North Carolina, others celebrate with blueberry festivals
As blueberries ripen, festivals like the North Carolina Blueberry Festival in Burgaw
on June 16 open to celebrate the harvest.
By Bobbie Whitehead Posted June 10, 2012 Blueberry season typically begins in May with fresh berries ripening in Florida first, then Georgia and continuing up the East Coast with fans and growers commem-orating the berry’s arrival. Many blueberry-producing communities across the country hold festivals or one-day events throughout the season. One popular festival, now in its 9th year, is the North Carolina Blueberry Festival in Burgaw scheduled for June 16. Ranking sixth in the nation in blueberry production, North Carolina’s blueberry-producing counties center around Burgaw where the festival features a recipe contest, a bike race, food vendors as well as fresh blueberry sales, music entertainment (Craig Woolard Band, 11 a.m.; Spare Change Band, 2 p.m. and The Band of OZ, 6 p.m.), an antique car show and a 5K walk/run, among other activities.
According to the North Carolina Blueberry Festival Committee, the event typically draws 30,000 visitors in the historic downtown of Burgaw, which is located in Pender County where the state’s commercial blueberry production began in the 1930s. On Friday, June 15, visitors will find both the recipe contest, sponsored by Star News Media of Wilmington, and a barbecue cook off. Friday’s events begin at 11 a.m. and last until 8 p.m. On Saturday, the festival opens at 7 a.m. with the 5K walk/run. At 9 a.m., main events such as the car show begin, and vendors open for customers. The opening ceremony starts at 10 a.m., and the festival closes at 9 p.m. A little further south, another festival the 32nd annual Alabama Blueberry Festival in Brewton, Ala., at the Burnt Corn Creek Park, also opens Saturday. The event lasts one day from 8 a.m.to 3 p.m. In Alabama, festival goers can expect to fine food vendors, blueberries for sale, a “strolling” musician, an antique car show, a motorcycle show, plenty of children’s activities including face painting and a petting zoo, and cookbooks and blueberry bushes for sale, along with all-day entertainment, according to the festival website. And in addition to festivals in North Carolina and Alabama, the June 15-16 weekend marks the opening of the 10th annual Kentucky Blueberry Festival in Edmonton. This festival began as a goodwill venture to promote locally-grown berries by Edmonton CB Foods Owners Paul and Tana Shade, according to the Kentucky Blueberry Growers Association website. Five years after being held at the Edmonton CB Foods, the festival grew, needed more space and moved to the town’s square with everyone in town supporting it, the KBGA notes. At this festival, visitors will find games, prizes, face painting, live entertainment, blueberries and blueberry shakes, along with much more. Moving up North to New Jersey, the 29th annual Whitesbog Blueberry Festival will begin June 23 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission to the festival costs $8 per car load and $5 per person on foot or by bus. This festival, like Alabama’s, is a long-running one, and Whitesbog calls itself the “birthplace of the highbush blueberry.” This historic community known as Village of Whitesbog is the location where a U.S. Department of Agriculture researcher, Dr. Frederick V. Coville, worked with a local blueberry producer, Elizabeth C. White, to develop a hybrid blueberry in the early 1900s, according to Whitesbog Preservation Trust. “The Festival features the pioneering work of Whitesbog’s own Elizabeth C. White to domesticate the very first blueberry, traditional Pinelands musicians, artists and crafters, fantastic festival food, wagon and walking tours, lectures, demonstrations and dozens of children’s activities will all be featured at the day-long festival,” according to a Whitesbog Preservation Trust news release. “But the real star of the show is, of course, the blueberries!” For information on other blueberry festivals, click here to visit the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council’s festival listings.