OK, we did eventually end up at an Apple Festival, but we had a little adventure getting there. Let me explain.
Before I left Florida for Lynchburg, I had a relative send me a list of regional festivals and other events. Because I am originally from this area, I felt that I already knew where most of the events were being held.
But, one of the festivals was unfamiliar to me. I didn’t recognize the name of the Orchard having the Festival, but I did know the general area where it was being held. So, being the procrastinator that I am, I waited to the last minute and then I jumped onto the web and used MapQuest to get precise directions to the Orchard.
A few minutes later, we hopped into our car and then we drove the thirty-plus miles into the foothills of the Blue Ridge mountains following our newly printed directions.
But, after about the third turn onto back roads, the ones we were driving on became smaller and even more crooked than the last one. Finally, we were told to get onto a single lane road called Dark Hollow Road.
Now, being from the area, I know that as you get into the very rural areas the roads can be little more than a once-upon-a-time Cow Path that the county eventually put Tar and Gravel on. These old roads have very few straight sections and they generally run adjacent to wild running mountain streams.
Even though they are very picturesque, there are very few signs of civilization along these stretches of road beyond an old abandoned barn or a beat up gate to a small field.
Anyway, the directions had eventually told me to turn left onto an even more dreary looking part of Dark Hollow Road. And it was just that, a single lane path leading into a dark hollow. You see, even though it was nearly noon, we and the road were constantly shrouded from the Sun by thick tree limbs overhanging the road from both sides. It made me remember the old saying that “they live so far out into the sticks that they have to have Sunshine pumped in!”.
Finally, it became obvious that we were not being directed to the right place. And the last straw was when I came to an intersection with another road. I stopped and just sat there, staring at the signs at the intersection. I was at the junction of Dark Hollow Road and Sleepy Hollow Road. I spent another minute wondering where I had gone wrong. That’s right the other road was called Sleepy Hollow Road.
This was enough for me. So, with images of Headless Horsemen swimming around in my head, I turned my car around and headed back to civilization. Eight miles of the same rural roads later, I was at an intersection with a real state road and there was a two-pump gas station with a few people standing around outside.
I jumped out of the car and after an embarrassing conversation with the locals, we were told that we had gone to an Orchard owned by another family member with the same last name. So, red-faced, we headed across the road and another seven miles later we were pulling into the Apple Orchard that we had originally wanted to find.
And, as we pulled in, we saw that it was a pretty big festival. Close to a hundred cars were parked haphazardly in a beat down hayfield, and there were ropes herding everyone into the central festival area surrounding the actual Orchards Apple processing buildings.
The first thing we heard was some authentic BlueGrass Music played by four white-haired old men. And, I will have to say, considering that I did live in this rural area for over a dozen years, they were pretty good. The singer had one of those rusty voices that only comes from a life with too much Whiskey and too many cigarettes. I really enjoyed their music.
There were a number of tables selling handmade goods and even several tables of foods made and sold by the local Amish folks.
They were making Apple Butter in giant open kettles but they had already sold out of what they had on the shelf and there was a line of people waiting for the next batch to be finished. It smelled great, but it was really hot when you got near those boiling pots.
Inside their big warehouse building they had placed dozens of large wooden sided skids filled with fresh pulled Apples. There were great varieties of mountain Apples that you just cannot find in your local supermarkets around the country. Sweet and flavorful varieties that are great for canning and just biting into.
After eating a Hot Dog served by the local Ruritan Club, and browsing the many booths, we loaded our fresh Apples into the car and headed back towards civilization.
It took a lot less time getting home than it did to get to the Festival.
by Don Bobbitt, 2013