The Exploring Joara Foundation has partnered with local breweries to offer a fun afternoon of brews, barbecue and local history.

The inaugural Morganton BBQ and Craft Beer Crawl will take place from 2-7 p.m. Saturday, starting with check in at Catawba Brewing Company.

"Catawba Brewing is EJF's central location, where we will offer a barbecue and trolley ticket for $25,” said Tina Matthews, president of the board of directors for EJF. “This ticket includes a plate of hickory smoked pulled pork barbecue, cowboy beans, slaw, a roll, wristband and access to the trolley. Anyone making a donation of $5 or more to the Exploring Joara Foundation will get an EJF wristband and access to the trolley.”

The trolley will operate from 5-7 p.m. for crawlers with wristbands. BBQ and trolley tickets can be purchased in advance through Eventbrite at or at Catawba Brewing the day of the event. Tickets are not necessary to walk the crawl.

Archaeology exhibits will be set up at most of the locations:

» Sidetracked Brewery: Abra Johgart, archaeology lab supervisor from Warren Wilson College, will exhibit and talk about Spanish and Native American artifacts from the Berry site

» Catawba Brewing: Liam Gardiner, a student at Warren Wilson College, will exhibit Native American stone tools

» Fonta Flora: Denise Folz, a student at Warren Wilson College, will exhibit Native American shell ornaments

» Brown Mountain Bottleworks: Dr. David Moore, professor of archaeology and anthropology at Warren Wilson College and lead archaeologist on the Berry site, will be available to speak about the site.

“He will take time out to crawl the event, say hello to crawlers and thank our brewery partners for their support,” Matthews said.

Fonta Flora also will host a bake sale, according to a flyer advertising the event. Demonstrations will take place at Sidetracked Brewery. The Nook Homebrew and Tavern will hold a drawing for a 50/50 raffle at 7 p.m.

“EJF will offer a 50/50 raffle with tickets being sold at all locations,” Matthews said. “We will pull tickets for the 50/50 winner and for prizes, such as T-shirts and a signed edition of ‘Fort San Juan and the Limits of Empire: Colonialism and Household Practice at the Berry Site,’ (by) Christopher B. Rodning, Robin A. Beck Jr. and David G. Moore.”

There will be event maps at all five locations.

“This is the first fundraiser of this kind for the Exploring Joara Foundation,” Matthews said. “We host several public events throughout the year, our largest being our annual Field Day, which will be held on Saturday, June 22. Most of our events and public days are centered around educating the public about archaeology, focusing on the Native American town of Joara and the discovery of the Spanish Fort San Juan.”

The idea for the fundraiser came from the organization’s resource committee, whose members brainstormed unique ways to engage the public in its mission.

“Contacting the breweries was our first objective, knowing their support was key to our success,” Matthews said. “They were all excited to partner with us, offering their guidance and suggestions so we could make the most of the crawl.”

The Burke County Tourism Development Authority and the Burke County Chamber of Commerce also are offering support.

“I would like to express how impressed I am with Burke County Tourism and the Burke Chamber,” Matthews said. “They were enthusiastic and knowledgeable, clearly investing themselves in our success. The Ridgeline Trolley was something we knew we wanted to offer our crawlers, and so were happy to rent it.”

Funds raised will support the foundation’s mission.

“Nonprofits like us rely on the generosity of the public, without which we would cease to exist,” Matthews said. “The funds raised during this event will ensure that EJF can maintain its ability to serve Morganton and more broadly, western North Carolina. We strive to fulfill our mission to educate the public, young and old, through archaeological programs, exhibits and public events."

She encouraged people to attend the event.

“It's going to be a beautiful day for a craft beer crawl and barbecue,” Matthews said. “While you are at it, meet some fun and interesting folks and learn how archaeologists are working to uncover parts of our rich and unique local history.”

Moore shared her thoughts.

“We thought the BBQ and beer crawl would be a great way to meet people downtown,” Moore said. “We're always excited to talk about archaeology, but it's also fun just to visit with folks. I'm looking forward to seeing some old friends and meeting some new ones downtown on Saturday.”

For more information, visit or contact 828-439-2463.

Staff writer Tammie Gercken can be reached at

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