Thursday, November 20, 2014

Mountain Spirits: Fundraising Beer Tasting at Hops and Vines in Asheville

November 21, 4 - 8 PM at Hops and Vines, 797 Haywood Rd, Ste 100 in Asheville NC - Homebrews Fundraiser for Francine Delany New School for Children.  Delicious homebrews donated by Alex Buerckholtz, Rob Wise, and Brian Pesci. 

Alex will be pouring his German style Alt, Rob his Cider and Brian his Irish Stout and hopped up Amber. There will be some snacks and non-alcoholic beverages provided plus a homebrew and beer themed raffle and other prizes from local businesses. All of your contributions for the beer and raffle tickets will help decrease the cost per student for the upcoming field trip to the Outer Banks and provide partial scholarships. Enjoy some great homebrew while supporting such a memorable trip for youngsters. 

Every fall the 6th graders of Francine Delany New School for Children take a four day field trip to the Outer Banks to participate in a program where they learn about ocean, maritime forest, and sound by actually going in and doing research. The field trip is such an enriching, educational experience, but is expensive.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Asheville Rings in the Holiday Season this Saturday

November 22, 2014   Asheville Holiday Parade   The 68th Annual Asheville NC Holiday Parade, presented by Bojangles, rolls through downtown Asheville beginning at 11 AM. The parade starts on Biltmore Avenue near South Charlotte Street, makes a left on Patton Avenue, and ends at French Broad Avenue. Caleb Johnson, winner of 2014 American Idol and Asheville native will be grand marshal, in a float sponsored by Mission Health. Bojangles will have food and beverages available for sale along the parade route.

JingleFest   Beginning at 12 PM at the US Cellular Center (Civic Center), JingleFest kicks off with nonstop entertainment with performances from many of the groups that participated in the parade, inflatables and bouncy houses, kid’s activities, and of course, photos with Santa. A handmade holiday craft market will also be held in the concourse area, featuring local crafters and artisans. Parade Grand Marshal, Caleb Johnson, will stop by for a meet and greet with area fans and sign autographs.  


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Holiday Gift Ideas: Golf Accessories from The Smky Mountain Country Club

Shop online or stop by the pro shop at the Smoky Mountain Country Club, 1300 Conleys Creek Road in Whittier NC.

  • SMCC Logo Shirts, Hats,Visors, Towels and Balls
  • Individual & Multi-Round Gift Certificates
  • Individual & Multi-Lesson Gift Certificates

For more information about Whittier  go to the 

Monday, November 17, 2014

31st Annual Festival of Lights and Luminaries in Dillsboro NC

The year was 1983. A clear mountain night was filled with stars echoed by twinkling lights set around all the downtown Dillsboro businesses. No shops were open, and there were no electric lights - just the simple twinkling lights, the luminaries. Residents of the area drove through the town or walked along the streets. On that first beautiful night of Luminaries with the moon and stars shining above,  the streets of Dillsboro were all aglow. The next morning Dillsboro was the talk of the mountains.  A tradition was born.

And so on this, the 31st Festival of Lights and Luminaries, “Follow the Star” to the historic town of Dillsboro, NC once more to experience the spirit of Christmas. On the first Friday and Saturday of December as well as the second Friday and Saturday from 5 PM to 9 PM, there will be thousands of white lights adorning the historic buildings, while the flickering flames of luminaries cast soft shadows along the streets. Excitement will abound as the merchants of Dillsboro open their doors and hearts to the community. 

Each night of the Festival shops will stay open long into the night providing free refreshments as musicians and singers perform at individual shops. The clip-clop of hooves will be heard in the streets as guests enjoy old-fashioned horse and buggy rides. 

Festival goers can purchase Christmas trees, greenery and wreaths in the yard of Nancy Tut’s Christmas Shop. Children may share their wishes with Santa and Mrs. Claus at Santa’s Workshop in Dillsboro’s Town Hall. With retail shops offering a variety of quality arts and crafts, unique gifts, clothing, gourmet foods and wine, and specialty Christmas items, the festival also provides a unique holiday shopping experience.

And still, above all the fun and splendor will be the Star, leading the way to a live nativity scene at Jarrett Memorial Baptist Church. Nestled in the center of town, the Church invites all to “Follow the Star” and return to the town of Bethlehem on the glorious night that started it all.  Look carefully and you may see Mary atop a donkey, as she and Joseph make their way through town, followed by the Wisemen. The church will begin the walk though the Nativity at 6:30 PM and will also open the Fellowship Hall for a warm break from the cold with refreshments.

Friday, December 5, is Western Carolina University and Southwestern Community College Night. The WCU Holiday Dancers will kickoff the Festival activities at 5:30 PM by performing “Happy Holidays” on Front Street. The dancers are led by Karyn Tomczak, a former Radio City Music Hall Rockette and director of WCU’s dance program.

Claymates will offer a free paint-your-own ornament (one per customer while supplies last). The Jackson County Green Energy Park will have a Gallery show, demonstration and Christmas sale. Dillsboro Merchants will donate a percentage of their sales on College Night to The Christmas Connection, which provides new toys and clothing for children of families in Jackson County who need assistance during the holidays. Festival attendees are also invited to bring a new, unwrapped toy to donate to The Christmas Connection. There will be several collection boxes throughout the town. 

WCU’s Staff Senate will also be selling WCU 125th Anniversary ornaments in front of Nancy Tut’s Christmas Shop. Proceeds will support student scholarships. 

Free parking and shuttle transportation for the event will be available at Monteith Park each night of the festival. Come on out, bring your sweetheart, your friends or the family and stroll among the lights illuminating this special mountain town and start your holiday full of good cheer. Sing along with carolers, take the children to see Santa Claus and have some hot chocolate or hot cider. All the restaurants will be open, so come for an early family meal and then join in the festivities. 

Dillsboro NC is located in the Smoky Mountains of Western North Carolina at the intersection of US Highways 19/74 and 441, 45 minutes west of Asheville and 20 minutes from Franklin, Cherokee or Bryson City. For more information, call the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce call 1-800-962-1911 or visit

a special thanks to Amy Ammons Garza and Catch the Spirit of Appalachia for
providing the news release and information for this post

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

NEWSMAKERS: The Future of WNC's National Forests

submitted by Carolina Public Press

First up:

The Future of WNC's National Forests
Thursday, Nov. 13
9:30-10:30 a.m.
Handmade in America
125 S Lexington Ave #101, Asheville

Featuring a live interview and public Q&A with:
Jack Igelman, Carolina Public Press
Kristin Bail, National Forests of NC
Kevin Colburn, American Whitewater
Hugh Irwin, The Wilderness Society
Gordon Warburton, NC Wildlife Resources Commission

NEWSMAKERS is a new live interview and public Q&A series from Carolina Public Press to feature smart, nonpartisan conversation between top local, regional and statewide journalists and people making and influencing the news.

This forum will discuss the future of the Pisgah and Nantahala national forests which are – for the first time in 20 years – undergoing an extensive re-planning process. This process – which will ultimately oversee more than 1 million acres in 18 mountain counties using a process that has been largely untested on the East Coast – will have innumerable impacts on Western North Carolina’s residents, economies and environment.

The forum coincides with a month-long reporting series from Carolina Public Press. In Forest Lookouts, Carolina Public Press will pull back the layers of bureaucracy to report on the plan’s players and leaders, analyze the plan’s inception and implementation, find what community leaders, elected officials and conservationists think are the biggest issues facing the forests and explore the best ways to manage the forest for future generations — all to help residents across North Carolina understand what’s going on and how to participate.

Reserve your seat at this free and public forum today. Questions? Write or call 828-279-0949.

Monday, November 10, 2014

WCU (Western Carolina University hosts Native American Expo

November 10 - 12, 2014   Native American Expo   The fifth annual Native American Expo at Western Carolina University including a series of events and presentations centered on Native American values, traditions and culture. 

The Native American Expo provides a venue for the campus community to learn more about Native American identity. It also provides an opportunity for participants to engage in dialogue about community, family, and societal roles/expectations of various Native American tribes. 

For more information on the Native American Expo, contact Intercultural Affairs at or (828) 227-2276. 

 Western Carolina University is located in Cullowhee NC just north of Sylva. The school and its facilities offer a variety of events for both students and the public. Check the WCU event calendar here


Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Asheville Cinema Festival Returns for a 4th Year

November 6 - 9, 2014    Asheville Cinema Festival   This is Asheville's 4th annual festival and offers 40 films including a mix of feature-length movies and shorts. Downtown Asheville viewing venues are the Asheville Community Theatre, Altamont Theatre, The Fine Arts Theatre and the Masonic Temple theater. 

Opening Night Film Thursday Screening: “The Imitation Game” - $25 (Price includes the after party located at the Century Room of Pack’s Tavern where you will receive complimentary appetizers and a cash bar and Previews of the slate of films with be shown).  Additionally, there will be a stand up performance by Tom DiMenna, one of the filmmakers whose film, “Bologna Warrior” is included in the line-up.

Closing Night Film: Sunday Screening “The Face of Love”  stars Annette Bening, Ed Harris and Robin Williams,  which was one of Robin Williams’ last films, a film about love wrapped in mystery. It will screen on Sunday, November 8th @ 7pm at the Asheville Community Theatre. All the films slated for this year’s festival whether documentary, animation, narrative drama, short films, student films or comedy promise to make you
laugh, make you cry, scare you or make you think.  $10. All other screening tickets are $8, $5 for students. VIP passes available.

VIP PASSES: One VIP Pass = $100 Two VIP Passes = $175 The VIP Pass benefits include: 1. A Guaranteed seat for The Opening and Closing Night Films. 2. The Opening Night Film Reception at the Century Room at Pack’s Tavern with complimentary appetizers and a cash bar. 3. The 2014 Award’s Party hosted by Strada Restaurant in downtown Asheville on Saturday night, November 8th with Strada providing appetizers and a cash bar. ACF will occupy the entire restaurant for the unveiling and presentation of ‘Mythosa, the Godd.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Fall Trout Fishing in the Smokies

November 7 - 9. 2014   The Rumble in the Rhododendron Fly Fishing Tournament   $10,000 in prize money awarded to 1st place team ($5,000), 2nd place team ($3,000) and 3rd place team ($2,000) 

This two person team fly fishing competition is held on the 2.2 miles of Trophy, Catch-and-Release water on the Cherokee Reservation. A modified fips mouche format will be used with a tag out system being incorporated as only one team member may fish at a time. 

Fishing sessions are three hours long. Registration fee includes tournament registration for two people, competitor swag, several meals during the competition and more.

For Cherokee lodging, information and rentals  visit the Cherokee NC Guide. 

Monday, November 3, 2014

Final Spots of Fall Leaf Color in Lower Elevations

Final Leaf Color Report for 2014 Season: YES - there is still some fall color! Although the unexpected and early snow caused closures on the Parkway and parts of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park along with taking down most of the remaining fall leaves, color can still be seen in many valleys and the lowest elevations. You will find the most of the lingering color in the Chimney Rock and Lake James areas and the southwest mountains. 

Get links for details and photos on the NC Mountain News Guide.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Stories of Mountain Folk for 10-18-14

Stories of Mountain Folk is a weekly podcast produced by Catch the Spirit of Appalachia and archived at Western Carolina University.

Podcast on October, 2014:

Storytelling: Our story today is called “How Pumpkintown Got it’s Name” where Amy tells about fighting Billy Woodard, and corn shucking.  Background music:  “Great is the Lord”  

Creative Corner:  Doreyl continues her conversation with Betty Brown about her new album “Singing Appalachian Stories.” Betty tells the story of one of her songs, “Smoky Mountain Memories.”  Music: “Smoky Mountain Memories”  by Betty Brown.  

Stories of Mountain Folk: Amy’s guest Ron Yount, who talks about how he began to carve “Spirit Faces” out of pine knots.  Music: “How I Long to be in the Mountains”  by Mountain Faith.Stories of the Cherokee: Shawn talks about the Cherokee Indian Fair, and the legend of “The Ballgame of the Birds and Animals”   Drum and Flute Music by Matthew Tooni. 

Down Another Road:  (125th anniversary of Sylva) Judy talks with Jack Wood from Caney Fork. He tells some of his memories of Sylva. Jack graduated from Camp Lab school and Western Carolina University.   Music:Green Pastures” by the Butterpats. 

Closing Song: Lilies of the Field” by Jon Zackary

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

NC Mountain Fall Leaf Color for 10/22/14

Asheville and the Mid-elevations This is the week to head for the hills! Despit some leaf loss from rains and heavy winds, the green leaves hung on and are ready to start turning this week, continuing through the end of the month. Elevations of 3,000 - 4,000 are showing excellent color.  10/22/14 more and see INCREDIBLE photos

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park: 
Waves of color can now be seen throughout the Park. Storms downed most of the leaves at higher elevations but now that the autumn weather has arrived colors are developing quickly everywhere in the Park. At middle elevations at 3500 feet color is fully developed. In the next week or so as 30-40% of lower elevation trees are just starting to turn and another 30-40% have well developed color
Sourwood, red maple, sugar maple and blueberry have vivid red foliage. Other foliage is pale yellow. It is estimated that we’re at least a week away from full color development around the valley floor in Cade's Cove. The Smokies are also still approaching their peak, so head on over to Cherokee and take the road up to Clingmans Dome and Newfound Gap. You’ll pass through green forests at the bottom, good color at mid-elevations, and then forests past their peak above 3,500’.  10/22/14 the full report and see photos  

Southwest Mountains in the Nantahala and Cashiers / Highlands areas:  As in other mountain areas colors are best around 4,000 feet with lower elevation beginning sweeps of colors and the highest elevation loosing their leaves and lower just beginning to turn from green to yellows, oranges and reds. 10/22/14

The High Country: 
Most of the leaves in the highest elevations have fallen. At 4500 feet and below color is sweeping through and can be viewed from many overlooks along the Parkway or along the Parkway trails. Blowing Rock/Boone areas are just past peak with the best colors below 3,000 feet. 10/22/14 ....see photos and read more from the biology department at Appalachian State University 

Where to find color this weekend: 
The "middle" mountains surrounding Asheville, Hendersonville and brevard are full of color - check out the nearby parks such as Dupont State Forest and, of course, The Biltmore Estate. Travel the Blue Ridge Parkway from Asheville south.  10/22/14


Sunday, October 19, 2014

Waynesville NC Welcomes National Guard's 211th Returning from Afghanistan

October 19, 3 PM - The Clyde NC based National Guard's 211th Military Police Company returns home from their final tour in Afghanistan. The parade celebrating their return will begin at 3 PM in downtown Waynesville NC.  Staging will take place on Academy Street by First Baptist Church and then proceed down Main Street to the County Courthouse for a ceremony on the lawn which will conclude at 4:30 PM.

North Carolina National Guard's 211th Military Police Company’s was mobilized in September of 2013
with more than 120 soldiers deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Their mission was to conduct facility security operations at one of the major military bases there.

The unit deployed for approximately one year following training at Fort Bliss, Texas, before going to Afghanistan. This will be the unit's second deployment to Afghanistan since 2002. The 211th has been deployed previously in support of Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm in 1990 and Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003.

Domestically, the 211th MP's assisted in disaster relief in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and most recently supported the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte in 2012. The MPs have received a Meritorious Unit Citation and the North Carolina Governor's Unit Citation for outstanding performance.

“No matter what, the Mountain Horses are always ready
,” said the unit’s commander, Army Capt. David Parks.

*information provided by the NC DPS.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Mountain Spirits: Beer and Wine tastings in Asheville this Weekend

October 10, 5 PM - 7 PM at Hops and Vines, 797 Haywood Rd, Ste 100in West Asheville NC: Catawba Brewing Beer Tasting. This tasting will include all Catawba's year round brews, plus a few surprises. Buy a six pack of Catawba brew and get a super stylie Catawba pint glass. The tasting is FREE.

Firewater IPA - A wonderful golden straw-colored India Pale Ale we developed using five varieties of grain and five separate massive hops additions.

White Zombie Ale - A Belgium style white ale made with coriander, orange peel, and wheat. This beer is refreshing and tasty with a sweet and shimmering frothy head.

Farmer Ted's Cream Ale - Paying homage to the original settlers of Appalachia and brewed with natural ingredients such as wheat, corn, American hops and free range yeast. This crisp refreshing ale is the product of Catawba Valley’s vision of early American brewing.

King Don's Pumpkin Ale - Brewed using an original recipe created jointly by brewer Scott Pyatt and guest brewer Don Richardson.

October 11, 3 PM - 6 PM:  Indaba Wine Tasting. Indaba wines are crafted in the Cape Floral Kingdom, the smallest, yet most diverse of the six plant kingdoms. A commitment to social responsibility has always been a key part of the Indaba philosophy. A portion of the proceeds from the brand’s global sales funds the Indaba scholarship, awarded to financially needy and academically deserving students.  Consistently garnering “Best Value” and “Best Buy” accolades, Indaba Wines present character and structure well beyond its price.

Mosaic: This Cabernet Sauvignon dominated Bordeaux blend offers enticing aromas and succulent flavors of blackcurrant, ripe brambly berry fruit and dark chocolate, with subtle spice notes. Soft, gentle tannins coat the palate on the balanced finish.

Chardonnay: Bright tropical fruit aromas lead to a crisp, fresh palate with mouth-filling flavors of apple, pear, honey and pineapple. A gentle kiss of oak adds a creamy butterscotch nuance and wonderful depth. A superb value, this versatile white is a fantastic match for a wide range of dishes, from mac & cheese to spicy ethnic food.

Sauvignon Blanc: A crowd pleaser, this easy drinking Sauvignon Blanc displays appealing citrus and tropical fruit aromas that lead to a fresh, invigorating palate of pineapple, lemon-lime, mango and green fig. Backed by a solid acidity, herbal undertones shine through on the mineral-tinged finish.

10% off all featured bottles on Saturday

NC Fall Leaf Color Report for 10/8/14

Asheville and the Mid-elevations Color is beginning to progress from higher and northern locations down the mountainsides and toward the southwest. The Blue Ridge Parkway surrounding Asheville is the best place to find color this week  10/8/14 more and see INCREDIBLE photos

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park: 
The highest elevations are full of color with the yellows of birch, and the reds of maple, sourwood and witch hobble. Last weekend's cold snap helped push color although high winds caused some to fall along the last few miles to Clingman's Dome. With green still dominant the upcoming week should see more color continue to develop. Middle and lower elevations are still only spotted with color including the vivid red of the the Virginia creeper. Fall wildflowers are abundant along the roadside of the Park.  10/8/14 the full report and see photos  

Southwest Mountains in the Nantahala and Cashiers / Highlands areas:  Some of the following trees are in full color - the Virginia Creeper, sourwood, sumac, burning bush - but the color is starting to replace the green.  Timing for fall leaf color is predicted to by "typical" for 2014, from mid to late October, with higher elevations at the beginning and lower elevation finishing last. Some individual trees are turning producing patches of yellow and red. 10/8/14

The High Country: 
There is good color now from Linville all the way north past Blowing Rock and up into Ashe County, north of U.S. 421. The higher the elevation the better the color development. Predictions now are for peak color to develop at the usual times, from mid-October through the end of the month and lingering into November at the lowest elevations. 9/30/14 ....see photos and read more from the biology department at Appalachian State University 

Where to find color this weekend: 
The most color can be found at the highest elevations (5,000+) such as Mount Mitchell, Craggy Gardens, Grandfather Mountain, Beech Mountain, Rough Ridge and Graveyard Fields.  Colors are beginning to spread during the upcoming week at the nid elevations (3,000 - 4,000 ft) including Mount Pisgah, Black Balsam, Devil's Courthouse and Waterrock Knob, southwest of Asheville on the Blue Ridge Parkway. The road to  Clingmans Dome and Newfound Gap in the Smokies 10/8/14


Thursday, October 9, 2014

Boone Celebrates Appalachian Heritage with Annual Weekend Festival

October 12, 2014   Boone Heritage Festival   Celebrate Appalachian heritage with living history demonstrations, "yarn-spinners," music jams (bring your instrument) and old-time music on stage. Hear award-winning musicians and storytellers of the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area perform in the cozy setting of the Coffey Cabin porch. 

Historical interpreters in period clothing will demonstrate 18th century skills such as spinning and weaving, throwing a tomahawk, shooting a flintlock rifle and more. Make-and-Take Crafts include cornhusk crafts, toddler-size scarecrows, "tin" lanterns, jack-o-lanterns and more. Craft vendors offer authentic items such as alpaca wool apparel, turned wooden bowls, handcrafted soaps, candles, jewelry, handblown glass ornaments, crocheted hats and baby items, books, quilts, wooden furniture, leather items, prints and more.

 Non-profit exhibitors include conservation, farming and education organizations. Snack on fried apple pies, kettle corn, cotton candy, Scotch eggs, hot dogs and more. Admission, music and storytelling are free. A small fee for hands-on craft activities helps cover the cost of materials. 

Find links for complete visitor information on the Boone NC Guide.  

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

WNC Nature Center Annual Hey Day Fall Family Festival a Favorite

October 11, 2014   Hey Day Fall Family Festival at the WNC Nature Center   Enjoy the 37th annual Hey Day Festival featuring live music and dance performances, special animal encounters, educational programs, arts and crafts for the kids, and delicious food from local vendors.

Hey Day is the Nature Center's biggest event of the year. This year's festival will feature games, pumpkin painting, arts and crafts, educational animal programs, live music, local food vendors, clogging teams, and of course, a wide variety of exciting wildlife. There will also be a kick-off to the Friends' fall raffle, with the opportunity to win great items, including a package from Diamond Brand Outdoors.

Food is being provided by Mojo Kitchen, Captain Dave's Pirate Dawgs, and Ruth & Ranshaw.  Regular Nature Center admission rates apply; Friends members receive free admission.

WNC Nature Center is a living museum of plants and animals native to the Appalachian region. Our purpose is to increase public awareness and understanding of all aspects of the natural environment of Western North Carolina through hands-on and sensory experiences. Each year welcome 100,000 visitors attend - of which 30,000 are school children expanding their classroom curriculum. The Center is located at 75 Gashes Creek Road in Asheville NC.


Monday, October 6, 2014

First Monday Concert Tonight at Brevard College

October 6. 2014   First Monday Concerts at Brevard College    The Brevard Music Center, in partnership with Brevard College, presents free concerts to the public on the first Monday of each month from October through May. The concerts begin at 12:30 PM and are performed at The Porter Center of Brevard College. 

Learn more about Brevard College and Brevard Music center on the Brevard NC Visitor Guide


Friday, October 3, 2014

Stories of Mountain Folk for the Week of 9/27/14

Stories of Mountain Folk is a weekly podcast produced by Catch the Spirit of Appalachia and archived at Western Carolina University.

Podcast on September 27, 2014:

Storytelling: The story today is called “Falling in Love with the Mountains,” and reflects the true meaning of “Catch the Spirit of Appalachia” to Amy, it’s co-founder.  Background music: “The Offering".

Creative Corner: (100th anniversary of Jackson County Extension) Amy talks with Ann Hall and Marilyn Hipps, two retired employees who worked in the office of the NC Cooperative Extension. They tell about some of the fun of working with the extension people.  Music: “Smoky Mountain Memories” by Betty Brown.

Stories of Mountain Folk: (100th anniversary of Jackson County Extension) The interview with Ann Hall and Marilyn Hipps continues, as the two tell about setting up the can goods and bake goods for prize judging at Mountain Heritage Day.  Music: “Smoky Mtn Days” by Keith Shuler.

Stories of the Cherokee: Shawn continues his interview with Nadia Dean, a past journalist from Washington, DC, who has done some extensive research on the Cherokee history.  Flute music by Bo Taylor.

Down Another Road: Once again, Judy talks with her mother, Arbie Cook Rhodes, about an incident that happened in her life at 12 years old.  Music: “Back Then”by the Smoky Mtn Boys.

Closing Song: “Smoky Mountain Emerald Bridge” by Ron Smith

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Biltmore Prepares to Build a Second Hotel on the Estate

Biltmore has begun planning for a second hotel located on the grounds of the Biltmore Estate with construction scheduled to begin by mid-October. The new 209 room Village Hotel will be a four-story, 130,000-square-foot hotel adjacent to the Winery in Antler Hill Village. Currently the opening is planned for November 2015and will create approximately 230 jobs.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Mountain Spirits: Southern Italy Wine Tasting at Maggie B's

October 3, 5:30 - 8 PM at Maggie B's Wine and Specialty Store: Southern Italy Wine Tasting. Come taste brand new wines for the store, new to the Asheville area, and some new to the owners.   They will be pouring: Podere parpinello vermentino di sardegna 2013;  La Meriggia montepulciano d'abruzzo 2012;  Ippolito ciro rosso 2012; Girolamo Russo etna rosso 2012.

Deal of the Week at Maggie B's:
  Wild Cider Hard Pineapple "A delicate cider with a well rounded mouthfeel and pronounced ripe Pineapples with hints of vanilla and butterscotch." WAS: $11.99/4 pack  THIS WEEK: $8.99/4 pack.

Maggie B's is located at 10 C South Main Street in Weaverville NC, 10 minutes outside Asheville. 

NC Fall Leaf Color for the Week of 9/30/14

Asheville and the Mid-elevations: Earlier color than usual is still predicted, particularly in the higher elevations surrounding Asheville's plateau.  9/30/14 more and see INCREDIBLE photos

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park: The peak of the season in this area is generally mid to late October, but the beginnings of change are starting to be seen in the dogwoods which are taking on a reddish cast. At the highest elevations, a variety of trees are also trending red including red maple, sourwood, witch hobble, and sumac. The Virgina creeper vine currently has vivid red leaves, but only dots the lanscape at mid and upper elevations. Leaf color may be weeks away but the mountain wildflowers are at there peak of color with vibrant pinks, purples and reds with more subtle yellows and blues. You'll find the blooms along the park roadsides and at the forest edges. Only subtle changes have occurred over the last week.  9/30/14 the full report and see photos

Southwest Mountains in the Nantahala and Cashiers / Highlands areas: Some of the following trees are in full color - the Virginia Creeper, sourwood, sumac, burning bush - but the color is still primarily green.  Timing for fall leaf color is predicted to by "typical" for 2014, from mid to late October, with higher elevations at the beginning and lower elevation finishing last. Some individual trees are turning producing spots of color amid the dominant green. 9/30/14

The High Country:
Fall leaf color is popping up in all areas of the High Country. Peak color is still anticipated to be a few days early this year in the highest elevations, perhaps 10/8-12. Grandfather Mountain probably has the most color this week with the Ashe County forests from West Jefferson to Todd beginning to turn at about 40%, although color is not yet intense. 9/30/14 ....see photos and read more from the biology department at Appalachian State University

Where to find color this weekend: Wild flowers by roadsides and edging forests throughout all mountain areas. Grandfather Mountain along the high ridge and
near the Stack Rock parking area. New River State Park has maples (red) and Oaks (yellow) beginning to turn.Linn Cove Viaduct in Linville is bright with yellow goldenrod. 9/30/14

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Purple Onion Events and Live Music for October

October 14, 2014,  6 PM at The Purple Onion, 16 Main Street in historic downtown Saluda NC:  Bell's Brewery Beer Dinner - A tasting five of Bell's beers along with seasonal selections from the kitchen chosen to pair with them. For reservations call 828-749-1179. 

 October Music Calendar at The Purple Onion:

October 2 - Beth Wood
"Beth Wood is a musical triple-threat - a thoughtful songwriter and talented multi-instrumentalist with a supple, soulful voice." -

October 4 - Charleyhorse
Americana to the core with a voice like smooth Tennessee whiskey

October 9 - Jamie Laval
Winner of the 2002 U.S. National Scottish Fiddle Championship and one of the premier Celtic performers on the international music scene

October 11 - Gigi Dover & Big Love
Two of The Purple Onions favorite musicians return. These old friends' live shows move effortlessly from high-energy to low-swampy grooves

October 16 - Tellico
Unbridled organic Appalachiacana, featuring the singing and songwriting of Anya Hinkle and Stig Stiglets (formerly of Dehlia Low) with Aaron Ballance (formerly of Dehlia Low) on dobro and lap steel and Jed Willis (formerly of Town Mountain, Wooden Toothe) on

October 18 - Lonesome Road Band
A favorite bluegrass band from Hendersonville returns. From the more traditional sound of the great Bluegrass bands of Monroe, Flatt & Scruggs to the classic rock era of the 60's and 70's with The Byrds and Crosby,Stills and Nash , their seamless vocal arrangements move

October 23 - Calvin Edwards Trio
A talented, entertaining jazz guitarist, vocalist, and producer that we thoroughly enjoyed when he debuted at the Onion earlier this summer

October 25 - Laura Blackley Band
Musician, writer, farmer, WNCW radio host, and Renaissance woman from Asheville returns

October 30 - Michael Reno Harrell 

He's back. A classic storyteller with a voice that's part Marty Robbins, part John Prine.

The Purple Onion is a must-do dining experience in the WNC mountains. The Onion features " a variety of ethnically and regionally inspired dishes with an emphasis on the Mediterranean's simple, healthful cuisine  and a focus on freshness".

Get links for local lodging, attractions and information

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

NC Fall Leaf Color Report for 9/22/14

Asheville and the Mid-elevations: No real color developing yet but earlier color than usual is currently predicted. more and see INCREDIBLE photos

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park: The peak of the season i this area is generally mid to late October, but the beginnings of change are starting to be seen in the dogwoods which are taking on a reddish cast. At the highest elevations, a variety of trees are also trending red including red maple, sourwood, witch hobble, and sumac. The Virgina creeper vine currently has vivid red leaves, but only dots the lanscape at mid and upper elevations. Leaf color may be weeks away but the mountain wildflowers are at there peak of color with vibrant pinks, purples and reds with more subtle yellows and blues. You'll find the blooms along the park roadsides and at the forest edges. 9/22/14 the full report and see photos

Southwest Mountains in the Nantahala and Cashiers / Highlands areas: Some of the following trees are in full color - the Virginia Creeper, sourwood, sumac, burning bush - but the color is still primarily green.  Timing for fall leaf color is predicted to by "typical" for 2014, from mid to late October, with higher elevations at the beginning and lower elevation finishing last. 9/22/14

The High Country: This week fall leaf color :officially begins" in the high country. Although the trees are still primarily green, the higher elevations, such as Grandfather Mountain, are beginning to see spots of color. 9/22/14 ....see photos and read more from the biology department at Appalachian State University

Where to find color this week: Wild flowers by roadsides and edging forests throughout all mountain areas. Highest elevations with spots of reddish leaves. Red maples in the town of Boone.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Carolina Press Reports I-26, ‘Corridor K’ highlighted in McCrory’s 25-year transportation plan

Written by David Forbes, a contributing reporter to Carolina Public Press

ASHEVILLEGov. Pat McCrory said Wednesday that he hopes to overhaul North Carolina’s transportation system and wants dollars to help fund the widening of Interstate 26 and turn Highway 74 into an interstate.
“We’re trying to take the politics out of transportation planning,” McCrory said during a press conference held at the Asheville Regional Airport, one of four he and N.C. Secretary of Transportation Tony Tata held across the state yesterday. “Our main goal is to connect citizens with our airports, our water ports, our health care, our education and our jobs.”

McCrory invoked President Dwight Eisenhower frequently as he spoke to a small boardroom packed with legislators and local officials as he presented his “25-Year Vision Plan,” which he said will have as similar an effect on the state as Eisenhower’s interstate building of the 1950s.  “I think we can do the same thing here in North Carolina,” McCrory said, framing the issue primarily as one of economic development.

“This plan is intended to connect small towns with large cities,” N.C. Transportation Secretary Tony Tata says. “It’s intended to address the congestion we’re seeing in those larger cities.”  The governor’s 25-year vision is about connectivity,” Tata said. “Some areas are seeing a boom, and some areas could use some help. This plan is intended to connect small towns with large cities. It’s intended to address the congestion we’re seeing in those larger cities.”

To that end, McCrory hopes to make the overhaul of I-26 around Asheville a major priority. The project, debated for decades, saw some pieces approved earlier this year, though it will likely be years before construction begins.

While endorsed by some elected officials and business leaders as necessary to relieve congestion and improve the economy, the plans for the highway’s expansion have been controversial due to concerns about the its impact on the city, environmental impacts and the number of homes that will be demolished in the city’s Burton Street neighborhood.

“It’s a $153 million project that will better connect people,” McCrory said. “That is a major priority of our 25-year transportation plan.”

The plan also makes the relocation of Highway 74 in Graham County a big priority as a part of the multistate Corridor K transportation network to Asheville to help create a “clean shot to Wilmington,” McCrory said, and make goods move more efficiently and “get rid of these choke points as quickly as possible.” Road improvements around Boone are also a priority.

The presentation of the plan also included mentions of funding for improved rail — in Western North Carolina the focus will be on freight rail — and mass transit and even improved broadband. Without these changes, the plans assert, local economies will decline.

“This is not just about transportation; it’s about all infrastructure,” he added. But good ideas or bad, the plans will require lots of cash — infrastructure isn’t cheap. The state is currently facing an anticipated budget shortfall and requests for over $70 billion in transportation projects, according to the plan. So when the N.C. General Assembly reconvenes early next year, McCrory said he plans to go to the legislature and ask for a $1 billion bond.

When asked, McCrory said there are no plans to use toll roads on I-26, though he does want to engage in more “public-private partnerships” to overcome flat or declining transportation revenues, and “we’re examining all options.  We’re open to any way to increase the amount of revenue we have at this time; we have to think outside the box,” he said.

Asked after the presentation if the plan will mean the I-26 connector is completed more quickly than currently anticipated, Tata replied that “we’re still working through the timing and phasing. We have to make sure that the permits are there and so forth. I’ve asked my staff to look at the connector as a potential project down the road.”
“We’re not done analyzing the phasing of the I-26 project,” he added.

County commissioners, Asheville City Council members, sheriffs and state Rep. Nathan Ramsey (R-Buncombe) were all in attendance for the announcement. Asheville Mayor Esther Manheimer praised McCrory’s plan, especially the prioritizing of I-26. “Please continue to focus on I-26, it’s a big priority for us,” she said. She also praised the proposal’s intent to connect multimodal infrastructure to the new roads, and McCrory noted that “we’re trying to use art to de-emphasize the hard infrastructure.”

Asheville City Council member Jan Davis noted that he felt the state’s formula had improved for despite the emphasis on I-26, turning it into reality might still prove difficult, as “we still have a $90 million shortfall on making that project happen.” “It’s still kind of a glimmering hope for us,” Davis said.

Carolina Press , a nonprofit online news service, provides Western North Carolina with unbiased, in-depth and investigative reporting as well as educational opportunities to journalists, students and others. Carolina Press is WNC's only 501c3 nonprofit online news service and welcomes donations. CLICK HERE to contribute.

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Friday, September 19, 2014

Magic in the Moonlight Begins Tonight at the Flat Rock Cinema

September 19, 2014 at The Flat Rock Cinema, 2700 Greenville Highway in Flat Rock, NC: Magic in the Moonlight. "Woody Allen shows he still has the "magic" with this delightfully romantic comedy. Firth and Stone shine. --Jackie Cooper,   "A sparkling champagne cocktail of a romantic comedy only Woody Allen could make... it's a little slice of cinema heaven. --Ken Hanke, Mountain Xpress.

PG-13, Comedy, Drama, Romance, 98 Minutes - Director and writer: Woody Allen - Stars: Colin Firth, Emma Stone, Marcia Gay Harden, Eileen Atkins. This is a romantic comedy about an Englishman brought in to help unmask a possible swindle. Personal and professional complications ensue. OFFICIAL WEBSITE

Doors open 40 minutes before show time. Arriving at least 20 to 30 minutes prior to show time is recommended if you plan to eat or if you have a group of three or more and want to sit together.
Reservations are encouraged but not always required - call (828) 697-2463.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Stories of Mountain Folk for 9/13/14 Marks 100th Anniversary

Stories of Mountain Folk is a weekly podcast produced by Catch the Spirit of Appalachia and archived at Western Carolina University.

Podcast on September 13, 2014:

Storytelling: Our story today is called “It’s Just Precious, Isn’t it?” where Amy tells the story of her aunt Lillie and aunt Cora’s hair problem.  Background music: “I See the Lord”.

Creative Corner: (100th anniversary of Jackson County Extension) Doreyl talks with Isabelle Cable who worked in Swain County. She tells stories about her tenure with the Extension Office.  Music: “Chickens” by C.W. Colt.

Stories of Mountain Folk: (100th anniversary of Jackson County Extension) Amy talks with Jean Childers, another extension employee from Swain County who talks about her involvement over the years with the Extension.  Music: “Hangin’ by a Thread”” by Clover.

This is My Town: (125th anniversary of Sylva) Joe Rhinehart’s guest is Tracy Whitaker who talks about growing up in the town of Sylva.  Music: “Down at the Company Store by Home Delivery.

Down Another Road: Judy continues her conversation with Worley Capps, an 89-year-old World War II veteran from Madison County who continues his stories, this time about mountain remedies.  Music: “Handsome Molly” by Hylo Brown.  

Closing Song: “I Need You” by Lindsey & Lauren Sowden.

Ashe County Quilt Fair This Weekend

September 19 - 20, 2014   12th Annual Ashe County Quilt Fair    This year's Fair theme is " Reflections in Nature". Events include the Guild Shoppe and Guild Boutique with quilts for sale, a fund-raiser quilt, vender village, sewing machines through the ages and small quilt silent auction.

The Fair is held in Jefferson Station, 20 E Ashe Street in West Jefferson NC

Friday, September 12, 2014

News from the WNC Nature Center

Now that Labor Day has passed, the WNC Nature Center is getting ready for a busy fall.  School groups will once again start visiting and there are many events planned this fall.  On October 1st, the Nature Center will be hosting its most popular off-site program, the NC Elk Experience.   Learn more HERE and reserve your spot soon--this program always fills quickly.

The Center is busy getting ready for the annual fall festival, Hey Day, which this year will be on Saturday, October 11th.  Read more about Hey Day, including how to volunteer at Hey Day and help make this year's event the best ever. 
Just two weeks after Hey Day comes Howl-O-Ween.  The Nature Center's Halloween celebration includes a costume contest at 5 PM for all ages. October 25 beginning at 10 AM. 

The WNC Nature Center is located at 75 Gashes Creek Road in Asheville NC.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

NC Mountain State Fair final days this Weekend

photo courtesy of NC Mountain State Fair
September 5-14, 2014   North Carolina Mountain State Fair    Held at the WNC Agricultural Center, this is the third largest fair in North Carolina.  It celebrates the heritage of the Blue Ridge Mountains including agriculture, music, crafts, art, food, entertainment, display of livestock, competitions, and midway amusement rides.

Friday, 9/12, SPECIALS - FREE Gate Admission for seniors 65 and older and Friday Night Frenzy:  (9 PM until 1AM)   One price admission includes unlimited rides $20.00. Specials cannot be combined with other Fair discounts. 

This year's Mountain State Fair Entertainment includes:
Sea Lion Splash
Stilt Puppets
Josh Knotts & Lea - Extreme Illusions & Escapes
K9s in Flight
Brad Comedy Hypnotist
Wild Encounters with Carlton Burke
Kenya Safari Acrobats
Leon Jacobs, Jr. music
Agricadabra Presents: The Science of Ag
Hogway Speedway
Bills Farm Adventure
Mooternity Ward
Dixie Starlight Express
Heritage Walk     

Admission:    Gate $8.00 Adults;  $4.00 Children 6 - 12 years of age;  $4.00 Seniors 65 years and older;   Children 5 years and under FREE;  Family Fun Pack $35.00 - Includes 5 Admission Tickets, 4 ride tickets plus vendor coupons.

The WNC Agricultural Center is located at 1301 Fanning Bridge Road in Fletcher NC, a suburb of Asheville.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Flat Rock Playhouse Last Sip 'N Stroll of the Season

September 11, 6:30 - 7:45 at the Flat Rock Playhouse, 2661 Greenville Highway in Flat Rock NC - Sip 'N Stroll. Sip fine wine while taking a guided stroll conducted by the FRP master gardener. This will be the last chance of the season to visit the beautiful playhouse gardens. Begin the tour on the historic Lowndes House porch and finish at the Mainstage's Skyfall Lounge. Then stay to be the first to see the evening's performance, The Music of James Bond.

The Flat Rock Playhouse is North Carolina's official State Theatre with a variety of performances, including the Music on the Rock Series, year around at both the Mainstage and the Theatre Downtown in Hendersonville.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Street Dances are a Tradition in the NC Mountains

Get ready to kick up your heels or just enjoy watching a long time mountain tradition: Mountain Street Dances. Held on a regular schedule in a variety of mountain cities during the summer months the Mountain Street Dances are a favorite event for both locals and visitors alike. Check out these tow favorites this week:

Date: August 4, 2014
Street Dances Band: Appalachian Fire; Dancers: J. Creek Cloggers 
Hendersonville's Street Dances have been a tradition for 92 years. The Street Dances features mountain heritage music and dance on Monday evening during the summer. Bring a chair and sit back, relax and enjoy mountain heritage music and dancing from 7:00-9:00PM. Seating area opens after 5:30.

Date: August 8, 2014
Event: Mountain Street Dance
Put on your cloggin' & square dancin' shoes and enjoy an old-fashioned mountain hoedown. Live mountain music, demonstrations and instruction by local clogging teams. Refreshments are available for purchase. Limited bleacher seating available so feel free to bring a chair or blanket for the Courthouse lawn.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Brevard Music Center Festival Final Weekend for the Season

Brevard Music Center Festival schedule of performances:

 August 1, 2014   Brevard Music Center Performance: New Music 12:30 PM FREE event. 

 August 1, 2014   Brevard Music Center Performance: Piccolo Opera 4:30 PM FREE event.

 August 1, 2014   Brevard Music Center Performance: The Pre-concert 6:30 PM Special pre-concert performances one hour before curtain, featuring BMC's students and artist faculty. FREE event.

 August 1, 2014   Brevard Music Center Performance: Saint Saëns Organ Symphony   7:30 PM Brevard Concert Orchestra with Ken Lam, conductor and Noah Bendix-Balgley, violin. KHACHATURIAN Violin Concerto in D minor; SAINT-SAËNS Symphony No. 3 in C minor, Op. 78, "Organ". $15 - $45 

 August 2, 2014   Brevard Music Center Performance:  Brevard Symphonic Winds 10:30 AM FREE event.

 August 2, 2014   Brevard Music Center Performance: Sweeney Todd 2 PM Sondheim's dark tale of violence, revenge, and pies has remained popular since its Broadway debut in 1979. Winner of the Tony Award for Best Musical, Best Book, and Best Original Score, Sweeney Todd sets the compelling story of the title character's obsessive search for revenge against Sondheim's characteristically complex and angular score. Join us as we close our 2014 opera season with this truly memorable performance. Tickets $40.
 August 2, 2014   Brevard Music Center Performance: Pre-concert  6:30 PM Special pre-concert performances one hour before curtain, featuring BMC's students and artist faculty. FREE event.  

 August 2, 2014   Brevard Music Center Performance: Brahms 1   7:30 PM Brevard Sinfonia with JoAnn Falletta, conductor and Norman Krieger, piano. DZUBAY Snake Alley; MOZART Piano Concerto No. 24 in C minor, K. 491; BRAHMS Symphony No. 1 in C minor, Op. 68. Tickets $15 - $45.
 August 3, 2014   Brevard Music Center Performance: Pre-concert Talk 2 PM An informal talk one hour before curtain, conducted by a member of the artist faculty. . FREE event.
 August 3, 2014   Brevard Music Center Performance: Season Finale: Pictures at an Exhibition 3 PM Brevard Music Center Orchestra with JoAnn Falletta, conductor and Conrad Tao, piano. TCHEREPNIN La Princesse Lointaine, Op.4; RACHMANINOFF Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Op. 18' MUSSORGSKY Pictures at an Exhibition. Tickets $15 - $50.