ASHEVILLE, N.C. — The Asheville Spring Herb Festival, held the first weekend in May since 1990, will return for its 31st year on May 1 and 2, 2021, at the WNC Agricultural Center in Fletcher, NC. Hours are 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.
The Ag Center, home to the Mountain State Fair and other farm- and garden-related events each year, is located at 761 Boylston Highway, just south of the Asheville Airport (I-26 Exit 40).
The 30th anniversary event in 2019 drew more than 35,000 people over three days; with that level of participation, the 2020 festival, like all other large gatherings, was cancelled as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. As a result, many local and regional herb farmers had to scramble to find other outlets for the plants and related products.
Wide variety of products
The return of the festival this May is reason for rejoicing among many vendors of herb and vegetable starter plants, including heirloom vegetables, and manufacturers of many related products that are herbalists are renowned for. Dozens of specialists create and sell salves and ointments, culinary and medicinal extracts, soaps, body washes, and supplements, as well as cheeses, pickles, baked goods, and other ready-to-eat foods infused with locally sourced herbs.
Classes in various aspects of growing and designing herb gardens, using herbs in various ways, and creating herb products will be offered throughout the weekend. Also, Cecilia’s Kitchen food truck and Home Ground Coffee will be on-site throughout both days, and Luscious Liquors Ice Cream will serve non-alcoholic refreshments from the concession stand.
Developing WNC’s agricultural heritage
The 2021 Spring Herb Festival is organized by the WNC Herb Marketing Association, established to promote opportunities to develop the region’s agriculture and specialty products. Many young farmers and entrepreneurs join with second- and third-generation families to ensure the health and long-term future of WNC’s herb industry, including the newly established Blue Ridge Chapter of the National Young Farmers Coalition.
Covid-19 Precautions and restrictions will be in place for the 2021 festival, which will be held in the 27,500-square-foot Expo Building. Masks will be required of visitors and vendors while inside the building; each vendor is asked to have alcohol-based hand sanitizers available; and the building’s seven roll-up delivery doors will be kept open throughout the festival. The number of attendees allowed within the building by the WNC Agricultural Center will be in accordance with the rules of NC and Henderson County governments in effect at the time of the festival.
North Carolina sponsors of the 2021 Spring Herb Festival, in addition to the WNCHMA, are Smokey J’s Fiery Foods of Candler; Appalachian Seeds (West Asheville); Huffman’s Herbs (Morganton); Mills Garden Herb Farm (Statesville); Raindrop Ridge Farm (Washington); Red Moon Herbs (Candler); The Farm Connection (Marshall); and Wildwood Herbal (Weaverville).
Admission and parking are free. Guests are asked to enter the Ag Center grounds at Gate 5, one-half mile south of the Asheville Airport entrance.
–Jeannie Dunn, Asheville Herb Festival