Blue Ridge Country September/October 2020 - 44

Then another.
"There were more pumpkins that year
than I have ever grown," Meadors says.
"It was the best year we ever had. And I
had lost my faith. God don't need it to
rain. He just wants a willing vessel to go
plant that stuff in the ground. If you do
your part, God will do His."
Besides pumpkins, the family also
grows produce: green beans, cabbage, cucumbers and corn.
They also have many mums.
"We raise about 20 acres of pumpkins
and just under 10,000 mums," Meadors
says. "We raise an extreme amount of
mums. Everybody loves to have a mum on
their front porch; it just makes you smile.
And we take a lot of pride in our mums."

TENNESSEE:
Apples, One Way or the Other
Standing on the streets of Erwin, Tennessee, Tracy Darr boasts the biggest booth
at the annual Erwin Apple Festival on the
first weekend of October.
This year, though, due to the coronavirus, the 50-year-old Darr remains unsure if the Erwin Apple Festival will go
on, she says.
She's hopeful.
"Fall is my favorite time of year," Darr
says. "You've got the changing of the
leaves, and it's crisp and cool outside."
From the Tarheel State, Darr imports
apples from a farm at Hendersonville.
Then she turns those apples into tasty
Tennessee treats.
If the festival does not occur, don't
fret: You can still find Darr in nearby
Johnson City, Tennessee, where her family operates Stanley's Produce, 3308 West
Market Street, with a deli and bakery
about a half-hour from Erwin.

44

BLUERIDGECOUNTRY.COM

ABOVE: Earl B. Hunter Jr. says his company, Black Folks Camp Too, combines his marketing
expertise in the RV industry with his encouragement for Black Americans to go camping, as he does.
BELOW: Tracy Darr's family operates Stanley's Produce in Johnson City, Tennessee, where the fall
focus is strong.

Talk about being busy with customers
in September and October.
"They're coming in to get pumpkins,
straw, bales of hay, apples," says Darr. "I
usually have 30 different varieties of apples right then. And gourds. Everything
to decorate. And that, of course, is when
people want fried apple pies, apple dumplings and apple cider."
Darr also offers molasses, honey,
pumpkin rolls and apple butter. "It's harvest time. And we'll have everything there
that we'll have at the apple festival."
Why the success?
Well, just take a taste of Darr's apple
pies, made with dried-and-fried apples.
"We make them the old fashioned way
with dried apples, which people don't do
anymore," Darr says. "We hand-bake each
and every pie. Everything we do, we do
old-timey."
And if there isn't a festival-or even if
there is-Darr suggests a leaf drive:
From Stanley's Produce in Johnson
City, follow U.S. 11E to downtown Jonesborough. Explore the downtown district.
Then take Tn. 107 from Jonesborough to
Erwin, seeing colorful leaves near the Nolichucky River.

NORTH CAROLINA:
Gathering 'Round the Campfire
For three months, Earl B. Hunter Jr.
traveled all over the country to various
campsites with his two young children.
Yet, in all that time during 2017, at 49
campsites in 20 states, this African-American man saw few, if any, other Black
families camping.
But, that lack of "Black folks" simply
inspired Hunter to later launch a marketing company called "Black Folks Camp
Too"' at a conference in Asheville, North
Carolina, in 2019.
"We promote equality in the outdoors. We help the industry and the
Black folks meet at the campground,"
says Hunter, 44, a former sales executive
in the RV industry.
"And its not just Black folks that love
what we're doing," Hunter says. "It's
white folks, green folks, yellow folks."
Hunter believes superstitions might
have been keeping America's Black population from camping. "There's a lot of generational fear," he says.
That's not what Hunter wants.
"Black folk don't need permission to go


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Blue Ridge Country September/October 2020

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