NC Blueberry Festival kicks off this weekend in Burgaw
Updated: 06/15/2012 05:28 PM
By: Breanna Walden
BURGAW, N.C. -- Despite a warm, dry winter and a soggy spring, the namesake of the North Carolina Blueberry Festival is thriving.
The nine-year-old festival takes place this weekend in Historic downtown Burgaw.
It celebrates the region's blueberry production legacy.
The state's blueberry industry first cultivated in Pender County in the 1930s. In the county it has grown into a $13 million industry.
When it comes to production Pender County and its neighbor Bladen County are the top two in the state. The festival celebrates this fruitful industry in the Southeast region.
"It is incredible for the community and the businesses because not only is it exposing Burgaw for the day of the festival but people do come back after the festival," said Donna Best-Klingel, Executive Director of the Burgaw Area Chamber of Commerce.
Town officials said the festival brings in more than 30,000 people and $1 million. There's always some concern when the namesake of the festival is greatly affected by the weather.
The county's extension director said, this year, the warm, dry winter caused an early harvest and the heavy down pours caused a few berries to swell but overall the berries are ripe and ready.
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"I think we'll have a good quantity, the rain may have affected the quality a little bit but the growers are really good at picking out what people want and what they'll purchase," said Mark Seitz, the Pender County extension director.
The farmers involved said this festival really helps them see the fruits of their labor.
"We love the community spirit, the festival promotes Blueberry production in this area which helps this area thrive," said Beverly Lane, with Blueberry Hill Farms.
Some festival events started Friday but Saturday is the big day. The fun starts at 7:30 a.m. and doesn't stop until 9 p.m.