Anytime I travel, I intentionally search out tacos and cider, because although I love many things in the world, I deeply love these food and drink items. Going to CiderFest was a given, because even if tacos weren’t there (but there was pizza!!), cider was present and accounted for in abundance.
CiderFest NC is in its sixth year and took place on October 13th in Asheville, NC. This event serves as an annual fundraiser for “Green Built Alliance,” which is a non-profit organization that has been revitalizing and transforming the building industry in Western North Carolina. According to their website, “Green Built Alliance is a nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing sustainability in the built environment through community education, measurable standards and regional action in Western North Carolina and beyond since 2001.” CiderFest is one of the largest annual fundraising events for Green Built Alliance.
Also, can we talk about how CiderFest is a carbon-neutral event and the earnings from ticketholders has been designated toinstall a solar system on the roof of Isaac Dickson Elementary School? I will gladly drink cider to help with this cause.
Held at the Salvage Station, a beautiful outdoor park and event space along the French Broad River, the location was the perfect spot for CiderFest. The event ran from 1-5pm, and in true Asheville fashion, CiderFest showcased many local entrepreneurs and businesses, while also bringing in several other Cider and Mead Makers from across North Carolina and the United States.
Although I was not able to try everything CiderFest had to offer, I will wholeheartedly advocate for the experience of the event itself. As mentioned previously, the event was held at the Salvage Station, which I think wonderfully captures the essence of Asheville. The intermingling of nature and revitalized architecture perfectly encapsulates the city, and I think the location of CiderFest in conjunction with their annual fundraising efforts really speaks to the purpose of Green Built Alliance. Being below the Mason-Dixon line, Asheville intermingles the typified qualities attributed to many southern cities with its bright artistic scene, big town/small city vibes, rich Art Deco architecture and design, innovative industry, and friendly people. What I’m trying to say is, you almost can’t get more Asheville than CiderFest, and Salvage Station completely fit the mission of the festival itself.
Walking onto the Salvage Station felt like attending any other festival—there was music and the smell of various cuisines wafted around the park. Families and friends alike were enjoying their afternoon together, and I was surprised to see many children with their parents. CiderFest organizers had thought of everything though, because they had created an interactive kids zone to help make the event family-friendly.
Turning to the most important of CiderFest NC—the cider—let me just say that I didn’t try anything that I didn’t like. According to CiderFest’s “People’s Choice Awards,” Ace Cider’s Pineapple Cider was the overall fan favorite. Not to follow the crowd, but this was hands down my favorite drink. Like most ciders, it was sweet, yet tart, but the tropical pineapple flavor was perfect—not too subtle, not too overpowering. While the Pineapple Cider was easily my favorite drink, my rounds to the different booths did not disappoint.
My favorite local Asheville Cider Maker, “Urban Orchard Cider Co.,” also had several amazing ciders available. Let me also take a minute to brag on this business, because they have been a part of CiderFest since the event’s inception. And, as a side note, they have been voted “Best Place to Drink Cider in America 2017” by Food and Wine Magazine. Asheville is truly killing the game with its local food and drink artisans, and CiderFest NC is sure to highlight their city’s best local businesses.
While CiderFest NC does an amazing job showcasing local Asheville talent and business, they also do a great job at highlighting North Carolina businesses as a whole. Seventeen of the twenty-four businesses invited to pour at CiderFest were from Asheville or other cities in North Carolina. The remaining businesses were brought in from all over the country—Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Missouri, California, and Texas. Although CiderFest’s most popular drink was from a California company, so many of the local North Carolina businesses brought so many awesome ciders and meads to the event. For instance, Botanist and Barrel from Cedar Grove, NC brought grape cider. Grape cider! This business also had a cider cocktail class, which was extremely popular and well worth the wait. Can I just say that cider cocktails might be my new favorite thing?
Cider aside, the event also had numerous food truck vendors and artisanal food available. The Wood Fired Oven food truck had amazing pizza; my friend tried the Appalachian Chic food truck and had a Carolina Cuban, which had mustard from the Lusty Monk—an item sold by one of the artisanal vendors at CiderFest. We also tried The Hop Ice Cream Cafe, another local Asheville vendor. To say the least, I left CiderFest very happy.
Unfortunately, we have to wait another year for CiderFest to make its return back to Asheville but check out their website here. They have a list of vendors from their most recent CiderFest, as well as lists from their past festivals. If you weren’t able to make it out to CiderFest, rest assured, you can still pay a visit to many of the local vendors from North Carolina and count down the days until the seventh annual CiderFest NC!