April 1, 2008

Ramp season - NC festivals

Although it doesn't sound like a name for an appetizing (though smelly) treat, 'ramp' actually refers to a vegetable, also known as wild leek, that grows wild in Appalachia every spring.

According to a National Geographic article, ramps come from the same family as onions, garlic, and scallions. Therefore, they taste like a 'garlicky onion' - which, in my opinion sounds YUMMY. Ramps, however, also make you stink. They have a strong pungent odor, which - like garlic - leaks out of your pores after consumption.

Ramps, native to our WNC mountains (and the rest of Appalachia), are harvested in the wild and only grow between the time the snow melts and the leaves come back on the trees. They grow in the Blue Ridge, Great Smokey Mountains, and the Appalachian Mountains.

Ramp festivals have become really popular among small-town locals and tourists - causing some to fear that the mass harvesting is harming the abundance of ramps. In fact, the Great Smoky Mountain National Park in NC and TN has banned ramp harvesting since 2002.

Read this article, jam-packed with interesting tidbits about ramps.

If this interests you as much as it interested me (I didn't even know about it, and I'm a native North Carolinian who's lived in WNC for over 4 years!), check out some of the ramp festivals happening nearby. It's a great time of year to visit Western NC and Asheville, too.
  • Robbinsville Smokey Mountain Romp & Ramps Festival. Sat, April 26. Nature walks, workshops, music, and dinner. Stecoah Valley Arts Center. Call 800-470-3790.

  • Waynesville Ramp Festival - Sun, May 4. American Legion Field. Call 828-456-8691.

  • Crossnore Ramp Festival - May 24-25. Bluegrass music, dancing, and ramp recipes to try. Jim & Jennie's Music Barn and Campground. Call 828-733-2807.


Anonymous said...

Isn't there one in Barnardsville NC and in Burnsville too?

Elaine,N.C said...

I've always wanted to go to ramp festival just to see different ways of fixin them,So, I have been on here looking to where some may be close by..1. in Waynesville,Robbinsville, and I'm hopein the 1 at Jim and Jennie's that's really close..