Pecans and wine make the perfect combination at Camp Verde festival

By Joanna Nellans

During the annual Camp Verde Pecan & Wine Festival March 19–20, Camp Verde celebrates its homegrown agricultural heritage by showcasing two delectable items that create an irresistible pairing: wine and nuts.

Pecans take center stage, alongside a variety of wines crafted from grapes grown right in Camp Verde and the wider Verde Valley region.

The festival also features live blues music, a pecan-pie-making contest, beer, food trucks, homegrown crafts, and other local vendors.

“We love it,” said Chip Norton, who owns and operates the Salt Mine Wine vineyard and small batch production facility in Camp Verde with his brother Kevin. He especially loves how the festival showcases small local ag producers.

The Zarlingo family, next door to Salt Mine Wine, grows pecans and makes “amazing” pecan brittle in various flavors for the annual festival, Norton said. Locals also will be selling all kinds of other pecan concoctions including pies, jam, and cookies.

Pecan groves have a long history in Camp Verde, witnessed by the Pecan Lane Rural Historic Landscape, which is on the National Register of Historic Places. Pecan Lane features about 90 stately pecan trees planted on 26 acres by settler Eva Haydon in 1927-28 between Beaver Creek and what is now Montezuma Castle Highway.

The Camp Verde pecan tradition continues today at locations such as Zarlingo and the Summer Place Pecan Farm.

Town of Camp Verde parks officials are especially happy to host this year’s Pecan & Wine Festival after the pandemic forced the town to cancel the 2020 festival and move the 2021 festival back a month. The town property has plenty of room for the 480-square-foot wine tent, music stage, and booths, with some of the vendors also filling the neighboring gym.

The Verde Valley Wine Consortium and the Northern Arizona Blues Alliance help the town organize the event. Non-profits get free booth space, too.

“Camp Verde is really all about collaboration and partnerships,” said Michael Marshall, Camp Verde Parks and Recreation Division manager.

Marshall alerts pecan lovers to arrive early if they want some of the Questers’ popular pecan pies.

Festival pandemic measures include portable handwash stations and more spacing between vendors. And of course, most of the event takes place outdoors, when Camp Verde already has warmed up to welcome the spring equinox on March 20.

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