November 17, 2016- Hendersonville Lightning

Hendersonville is getting a second apple celebration — a one-day event in the spring to promote the growing hard cider business.
Agribusiness Henderson County is sponsoring the Apple Country Cider Jam, Henderson County’s first hard cider festival, on Saturday, April 22, on Main Street.The festival, from 1 to 6 p.m., will be a ticketed event with hard cider tasting, a nationally known bluegrass band and food trucks, said Mark Williams, executive director of AgHC, the nonprofit that promotes farming in Henderson County. The jam will close the same two blocks that are used for Rhythm & Brews, in front of the Visitors Center and Wells Fargo bank.

“The first couple of hours there will be a tasting that’s included in the ticket price,” Williams said. “Then after that people would have opportunity to purchase it by the pint. The main band will be one that people will recognize the name of.”

Williams hopes the Cider Jam gives the industry more exposure and more visitors over time.

“We’re going to try to promote this event in a manner that’s not just about the Main Street event,” he said. “We want to push people out to these operations (the cideries) so they can have their own individual events and give the exposure to their own event. … We want people to make a weekend out of it.”

The 16 local and regional cider producers in North Carolina all will be invited to set up tastings
booths at the event. “We anticipate that most will” accept, Williams said.

Henderson County has three hard cider makers — Bold Rock, Saint Paul Mountain Vineyards and Naked Apple, which operates Flat Rock Ciderworks on Main Street. Organizers may add apple wine, which Burntshirt makes, but there are no plans for beer.

“We’ve got a reason that we broadened it to include other hard cider makers, because 95 percent of them are getting their apples from Henderson County,” he said.

AgHC worked with the Henderson County Tourism Development Authority, the city of Hendersonville and the North Carolina Apple Festival in planning the festival. Food trucks will be limited and because the festival ends at 6 p.m. organizers expect many visitors to stay and dine downtown.

“We hope this will be an event that will help tourism and put heads in beds,” Williams said. “It’s been a good collaborative effort.”

The Cider Jam also plans to promote a tie-in to apple blossom time. The April 22 date should coincide with the explosion of snowy white blooms in orchards throughout the apple country.

Tickets are $30 and will be on sale after Thanksgiving.

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