Amos Owens with two of his grandchildren.
The Town of Forest City is excited to announce the first ever Cherry Bounce Festival! Named after local moonshiner Amos Owens' famous corn-based whiskey drink "Cherry Bounce", the Cherry Bounce Festival has something for everyone!
The festival takes place at the newly constructed Forest City Pavilion of Park Square (POPS) located at 153 Park Square on Friday, June 14 and Saturday, June 15, 2019.
The Cherry Bounce festival pays homage to Rutherford County's Amos Owens and his famous Cherry Bounce, as well as North Carolina bluegrass/Americana music, and regional artists. The festival is also part of the Come Hear North Carolina Campaign, featuring North Carolina musicians.
Owens, an energetic Irishman, was known throughout the southeast United States 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 to acquire land in and around Cherry Mountain in the mid-1840's. His career as a distiller started 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 Cherry Mountain to once again begin distilling. However, during the war, a heavy tax had been imposed on spirits. Owens was opposed to taxes on alcohol and believed that after serving in the Confederate Army, he owed nothing to the government. Often arrested for his activities involving the production and distribution of his Cherry Bounce, Owens frequently had to pay fines and spend time in jail and prison.
Every June, Owens hosted lively gatherings at his home, the Castle, which he boasted was one story high and three stories long, atop Cherry Mountain to celebrate the harvest of the cherries.
Owens passed away on September 18, 1906 and is buried at Walls Baptist Church Cemetery in the nearby town of Bostic. Today his story lives on in his descendant, Josh Owens, star of Discovery Channel's docudrama, "Moonshiners".
The Festival kicks off Friday, June 14 with a free concert by award winning Bluegrass band, Balsam Range. Balsam Range hails from the mountains of western NC and is the 2018 IBMA Entertainer of the Year. Doors open at 6pm and the concert begins at 7pm. Concessions available. Saturday, the Festival begins at 10am and runs until 7pm. Live music throughout the day from the Grit Lickers, the JackTown Ramblers, Wiregrass, and David Childers and the Serpents. Josh Owens will also be on hand from 12pm-3pm, visiting with festival goers and signing autographs. Regional artists will be set up in the park. Concessions available.
Concessions for each night of the festival will feature: Explore Forest City, Bruce's Chow Wagon, I. L. K. Legendary Soul Food, T's Tiny Farm, Farmer's Heritage Kettle Corn, Anna's Sweet Treats, and America's Food Shop.
Main Street restaurants and businesses will also be part of the festival, serving cherry inspired drinks, dishes, and assorted items.
Other items of interest throughout the day include the Rutherford County Farmers Market, open Saturday from 8am-12pm and the nearby 13.5-mile Thermal Belt Rail Trail. Pick up a Cherry Bounce Festival Brochure at the festival that features a map of the Cherry Bounce Trail and drive along the 46.6 mile trail that's filled with natural beauty, historic sites, and memories of Amos Owens.
Submitted by Amy Bridges