Elderberry Festival 2019

Elderberry Festival 2019

After a four-year hiatus, we are proud to announce that Norm’s Farms is creating and sponsoring another Elderberry Festival this year! This year’s fest happens on September 21, 2019 from 1:00 until Midnight, includes 7 bands and numerous vendors, and is situated on the lovely grounds of the Oasis Café in Siler City, North Carolina. And its all free to the public! 

Siler City is a small North Carolina town experiencing a renaissance fueled by the arts community and the local “Farm to Fork” movement.  We chose Siler City to host our Elderberry Festival so we can support the community’s efforts to revitalize their downtown and to bring attention to the Oasis Café, a purveyor of great local food and our Norm’s Farms products.

Siler City

Siler City traces its roots all the way back to 1750. The town was officially incorporated as Siler City in the late 1800s and by the 1940’s, Siler City was a thriving little town of about 5000, best known for its textile mills, furniture mills and meat and poultry processing plants. Like so many towns, the closure of the mills devastated the local economy. Siler City’s once vibrant downtown became a series of boarded up buildings and residents fled looking for employment elsewhere.

Poultry Processing
Poultry processing was a mainstay of the local economy for decades until 2011 when Townsend, the owners of the plant, went bankrupt and sold the plant to a Ukranian Oligarch who closed the plant. Overnight Siler City lost another 830 jobs. Mountaire, who purchased the plant several years ago and has been renovating and expanding it, reopened the processing facility this year and is hiring now. Mountaire believes that it will employ over 1250 people when it is fully operational.

Many of the jobs provided by the poultry processing facilities are considered low paying and dangerous, characteristics often given as the reason that poultry processing employers actively seek immigrant labor. Most of the poultry processing jobs are filled by immigrants from Mexico and countries in Central and South America, and Latinos now account for about 50% of Siler City’s population. Siler City has been working hard to attract other forms of employment so it can diversify its economy for its citizens.

NC Arts Incubator
About 18 years ago the town partnered with a local community college to create the North Carolina Arts Incubator, which provides low cost studio rental space for the artisans that live throughout Chatham County. The program has been by all accounts, a big success. One of the six initial tenants in the incubator was Terry McInturff, a world-class guitar maker. McInturff previously worked out of an industrial park outside of Raleigh but decided to move his shop after hearing about the incubator. “I was able to get a good workspace at a third the cost of my previous space,” he said. “Plus, it was an incredibly stimulating environment to be around other artists making pots and sculptures.” Today, downtown Siler City is dotted with art galleries, gift and craft shops, hair salons, cafes, coffee shops, professional offices and small tiendas. Yes, there are still too many empty store fronts, but the town has an exciting vibe; you can feel the enthusiasm of a people who know that their town is on the rise!

Oasis Cafe
The Oasis Café opened a little over a year ago by long time Chatham County resident Jackie Adams. Jackie has brought the farm to fork movement to downtown Siler City, and has also created a much beloved community space in the open lot next to her café. The open lot is home to a weekly Farmer’s Market, concerts, parties, and is the site for this year’s Elderberry Festival as well. Norm’s Farms is proud to partner with Jackie and Oasis Café to bring some attention to the renaissance underway in Siler City. And we are doubly grateful for the attention Jackie brings to our products, which she both sells at the café and often features in her daily specials. We hope you’ll drive on down to Siler City on September 21 to check out the town and the festival. Elderberry Festival is free to the public, features 7 bands, numerous art and craft vendors, the amazing food at Oasis Café, a food truck rodeo, and a walkable town with art galleries that are so worth a tour.  Oasis Cafe will be featuring menu items containing Norm's Farms elderberry, and Bear Creek Brews has created a special elderberry beer named Purple Chief, also just for the festival!   Hope to see you there!

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