HerbFest Returns for 10 Days of Cultivated Fun

By Jeanne E. Fredriksen

Look around downtown Wake Forest, and you’ll see herbs and the ubiquitous rosemary hedges growing freely as a result of past Wake Forest HerbFests. And it’s that time of year again when herbs, vegetables, and perennials combine with music, education and activities for the 10-day event.

HerbFest 2014 kicks off on Friday, April 18, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and runs daily through April 27 at Wake Forest’s Festival Park on South White Street.

According to the festival’s website, HerbFest features non-GMO (genetically modified organism) plants and has the “largest selection of non-GMO organic herbs, heritage tomatoes, heirloom vegetables, and locally-grown perennials for our climate” and gardening zone 7B. HerbFest growers are known for unique and unusual herbs, many of which are difficult to find elsewhere and sell out quickly.

Promoting herbs as plants isn’t all that HerbFest is about, however. Landscaping, environmental considerations, herb crafting, cosmetic soaps, educational seminars, and healthy cooking and eating all play a part in the festival. Volunteers will offer assistance and information regarding herbs and their many healthy uses.

On April 19, HerbFest will feature “Franklin Academy Day.” Students from the high school will be on hand from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. to provide free activities for children, including face painting. There will be free live music from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. by the school’s jazz band, two small combo groups, small choral groups, and a rock band. The students are led by Franklin Academy High School’s band director, Tony Robinson.

In addition, the White Street Brewery, Wake Forest’s only local brewer, will be on hand to pour its handcrafted beers.

Those looking for something different to do on Easter Sunday, should look no further than HerbFest, which will be open from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m.

HerbFest continues through the following weekend, but hours will be limited to 3 to 5 p.m. Monday-Thursday. A fresh crop of plants is scheduled to arrive on Friday, April 25, and everyone is encouraged to come out to see what’s new to buy.

Friday and Saturday, April 25 and 26, hours will be 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and on Sunday, April 27, the last day to buy plants, hours will be 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

While there’s hope that all herbs and plants will be bought during the 10-day festival, remainders at the end of the final day will be donated to a variety of charities, schools and beautification projects. Proceeds benefit the Graham Johnson Cultural Arts Endowment.

The lighthearted humor of the organizers is evident on the event’s website: “Events are free, no admission charge, pets welcome, children on leash, please :)” Also, all events are “Subject to Whims & WEATHER,” it advises.

For further information and to stay current with offerings and activities, see HerbFest on the web at herbfest.net, on Twitter @HerbFest, and on Facebook at facebook.com/HerbFest.