June 19 & 20, 2020
Head to Forest City (60 miles southeast of Asheville) for a festival that celebrates local moonshiner Amos Owens and his corn whiskey-based "Cherry Bounce" moonshine. A big concert in Pavilion on Park Square opens the festival on Friday night at 7 PM. On Saturday 10 AM-7 PM, find art and crafts, live music, and a big variety of food - along with samples from local distilleries. The festival is also part of the Come Hear North Carolina Campaign, featuring North Carolina musicians.
The festival is held at the beautiful, new Forest City Pavilion on Park Square (153 Park Square, Forest City) - complete with many food trucks. Festivities extend down Main Street to restaurants and businesses serving cherry inspired drinks, dishes, and assorted items. Pick up a Cherry Bounce Festival Brochure at the festival that features a map of the Cherry Bounce Trail, a 46-mile scenic drive with natural beauty, historic sites and memories of Amos Owens.
Amos Owens, an energetic Irishman, was known in the mid to late 1800s as the "Cherry Bounce King". His Cherry Bounce moonshine was a combination of corn-based whiskey, honey, and local cherries from nearby Cherry Mountain. He began distilling well before the Civil War in the era of tax-free spirits. After serving two periods of enlistment during the war, he returned home to begin distilling again. During the war, a heavy tax was imposed on spirits. Owens opposed the taxes on alcohol and believed he owed nothing to the government. Often arrested for his production and distribution of his Cherry Bounce, Owens frequently had to pay fines and spend time in jail. Today his story lives on in his descendant, Josh Owens (pic above), star of Discovery Channel's "Moonshiners". Meet him at the festival!
While you are in Forest City, stop by the Rutherford County Farmers Market Saturday morning or bike/walk the 13.5-mile Thermal Belt Rail Trail. Nearby is the Bennett Classics Antique Auto Museum with an impressive collection to see. About 14 miles west is the Tryon International Equestrian Center with free Saturday Night Lights to end the day. See our Forest City Guide for more things to do.