like apple cider, roasted corn and fried pies before you stock up on barbecue, Brunswick Stew or chili to take home for your evening meal. Everything you eat helps raise money for the charitable works of the Fair, so there is no such thing as eating too much!”

Fire roasted corn is one of the harvest flavors that families can enjoy at the Valle Country Fair in Valle Crucis on Saturday, October 21. (Photo by Catherine Morton)

The 2023 Valle Country Fair takes place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, October 21 off of Highway 194 between Boone and Banner Elk in Valle Crucis, NC. It is a fundraising endeavor of Holy Cross Episcopal Church and raises money that gets put back into the community through grants to local non-profit organizations and assistance to

Relying on more than 200 volunteers, a third of whom are members of Holy Cross Church and the rest of whom are area residents seeking an opportunity to give back to their community, the Valle Fair team will be ready to dish up 100 gallons of Brunswick Stew and 80 gallons of chili (accompanied by 2,100 corn muffins), 1,250 pounds of pork BBQ, 140 pounds of Kielbasa and Bratwurst Sausage, 36 pounds of grilled Portabella mushrooms, 190 pounds of hamburgers and cheeseburgers, 160 pounds of hot dogs, and 570 pounds of French fries.

John Pine is one of more than 200 volunteers who bring the fun and fellowship that makes the Valle Country Fair one of the most successful Fall Festivals in Western North Carolina.  (Photo by Bill Barbour)

“The food this year is going to be outstanding,” says Bridgett Murphree of Moe’s Original BBQ in Asheville, who brings small crew of employees to Valle Crucis ahead of the Fair to make Brunswick Stew from scratch.

“Everything on the menu is being made fresh on site,” she said. “We bring our mobile smoker, and the meat comes fresh off the pit. The aroma of cooking pork mixes with white oak and cherry wood smoke. Plus, watching butts come off the smoker and pork getting pulled and chopped is great entertainment.”

Chili chef Jeff Williams says the chili is as homemade as you can get. “We cook it up right here on the field starting Thursday. We offer two varieties: beef with bean chili and a white bean chicken chili. It is sold as individual servings or by the quart for folks who want to take some home for later.”

“The menu at the grill tent is simple,” says Paul Kroening. “Hamburgers, cheeseburgers, hot dogs and fries. The burgers, dogs and fries are all cooked fresh at the Fair. The only items prepared ahead are the tomato and onion slices for the burgers and the relish and chili for the dogs.”

Fresh pressed apple cider is available hot or cold for fairgoers looking to sample all the flavors of fall available at the Valle Country Fair in Valle Crucis, Saturday, October 21. (Photo by Bill Barbour)

Sausage Boss Brenda Lowman says the Sausage Factory has run smoothly for decades. “We have the same crew we’ve had for years. The third Saturday in October is blocked off on our calendars. We just put on our sausage hats and do what we’ve always done.”

In addition to the lunch menu, Fairgoers look forward to the countryfied canned goods that visitors expect mountain folk to put up for winter. The Valle Fair is famous for jams and jellies, pickles and relishes made in the kitchens of Holy Cross churchwomen. Along with Crabapple Jelly, Peach Preserves and Strawberry Jams, favorite recipes that keep shoppers returning year after year include Pepper Jelly, Christmas Jam and Pittsburg Relish.

 Vegetarian visitors to the Valle Country Fair will also find plenty of fall flavors to sample, including roasted sweet potatoes and grilled portobello mushrooms. (Photo by Catherine Morton)

The signature canned good of the Valle Country Fair, however, is Apple Butter. “First, we take six 30-to-40-gallon Amish copper kettle pots custom made for producing apple butter, then add 67 bushels of apples – each weighing about 45 pounds – to yield one ton of apple sauce,” said 83-year-old Walter Pitts, who earned his place as ringleader of the Apple Butter Gang over three decades. “It takes about ninety minutes to bring each pot to a boil and over seven hours of constant stirring so as not to scorch or burn the sauce and, of course, we remove the seeds throughout the process.

“Then we add our own special blend of spices one cup at a time before mixing it thoroughly until it’s smooth as butter, hence the name. Our recipe yields about 1,200 pints of genuine Valle Country Fair Apple Butter… and we always sell out. Veteran fairgoers head straight to our booth once they arrive at the fairgrounds, lest they go home empty-handed.”

An abundance of harvest-time flavors like homemade Brunswick Stew and hot-off-the-smoker barbecue are an integral part of the Valle Country Fair, held each year on the third Saturday in October on the grounds of the Valle Crucis Conference Center.  (Photo by Catherine Morton)

No church bazaar would ever be complete without a bake sale, and the Episcopal Church Women of Holy Cross Church do not disappoint. Armloads and armloads of baked goodies are carried down to the field before daylight on Fair Day. About half of the items include cookies, brownies, breads and candies that are portioned to be enjoyed while touring the craft booths and listening to mountain music. The other half include beautiful home- baked cakes, pies and breads that can be taken home for that night’s dessert — or frozen for Thanksgiving and other special occasions.

Making the baking booth more interactive in 2023 is a first-time-ever cake raffle. For a dollar a chance, fairgoers may purchase tickets to win a beautiful German Chocolate cake, an Apple Pie or a Flourless Chocolate Torte. Drawings will be held at 10:00AM, 11:00AM and 12:00PM. If a winner departs the Fair before their name is announced, they will get a phone call telling them of their good fortune.

Over its first four and a half decades, the Valle Country Fair raised more than $1 Million for charity and emergency relief in the High Country. Last year the Fair put $55,000 back into the community through grants that support local non-profit organizations and assist local families with emergency needs.

Recipients of grants from the 2023 Valle Country Fair are Amorem, the Children’s Council, the Community Care Clinic, The Hearts of Hospitality House, the Hunger & Health Coalition, Jason Project, Mountain Alliance, Parkway After School Program, Valle Crucis School PTSO and WAMY. The outreach committee at Holy Cross Church distributes all remaining proceeds to help local families.

The single-day harvest festival is held in a large hayfield located alongside NC Highway 194 between Valle Crucis and Banner Elk. Admission to the Valle Country Fair is FREE and parking is available in the adjoining field for $10 per car, $25 for a small bus or van, and $50 for a motor coach. NO PETS are allowed.

Media sponsors for VCF 2023 are Curtis Media Group and Mountain Times Publications. The event is produced by Holy Cross Episcopal Church in cooperation with the Valle Crucis Conference Center.
Cross Church at 828-963-4609 or visit the Fair on the Web at www.vallecountryfair.org. Proceeds are used to provide grants to local non-profit organizations, and relief to local families with emergency needs.