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Posts Tagged ‘Surry County’

This year and last, we’ve been thrilled to host the International Bluegrass Music Association’s annual meeting and music festival in Raleigh. Seeing the breadth of talent in the genre today and the massive number of people interested in a form of music that has strong ties to the western part of our state has truly been amazing.

So, now that you’ve been to (or at least heard of) IBMA and bluegrass, you’re probably wondering what more there is to explore. The answer is simple: a lot.

To get you started here are six Tar Heel bluegrass destinations and events you won’t want to miss:

1. The Earl Scruggs Center, Shelby, Cleveland County

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Named in honor of bluegrass legend and Cleveland County native Earl Scruggs, this spectacular museum opened to wide acclaim earlier this year and explores Scruggs and the roots of the music genre he came to dominate.

2. Red, White and Bluegrass, Morganton, Burke County

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Held annualy on the Fourth of July, there’s no better way to celebrate our nation’s birthday than at this festival, one of North Carolina’s largest music events.

3. The Mount Airy Bluegrass and Old-Time Fiddlers Convention, Mount Airy, Surry County

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One of the more significant of the music festivals held in the Blue Ridge area every summer, this convention celebrates the fame Surry County musicians have achieved throughout the nation.

4. MerleFest, Wilkesboro, Wilkes County

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One of the nation’s premiere music events, this annual festival honors Watauga County bluegrass stars Doc and Merle Watson and draws nearly 75,000 attendees each year.

5. Yadkin Valley Bluegrass Convention, Yadkinville, Yakdin County

A throwback to the more traditional, smaller music contests of yesteryear, this annual event has become a favorite among bluegrass and old-time music fans and musicians alike.

6The BarnEden, Rockingham County

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Not many people create a music venue in their front yard, but that’s exactly what Jerry and Debbie Wilson did just a few years ago. Stop by on any Tuesday night to see and hear bluegrass and gospel bands play in the Wilsons’ barn.

These six places and events are just a few tips to get you started exploring the Old North State’s rich bluegrass culture and heritage. Pick up a copy of the Blue Ridge Music Trails of North Carolina, produced by the N.C. Arts Council and Blue Ridge National Heritage Area, or check out the book’s companion website for more great ideas.

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The heirloom apples in the Southern Heritage Apple Orchard at Horne Creek Living Historical Farm have long been a favorite of locals in northwestern North Carolina, but now they’re becoming a favorite in Uganda, Zambia and Rwanda, too.

The link between these places halfway across the world from each other is California nurseryman Kevin Hauser. Hauser acquired cuttings from heritage varieties of apples grown at Horne Creek to assist in the Apples for Africa aid project.

The nonprofit helps people in the tropics, especially in war-torn African countries like Rwanda, Sierre Leone and Congo, to establish apple orchards.

Hauser owns Kuffle Creek Apple Nursery and is experimenting with apple varieties that can be shipped year-round. He saw apples as an ideal crop for the war-torn countries of eastern and southern Africa because often women and children are left to farm while men are off fighting.

“Crops like cassava, yams and Irish potatoes require cultivating the fields every year. But establishing an apple orchard gives a return every year with not nearly as much labor,” he explained.

Apples in Africa

Hauser began experimenting with varieties grown at Horne Creek’s Heritage Apple Orchard several years ago. He acquired cuttings, called scionwood, from Horne Creek. In Africa, the rainfall patterns and highland conditions in certain areas allowed some of these apple varieties to produce high quality fruit, and allowed farmers in the region to raise their household income.

For example, the $8 for a case of apples triples the return of harvesting tea all day, an average crop. The Hunge apple variety does particularly well in Zambia while the Dixie Red Delight apple is one of many varieties successfully being grown in Rwanda.

“We never expected our apples to have international impact,” said Horne Creek Site Manager Lisa Turney. “We are gratified that these apple varieties can offer hope and improved lives to people literally fighting for survival.”

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