Abundance NC’s 12th Annual Pepper Festival

Just off of the tree-lined, winding path of Highway 64 nestled into Piedmont North Carolina lives the quaint, charming town of Pittsboro. While many of its residents embrace small-town values and quiet southern living, Pittsboro is far from traditional. The town is home to individuals with varying passions; artists, farmers, students, and innovators live harmoniously. 
Pittsboro supports software developers, antique shops, biofuel research, art galleries, mom-and-pop businesses and more. This community represents a blend of history and contemporary ideas where the arts and sciences are woven together to create something exceedingly unique. 
While the nature of Pittsboro seems contradictory, the ideas of collaboration and cooperation are ingrained into its values. Community events attract individuals of all backgrounds into the downtown, and this fall, one event stood out from the rest: Abundance NC’s 12th Annual Pepper Festival.  
PepperFest took place on September 22, 2019 from 3-6pm. The festival is hosted by Abundance North Carolina, an organization that cultivates and celebrates community resilience. This annual, outdoor event is a celebration of sustainable agriculture, local farmers, and the creativity of the Piedmont’s chefs, brewers and artisans.

Pepper-themed dishes made with locally grown North Carolina peppers, provided by Abundance NC, are served to over 3000 hungry patrons each year. 
As we approached the festival, the popularity and energy of the events was obvious. Main Street Pittsboro was lively with families and foodies eager to partake in the pepper-filled festivities. For only $35 we were free to sample a large selection of food and beverages with spice levels ranging from sweet bell peppers to sweltering habaneros. 
Eager to try the spicy creations, we made our way to the main street to check-in where each attendee received one spork to use in hopes to reduce waste of plastic utensils. The emphasis on environmental consciousness promised by Abundance NC was made even more clear as we passed three electric cars being shown off by the Triad Electrical Vehicle Association. The futuristic Teslas contrasted starkly with the historic brick courthouse just across the street. The festival featured several more environmental initiatives beyond the spork including compostable cups for samples and recycling bins that lined the street.
We spent the next hour walking up and down the line of white tents while melodies from live bands echoed in the background. We sampled everything we could get our hands on; pepper beer that made our lips burn, hot Louisiana style jambalaya, cold gazpacho, smoky sausages and more. Each item was spicer and more flavorful than the last. By the end we were full and hot, whether from the spicy peppers or the 80 degree North Carolina sun.
The Pittsboro Pepper Festival was a unique experience that reflected the town’s values of environmental sustainability and community engagement. We left PepperFest with a great appreciation for local farmers, culinary creativity and – of course – peppers.
Written by: Leah Graf