Farms throughout Western York County will be among the hosts for the first York County Ag + Art Tour in June, an event that links the region’s agricultural heritage with artistic elements.
Ben Boyles, an economic and community development agent with the Clemson Extension Service in York County, said the June 9 and 10 event will be “a way to showcase what is handmade and home-grown in York County.”
Sixteen farms that grow strawberries, peaches, flowers and many other items – many of them in Western York County – will host the weekend of tours that highlights where food and other crops come from.
The tour also spotlights about two dozen local artisans who will display and sell their work and offer demonstrations on the farms. Live entertainment, including bluegrass and folk songs, is planned.
“We’re hoping that for the artists, it’s a way to get their name out there,” said Keira Kitchings, events coordinator with the Arts Council of York County, one of five sponsoring organizations. “They seem excited to take on the project. They’re all hoping like we are that it will grow.”
The event is a partnership between the arts council, York County Clemson Extension, Olde English District Tourism Commission, Rock Hill/York County Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Culture & Heritage Museums.
Also part of the weekend event is From Barns to Bedcovers, a self-guided quilt tour featuring the York County Quilters. Quilts and other quilted items will be displayed on porches scattered throughout the historic district of York.
Quilted items on display may include utilitarian quilts, pillows, samplers and other pieces indicative of what quilting has become today, said Signa Curry, coordinator of the quilt tour.
“We just felt like, what another neat component to have, with actually quilts on tour, so people can not only appreciate them for the work of art they are but there also will be history on them,” Curry said. “They were very utilitarian and very much a part of life many decades ago.”
Curry said the idea for the quilt show stemmed in part from the art of barns being painted with a quilt block pattern – a practice that can be traced back almost 300 years, to the arrival of immigrants from central Europe.
“The response from the quilters has been wonderful,” she said. “They’re very eager to get involved.”
Boyles, who is coordinating the art and agriculture tour, said the farm tour includes some sites that are already popular visitor destinations during the produce season, such as Black’s Peaches, Bush-N-Vine and Sanders Peaches in Filbert.
But he said it also includes other, less-known sites like Tirzah Farm and Flowers, which has never hosted visitors before. Visitors can meet the farmer and there is a schedule of activities at each location.
Windy Hill Orchard and Cidery near York will host tastings of their apple ciders at certain times, he said, while other sites may host storytelling, cooking demos and other events.
“This idea has been out there, but it really started coming into fruition last year,” he said. “And we hope to make it an annual event. We hope if it goes well we can do it on a region-wide basis next year.”