LocalFest: A commitment to preservation and growth with an old-fashioned county fair

Orange County commissioners are committed to preserving our heritage while preparing for growth. In that spirit, they’re sponsoring a festival called LocalFest, at Blackwood Farms on Saturday, September 29, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. All are welcome, and admission is free. The theme for the day is local: local music, from gospel to bluegrass; local foods, from cornbread to cheese and pies; and local brews. Also pony rides, games and food for kids.

Orange County is a place of such beauty and inherent value to all of us, it’s definitely worth holding a festival to celebrate. This county is home to around 150,000 people – townies, farmers, techies. There’s a little bit of everybody here, a little bit of everything, from arts to sports to the unforgettable countryside – the meadows, the mountains, pastures and silos. It’s a place where it’s still possible to go on a Sunday drive and just look at all the beautiful things you’re passing by.

Local Vendors

“In addition to showcasing rural beauty, agriculture and local entertainment, Orange County has invited many local food makers to exhibit, sell and sample our goods,” said Portia McKnight, Chapel Hill Creamery.

Benefitting a Great Cause

Profits generated by the event will support the Breeze Farm Incubator. This farm provides a place for aspiring farmers who don’t have access to the land or equipment required to farm. It’s creating new local farm businesses. The County’s Beginning Farmer Program, which includes the incubator farm, is run by Orange County Cooperative Extension. For details about the beginning farmer program and Breeze Incubator Farm please click here.

Festival Leader

To organize the event, Orange County has been working with a local Folklorist for one year. Evan Hatch worked as Executive Director of the North Carolina Folklife Institute, known as NC Folk, where he administered the activities including advocacy, grants and education for the statewide non-profit arts organization. Before that, Evan served as Director of Folk and Traditional Arts Programming for the Arts Center of Cannon County in Tennessee.

Sampling of Musical Acts at Orange County LocalFest

  • Contentment is Wealth with Fiddlin' Al McCanless and Bob Vasile
  • Five Points Rounders 
  • Jake Xerxes Fussell
  • John Dee Holeman
  • New Hope Missionary Baptist Association Musical Convention Choir
  • Tommy Edwards Bluegrass Experience
  • Green Level Entertainers
  • Mariachi de Los Galleros de Mexico
  • Old Jonny Booker Band

Sampling of local craftsmen and women

  • Jerome Bias making furniture using 18th century woodworking techniques. 
  • Elia Bizzarri using traditional tools and techniques, turning elegant Windsor chairs in his workshop.
  • Cotton of the Carolinas, a collaboration of farmers and manufacturers across the Carolinas dedicated to growing, making, and selling its t-shirts in the Carolinas. 

Family Entertainment

  • The Bouncing Bulldogs, Jump Rope Demonstrations
  • Cornelio Campos, Muraling and Public Art Workshops
  • Grace Van Fleet, Printmaking Workshops
  • Paperhand Puppet Intervention
  • Pony Rides

Food demonstrations

  • Carly Erickson with Boro Beverage Company will host a Fermentation Workshop: “I’m very passionate about food and local food systems and farming,” says Erickson, “and I think we need to find ways to honor those who grow our food.” Kombucha time!
  • April McGreger, Farmer’s Daughter Pickles and Preserves, will demonstrate canning and preserving techniques
  • Portia McKnight and Flo Hawley with Chapel Hill Creamery
  • Shelby White and Jotham White representing Louise’s Old Fashioned Cakes and Pies
  • That’s So Corny. Enjoy a panel of Home Cooks Exploring Corn Breads

Don’t Miss it

Mark your calendar, plan for a few hours of fun and bring a blanket. There will be festival seating on the lawn at Blackwood Farms in front of the music stage, and plenty of activity for all ages.

Local Fest is the perfect time to remember why you love Orange County. And to celebrate it.


Phone: Mike Lanier, Orange County Cooperative Extension, 919-245-2063.