Taylorsville’s 38th Annual Apple Festival

By Micaela Soucy

The town of Taylorsville is nestled between two major North Carolina cities, Winston-Salem and Charlotte. It lies just off of Highway 64 at the cross section of Highway 90 and Highway 16. Driving into town we passed many commercial shops and restaurants crowded together. This gave the impression of a town influenced by financial gain instead of a town dedicated to its locals and the mom and pop shops that come with such a town.


However, the amount of people attending the Taylorsville Apple Festival that day gave a completely different impression. The website for the festival claims “the Taylorsville Apple Festival is held on the third Saturday of October and draws thousands of visitors to enjoy the day of entertainment, food and fun!” One thing they got right was the number of attendees the event draws in. Walking through the streets of downtown Taylorsville felt like pushing my way to the front of the crowd at a concert, a never-ending struggle against bodies also pushing in all directions.  


This festival has been around since 1988, which makes this year’s the 29th annual festival. Each year approximately 35,000 attendees pack the downtown streets lined with booths and food carts. Three stages are set up throughout the town also, featuring youth performers, gospel performers and more. Crowds stand or seat themselves in front of these stages to enjoy the music with family and friends. A big grassy area houses the Kid’s Korner, which features blow up slides with lines of kids and a decent sized petting farm with goats, ponies and even a camel.


Venturing up and down the streets, we were highly disappointed with the items and food that we saw. The table booths displayed repetitive articles of jewelry, clothing and art. A lot of it didn’t even look like it had been handmade. We were expecting booths that would feature items one would see at a craft fair, but it wasn’t the case. As for the food. Being an apple festival we imagined there being different types of foods made with apples. Candy apples, apple pie, apple sauce, apple cobbler. We also thought there would be tons of different kinds of apples to purchase. However, the only things we saw were apple cider and one small tent selling a few types of apples. The majority of the food stands sold fair food: fried dough, nachos, pretzels, cotton candy, etc.


We had arrived to the festival at around 2:00 p.m. and despite having a semi-big lunch we were craving something to fill our stomachs. As we passed food stand by food stand and only saw fair food, we came to the realization we weren’t going to find anything better. We had to eat something they were selling. As we passed one food truck the same word slipped out of all our mouths at the same time: “Dapples…”


Our minds immediately went to the assignment we had in class where we had to write about a time we tried a new, weird food. Upon approaching the truck, we were greeted by a friendly young woman. “What’s a dapple?” we asked.


“A dapple is an apple ring fried in donut batter.”


That was all she needed to say. We were convinced. Even knowing I have a gluten allergy, I still wanted to eat a dapple. The three of us eagerly received the cardboard tray full of fried apple rings sprinkled in powdered sugar.


My first bite into the fluffy exterior was like heaven to my taste buds, especially since I haven’t eaten anything containing gluten for quite some time. However, as soon as my tongue touched the apple slice, it was immediately revolted. It was hot and slimy and seemed like the apple taste had been cooked right out of it. The texture was the weird part though because it contrasted too much with the doughnut dough.


Upon completing the dapples we realized our stomachs weren’t agreeing with the fried apple slices. Unfortunately, it was a day full of disappointments. I think this stemmed from the fact that our expectations were vastly different from reality. Had we done more research we might have known what we were getting ourselves into.


Despite my unenthusiastic assessment of the Taylorsville Apple Festival, the other attendees appeared to enjoy their time there. I don’t encourage readers to think that my experience is necessarily going to be their experience. Events like this are all what each individual makes of it. I do encourage readers to visit and explore the festival to experience it on their own.

Lindsey Deal

By Jordan Stanley

Lindsey Deal emerged from a swung-open wooden door behind the cash register in the same way Deal Orchards appeared from the road. Driving along Highway 64, the storefront for the orchard looked like a white tin warehouse, named for, perhaps, the bargain-priced produce inside. In reality, it was for the man whose family had founded and run the business for generations, carried on still today. The cashier, busy ringing up boxes of apples, apple butter, apple cider, and old-fashioned candies, called Lindsey on her flip phone to answer a few questions on the business; and there he came, extending a long tree-branch arm beckoning into his office.

Lindsey Deal is a human torch of North Carolina apple country. A tall man with grey hair and beard, Lindsey wore black baseball cap and khaki button down, both branded by the “Enjoy North Carolina Apples” insignia, the “O” of “Enjoy” a bright red fruit. His accent was certainly Southern, a characteristic of his Taylorsville community though occasionally too thick for Northern ears. He was curidsc_0520ous about how Northern eyes saw his little piece of North Carolina, prioritizing a good impression of a place he clearly took pride in. In fact, Taylorsville had been, he said, the capital of the American apple industry for decades, which his great-grandfather had a hand in.

Ready and eager to embark on a thorough history of NC apple country, Lindsey relaxed into his leather desk chair, hands laced together across his belly. His personality was strewn across the wood-paneled walls of his office. From the NRA sign on the back of his office door, to the two elk heads mounted on the wall, to the mosaic of family photos–his children, grandchildren, and ancestors who he introduces–a presumably conservative, Southern persona emerges. Yet throughout his explanations of the culture of his region, his face lit up with enthusiasm. According to Lindsey, this county used to be the moonshine capital of the country, connecting to the popularity of NASCAR in the community. He claims that NASCAR stems from moonshiners “pumping” up their cars to escape the law during Prohibition. Through his stories, Lindsey’s character slowly evolved into a richly diverse man both of traditionalism and understanding.

While the Deals originate from Kentucky, the Deal family has been harvesting apples in the county surrounding Taylorsville for well over 100 years. As Lindsey regaled the history of Deal Orchard, he rose from his chair to point to the largest frame on the wall. Inside is a black-and-white photograph capturing three rows of men, most of whom were dressed in their Sunday best–as Lindsey pointsdsc_0511 out, some of whom wore farmer’s overalls, and two of whom sported bushy white beards. The entire scene, set outside on an agricultural property, looked like it could have been torn from a Civil War history book. One of the two white-bearded men, however, was Lindsey’s great-grandfather–the original Deal’s Apples. The photo is of the first North Carolina Apple Growers’ Association, a group established to align NC apple farmers to compete and cooperate with larger wholesale produce markets. While Lindsey’s great-grandfather chose to partake in this industry, his brother (Lindsey’s great-uncle) chose to start a hardware store. Many will recognize it today as Lowe’s Home Improvement. Now onto the sixth-generation of apple Deal’s, Lindsey’s daughter left her job working numbers at Lowe’s to help run Deal’s Orchard with Lindsey’s other son.

At Deal Orchard’s Lindsey sells about 80,000 bushels of apples per year. The very units used for apple sales has evolved over the years, he says, in correspondence to changing gender norms. According to Lindsey, the apple industry began selling half bushels because a bushel box was too heavy for women–who did all the shopping–to carry. When women went back to work, however, they stopped buying apples in such large increments altogether. Lindsey said that women will full-time jobs were more likely to buy groceries for the night or a week, too busy to make pies or other more elaborate dinner measures apple-related extras in addition to employment. From this, the industry developed the “peck,” an even smaller increment of apples. While describing how feminism altered the apple industry, Lindsey remained a neutral tone, not condescending to a movement that altered his family’s practices. Rather, he was empathetic overall, if not overtly supportive–employing a level of respect that created interest amongst his NRA poster and elk heads.

As a well-established apple man, many beginning farmers come to Lindsey to ask advice to begin an orchard of their own. Lindsey laughs to himself when this happens, knowing how they underestimate the “hard parts” of farming. To establish an orchard, one must purchase land, equipment costing upwards of $6,000, and seeds to plant the trees. From there, farmers have to wait at least six years for the trees to grow for any return on their investment. He tries to pass on some wisdom, of course. For example, Lindsey has his orchards scattered across Taylorsville rather than in one area, so if there is a storm, not every orchard is impacted. One hailstorm can knock out a farm for 18 months, Lindsey said; when there’s bad weather, most people don’t even think about how this affects the farmers.

To continue constructing a behind-the-scenes look at the farming process-and to build the empathy of the farmer’s life–Lindsey provided a tour through his refrigeration units and warehouse. The massive refrigerator, full of innumerable wooden crates, smells crisp and sweet like ice-cold cider. There is actually cider in the fridge, which is outsourced for production due to strict health standards but made from Deal apples. Lindsey said, while he would like to, it is impossible to grow organic fruit in the East. There’s too much rain, which promotes fungus and rot without chemicals. Deal Orchards are, however, GAP (Good Agriculture Practices) certified.

He proceeded to walk through the entire apple-sorting process, from the conveyer belts, to turning on the washing mechanisms, to showing how each moving process worked–how apples were sorted by hand and through machine into high and low quality piles. He pointed to a 30-foot stack of boxes, with High Quality and Low Quality written in different colors. Years back, Lindsey’s customers would switch apples from high and low quality boxes in attempt to pay the lower price, so Lindsey color-coded the boxes so he wouldn’t be swindled.

Finally he approached a box of small red-green apples, the size of which make them most appealing dsc_0507to deer hunters. These were Bushy Mountain Limbertwigs– native to the region and the very apple that his great-grandfather grew to found Deal Orchards. He picked up one apple and offered a bite to anyone with “good teeth.” The consistency was firm, difficult to chew, but flavorfully balanced between tart and sweet. He took another apple and placed it on the ground, proceeding to step and place his entire weight on it. Then he picked up the apple again to reveal that there were no dents or bruises.

The day with Lindsey concluded with one last question: What was his favorite apple? He answered that if he was ever out in the orchard–after all the customers had come and gotten their pick–and he saw one last Golden Delicious, he would climb to the top of a tree to get it.

From there he returned inside to his office, encouraging a car ride through the orchards, just off to the west. Lindsey Deal tucked himself away as quickly as he had shown himself; he was a representation of the apple country in the nicest way: a man of history, tradition entwined with progression, and a Southern hospitality that opened and welcomed an eye into Taylorsville, North Carolina.

A Changing Industry: Apple Growing in the Foothills

By Kate Flinn

The average traveler passing through Taylorsville, North Carolina might not stumble across Deal Orchards. The orchard was at least a twenty-minute drive from what we believed to be downtown Taylorsville, though it was hard to be sure. After some back and forth, we detoured off Highway 64 in pursuit of one of the Foothills’ most celebrated Apple houses. The industrial sprawl of Taylorsville quietly slipped into rolling hills dotted with small shops and quaint farms. Though the drive seemed to stretch on mu ch longer than twenty minutes, the faded “Deal Orchards” sign eventually slipped onto the dashboard horizon.

The packed down dirt parking lot was full of cars and a bus of visitors from outside of town who had traveled to buy Deals apples. They filed in noisily, a moving hungry horde. Inside the orchard’s storefront was a large, open space; its high ceilings and large windows flooded the room with natural light. Boxes and boxes of apples populated the middle of the room, tempting visitors to explore the unique varieties one might only find in this region of the country. Along the perimeter of the shop were yellow shelves of various homemade jams and butters, cheeses, and produce that were visibly fresh, based on light packaging alone.

Approaching the counter, the woman behind the cashier smiled sweetly: “How can I help y’all?”

In response to some questions about this orchard we had stumbled across–how old it was, who was in charge–she responded with a short chuckle and replied, “Y’all are going to want to talk to Lindsay.” After making a call on her walkie-talkie, we stepped to the side and waited for “Lindsay” to come find us.

After a few minutes, the large wooden door a few feet behind the counter swung open, and a tall man who appeared to be in his seventies entered the room. The woman gave him a nod in our direction. The man took a few steps in our gedsc_0513neral direction, and we were met face-to-face with Lindsay Deal:  the man behind every aspect of the growing, harvesting and marketing for one of the largest, and oldest, apple orchards in North Carolina. His face was colored initially skeptical, noticeably sizing us up as outsiders. Upon a brief explanation, however, he was more than compliant to talk about North Carolina culture across the Foothills. He opened that same wooden door he had come through just a few minutes age before, and invited us into his office.

Lindsay gestured for everyone to take a seat in one of the three chairs nested between the heavy wooden desks and stacks of papers. The wood paneled walls of Lindsay’s office boasted an expansive collection of family photos, most of which appeared to be taken at the orchard over its various stages of existence. The office felt like a time capsule for the growth of this man’s family business.

Lindsay needed no encouragement to start talking about his family’s experience as apple growers. Lindsay’s great-grandfather planted the first Deal orchard back in 1939. “There were once 200 independent apple growers in this area,” he began. “We all used to pick our apples and then pedal them over in Winston and Charlotte.” Suddenly pushing back his faded leather desk chair, Lindsay walked over to a particularly large faded photo hanging on the wall. Pulling the frame down, he gazed at the photo of a group of men–all dressed in suits but for two pairs of overalls. A small plaque below the photo read, “The First Brushy Mountain Apple Growing Co-Op.” Lindsay went on to explain that in 1957, the growers in this area formed the Brushy Mountain Apple Growing Co-Op. Each grower contributed one thousand dollars and would bring the month’s pick to adsc_0512 single seller who would then sell their apples to the major grocery chains.

“As time went on the way people bought apples began to change, so the way we sell them had to change as well,” Lindsay continued. Returning the frame to its rightful spot on the wall, his eyes lingered on the aged faces nostalgically–perhaps for the people in the photograph, or just for a simpler time. “People are more conscientious about their finances these days,” Lindsay said with a sigh. “They’re just buying enough apples to get them through the week, whereas they used to buy them in bulk.”

We learned that Deal Orchards was one of the first successful orchards established in Alexander County. With an aging population of apple growers in the region, much of Lindsaydsc_0529’s competition has tapered out over the years, leaving just three or four primary orchards to spearhead the Foothill markets. Lindsay and his team have their process down to an absolute science and are Good Agriculture Practices-Certified. If you find yourself traveling through Alexander County, be sure to stop by the Deal Apple House and get a taste of what this family’s combination of passion and expertise has produced.

Blue Skies and Apple Butter

By Katie Stewart – 2014

As we merged onto Highway 64 to head to Taylorsville, one of the first things I noticed was how perfect the weather was. The best kind of day for a drive: Carolina blue skies without any clouds to block the warm sun. It was late October, but the dash read 74 degrees as we drove toward the orange and yellow-spotted mountains, the smell of campfire seeping through the car’s vents.

Our first stop was Deal Orchard’s, off of North Carolina Highway 16, where my first priority was to find some apple butter from the market. Gina bought a jar of apple butter in Bat Cave, but it had added sugar in it, something neither of us are a fan of. I made sure to grab a jar of freshly made apple butter with a “no sugar added” label on the lid when we arrived at the orchard. During our drive to Taylorsville along the straight, empty road, I bored Gina with a story about a realtor in my hometown who occasionally brings goodies to every house in the neighborhood. Every fall, I look forward to my favorite treat from him: apple butter. But this year he came by with pumpkin butter instead. To most, an equally good treat, but to me, a slight disappointment  Oddly enough, when I told my mom that I bought apple butter she happily told me that our friendly realtor had come by the same day that we were in Taylorsville with a fresh jar of apple butter. He must have been feeling extra generous this fall, because he doesn’t usually come by twice in one month.

As we got closer to our destination, we reveled in the beautiful fall-colored mountains that had seemingly grown larger as we drove, and I was in still disbelief of the perfect weather we had. We lost track of how many times I said how great of a day it was, because I simply could no  get over the gorgeous clear skies, the higher than average temperature, and the behemoth mountains looming over us, just out of reach.

We pulled into the parking lot of a modest white rectangular building, and when I got out of the car, I likely mentioned the perfect weather again. Sorry Gina. When we walked in, the market was crowded with customers looking for fresh apples of all varieties: Gala, Golden Delicious, Fuji. You name it, they probably had it. Each type of apple was labeled with its taste – sweet, tart, mild tart, extra sweet – and marked with its best use. Many of the apples are great for both eating and cooking, but some are better for just one or the other. For example, Red Delicious apples are “excellent for eating” and the dark, almost plum-colored Arkansas Black apples are best for cooking. The market also sold jams, preserves, butters, mixes for bread and muffins, cookbooks, and the largest sweet potatoes I have ever seen.

After standing in line for a few minutes with the long awaited jar of apple butter, we asked the woman behind the counter what she could tell us about the orchard. Deal Orchards was started by her grandfather, Brack Deal, and has been passed down through the family for three generations.With the help of a mule, Brack and his wife, Belle, cleared 15 acres of land in the Brushy Mountains to make way for their apple trees. Since then, the orchard has been expanded and replanted, but one of Brack Deal’s original trees still stands on the sloped land of Deal Orchards.

I have a personal appreciation for family-owned businesses, and I especially like learning how they were started. So many family businesses have stories of modest beginnings that reflect hard work, determination, and persistence. I like this story in particular because it reveals the possibility of continuing and improving family businesses through many generations. Today, Brack’s son Lindsay, and his son Alan run the orchard. They grow, harvest, and package the fruit grown on Brack’s land, while Lindsay’s wife and daughters manage the market nestled between mountains and the sprawling orchard.

As we left Deal Orchards, apple butter in hand, we looked across the street and saw rows and rows of apple trees lining the mountainside. I again spoke of how unbelievable the weather was. It was a beautiful day for enjoying this rural part of North Carolina that often goes unnoticed. Driving off with apple butter in the backseat, we smelled another trace of campfire and I watched as the mountains behind us slowly became smaller in the rearview mirror.



Crossroads Grill

By Taylor Hill, 2013

Curb appeal is generally a word used to describe the extent of aesthetic charm that a place of business has. Typically, restaurants with curb appeal are inviting, with alluring characteristics that are obvious and hard to miss. With that being said, I wasn’t exactly expecting a five star bistro as we were heading towards the outskirts of Taylorsville, maneuvering between rolling hills and extensive plains, but I wasn’t ready for the unadorned and uninviting building that we were to come across. I guess the surrounding land was an innate distraction for visitors coming to Crossroads, allowing them to avert their eyes from the dull charm of the grill.

Crossroads is a very small, one story white brick building with tiny rectangular windows sporadically lining the very top of the walls. Inside, there are four rows of small tables for guests to dine at, along with a small television mounted on the wall for viewing pleasure. The floors were not as clean as I would have liked, and the tables were a bit small for our party of four, but we were starving travelers and did not mind. As we were seated, a small older woman came to take our drink orders and provided us with a menu. Crossroads was indeed your typical grill, serving all the southern favorites such as hushpuppies, pulled pork, biscuits and gravy, and sweet tea among other things. Trying not to let my hunger get the best of me, I settled for the bacon cheeseburger with a side of fries and a sweat tea. My travel partners each decided to get a different side so that we could all partake in the options Crossroads had to offer.

Waiting for the food, we couldn’t help but notice the trophies and certificates of local students that were plastered along the walls, as well as pictures highlighting the history of Crossroads. This made me enjoy the neighborly environment within the grill, understanding that it was a residential spot that had good food reviews, and I would see why soon enough.

The wait for our food was average, not particularly speedy, but also not infuriatingly slow. I was aware that small grills such as this do not have a bevy of cooks at their disposal and the actual food made me disregard any wait. My burger came out and was as juicy and succulent as I could have hoped, with fresh lettuce and tomato dressing the bacon and cheesy beef. The beef itself was cooked perfectly, not excessively charred and scorched, but enough heat was used for the perfect amount of time to allow it to retain its tender and luscious quality. Their acclaimed onion rings, which my partner Anna ordered, were crisp and freshly hot, but the hushpuppies and fries were depressingly regular, the fries being slightly thinner that I usually take a liking to. However, my burger was the show stopper, showing up all of the other dishes on our table. In addition to that scrumptious behemoth, the best thing about the experience, which would undoubtedly cause me to return if I am ever in the area, was the very cheap pricing, my meal only costing about six dollars.

As we left, stomachs full and protruding, I turned to take a photo of the grill for my records, still hating its outside appearance, but loving the feel of my content appetite. I would urge future visitors to not be disillusioned by its lackluster outer and inner appeal, and be aware that it is a small old-fashioned grill, but will steal you away with its hearty, flavorsome burgers and delicious, golden onion rings.

*For another perspective of Crossroads, check out Jeff Flitter’s travelogue “Three Cities, Three Meals”.