Friday, December 30, 2011

Asheville Photographer Wins MST Contest

Friends of North Carolina's Mountains to Sea Trail have announced the first place winner in the "People on the Trail" category for their 2011 Trail photography contest. Stephen Schoof of Garren Creek Photography in Asheville NC submitted the winning photo,  the Sunset Crowd at Jockey's Ridge. 

There were nearly 200 entries painting a beautiful panorama of the sights along the 1000-mile trail.  For a look at all entries go to

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Every Penny Counts for Grandfather Mountain's Eagle Habitat

Elementary Students at Caldwell County Schools collected over $9,400 in pennies for a new Eagle Habitat at Grandfather Mountain. The students joined the Caldwell County Chamber of Commerce in the fund raising event. Penny challenge jars were placed in each elementary classroom in Caldwell County and a pizza party was promised for the class that collected the most pennies in each participating school. The classroom that collected the most pennies in the school system would win a field trip to Grandfather Mountain to tour the habitats and see the animals.

Top honors went to Allyson Davis' kindergarten class from Collettsville School who raised $186.06 and Tabitha Call's class from Davenport Elementary which collected $185.18. The Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation will host field trips for both classes since the winning totals were so close.

The Caldwell County Chamber of Commerce initiated the effort to raise funds for a new eagle habitat as a 'thank you' to Grandfather Mountain for being an essential partner in the Bridge to Bridge Incredible Challenge Bike Ride for the past 22 years.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Golden Globe Series at the Flat Rock Cinema

Flat Rock Cinema, 2700 Greenville Highway, Flat Rock NC: The annual Golden Globe and Oscar Series will start this Friday with J. EDGAR (Golden Globe Nomination: Best Actor, Leonardo DiCaprio), followed by MY WEEK WITH MARYLIN on January 6, 2012. The series will  continue over the next couple of months as movies become available. 

Sherlock Holmes playing: Dec. 23rd - 29th 3:30, 7:00; Dec. 30th - Jan. 1st 3:30 only (Fri, Sat, Sun only)

J. Edgar playing: Dec. 30th - Jan 5th,  Fri-Sun 12:00, 7:00;  Mon-Thu 3:30, 7:00. 

Tickets are $7 for all shows. Reservations are recommended, but not required, for most weekend shows. The Flat Rock Cinema is a friendly "bistro cinema featuring great food, cocktails and local brews."
Get a link for the Flat Rock Cinema and Flat Rock NC Information HERE

Monday, December 26, 2011

Riverlink will offer Guided Walking Tours in 2012

In early 2012  RiverLink will offer a series of walking tours on the Wilma Dykeman RiverWay.  The best way to develop an appreciation and understanding of the natural world is by getting out there and experiencing the beauty first hand. Learn about the nature and history of the river and parks, and the future plans for the RiverWay by joining in on these exciting outings.

The upcoming schedule for the 2012 series of guided nature walks is currently in the works. The new season is set to begin in February and extend through the end of the summer. This year's program is being developed by Assistant Volunteer Coordinator Worth McAlister, an AmeriCorps member, and will be executed with the help of RiverLink staff, area experts, and volunteers. Some topic themes to look forward to this season will include winter tree (bark and twig) ID, wildflower and herbaceous plant ID, wetland plant and ecology tour, early season birds (song and sight), on the lookout for reptiles and amphibians, growing season dendrology (leaf ID), summer birds (song and sight), and French Broad River history and watershed ecology.

These outings are free and open to the public. They are designed to be beneficial and of great interest to beginners and experts alike. Everyone from the seasoned botanist or birder, to the person looking to try something new will feel comfortable and engaged on these great mini adventures.

To volunteer to help lead a tour, suggest ideas for topic themes, or any other questions regarding the program, contact, or call at (828) 252-8474.

Friday, December 23, 2011

RiverLink Blog "The River Whisperer" Offers Daily River News

RiverLink has a blog available for everyone to enjoy. RiverLink's Director of Volunteer Services, Dave Russell, and Assistant Volunteer Coordinator Worth McAlister, an AmeriCorps member, are dedicated to bringing high quality information and entertainment to the citizens of Western North Carolina with a new blog entry published each day through this wonderful tool.

Readers can find up-to-date news
on stream ecology, special events in the area, recreation and fishing, the greenway system, important community topics and meeting dates, WNC flora and fauna, current water news from our region and beyond, and anything exciting that is related to the French Broad River Watershed. The site is chock full of pictures, videos, and facts that are sure to inform and entertain anyone who loves moving water, Asheville and WNC.

The River Whisperer blog
was born on April 30, 2010, and can be found through the media tab on the RiverLink Web site or by visiting The blog is complete with links, labels, and an archive for easy navigation to whatever topics may strike your fancy. Older entries can be a great source for knowledge in an array of focal areas.

The River Whisperer currently has over 550 entries, with a brand new one each morning. The blog boasts over 4,000 hits per month, and counting. Don't hesitate to make The River Whisperer a primary source for staying up-to-date and informed on what's happening in your region and in your waters.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Friends of the Mountains to Sea Trail Announce Photo Contest Winners

First Place winner by Stephen Schoof
The winners of the Mountains to Sea Trail Photo Contest for 2011 have been announced.  Check out the winning photographs and take a few minutes to watch the slideshow of all 189 submitted photos.

First place winners in each of the three categories were awarded a $100 cash prize.
Second place winners were awarded a $75 gift card from Great Outdoor Provision Co.
Third place winners were awarded a $50 gift card from Great Outdoor Provision Co.

Entries for the 2nd Annual Photo Contest
will be accepted starting in August 2012.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Riverlink - The Year in Review

Riverlink is a regional non-profit established in 1987 spearheading the economic and environmental revitalization of the French Broad River and its tributaries as a place to live, work and play. Its team of professionals and volunteers are among the most active and accomplished anywhere in the nonprofit and conservation industry. Below is a review of their  accomplishments for 2011:
  • Made the final payment on Karen Cragnolin Park in January -- Amboy Road never looked better! That is another $1.2 million we raised for the river revitalization effort and another step closer to implementing the Wilma Dykeman RiverWay Plan.
  • Completed 4 rounds of testing at Karen Cragnolin Park (the old EDACO junk yard on Amboy Road) you will start to see some progress in the next few months as we begin the planting for our phytoremediation.
  • Hosted a "Build your own rain barrel" event in the Spring and helped 30 local homeowners install rain barrels on their property. Hosted rain barrel construction and installation training this winter for Asheville Green Opportunities new WaterTeam.
  • Empowered 1,430 volunteers to put in 2,500-plus hours, collecting 647 bags of trash, 236 tires and an assortment of TVs, toilets, mattresses, hubcaps, toys, and other debris.
  • Recruited and coordinated a 100-strong army of volunteers to make RiverFest - our big annual riverside party - a successful event.
  • Were voted the "Best Environmental Non-profit" by the readers of MountainXpress for the fifth year in a row.
  • Are co-sponsoring the River Management Society Conference here in 2012 and expect over 400 river experts from across the country and Canada to come to WNC.
  • Hosted "South America as told by Water" slideshow presentation by Cathy Holt.
  • Hosted a series of French Broad River Paddle Trail Community Planning Meetings, giving the public a chance to learn about - and have input into -- the French Broad River Paddle Trail, a canoe camping trail along the French Broad River through North Carolina.
  • Have raised over $105,000 in grant funding for the planning, construction, and management of the French Broad River Paddle Trail. Volunteers and the Advisory Council have put in over 1000 hours of volunteer time assisting in developing the Trail User Guide and Design Guidelines, as well as on-the-ground research.
  • Developed and launched a residential stormwater management handbook and certification program, WaterRICH - Water Reuse, Infiltration and Conservation at Home. RiverLink has specifically designed WaterRICH to assist homeowners in understanding rainwater management and conservation techniques that will help recycle and infiltrate water in their own yards.
  • Hosted and received proceeds from the 4th Annual Winter Warmer Beer Festival on Saturday, January 22, 2011.
  • Named Silver-Line Plastics, The Pink Dog Creative Studios and the Wedge Brewery as the 2011 RiverBusiness Award winners.
  • Donated funds and acted as fiscal agent for the Blue Ridge Bike Club and partnered with a Buncombe County and the City to buy another 12 acres (known as the Waller Tract) that extends up Hominy Creek.
  • Hosted the 2010 Fins & Gills Classic at the Asheville Outdoor Center on Saturday, May 14, primarily to get fishermen on the French Broad River and rods & reels in the hands of young anglers.
  • Completed the LinkingWaters Urban Watershed Project at our friend Michelle Smith's house, an initiative to increase community action and promote permaculture, and to make clear the benefits of effective, economical, safe, and appropriate means for handling stormwater and replinishing the water table.
  • Installed information kiosks at The ByWater and the RiverLink Sculpture and Performance Plaza and signs at Malvern Hills and West Asheville Park to provide additional information about our projects and the water quality measures implemented along with the stream restorations.
  • The RiverLink Sculpture and Performance Plaza was the site for the Asheville Rites Project, a collaboration between muralist Molly Rose Freeman, dancer Garth Grimball and musician Michael Libramento that attracted a crowd of over 300 people.
  • Hosted a series of Invasive Species training sessions to teach the public about the invasive species threatening our native flora and how to deal with these pests.
  • Produced a weed guide detailing the exotic invasives that plague our area and means to control them.
  • Ttaught water-related lessons to approximately 4,000 children ages K-12.
  • Had a visit from a three-member team from Brazil that was arranged by the State Department. They came to learn how we engage the public on the issues surrounding water.
  • Two members of RiverLink team, Executive Director Karen Cragnolin and former AmeriCorps Member and Education Coordinator Hayley Smith, went to the Project Wet Blue Planet Conference in Bozeman, Montana to show off our newly-constructed model of the urban water cycle.
  • We hosted a conference for The Public Laboratory for Open Technology and Science (PLOTS), using simple do-it-yourself techniques -- cameras mounted on balloons and kites -- to produce inexpensive satellite imagery of the Wilma Dykeman Greenway and the French Broad River through the City of Asheville.
  • Held the 4th annual "Voices of the River: Art and Poetry Contest," with over 100 kids participating. Prizes were awarded for poetry, 2-D and 3-D art, with an award ceremony at the Holly Room of the A-B Tech Library. The deadline for 2012 submissions is March 9.
  • Won the 2011 Engineering Excellence Award from the American Council of Engineering Companies of North Carolina for our work with Baker Engineering for our Rhododendron Creek (West Asheville Park) stream restoration.
  • The RiverLink Board of Directors voted unanimously to develop a greenway from 12Bones to the Smith Bridge (Haywood Street) and presented the unanimous vote to Asheville City Council. Their reply has been favorable though construction is as yet unconfirmed, but we may see a greenway running through that area in 2012!
  • Asked the city to donate a parcel of land they own at the Pearson Bridge for the new Outdoor Sports Adventure business we are planning. This past summer we acquired the old tire store on the south side of the Pearson Bridge and the north side of the bridge was donated by Marge and Jake Michel.
  • Facilitated the transition of the Richmond Hill Inn to Oshun Mountain Sanctuary, a center for health and wellness, and remain a fiscal agent for the Sanctuary.
  • Held a successful summer camp, including an overnight camping experience for the kids.
Tax-deductible contributions and membership from the public are always welcomed and may be made online HERE

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Chanukah Live 2011! in Asheville

Decemeber 20  Chanukah Live 2011!  The Chabad House  hosts Asheville's largest Chanukah celebration, its annual community wide holiday event, on the first night of Chanukah. The Grand Menorah lighting is at 6 PM.

This event is open to the public, and all are welcome to attend. Of the many features, Chanukah Live will host its famous Walk-In Dreidel House, active children's and toddler's play areas, holiday crafts and games, a Kosher buffet dinner including Latkes and donuts, an adult wine bar.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Asheville Woman Selected for National Geographic Adventurers of the year 2012

This summer the record for fastest thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail was broken by Asheville resident Jennifer Pharr Davis. Breaking the previous record set in 2005, Davis completed the 2140 mile trek in in 46 days, 11 hours and 20 minutes - beating the time of previous record holder Andrew Thomas by one day, two hours and 11 minutes.
Now Jennifer Pharr Davis has been selected by National Geographic as 1 of  10 Adventurers who made the NG year in adventure with their remarkable achievements in exploration, conservation, and adventure sports. The "Peoples Choice" award will be determined by a public vote concluding on January 18, 2012. Anyone can vote, up to once per day for the person believed to best embody the spirit of adventure. The People's Choice Adventurer of the Year will be announced in February 2012. Click here to VOTE NOW

For the past 40 years the Appalachian Trail record has been held by men,
with the last 20 exclusively runners. Davis' accomplishment is remarkable in two ways:  She is a true hiker and trained by hiking, not running; and that sex was irrelevant if fortitude, intelligence and perseverance - not just speed and strength - were employed. Davis hiked approximately 16 hours per day instead of running 11-13 hours as previous record setters had done. Davis slept on the Trail, eliminating additional  time losses and was assisted with supplies and moral support along the way by her crew and husband.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

CHristmas Event: A Holiday Homecoming in the Smokies

December 17   A Holiday Homecoming  at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park Oconaluftee Visitor Center in Cherokee NC. From 10 AM - 1 PM there will be demonstrations of old-fashioned crafts, live music, refreshments, and walking tours.

Make a corn shuck doll, buzz button, and cinnamon ornaments. From 1 PM -3 PM  there will be an old-time acoustic jam session focused on holiday music.
Get a link for A Holiday Homecoming and more
Cherokee NC events, lodging and information HERE

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Nantahala News: Freestyle Wavemaker Makes Its Debut Friday

The Nantahala Gorge Organizing Committee (“NGOC”) will celebrate the grand opening of the 2013 Wave on Friday, December 16 with a ceremony, reception and paddling exhibition starting at 12 PM. The 2013 Wave is the competition site of the 2013 ICF Canoe Freestyle World Championships on the Nantahala River, an event expected to draw 500 international athletes and thousands of spectators.

During the 30-minute dedication ceremony NGOC representatives will explain how the wave works, how it may evolve over time and the current state of the event planning. Some of the world’s best freestyle paddling athletes will be on hand to discuss their impressions of the 2013 Wave, and the ongoing preparations for the games. These same boaters will be available for a photo opportunity following the dedication ceremony as they paddle the new wave.

NGOC representatives will be soliciting paddler feedback so they can make adjustments benefiting the general public as well as advanced freestyle athletes. To facilitate the feedback, there will be an open paddling session after the meeting where boaters can paddle together to discuss their recommendations and impressions. Non-paddlers will be treated to light refreshments and will have the opportunity to watch the athletes surf the new wave.

“We completed the installation within the required time frame, clearing the biggest hurdle we faced in the entire planning process—I’m very relieved and excited,” says Lee Leibfarth, board member for the Nantahala Racing Club and member of the organizing committee. “We’ve still got work to do on the competition site though. The feature needs refinement and adjustments that can only be made through experimentation. As the Nantahala goes through its usual winter release schedule we’ll be tweaking the features that produce the wave to make it optimal for most paddlers.”

Now that the competition site is constructed, event organizers will move on to new challenges like scheduling, ticketing and other logistics. As that process gets underway minor work will continue on the 2013 Wave preparing it for its first big test: the 2012 World Cup event in September.

For more information please visit

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

News Year's Eve Gala at the Smoky Mountains Railroad

December 31 from 9 PM - New Year's Eve Gala - Welcome 2012 in Class - first class that is, with a night on the train. Enjoy dinner and dancing with a champagne toast at midnight. Do something different than the old traditional party and hop on board for the send off the season. The train departs from the historic Bryson City, NC depot at 9 PM and returns after the midnight toast.

The First Class meal will begin with a salad made of fresh baby greens in a raspberry vinaigrette dressing and warm yeast rolls. Choose from a selection of delicious entrees: Spinach stuffed chicken with a creamy;  parmesan sauce, Seasoned pork loin served with a tart raspberry glaze;  Portobello mushroom tower stuffed with smoked peppers, spinach and parmesan cheese.  Finish off your meal with a tasty rich White Chocolate Cheesecake covered with Fresh Berries.

Dance the Night Away...with entertainment provided by Alias Smith and Jones. Atlanta-based acoustic guitar/vocal duo whose vast repertoire ranges from the must-have classics to the totally unexpected.
Two experienced guitarists combine their voices with harmonica, flute, mandolin, percussion, and a few surprises to deliver a unique musical experience.
ARRIVE EARLY....for a special reception beginning at 7:45pm in the Smoky Mountain Trains Museum located steps away from the depot!  Start the night with an exclusive selection of beer, wine and mixed drinks.
Feast on array of hors d' oeuvres; Tiger Shrimp with Cocktail sauce,  Button Mushrooms stuffed with Shrimp/Crab and Parmesan, Fruit covered in rich chocolate.

Get tickets NOW - this event will probably sell out in advance. For a link to the New Year's Eve Gala at the Smoky Mountain Railroad and other Bryson City events and information HERE.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Swannanoa Solstice this weekend in Asheville

December 18   Swannanoa Solstice  The annual performance of A Swannanoa Solstice. Headlined by world renowned musicians Al Petteway, Amy White, and Robin Bullock playing guitar, mandolin, fiddle, Appalachian dulcimer, piano, harp, and world percussion, these performances are enhanced further by the voices and talents of special guest musicians, storytellers, dancers, and host Doug Orr. Gather with family and friends for one of the two performances offered to accommodate ticket demand for this holiday tradition
Performances are 2 PM and 7 PM at the 
Diana Wortham Theatre, 2 S Pack Square in Asheville NC 
Get a link for Swannanoa Soltice and other 

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Two Weeks Left for the Asheville Tourists Baseball Holiday Gift Package

Holiday Special!
Fans, take advantage of the Holiday Gift package taking place now until December 23rd, 2011
The 2012 Holiday Pack gives you 5 Box Flex Vouchers good for 69 games of the 2012 season of Asheville Tourists Baseball AND a long sleeve Tourists T-Shirt all for just $39!

All T-Shirts are 100% pre-shrunk heavy cotton featuring our script Tourists logo in Blue Ridge Blue on a heather grey shirt. T-Shirt sizes available Adult S through XL.

Box Flex Vouchers are not valid for the July 4th Fireworks Extravaganza. Box flex vouchers must be redeemed at the Asheville Tourists Box Office for an actual ticket. Seating subject to availability.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

NC Skiing Makes a Tentative Start for 2011-2012

This weekend four of the six NC Ski Areas and Resorts are open for the 2011-2012 season.  After several false starts and the best efforts of the snow making machines, Mother Nature finally brought the requisite consistent cold temperatures this week.

Cataloochee was the first to open for the season
with day skiing on November 12 and 13, thanks to a few days of cooler weather allowing temporary snow making. The following weekend both Cataloochee and Sugar Mountain were able to offer day skiing with a limited number of slopes and lifts open. Warmer temperatures returned followed by an inversion and all Skiing was closed for the Thanksgiving weekend and the following week.

Skiing in North Carolina has always required man-made snow. Each year the Ski Areas add to or upgrade their snowmaking capabilities. But even state-of-the-art snow machines can't do it all. A minimum of 36 to 48 hours of below freezing temperatures are need to properly prepare the slopes to begin building a usable snow surface. The last two years in NC have seen record early cold weather allowing longer ski seasons than usual with earlier starts and skiing well into March.

This weekend Cataloochee Ski Area, Sugar Mountain Resort, Beech Mountain Ski Resort and Appalachian Ski Mountain are all open for day time skiing on 40-60% of their slopes and bases of 6 inches to 45 inches. Sugar Mountain is host to the annual SugarFest and Appalachian is celebrating its official 50th season opening. Sapphire Valley Ski Area is hoping to open on December 17 and Wolf Ridge Ski Resort has not yet announced an opening date.

Get links for all NC  Ski Areas and Resorts and 

Friday, December 9, 2011

Christmas Events: What to do this weekend in the mountains

Dec 9   SALUDA  Saluda Hometown Christmas   A Christmas celebration throughout this charming little town. Live music, holiday refreshments and merchants "open houses". The event ends with a services at the Saluda Presbyterian Church.    Get a link for more details...
Dec 9-11   LAKE JUNALUSKA   11th Annual Appalachian Christmas Celebration  Appalachian Christmas begins at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 9, in historic Stuart Auditorium with a performance by the Lake Junaluska Singers featuring Celtic sounds, traditional carols, and selections from Handel’s Messiah. This year’s Appalachian Christmas Celebration is perfect for the whole family.     Get a link for more details...

Dec 9   WEAVERVILLE   7th Annual Candlelight Christmas Stroll    6-9 PM Main Street in Weaverville will be aglow with luminaries along the streets, local choirs and bands will provide music, and horse and buggy rides will be available through town. Local businesses will be open late for Christmas shopping, and kids can visit with Santa.   Get a link for more details...

Dec 10      BRYSON CITY   37th Annual Bryson City Christmas Parade   Celebrate a Smoky Mountain Christmas at the Bryson City Christmas Parade - The Biggest Little Christmas Parade in the Smokies! There will be plenty of floats, bands, fire trucks, costumes, candy and, of course, Santa Claus will be there to bring in the Christmas season!   Get a link for more details...

Dec 10   CHIMNEY ROCK   Santa Climbs the Chimney and Holiday events   Guests also have an opportunity to meet Santa and Mrs. Claus, enjoy live holiday music, complimentary hot cocoa, cookies and kids’ activities and see the Park's live critters.   Get a link for more details...

Dec 10   ASHEVILLE   Guild Artists’ Holiday Sale at the Folk Art Center    Members of the Southern Highland Craft Guild will be on  hand in the center’s auditorium  to sell select work 10-50% off retail.   Get a link for more details...

Dec 10   ASHEVILLE   16th Annual Monford Tour of Homes   1 PM - 5 PM - Tour holiday decorated homes in Asheville's oldest historic neighborhood. Enjoy Shakespearian actors, and homemade baked goods during the tour. Located down the street from Asheville Visitors Center.

Dec 10   ANDREWS   Andrews Nightime Christmas Parade   Andrews Night Time Christmas Parade will be held from 5 PM - 9 PM  in Downtown Andrews. 

Dec 10   WAYNESVILLE   "A Night Before Christmas"   Come share our Holiday Tradition downtown. Live music and caroling, Santa, old-fashioned wagon rides, storytelling, poetry, luminaries & more. Shops, galleries and restaurants remain open until 9pm.   Get a link for more details...

Dec 10   FLETCHER (ASHEVILLE)  Fletcher Christmas Parade  Town of Fletcher Christmas Parade features floats, musical groups & Santa traveling along Hwy. 25 between Old Airport Rd. & Town Hall.   Get a link for more details...

Dec 10   FLAT ROCK   Christmas at Connemara  The Carl Sandburg Home, National Historic Site is decorated as the Sandburg's did with traditional decorations, holiday music and programs. Take a leisurely stroll of the grounds and visit the goat barn.    Get a link for more details...

Dec 10   SALUDA   Saluda First Annual Christmas Parade  Witness the first annual Christmas Parade.  Celebrate the holidays in style,  for a wonderful holiday season.  For more information call the Town of Saluda at 828-749-2571   Get a link for more details...

Dec 10   ANDREWS   Nighttime Christmas Parade   Andrews Night Time Christmas Parade to be held in Downtown Andrews. 

Dec 10   WAYNESVILLE   A Night Before Christmas  Come share our holiday tradition downtown. Live music, and caroling, Santa Claus, old-fashioned wagon rides, storytelling, poetry, hundreds of luminaries & more! Shops, galleries, and restaurants remain open until 9pm.    Get a link for more details...

Dec 11   BLOWING ROCK   BRAHM  celebrates the holidays with a community Open House with FREE Admission to the Museum and light seasonal refreshments, including stolen from Stick Boy Bread Company.   Get a link for more details...

Dec 11 - 19   FLAT ROCK   Flat Rock Playhouse Music on the Rock  Flat Rock Family Christmas   Summer Music on the Rock Concerts offer audiences a variety of music of well-known artists performed by exceptional singers and musicians.            Get a link for more details...

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Get on the Bus - RiverLink's next bus tour

December 15, 11:45 AM -  The RiverLink Bus Tour offers answers about Asheville's past, present and future: What is the Wilma Dykeman RiverWay Plan and what does it hold for Asheville's future? What are the plans for the old Cotton Mill down on Riverside Drive? How did the Flood of 1916 change the river area landscape?

The public is invited to tour the French Broad and Swannanoa Rivers with
RiverLink. The tour departs from the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce parking area and returns around 2 PM. The Tour is an opportunity to see the improvements that have occurred and hear what is coming over the next several months and years to make the rivers better places to work, live and play. You will learn some local history and visit some streets and neighborhoods you have never seen before.

Non-members cost $15 per person. Lunch is not provided but you can bring your own. Reservations are required. Please go to to make your reservation online or call 828-252-8474 ext. 11.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Lake Junaluska hosts the 11th Annual Appalachian Christmas Celebration

December 9-11  11th Annual Appalachian Christmas Celebration Appalachian Christmas begins at 7:30 PM Friday  in the  historic Stuart Auditorium with a performance by the Lake Junaluska Singers featuring Celtic sounds, traditional carols, and selections from Handel’s Messiah. This year’s Appalachian Christmas Celebration is perfect for the whole family.

On Saturday morning some of the best crafters in Western North Carolina are showcased at the Christmas Craft Show. from 9 AM to 5 PM.

At 2:30 PM the entertainment continues with a concert by the Junaluska Singers and  special guests, Voices in the Laurel. Evening  performances f
eature the legendary Southern Appalachian Mountains musicians and famous storyteller, David Holt.

On Sunday the Advent Worship Service will be held in the Terrace Hotel Auditorium at 9 AM.

Get a link for the Appalachian Christmas Celebration and other
Lake Junaluska events and visitor information HERE.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Christmas Events: Weaverville Holds Old-Fashioned Christmas Stroll

December 9  from 6 PM - 9 PM the  7th Annual Candlelight Christmas Stroll  will take place on Main Street in Weaverville NC. This charming mountain will be aglow with luminaries along the streets, local choirs and bands will provide music, and horse and buggy rides will be available through town. Local businesses will be open late for Christmas shopping, and kids can visit with Santa.  

Get a link for the Candlelight Christmas Stroll and other

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Asheville's Brusin' Ales Celebrates Repeal Day with Special Tasting

December 5,  4:30 - 7:30 PM at Brusin' Ales, 66 Broadway Street in Asheville NC. In celebration of Repeal Day,  Brusin' Ales will have special Monday hours to launch the long-awaited 21st Amendment Brewery from San Francisco, California. The entire line comes in can.

In 2000, Nico Freccia and Shaun O'Sullivan founded the 21st Amendment Brewery in San Francisco's historic South Park neighborhood. The popular brewpub is now at the heart of the new city center, just south of the financial district and only two blocks from the San Francisco Giants baseball park. In addition to eight rotating taps of multiple award-winning hand-crafted house beers, the pub has been voted "Best Brewpub", "Best Burger" and "Best Happy Hour" by the San Francisco press.

The special Monday tasting will include:

Brew Free or Die (IPA) Brewed with some serious west coast attitude. This aromatic golden IPA starts with a sucker punch of six different hops to the nose, quickly balanced by a solid malt backbone., brave, defiant black.

Back in Black (Black IPA) Inspired by Paul Revere's midnight ride, we rebelled against the British style IPA, embraced the more aggressive American version and then recast it in bold.

Allies Win the War (Strong Ale brewed with Dates, Collaboration with Ninkasi Brewing). In a surprising turn of events, rival superpowers have joined forces to bring a beer of might to the world.

Repeal Day is celebrated on December 5th because on that date in 1933
, Utah, the final state needed for a three quarters majority, ratified the 21st Amendment which repealed Prohibition and restored the American right to a celebratory drink. While the amendment still allowed for state and local levels of Prohibition, by 1966 there were no state laws actually banning alcohol.

The 21st Amendment repealed the 18th amendment
enacted at the urging of a small but vocal group who believed that outlawing alcohol would ostensibly put an end to drunkenness, crime, mental illness, and poverty. For the thirteen years the 18th Amendment, Prohibition and the criminalization of alcohol led not only to a rise in civil delinquency and organized crime, but also to the loss of customs and revenues associated with the production, preparation, and consumption of alcohol. 

In addition to  restoring the rights of American Citizens to legally consume alcohol, Repeal Day celebrates all constitutional rights and serves as a reminder to all Americans what can happen when we allow a minority of self-serving zealots to deny the rights protected by the Constitution...I'll drink to that!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

NC Christmas Trees - Choose and Cut or Have One Shipped

Come to the NC Mountains to "Choose and cut" your Christmas Tree on a North Carolina Tree Farm.  North Carolina has 1,600 growers producing an estimated 50 million Fraser fir Christmas trees growing on over 25,000 acres. Fraser Fir trees represent over 90% of all species grown in North Carolina. North Carolina produces over 19% of the Real Christmas Trees in the U.S. The North Carolina Christmas Tree Industry is ranked second in the nation in number of trees harvested. 25% of all Christmas trees sold in NC are Choose and cut. Here's a list of NC Choose and Cut Christmas trees - get links for pricing and directions HERE.

A White Christmas Tree Farm
- Linville      
Cartner Christmas Tree Farm - Newland   
Christmas Corner - Pineola
Cool Springs Nursery -
Elk River Evergreens -
Elk Park
Evergreen Ridge Christmas Tree Farm -
Lil' Grandfather Christmas Tree Farm -
Laurel Springs
Little Switzerland Christmas Tree Farm -
Little Switzerland
Long Ridge Nursery
- Newland 
Mistletoe Meadows -
Laurel Springs
Mountain Advantage Tree & Landscape -
Mountain Memories Tree Farm -
R.C. Blackburn Nursery/Reindeer Crossing -

Snow Creek Christmas Trees  - Bakersville   
Sugar Mountain Nursery & Landscape - Newland
Sugar Plum Farms - Plumtree

Sunnyside Tree Farm - Jefferson

The Great Fraser Fir Company - Linville
Tom Millers Tree Farm and Nursery - Laurel Springs
Top of the Mountain Christmas Trees - Glendale Springs

Touch of the Mountains - Elk Park Twin Oaks Christmas Tree Farm - Elk Park
West End Wreaths and Choose & Cut
- West Jefferson

North Carolina Fraser fir, Balsam fir, Scotch pine and Douglas-fir are among the longest lasting Christmas trees remaining fresh much longer than others. Lodging and cabin rental specials are available for NC visitors to choose and cut their own Christmas tree. Get a complete list of NC Christmas Tree Farms with website links and locations HERE.

Can't get away but still want an NC Christmas tree? You may also order NC Christmas trees online direct from North Carolina Tree Farms:

Sugar Plum Tree Farm North Carolina Fraser Fir Christmas trees, wreaths or decorations. Corporate orders welcome.
Appalachian Evergreens Blue Ridge Mountain Fraser Firs, wreaths, centerpieces, garlands, Christmas CDs
Cartner Christmas Tree Farm Fraser Fir Christmas Trees, wreaths and garlands
Cool Springs Nursery Fraser Fir Christmas Trees, table top trees, wreaths, garlands
Top of the Mountain Christmas Trees Premium grade Fraser Fir Christmas Trees, wreaths
Try-Lyn Plantation Wreaths, greenery, swags and centerpieces

Friday, December 2, 2011

What to do this Weekend: Dec 2-4 Christmas Parades and Mountain Crafts Abound!

Dec 2 - SKI NC!  Sugar Mountain (Ski) Resort is open today for skiing and boarding. Day skiing hours:9 AM until 4:30 PM and again for night skiing from 6 PM until 10 PM. Beech Mountain opens for the 2011-2012 season December 3. Cataloochee Ski Area and Tube world plan to re-open on Dec 3, but will make a final decision late this afternoon. Appalachian Ski Mountain was not able to make enough snow and will remain closed through the weekend.  Get details and links for all NC Ski Resorts and areas HERE.

Dec 2   WAYNESVILLE   Art After Dark   Stroll downtown Waynesville's numerous galleries and studios the first Friday of each month, May thru December. Enjoy demonstrations, artist receptions, music and refreshments. Get a link for details
Dec 2   FRANKLIN   Winter Wonderland - Franklin's Holiday Festival-Historic downtown Franklin will be changed into a Winter Wonderland. The event will be one night only from 5:00 to 9:00 PM. Live music, Santa Clause, wagon rides. Get a link for details

Dec 2   HENDERSONVILLE   Old Fashioned Christmas   Olde Fashioned Hendersonville Christmas features carolers, entertainment, carriage rides, merchant's open house and refreshments, all with a Victorian flair.Get a link for details

Dec 2   BLACK MOUNTAIN   Holly Jolly Christmas  A festive evening visiting  Black Mountain's downtown shops. Get a link for details

Dec 2 - 3    ELKIN   The Foothills Art Council Open Air Art Market   The open air art market, a juried fine arts & crafts show with a special festive feel.  Shoppers can browse through a tent of 30 vendors and meander through the arbor into the entertainment yard offering wine and beer, food, S'mores-making by a fire pit, Christmas trees and live music.  Get a link for details

Dec 2-3   BREVARD   Transylvania County Handcrafters Guild Show  - Locally handcrafted artwork on display and for sale

Dec 2-4   ASHEVILLE   A Dickens Christmas in the Village   Historic Biltmore Village transforms itself into a quaint Victorian village. Enjoy three days of concerts, refreshments, horse drawn carriage rides, and strolling vocalists and instrumentalists in costumes of the period. Come join the fun! Get a link for details

Dec 3   CHIMNEY ROCK   Santa Climbs the Chimney and Holiday events   Guests also have an opportunity to meet Santa and Mrs. Claus, enjoy live holiday music, complimentary hot cocoa, cookies and kids’ activities and see the Park's live critters.  Get a link for details

Dec 3   BLACK MOUNTAIN  Christmas Parade and Circle of Lights  Annual Christmas Parade thru downtown Black Mountain. The parade begins at 4 PM start. Free to public. The evening continue at Lake Tomahawk with the Circle of Lights Celebration,  Get a link for details

Dec 3    ASHEVILLE    Asheville Downtown Galleries Walk  Take a self-guided tour and explore the diversity of art in downtown Asheville.  Get a link for details

Dec 3 WEAVERVILLE  Annual Christmas Parade    The parade begins at 1 p.m. at the intersection of North Main Street and Dula Springs Road, travels through downtown Weaverville, and ends at the intersection of South Main and Yost Streets. Local bands, floats, marching units, local dignitaries and of course Santa. Get a link for details

Dec 3    BLOWING ROCK   Mountain Home Music Series:  An Appalachian Christmas: The MHM Family of Musicians - Now in its 18th year, this music series is dedicated to the proposition that, in the words of founder Joe Shannon, "our local music here is as good as any in the world."  Get a link for details

Dec 3  ASHEVILLE   Guild Artists’ Holiday Sale at the Folk Art Center    Members of the Southern Highland Craft Guild will be on  hand in the center’s auditorium  to sell select work 10-50% off retail. Get a link for details

Dec 3   SPARTA   Christmas Craft Fair held at the Alleghany County Fairgrounds   Find unique Christmas gifts and crafts and food while enjoying the mountain scenery and getting in the Christmas spirit. Get a link for details

Dec 3   WEST JEFFERSON   Saturday with Santa and Christmas Open House   Celebrate the Christmas season with a visit Santa and enjoy the open house.  Get a link for details

Dec 3   MARION   Appalachian Potters Market   Annual event featuring potters from across North Carolina. This is the 25th year of the Appalachian Potter's Market, with 66 potters across North Carolina  on hand to sell many styles of claywork including raku, sgraffito, decorative stoneware, earthen cookware, and traditional folk pottery. This year's show will include children's activities, demonstrations, and live music.  Get a link for details

Dec 3   HENDERSONVILLE   Christmas at Historic Johnson Farm   Christmas Festival at Historic Johnson Farm, (featuring tours of the decorated farmhouse and weaver's building, holiday music, free cookies & cider, wagon rides, & food), bring your own camera to pose for photos in the antique sleigh. Get a link for details

Dec 3   Hendersonville   Hendersonville Christmas Parade   The annual Hendersonville Christmas Parade travels along Main Street from Five Points to Caswell Street. Enjoy the sights and sounds of bands playing, clowns, floats and of course Santa Claus. Get a link for details

Dec 3   HIGHLANDS   Olde Mountain Christmas   Free and Fun for the whole family.  Get a link for details

Dec 3   COLUMBUS   Tuba Christmas XIV  -  a wonderful, fun annual event! This is the 14th year of total tuba fun. It's a free Christmas concert presented by 70 players of tuba, sousaphone, euphonium and baritone horn players who come from near and far. Please arrive early to be guaranteed a seat. The high school auditorium fills up fast!

Dec 3   COLUMBUS   The Town of Columbus Christmas Parade   Columbus' 2011 Christmas Parade begins at 4 pm. If you are standing anywhere between Park Street and Food Lion on Highway 108/Mills St., you will be able to see the 60 plus units in this parade and welcome Santa Claus!

Dec 3   BRYSON CITY   Spirit of Christmas   A true Christmas experience! The signature hemlock is lit with memorial lights and caroling down Everett Street. Photos are available with Santa and Mrs. Claus, children can post letters to Santa. A wonderful addition to your holiday plans.  Get a link for details

Dec 3   MURPHY   Hometown Christmas celebration   Downtown Murphy. Crafts, food, entertainment and parade. The event begins at 2 pm.  Get a link for details

Dec 3   BREVARD   40th Annual Downtown Brevard Christmas Parade   A special end to Transylvania County's 150th birthday year!  Get a link for details

Dec 3   BREVARD   Twilight Tour   Spend the evening enjoying the sights and sounds of the holiday season. Welcome Christmas with carriage rides, carolers, shopping, food and hot cider.  Get a link for details

Dec 3   OLD FORT   Old Fort Christmas Parade   "Country Christmas" themed parade starting at 4:00 PM.  Davidson's Historic Fort Park is participating this year along with local car clubs and more. Park downtown, visit the local Old Fort Art Show in the Old Fort Depot and Railroad Museum between 10:00 am and 4:00 pm before heading out to enjoy the parade.  Get a link for details

Dec 3   FRANKLIN  Winter Wonderland   Franklin's Holiday Festival-Historic downtown Franklin will be changed into a Winter Wonderland. The event will be one night only. Live music, Santa Clause, wagon rides. Contact 828-524-2516 for more information.  Get a link for details

Dec 3   CHEROKEE   Cherokee Christmas Parade   A Christmas procession with special Cherokee flair. Just the thing to get you in the holiday mood. Floats, bands, clowns, and more!  Get a link for details

Dec 3   MAGGIE VALLEY   Maggie Valley Christmas Parade   Maggie Valley Christmas Parade will start at 6pm at the Ghost Town parking lot and follow Highway 19 to the Maggie Valley Festival Grounds. For more information call 828-926-0866

Dec 4   ASHEVILLE   The Big Crafty - The Asheville Art Museum's family-friendly FREE event returns from 12-6PM. Shop local, handmade and fun at Pack Square in downtown Asheville.  This festive event featuring local artists and crafters, food, music and fun for the entire family.  Get a link for details

Dec 4   BRASSTOWN   Fireside Sale   at John C. Campbell Folk School 10 - 5 p.m. Stroll through the beautifully decorated Keith House. Cozy up to the fire in the Community Room and shop for holiday gifts made by local and regional artists.  Get a link for details

Dec 4   SALUDA   Free Christmas Concert at the Saluda Mountain Jamboree  The concert begins at 7 PM and will include popular and traditional Christmas Music.  Get a link for details

Dec 4   WEST JEFFERSON   Annual Holiday Concert - performed by the Ashe County Choral Society at the Ashe Civic Center.  Get a link for details


Thursday, December 1, 2011

December Music and Events at The Purple Onion

DEC 1 - JON SHAIN - "his music is a refined Americana polyglot"
DEC 3 - OVERMOUNTAIN MEN  - evocative musical portraits of America by an old friend
DEC 8 - UPTOWN JAZZ QUARTET - straight-ahead jazz from great players
DEC 10 - WENDY HAYES - Hendersonville jazz stylist makes her debut
DEC 11 - POSEM Concert - Avett and Childers - old time hymns and gospel songs
DEC 15 - KELLIN WATSON - a favorite singer/songwriter from Asheville
DEC 17 - SHANE PRUITT BAND - their many fans need to plan ahead to be here  
DEC 22 - JEFFERY HYDE THOMPSON  - another fine singer/songwriter now living in Asheville
DEC 29 - JIMMY LANDRY  - knowing that Jimmy is returning makes me smile


DEC 5, 6 PM - Bubbles & Bites: Sparkling Wine and Holiday Party Foods Tasting Monday.  The holidays are one of the best times to have sparkling wine chilled and ready for impromptu celebrations with friends and family. Aside from the inherent appeal of the sparkling appearance and subtle but seductive nose, all sparkling wines share a vibrant acidity which enhance the flavors of a broad range of foods and make them a perfect choice for many holiday foods from hors d'oeuvres to the entrĂ©e.

Several sparkling wines from Prosecco to Champagne will be tasted along with a buffet of delicious hors d'oeuvres available from the Purple Onion during the holiday season. Madeline Kearns from Empire and Robert Braswell from Tryon Distributing will be on hand to enlighten you on the sparkling wine selections. It's a perfect opportunity to stock up on sparkling wines for the season and also preorder some Purple Onion specialties such as the Sunburst smokes trout dip, fig salami and rabbit liver pate. Seating is limited so please make your reservations early. Cost is $45 and includes tasting seven different sparkling wines and a buffet of delicious hors d'oeuvres.

New Years Eve at the Purple Onion offers two seatings: 5:30 Seating with Fred Whisken on Piano Playing Blues to Brubeck   Al a Carte Menu.    8:00 Seating - Music from 9:00 until 12:30 with The Scoot Pitman Trio, Four Course Dinner with Optional Appetizers, Champagne Toast  $65 (plus tax and gratuity)

The Purple Onion is located at 16 Main Street in Historic Downtown Saluda NC. Get a link for the Purple Onion and other Saluda attractions here.