Surry County is home to many events that reflect culture and good taste, but in terms of raw flavor many believe the annual Sonker Festival takes the cake.
The 37th-annual festival will be held Saturday from 1 to 5 p.m. at the historic Edwards-Franklin House, 4132 Haystack Road, west of Mount Airy.
A sonker is a type of deep-dish pie or cobbler which is made using a variety of fruits. And while this soupy baked dessert might resemble others, the name it goes by has a distinction all its own.
“The word itself is unique to this area,” said Dr. Annette Ayers, president of the Surry County Historical Society, a non-profit group that stages the festival. Sonkers are native to Surry and might also be familiar in some neighboring counties, but desserts by that name won’t be found in other states, Ayers added.
Sonkers will be offered during Saturday’s festival in flavors including cherry, peach, blackberry and more, at $3 per serving, with beverages available for $1.
Festival proceeds support activities of the historical society including continued preservation of the Edwards-Franklin House it bought in 1973 and restored.
More than food
Admission is free for the event, which also will feature live bluegrass and old-time music by D and D and Company.
“They are a Mount Airy band and they’re new to our festival, but we’ve heard good things about them,” Ayers said.
Other musicians are invited to attend and jam along during the musical program on the front porch of the Edwards-Franklin House, built in 1799 by Gideon Edwards and later occupied by congressional representative Meshack Franklin, brother of Gov. Jesse Franklin.
Plywood will be laid on the lawn for flatfooting purposes.
Further Sonker Festival attractions are geared to other parts of history and local culture, including a Civil War exhibit, quilters, basketry, tatting and a pottery display.
Artwork also will be for sale, including late Mount Airy artist Pat Gwyn Woltz’s rendition of the Edwards-Franklin House, titled “Going Out to the Franklins,” a depiction of how the structure might have looked in its early days.
In addition, sketches by artist Thad Cox are to be available, featuring the five generals of the Army of Northern Virginia.
“They are gorgeous,” Ayers said, with maps of early Surry County also to be sold.
The historical society president is looking forward to this year’s Sonker Festival returning to its traditional early October schedule, after bad weather around that time in 2015 forced a postponement until late in the month.
“That’s when they look forward to it,” Ayers said of area residents who tend to circle the earlier festival date on their calendars.
“We had a nice turnout last year, but not as many as we usually have.”
Those attending are urged to bring lawn chairs.
“It’s just going to be a good time — a family setting of people getting together, hearing good music and enjoying good food,” Ayers said.
“It’s a good way to start off the fall.”
Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.