By Gordon Anderson | firstname.lastname@example.org
While the Wampus Cat Music Festival might be off, the venue that was slated to host the three day event is still very much here.
Gross Farms has two sites in Lee and Harnett counties — their main facility on Pickett Road off N.C. 87 south of Carolina Trace, and Gross Farms II, a nearly 200-acre pasture near Seminole which was until recently slated to be the venue for Wampus Cat. While owners John and Tina Gross had partnered with organizer Indie on Air as the event’s venue, they weren’t a part of the decision to postpone and ultimately cancel the event.
The cancellation does shine a light, though, on what’s called “agri-tourism,” something many farms both regionally and across the country have turned to as a way of diversifying income as agriculture has changed over the years.
Gross Farms has been at the tip of that spear for a long time. Long before the Grosses ever considered being the venue for something like a multi-day music festival, they’d made their working farm open to the public in many ways over the last two decades-plus — a strawberry patch that’s open to the public during the spring, a 10-acre corn maze in the fall, a sunflower patch, a produce market, hayrides, a pumpkin patch, and much, much more.
“Costs have skyrocketed,” explained Tina. “I think many farmers want to diversify. You have to think outside the box and figure out how to generate revenue in different ways.”
The Grosses were able to obtain the Gross Farms II property — which had been in the family for generations – from some distant relatives of John’s about six years ago. They’ve grown soy there, and it’s also been used for tobacco, but that “think outside the box” mentality led the Grosses to begin viewing it as something more.
“It will always be a working farm,” said Tina. “But we thought it could be cool to have a music festival of some kind out there. Nothing permanent.”
Indie on Air came into the picture about three years ago and helped validate what John and Tina believed about the property. And while Wampus Cat specifically is no longer in the cards, the Grosses still see the same potential for the property.
“Ideally I would like to see a smaller, one stage type of event a couple of times a year,” Tina continued. “We’re doing some research into things people in the community will enjoy and we hope we can still make (Gross Farms II) into a place where people can come to see music.”
In the meantime, the Gross Farms facility on Pickett Road will continue to offer all kinds of family fun throughout the year. For more information, visit www.grossfarms.com or www.facebook.com/grossfarmsnc.