Feeding the Multitude at the Valle Country Fair Saturday, October 15
VALLE CRUCIS, NC -- Changing leaves signal the time for one of the smallest villages in the North Carolina mountains to host one of the largest festivals of the harvest season. Shut down by the pandemic in 2020 and stunted by lingering Covid in 2021, attendance at the 44th annual Valle Country Fair in Valle Crucis, NC, on October 15 is expected to climb back over 10,000 visitors. In response, the VCF food committee is going all out to be ready to feed the numbers of visitors they fed in the past.
The Valle Country Fair is a fundraising endeavor of Holy Cross Episcopal Church in Valle Crucis, NC. The festival raises money that gets put back into the community through grants to local non-profit organizations and assistance tofamilies with emergency needs. Revenues come from 150 craft exhibitors who donate 10% of their proceeds back to the Fair charities and from church-operated food concessions that return 100% of their proceeds to the cause.
Relying on more than 100 volunteers, half of whom are members of Holy Cross Church and half 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.
"The food this year is going to be outstanding," says Bridgett Murphree of Moe's Original BBQ in Asheville. "Everything on the menu is being made fresh on site."
Murphree and a small crew of employees from Moe's Original BBQ will come to town four days ahead of the Fair to make Brunswick Stew from scratch. Another dozen of Moe's cooks and servers will join them in the barbecue tent on Fair day, including company co-founder, Mike Fernandez.
"We bring our mobile smoker and the meat comes fresh off the pit," she said. "There is the aroma of cooking pork mixing with white oak and cherry wood smoke. Plus, watching butts come off the smoker and pork getting pulled and chopped is great theater.
"We love this event," Murphree said. "We love what it does for the community. This is the kind of event we like to be a part of, as demonstrated by the fact that Moe's founder, Mike Fernandez, will be working the event with us this year!"
"The chili is as homemade as you can get," said chili chef Jeff Williams. "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."
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."
Over its first four 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 2022 Valle Country Fair are the Children’s Council, Girls on the Run, High Country Caregivers, the Jason Project, LIFE House, the Mediation and Restorative Justice Center, Mountain Alliance, Reaching Avery Ministries, Spirit Ride Therapeutic Riding Center and Watauga County Schools Extended Learning Centers. Theoutreach committee at Holy Cross Church distributes all remaining proceeds to help local families.
One change this year that is being heralded as a huge improvement is the addition of second entrance to the Fairgrounds introduced in 2021. The second way in gets fairgoers off the two-lane feeder roads and parked in the huge hayfield beside the event more than twice as fast.
"Traffic improved by a landslide," said Captain Carolyn Johnson of the Watauga County Sheriff's Department. "Having two entrances practically eliminated time spent sitting in long lines of cars and, for the most part, kept traffic flowing continually."
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 2022 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. Proceeds are used to provide grants to local non-profit organizations, and relief to local families with emergency needs.For more information, contact Holy Cross Church at 828-963-4609 or visit the Fair on the Web at www.vallecountryfair.org.