Oct. 14, 2013. For 35 years, the Valle Country Fair (on Oct. 19) has been held on the third Saturday of October in the fields of the Valle Crucis Conference Center. Started as a church bazaar by the members of the Holy Cross Episcopal Church to raise money to build a parish hall, today all monies are returned to the community to help those in need. Admission is free and parking is available in the adjoining hay field for $5 per car. Pets are not allowed.
As folks enter the Valle, the aroma of chili, Brunswick stew, barbeque and apple butter mix with the crisp morning air. Return visitors head to booths displaying their favorite handmade crafts or fill their baskets with baked goods and jellies. Mountain music mixes with the voices of the volunteers and visitors. Straw bales invite guests to rest, eat a little, sip hot apple cider and visit with fair goers from around the state, many of whom plan their fall trip for this weekend.
Begun as a church bazaar in the Apple Barn of the Conference Center, today the Fair welcomes over 150 juried exhibitors with handmade arts and crafts, greets over 10,000 visitors, demonstrates apple butter and cider production and in 2013 includes special activities for children and families.
Children and families are invited to participate in games, pumpkin carving, arts and crafts and creating Halloween treats in the new activity area sponsored by the Valle Crucis School and Valle Crucis Community Park. Two entertainment venues offer music, dancing and other performers. Church members will be making apple cider with an old-fashioned apple press and the Apple Butter Gang will be stirring pots of bubbling apple butter. Cases of the sweet condiment will be on hand for purchase by early arrivals, and the hot apple butter will be ready to dip into jars by early afternoon.
All proceeds from the Fair are returned to the community to help those in need, divided between local nonprofit agencies and organizations who apply for grants and other money is used by the mission and outreach committee of Holy Cross Episcopal Church to help individuals and families in need throughout the year. Over 230 families and individuals were assisted in 2012 to help with electric, fuel and water bills, rent payments usually to avoid eviction, home repair, gas cards to get to work or medical appointments, food cards and child care.
Valle Country Fair Grant recipients for 2013 include the Children’s Council of Watauga County, Circles of the High Country, Community Care Clinic, Feeding Avery Families, INC, High Country Women’s Fund, Hospitality House, Parent-to-Parent Family Support Network, High Country, The Hunger and Health Coalition and Western Youth Network. Volunteers from some of these organizations will be helping with the fair.
The fair runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Following the fair, Valle Crucis Elementary School invites everyone to come over for a chicken supper and a bingo game.