Rocky Mount Food Festivals Focus on Barbecue, Wine

Rocky Mount residents have great taste when it comes to food. Not only is food the focus of a handful of annual festivals here, it also has a thriving farmers market as well as several local businesses that produce popular items that are sold nationwide.

For fresh produce and some meats, the Rocky Mount Farmers Market sells fruits‚ vegetables‚ herbs‚ jams‚ country meats and more. The market is located in a 7,000-square-foot building on Peachtree Street, and operates Fridays from June to August and Saturdays from April to October.

Food-Focused Festivals

The Spring Hope National Pumpkin Festival is a fall favorite in the town of Spring Hope. There are contests for all ages, including a pumpkin weigh-in, recipe competition, pumpkin queen pageant and a pumpkin creation contest. It doesn't just stop at the pumpkins though. Other activities include a street dance, crafts show, antique car show, music, carnival and parade.

The Tar River Wine Festival combines upscale wine tasting and fundraising efforts to offer one of the most popular charitable events in Eastern North Carolina. Participants enjoy an elegant evening of Southern cuisine and wine sampling.

But perhaps the city's biggest culinary claim to fame is the Eastern Carolina BBQ Throwdown, a major barbecue cook-off every October that acts as the culmination of the Down East Festival in downtown Rocky Mount. The contest is an official North Carolina State Barbecue Championship as well as a sanctioned competition of the renowned Kansas City Barbeque Society.

Rocky Mount Area Food Specialties

Butterfields candy tempts the taste buds with traditionally made products that stand out among other competitors. Butterfields, located in Nashville, N.C., has been making hard candy since 1924. The company uses only pure cane sugar, the hand-turn process and copper kettles to make a variety of treats, from Peach Buds to Peppermint Bursts.

Braswell Foods in Nash County produce Eggland's Best eggs, which are sold at stores such as Wal-Mart, Costco and other grocers across the country. Eggland's Best eggs have 25 percent less saturated fat than other eggs, and are available in white, organic and cage free.

Peanuts are plentiful at Englewood United Methodist Church, where, for more than 50 years, the church's men's group has prepared, packaged and sold peanuts to specialty stores all over the country. The product also is sold at local sales in a fundraising effort, with several other area Methodist churches supporting the operation.