VALLE CRUCIS — Mountain music, handmade crafts, barbecue, Brunswick stew, apple cider, apple butter, and peak autumn color all come together in a huge hay field at the heart of Valle Crucis on Saturday, Oct. 19, at the Valle Country Fair. What started as a little church bazaar in 1978 now welcomes thousands and has raised more than $1 million for local charities over its first 40 years.

Always held on the third Saturday in October, the Valle Country Fair takes over the grounds of the Valle Crucis Conference Center on NC Hwy. 194 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., and admission is free. There will be ample parking in the adjoining field for $10 per car. Please note that no pets are allowed.

The tents of 160 craft exhibitors line wide lanes that meander back and forth across the grounds. Bales of hay are stacked in the intersections of these alleys to offer fairgoers a spot to sit as they ponder which craft booths to visit next.

Artisans submit to a jury process designed to bring together the highest quality handmade crafts available, and to ensure fairgoers that there is a wide variety of unique products to choose between. As a show of support, craftspeople participating in the event donate at least 10 percent of their earnings back to the charitable work of the Fair.

Two stages are set up to provide entertainment throughout the day. The main stage is located near the dining tent and features the best in local mountain music.

New in 2019 is the participation of the Junior Appalachian Musicians program. The award-winning New River JAM band, made up of teens from northwest North Carolina and southwest Virginia, is joining the list of popular local bands performing on the main stage.

A second stage located near the Kids’ Activity Area features cloggers and other younger performers. Diversions offered in the Kids’ Area include games, pumpkin bowling, arts and crafts, and face painting. Kids can also interact with ponies from Spirit Ride Therapeutic Riding Center and alpacas from the Apple Hill Farm.

Eat all you want at the Valle Country Fair because almost all of the food concessions are operated by the church or by other nonprofit organizations that return 100 percent of their earnings to local charities. Tables and chairs are provided under a large tent next to the music stage so that fairgoers can enjoy the entertainment while they dine.

Food concessions include Brunswick Stew, barbecue, chili, hot dogs and hamburgers, corn dogs, sausages with onions, ham biscuits, ice cream, funnel cakes, baked goods, jams and jellies, freshly pressed apple cider and apple butter cooked on the grounds.

Guests are encouraged to take a vacation from cooking on the night of the 19th as well, because the Brunswick Stew, barbecue and chili can all be purchased by the quart for later consumption — as can baked goods, jams and jellies, apple cider and apple butter!

The 2019 Valle Country Fair grant recipients are the Children’s Council, the Creative Peacemaker Center, Hunger and Health Coalition, Mountain Alliance, Parent-to-Parent Family Support Network, Spirit Ride Therapeutic Riding Center, W.A.M.Y. Community Action, and the Watauga County Schools Extended Learning Centers. The outreach committee at Holy Cross Church distributes all remaining proceeds to individuals and families in crisis.

Holy Cross Episcopal Church and the Valle Crucis Conference Center sponsor the event with all proceeds going to help people in need. For more information, contact Holy Cross Church at (828) 963-4609 or www.vallecountryfair.org.

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