Perhaps it was the rainy morning yesterday, or the apples and pears found at a local farmers’ market this weekend, or the back to school sale ads, but I can’t help thinking ahead to Fall, even if the calendar reveals it’s still the first half of August.
We’ve been fortunate with regards to weather this year, relative to other regions faced with drought. Many local crops began appearing earlier in the season at our local farmers’ markets and yields were high. Time will tell if Autumn’s harvest will be as productive as Summer. Glancing at the events calendar for Fall, it’s certain we will have the chance to feast on a bounty of local festivals to feed both mind and body. So, pull out your calendar and get ready to fill it with a few fabulous events.
NC Hops & Roots Fest at Shakori Hills, September 1st
The gates will open at noon for this end of Summer edition of NC Hops & Roots, a fest for fans of NC beer, farms and music. Perhaps you started your Summer at the Memorial Day weekend session of this event? If so, then you’ll likely want to venture back to the fields of Shakori to close out your summer season. Tickets are $15 in advance (and can be purchased online here through August 25th) or $20 “at the door”. A new NC nano-brewery, Bear Creek Brews, will be pouring at this Fall’s event, along with returning favorites like Fullsteam, LoneRider and Carolina Brewery. Plus, there will be farmers, food and live music to entertain for hours. As with past events, overnight camping is free for those so inclined. Also, do plan ahead and bring cash for parking ($5), as well as to purchase food and beverages.
SparkCon 2012 in downtown Raleigh, September 13th – 16th
“Sparks” of all sorts (art, dance, fashion, geek, music, circus, comedy, film… all that and a bag of chips) will fill downtown Raleigh along Fayetteville Street (plans to hold the event in the Warehouse district had to be scraped just recently) with a four-day “creative explosion”. A program of the Raleigh non-profit Visual Art Exchange, SparkCon is “open source” creativity that aims to foster and empower the creative community of the Triangle. Some Spark details are yet to be finalized, but the opening ceremony stage is set at the downtown amphitheater. There is literally something for everyone attending SparkCon and I’d suggest carefully perusing the calendar to plot out your day… or not. Just go, see, experience and enjoy.
CenterFest in downtown Durham, September 15th & 16th
The Durham Arts Council’s expanded and re-envisioned CenterFest returns to downtown streets on a mid-September weekend (Saturday 10:00 am – 6:00 pm, Sunday 11:00 am – 5:00 pm). The visual and performing arts fest will occupy Main and Chapel Hill Streets in the Five Points and CCB Plaza areas and is free to attend (though your donation will be gratefully accepted at the gate). Returning from a one-year hiatus, CenterFest 2012 hopes to include a variety of activities as well as local foods and a beer garden. Naturally, it’s hard to imagine a Durham festival without a food truck (or five) to be found on nearby streets, and downtown Durham restaurants offer visitors options for dine-in options when attendees are ready to get off the streets.
Eastern Triangle Farm Tour, September 15th & 16th
Mid September is going to be a busy one for Triangle residents. For those who like to get up close and personal with their food, the 2012 Eastern Triangle Farm Tour takes place from 1 to 5 pm both days. More than twenty farms fill the map for this tour (including four new farms), from urban farms (Raleigh City Farm is stop number 18!) to more traditional farms in the far corners of the Triangle. Tour all the farms you can for $25 per car load when you purchase your tour button in advance, or for $30 on the day of the tour. If you’re interested in just a couple of the farms, there’s a $10 per farm option too. Just pay as you arrive at each farm. Don’t forget to bring a cooler – very important. You’ll need a cooler to bring back some farm fresh products. Tasty souvenirs from the day’s travels.
Festifall in downtown Chapel Hill, October 7th
On a Sunday afternoon, arts fans will stroll downtown Chapel Hill’s Franklin Street during the 40th annual Festifall (Noon to 6 pm), one of the area’s favorite annual events. While exploring local arts, enjoying live entertainment and hands-on activities, attendees can immerse themselves in the vibrant community and will likely find something tasty to dine upon too (The Pig and Vimala’s were a couple of the food vendors at last year’s event). Be sure to check the event website for updated information as the event draws near.
Pittsboro Pepper Festival at Briar Chapel Community Park, October 14th
For the fifth year, The Abundance Foundation and Piedmont Biofarm bring the “heat” to the Pittsboro Pepper Festival (3:00 pm to 7:00 pm). A Pepper Fest King and Queen will be crowned, musicians will perform and those in attendance will join in the celebration of local farms, chefs, music and beverages of many persuasions, from more than 30 local vendors. Tickets are available now, and they’re only $25 if you purchase one (or more) by September 21st. After that, tickets go up to $30 if purchased by October 12th, or $35 on the day of the event. You know you want to go, so save yourself a few bucks and go get that ticket. Besides, it’s all for a good cause, since the pepper festival is the primary fundraiser for The Abundance Foundation and Piedmont Biofarm.
TerraVita 2012 in and around Chapel Hill, November 1st – 3rd
Now in its third year, the annual TerraVITA food and wine event celebrates sustainability and brings North Carolina chefs and artisan food and beverage producers from across the state to the Triangle. This year the event has expanded to include special dinners, classes and tastings over three days in early November. In each of the event’s first two years, funds raised benefited local non profits (namely CFSA and TABLE). For 2012, a Harvest Potluck Fundraiser will benefit the Carrboro Farmers’ Market (potluck scheduled for Nov. 1st, 7 – 9 pm). Back this year are Sustainable Classroom sessions (split in morning and afternoon sessions on Nov. 2nd), where participants may engage with speakers, watch demonstrations and join workshops. Then on November 3rd, the “sustainable finale” that is the Grand Tasting on the Green at Southern Village will take place from 1:00 pm to 4:30 pm (tickets can be purchased here). Last year’s Grand Tasting introduced me to Asheville’s French Broad Chocolate (and it was love at first bite) and they’re coming back! I can’t wait to learn who the other participants will be this year. Check the TerraVITA website early and often (and follow on Twitter) to keep up to date on event news.
So there you have it. Plenty of fun to be had in the coming months, and plenty of time to get in some extra miles on the treadmill in preparation for all that feasting. Cheers, y’all!