Historic Bethania ‘s Black Walnut Festival to be held on Sat., Sept. 29
BETHANIA, NC — Fall and festivals go together like bread and butter. And the Black Walnut Festival in Historic Bethania, NC, is no exception. This year’s festival will be held from 10am to 4pm on Sat., Sept. 29 at the Historic Bethania Visitor Center, 5393 Ham Horton Lane.
Bethania’s Black Walnut Festival is the only festival in North Carolina paying tribute to the indigenous black walnut tree that can be found today in all regions of North Carolina and is mainly used to produce beautiful furniture. Settlers in the 1700s used the nuts to dye linen cloth, make herbal medicines and baked goods in the fall.
The festival is a lively celebration with music, beer, and booths filled with handmade crafts from local makers and artisans and, of course, black walnuts for sale.
Dr. Michele Williams, visitor services manager for Historic Bethania, says that several thousand visitors are expected at the 2018 festival. “This festival has been held for many years always on the last Saturday in September. Every year visitors come from across North Carolina as well as many of the surrounding states to participate.”
To handle the crowds, free parking is provided. Visitors should park their cars at the Bethania Moravian Church on Main Street. A free shuttle service will bring visitors back and forth to the center of the festival.
Upon arrival at the festival, visitors can explore the vendor booths set up in Wolff-Moser House which dates back to 1790s, the 1894 Alpha Chapel, and the Visitor Center grounds. Live music is planned in the courtyard. Hot dogs, burgers and more including veggie options will be available for sale from the Muddy Creek Cafe. Staff from Foothills Brewery of Winston-Salem will be selling cold beer.
While most folks who attend the event will be browsing and shopping through the vendors’ booths or taking a break enjoying a cold beer while listening to live music, others may wish to hike along the three marked trails near the Visitors Center. One trail is aptly named the Black Walnut Bottoms Trail. (Maps of the trails will be available at the welcome table.)
Native black walnut groves in the area date back to before Bethania was officially founded in 1759. Bethania was started by the Moravian Church as a planned settlement where both Church members and nonmembers could live side-by-side in harmony. The site that the church selected for the town was generally known as the Black Walnut Bottoms and was surveyed and noted on maps drawn by Moravian surveyor Christian Philip Gottlieb Reuter.
Williams says that just a few of the trees still grow in Bethania. Every fall, green-husked black walnuts fall to the ground. After the husks split open a nut is revealed. The nut’s husk stains — driveways, cement patios, roads and even hands. Despite the nuts’ staining characteristics, the nuts are packed with protein and for those who enjoy the taste make a nutritious snack.
Bethania’s 500-acre Historic District has received the highly-respected designation of National Historic Landmark and contains a number of National Register Nominated buildings. Bethania was established in 1759 as a self-sufficient farming community created for both Moravian and non-Moravian settlers. The town included houses, tradesman shops, a church, school, barns, and gardens. Now more than 250 years later, Historic Bethania is the only example of a European style “open field” agricultural village remaining in North Carolina.