A few weekends ago, I went to the pimento cheese festival in Cary. Although not a fan of pimento cheese myself, I have family members who are, and I’m always up for a festival of any sort, so we piled in the car and drove up there. It was an interesting event and they had everything from pimento cheese waffles to a woman carving a block of cheese into the town of Cary logo. I heard one promotion naming pimento cheese the “caviar of the south.” Although not my cup of tea, it started me thinking about other items that are celebrated that we have that are distinctly southern this time of year.
The peach festival in Candor is coming up on July 19-20, and it’s another local festival that my family likes to attend. There’s a parade with candy thrown out by the floats to the kids, and lots of peaches and peach-flavored goodies to purchase and enjoy. I like to get some homemade peach ice cream, to help beat the heat this time of year. Peach orchards dot the back roads in the Candor area and are a great local fruit to purchase at roadside stands or farmers markets this time of year.
Two other fruits in season right now are blueberries and figs. I purchased a fig bush last year that barely survived our sultry summer but thankfully now looks to be flourishing. It had one single fig last year but this year I’m hoping for a few more. I love to add figs and blueberries to my morning oatmeal with a little honey and some walnuts. If you’re looking for somewhere to purchase some blueberries, consider Mountain Creek Farms in Albemarle – owners Richard Almond and wife Mitzie Almond grow blueberries on their farm, protected by conservation easement with Three Rivers Land Trust last year.
Another fruit staple this time of year that you might stumble upon in your woods rambles are blackberries. I remember as a child picking blackberries from vines on an old fence across the road from my grandparent’s house, and making pies and jams. It’s one of my fondest childhood memories. I’ve even seen people picking blackberries on the side of the interstate (which I wouldn’t recommend), but I love a chance encounter with a vine of ripe blackberries when I’m out on a property – they make a great field snack. Almond Farms in Stanly County, owned by six siblings, are known for their Christmas trees, but they also have a blackberry orchard. This farm was also protected by a conservation easement with Three Rivers Land Trust in 2014.
Although I didn’t get to attend either this year, there’s also a North Carolina blueberry festival and a North Carolina blackberry festival, the former in Burgaw in June and the latter in Lenoir in early July. That may be something to check out next year. I did get to pick cherries at a local orchard near Mount Airy back on Memorial Day, and that was a fun and delicious adventure. There are so many tasty fruits available locally this time of year, but they won’t be around for long, so stop by and get some while you can.