Asheville Bread Festival

The Asheville Bread Festival is a happy gathering in the mountains of North Carolina, held some years in early spring. It began in 2004 as a showcase of local bakeries, hosted by Greenlife Grocery. In subsequent years, the festival organizer added classes, demonstrations, and talks. Originally, tickets were free with the purchase of bread, which resulted in a melee as guests rushed to buy bread from the bakeries that had tickets left for the class they wanted. After a few years, the festival began charging for tickets, available for purchase in advance, to allow guests to plan ahead.

Peter Reinhart teaching
Peter Reinhart teaches a workshop in 2008 at Greenlife Grocery

In 2012 the bakery showcase (a.k.a. bread fair) moved to a larger space at AB Tech College, a few miles south of downtown. Classes were taught in the kitchens and lecture hall at the college. In 2018 the fair moved to the New Belgium Brewery, with classes at locations around town.

Bread from Chicken Bridge Bakery in Chapel Hill

I attend as a book vendor with my Bread Science demo table, highlighting some of the science of dough with a few displays. I usually spend the entire bread fair talking about bread science and answering questions.

My display in 2023

I sometimes teach a “Beginning Kneading” class in which participants mix and knead a dough which they take home to bake. During the dough’s autolease, we have a lesson on tips for improving your bread. (The class is only 1.5 hours but I cram as much information in as I can!)

If you’ve never been to Asheville, it is a great place to visit! And I’m not just saying that to convince you to come. Asheville is one of the best towns in America. There’s a river with a bike trail! There’s a mountain view! There’s a giant iron! And the downtown is filled with locally owned shops and restaurants, including many vegetarian options!

I wasn’t kidding about the iron

Some of my favorites are Malaprop’s bookstore and cafe, the historic Mast General Store, the ever popular Salsa’s, and the friendly Rosetta’s Kitchen. I also love the French Broad Chocolate Lounge, and you can tour their factory and learn how they import cacao beans direct from farmers and sometimes roast them with solar power.

There are entire other neighborhoods to Asheville, filled with even more locally owned goodness, that I am less familiar with. For example, the River Arts District is an old warehouse district near the river, across from the New Belgium Brewery where the festival is held. If you have time, take a trolley tour around the city to get familiar with it. The Omni Hotel is a must stop for an amazing setting and view.

Mom and I at the Thomas Wolfe House

Asheville retained many beautiful historical buildings because it didn’t have the money to tear them down and rebuild when other cities were renovating. Thank goodness! It’s filled with a mishmash of art nouveau* and art deco architecture (*my best guess). Somehow, the barrier of mountains around the historic downtown has kept out all the chain stores, which cluster unhappily by the interstate in all their strip-mall ugliness.

The festival doesn’t happen every year. Get any updated details and purchase tickets at