Conventional wisdom advises that habits are ingrained after 21 days of repetition. If that theory holds true, then the eat~play~shop local habit requires time and effort to develop. Each month I’ll be sharing “21 Days” of some event or place in the Triangle, enabling (and I mean that in the most positive sense possible) your inner Localista to come out and play. This month it’s all about local festivals that celebrate arts, culture, food and beverage.
The first rule of the early Autumn event we’ve come to know as the Annual Amazing Pepper Festival is “Come hungry!” With more than thirty participating chefs/restaurants and beverage makers to sample at last year’s Pepper Festival that rule was very appropriate.
A fest that began in 2008 as an informal gathering of friends and family sampling different varieties of sweet bell-shaped peppers has grown in both size and scope. The fest quickly outgrew the capacity of its original location on Lorax Lane in Pittsboro, where one finds The Abundance Foundation HQ. In 2013 Boulder Park in Chapel Hill’s Briar Chapel community hosted the event. Though food and beverage were the primary reason one attended with an appetite, the fest included entertainment to feed minds – live music performances, kid-friendly activities, and 25 booths with information about sustainability, conservation, renewable energy, local food, clean air and water – all focal points of the Abundance Foundation’s mission.
True to its name, every dish and beverage at the event incorporated a locally grown pepper of some sort. Even the craft beverages from Crude Bitters & Soda, Steel String Brewery, Mystery Brewing Company, Carolina Brewery and Top of the Hill Brewery & Distillery included pepper flavors. During the festival a Pepper King and Queen are crowned with a headdress composed primarily of peppers, as has become the tradition. Last year the stakes were raised a bit when a panel of culinary experts chose a best dish from competing restaurant entries and awarded a cash prize.
If you’ve not attended the Abundance Foundation’s Annual Amazing Pepper Festival in the past, this year have a light breakfast or brunch, then spend a late Sunday afternoon grazing on local culinary creativity and celebrating our sustainable communities.