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Yadkin Cultural Arts Center

Vibrant center in foothills beckons with exhibits, food, performances

Yadkin County sits east of Wilkes County and south of Surry, in northwestern North Carolina. It is a vibrant destination with multiple recreational opportunities. Visitors enjoy fishing and canoeing on the Yadkin River, touring one of the county’s 13 vineyards, and stopping off at the Yadkin Cultural Arts Center.  

Located on Main Street in downtown Yadkinville, the Arts Center’s mission is to enrich the lives of every citizen of Yadkin County and beyond by providing opportunities for artists, no matter what their specific creative outlet. The Yadkin Arts Center houses two galleries, a performing arts academy, private space for rent, and is home to the Willingham theatre, which can seat up to 193 guests.  

Exhibitions draw from a large pool of talented artists throughout North Carolina and the Southeast. Welborn Gallery exhibits change every two months and feature a wide variety of mediums and styles. Past exhibits have showcased woodworking, textiles, oils and acrylics, watercolor, collage, steel and glass, pottery, and furniture making. 

The Red Wall Gallery is located inside the eclectic  Center Bistro. It is the newest gallery of the Yadkin Cultural Arts Center.  

For times and events, check out www.yadkinarts.org.

Tryon

Tour a small town with big personalities and welcoming climate

Tryon quickly grew as a resort town, bringing tourists to the area to enjoy the mountain views and good climate. Many artists, writers and crafters chose to stay – at least for a while – including the stage actor William Gillette, most famous for his portrayal of Sherlock Holmes, and F. Scott Fitzgerald.  This mix of locals, artists and retirees continues today, creating a vibrant, active community. Many of the historic buildings on Tryon’s Trade Street were in place by 1900, including a general store, pharmacy and post office.  Buildings like these have contributed to Tryon receiving the designation of historic district by the National Register of Historic Places. 

In 1915 Miss Eleanor Vance and Miss Charlotte Yale, co-founders of Biltmore Estate Industries, left Asheville and resettled in Tryon where they purchased a cottage and soon were training young boys and girls to handcraft finely-designed and beautifully-crafted toys. Vance and Yale’s little non-profit business, motivated by a desire to do good and to train young people in rewarding artist-work, eventually became the famous Tryon Toy Makers and Wood Carvers.

In 1928 two boys working for Tryon Toy Makers built a gigantic version of the popular little toy horse for a parade held in conjunction with the spring Tryon Horse Show, to advertise and celebrate Tryon Toy Makers. Their creation was so big that overhead wires along Trade Street had to be lifted out of the way in order for the Tryon Horse to participate in the procession. The toy makers also made miniature wheeled horse souvenirs to sell at the horse show. The giant horse was disassembled after the parade, stored in the basement at Hillcote, and brought out in subsequent years for the horse show parade. Eventually the Tryon Toy Makers donated it to the Tryon Riding and Hunt Club, eventually naming him “Morris” and creating a permanent position in the center of Tryon where he can be visited any time. See the photo on this page. Listen to this short Living Traditions Moments presentation about the Tryon Toy Makers.

Tryon Wine Country

In the late 1800s and early 1900s, Tryon was well known for its table and wine grapes. Due to prohibition, family businesses related to wine dried up over time. Beginning in the early 1990s, this interesting part of Tryon’s history was revived–the planting of grapes for winemaking. About a dozen vineyards now lie about 10 miles to the east in the Tryon foothills. This area, with its gentle, rolling hills and clay-loam soils, has proven to be an excellent location for vinifera grapes. Five wineries welcome visitors for tasting, tours and beautiful mountain views.

Tryon Today

Visitors stroll down Trade Street and enjoy the shops and restaurants.  They may catch a movie at the tiny Tryon Theater or a performance at the Tryon Fine Arts Center. Scenic drives include a drive through the architecturally rich neighborhoods of Gillette Woods and Godshaw Hill; through the horse estates on Hunting Country Road; or along the Pacolet River Scenic Byway (Hwy 176).  Or picnic at Harmon Field and peruse the nearby antique stores.

Annual Events

March: Super Saturday – Also known as the Children’s Theater Festival, this is a one-day festival of “lively arts” for children.  Eight to ten different performances encompassing theater, music, storytelling, mime, dance, puppetry and more are brought to Tryon on a Saturday in late March

May: Block House Steeple Chase – Horses and races, tailgate picnics and crazy hat contests, friendly people and a whole lot of fun!  Run by the Tryon Riding & Hunt Club.

June: Blue Ridge Barbecue Festival NC Championship

Festival features competition cookers, two music stages, the Foothills Craft Fair and children’s rides.  Admission includes parking.  Held the second Friday and Saturday in June each year.  Run by the Carolina Foothills Chamber of Commerce.

Summer – June through September

Summer Tracks at Rogers Park – Named for the RR tracks running through the park, enjoy this series of FREE Friday night summer concerts.  Schedule available at the Tryon Visitors Center, Polk County Travel & Tourism Office, and online.

November: Tryon Beer Fest – TAP INTO TRYON

Typically held in early November, the Annual Tryon Beer Fest runs from noon until 6pm in the Tryon Depot Plaza. Tickets are sold in advance (online and at local retailers) and at the gate (cash only). Festival only (“Designated Driver”) tickets are also available at the gate (cash only).Admission includes unlimited beer and wine samples.

An array of craft beers are available, along with an oyster roast, authentic German food, non-alcoholic beverages and water. Live Bavarian music entertains during the day, followed by a live rock band later in the afternoon. This is a rain or shine event, under the sun or under a heated tent, depending on the weather.

December: Tryon Christmas Stroll

Tryon Downtown Development Association members serve refreshments at their businesses.  Santa listens to children’s wish lists.  Carolers make joyful noises.  Friday night early in December – Small town Christmas at its charming best!

Mars Hill

A Town Born From Education

Before 1856, when no more than 10 families lived on what was then known as Pleasant Hill, education was important to the parents who founded an academy to educate their children.

The French Broad Baptist Institute, as it was known, eventually evolved into Mars Hill College. When the village of Mars Hill was incorporated in 1893, the corporate limits were set at 900 yards in all directions from the northwest corner of the first college building.  The name Mars Hill is said to have been inspired by a Biblical passage, Acts 17:22, which says, “Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars’ hill and said, ‘Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious.’”

As the college grew, so did the town. A general store was built, a doctor’s office established, and boarding houses opened for college students. The year 1913 was a boom year for the growing community. Several new buildings were erected, including two stores, a bank building, general store, and a drug store. Many of the homes and the businesses built during this time can be seen in Mars Hill today.

Mars Hill University

Mars Hill University served the academic needs of a growing community and became one of the premiere two-year private colleges in the nation. In 1962, it reached four-year status, and in 2013, the institution changed its name to Mars Hill University to reflect the institution’s expansion, both in terms of enrollment and variety of offerings. The school identifies itself closely with the history and culture of this area and the wide Southern Appalachian area.

Music at Mars Hill

The college and the town itself are inextricably linked to the traditional music of Appalachia. Musician, folklorist, and festival organizer Bascom Lamar Lunsford, a Mars Hill native, dedicated his life to collecting and promoting the music of the Southern Appalachians. Through his work he became known as “Minstrel of the Appalachians.”

In 1927 Lunsford organized the Mountain Dance and Folk Festival in Asheville, which has been in existence ever since. He organized many other festivals, performed extensively, and composed songs, including the famous “Mountain Dew.”

Museums

The Rural Heritage Museum is on the campus of Mars Hill University. Its exhibits and programming focus on educating students and visitors to the lifeways of the Southern Appalachians. Open year-round, 11 am to 5 pm, except Mondays, and Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s days.

The Liston Ramsey Center for Regional Studies is in the Renfro Library on the campus. The extensive collection of photographs, manuscripts, sound recordings, and artifacts document aspects of mountain life and culture, including an exhibit of Cherokee artifacts, some of which date back to 10,000 BC. Bascom Lamar Lunsford’s instruments are on display along with an extensive scrapbook of his writings and manuscripts to rival the one in the Library of Congress.

Theaters

Southern Appalachian Repertory Theater (SART)—Presents the mainstage summer season of productions each year in the historic Owen Theatre on the campus of Mars Hill University.

Whether presenting Broadway musicals or world-premiere original works, SART offers the highest quality professional productions, with one play each season which has a special emphasis on the rich culture and heritage of the people of Appalachia.

Mars Hill University Drama Department—Provides theatre entertainment for the public during the school year by offering four productions.

Festivals and Events

Blackberry Festival—Held annually in August, celebrating some of the finest blackberries grown anywhere.
Bascom Lamar Lunsford Festival—Held the first Saturday in October, in conjunction with the Heritage Festival. Both festivals are on the campus of Mars Hill University, and both celebrate the traditional music, crafts, and cuisine of the region.

Outdoor Recreation

Nestled among beautiful scenic mountains, Mars Hill offers an ideal starting place for some great outdoor adventures: Hiking on the Appalachian Trail, Fishing, Disc Golf, Horseback Riding, Bike Riding, Gem Mining, Skiing/Snowboarding.

Mars Hill can be reached from both North Carolina and Tennessee via US 25 and Interstate 26.

Lenoir

The original settlement of Lenoir was first known as Tucker’s Barn after the family that settled on the north side of Lower Creek around 1765. The Tucker homestead became a gathering place, serving as voting precinct, muster ground, store and a place for “frolics” and celebrations. When Caldwell County was formed in 1841, a commission was appointed to select a county seat. The site of “Tucker’s Barn,” was chosen and new county seat was named Lenoir in honor of Revolutionary War hero General William Lenoir, who later became a trustee of the University of North Carolina.

Hogwaller and the Birth of Southern Furniture Manufacturing

Prior to the Civil War, Lenoir’s economy was based on agriculture with large farms producing cotton, corn and some tobacco. Hogwaller, a marketplace for bartering farm produce and animals, thrived in the center of town. Davenport College, a school for young women flourished. Four opera houses, a large library and a rich tradition of musical and artistic talent led one newspaper of the time to describe Lenoir as the “Athens of western North Carolina.” By late 1880, the development of a locally-owned rail line and the abundant natural resources of water and timber set the stage for the birth of the furniture manufacturing industry. From 1889, when T.H. Broyhill formed the Lenoir Furniture Company, until the twenty-first century, the furniture industry in Lenoir produced fine hand-crafted furniture that graced homes in over 30 different countries.

Globalization, Google and “Across the Grain”

With the coming of globalization to American manufacturing, Lenoir began rebuilding and diversifying its economy. Internet giant Google selected Lenoir as the site of one of its largest data storage facilities in 2007. The diversity of architecture of the historic buildings in the Lenoir Downtown National Register Historic District and the quality of the pieces in Caldwell County’s Outdoor Sculpture Collection, reflect Lenoir’s heritage of craftsmanship and artistic talent. Home to more pieces of outdoor sculpture than any other community of its size in the United States, Lenoir attracted the attention of renowned sculptor Thomas Sayre, who created and installed a massive earthcast sculpture “Across the Grain” in downtown Lenoir.

Parks, Museums & Art Centers

The twenty acre T.H. Broyhill Walking Park offers a .43 mile walking trail around a beautifully landscaped lake. The park is home to the Joe T. Ingram Nature Sanctuary for waterfowl and botanical gardens. Visitors to Lenoir can get a glimpse of the history of Western North Carolina at the Caldwell Heritage Museum. The museum is home to two dozen permanent exhibits and features rotating special exhibits thorough out the year.  Runners, walkers, cyclists and skaters can enjoy the 5.6 miles of paved trails that make up the Lenoir Greenway.

The Caldwell Arts Council, located in the historic childhood home of former United States Senator Jim Broyhill, fills four galleries with visual arts exhibits yearly. Historic St. James Episcopal Church is home to an impressive collection of the works of renowned artist Johannes A. Oertel, who was a rector of the church from 1869-1876. The church and grounds around it also figured prominently in the history of Stoneman’s Raid as the site of a prison for captured Confederate soldiers. The site is marked on the North Carolina Civil War Trails map.

Festivals and Events

Remember the sweet goodness of a juicy blackberry on a summer day? You can enjoy that experience and more—without the chiggers—at the annual NC Blackberry Festival in July. Fabulous Family Films and Friday After Five on the Square are just two of the annual summer events series held at the Stage on the Square in downtown Lenoir.  Described as “100 miles of pure hill” The Bridge cycling event begins in Lenoir and ends at Grandfather Mountain each September. The annual Sculpture Celebration attracts thousands of art lovers each September.

Farmers Markets

The Lenoir Downtown Farmers Market is open every Saturday from 2 pm to 6 pm. The market is a Producer Only market as it only sells what it makes and grows. The market belongs to the Appalachian Agriculture Sustainable Project.  It offers fresh local produce, crafts, candles, BBQ Sauce, herbal tea’s, herbs, canned goods, wood crafts, flowers and jewelry. The market even has a massage tharapist, kids korner and community booth. Buy Local, Buy Fresh, Buy Quality.

Mount Airy

Before there was a state of North Carolina, indeed before there was a United States of America, as early as the 1750s settlers began to gather in the area now known as Mount Airy. A stopover point on a much-traveled road that ran from Salem, NC, into Virginia, the community grew into a small town by the 1830s.

A Frontier Town

The origin of the town’s name is uncertain, but widely accepted local tradition holds that the name was taken from the “Mount Airy” plantation which was established along the stage road in the early 1800s. The town originally served as a frontier commercial and trading center for the surrounding rural area and remained very small during the early part of the 1800s. During the mid-1800s the town’s frontier economy gradually grew into one based on agriculture and manufacturing, and by 1860 the small town had a population of 300.

The Railroad Brings Economic Revitalization

The economy of Mount Airy was severely damaged during the civil war and the period of reconstruction that followed. However, by the late 1870s and early 1880s, with tobacco as the area’s major industry, the economy again thrived. The construction of the Cape Fear and Yadkin Valley Railroad to Mount Airy in the late 1880s provided the catalyst that spurred the successful commercial exploitation of Mount Airy’s two greatest natural resources – granite and lumber.

“Granite City”

During the 1890s commercial development of the large granite quarry, located just east of downtown Mount Airy began. The area, known locally as “Flat Rock,” was developed into the largest open faced granite quarry in the world and provided Mount Airy with its popular nickname, “Granite City.” Although the town’s growth slowed considerably in the early 20th century, it remains today a vibrant and progressive community.

a.k.a. Mayberry

Mount Airy’s other famous pseudonym springs from it being the model for the small town of “Mayberry” on the popular Andy Griffith TV show in the mid-20th century. Mount Airy is the boyhood home of Andy Griffith, and his house is now owned by the Hampton Inn chain and is available for rental. Fans can also visit Andy’s favorite haunts on the show, including the Snappy Lunch, Floyd’s Barbershop, Opie’s Candy Store, Mayberry Soda Fountain and the Old City jail with Andy’s police car. Each year the community celebrates “Mayberry Days” with a four-day festival that includes a major golf tournament, concerts, a parade, and much more.

Parks & Museums

The Mount Airy Museum of Regional History is housed in a former mercantile store on Main Streeet. Exhibits in this 35,000 square foot, four-story museum tell the story of the development of “the hollow”, as this region is known, and include the Native American story, the history of the largest open-faced granite quarry in the world, pioneer life, and the rich history of the Old Time music heritage that is unique to Surry County.

The Andy Griffith Museum contains a large collection of Andy Griffith memorabilia including hundreds of items from the life and career of Andy Griffith in movies, television and music.

The EARLE Theater, a project of the Surry Arts Council, is home to many music events, including year-round music performances, dances, and even live radio.

  • There’s a jam session every Thursday evening from 7 – 8:30.
  • On Saturdays, there’s another jam from 9 – 11 am, followed by the WPAQ Merry-Go-Round from 11 am -1:30 pm, the second longest running live radio broadcast in the nation, with different guests each week. ($5 ticket includes both the jam and the Merry Go Round.)
  • An Old Time dance with the Slate Mountain Ramblers is held the first Saturday night of every month except June. $5 for adults; children 12 & under free.
  • Surry County is home to a distinct style of Old Time music known as the “Round Peak” style, named for the rural area of Round Peak. The Old Time Music Heritage Hall features exhibits that tell the rich history of Surry County music.

Mount Airy Parks & Recreation maintains several parks in the community, including Riverside Park, which features picnic shelters, restrooms, a lighted soccer field, playground, canoe launch and greenway. Westwood Park is a wooded site with nature trails, two lighted ballfields, playground equipment, fitness stations, disc golf (9 holes), mountain bike trails, community fishing pond, shelter, restroom facilities and paved parking.

Local Attractions

Many of Mount Airy’s local attractions include those related to the Andy Griffith heritage of the town, including Squad Car Tours, Mayberry Mules and Wagon Rides, Andy Griffith Playhouse, Andy Griffith’s Homeplace, Floyd’s Barber Shop, Old City Jail, Opie’s Candy Store, Snappy Lunch and Wally’s Service Station.

Pilot Mount State Park is located nearby, as are numerous local wineries.

Festivals & Events

Farmers Tailgate Market

The Mount Airy Farmers Market is held at 218 Rockford Street, Mount Airy, on Tuesdays from 4 – 6 pm, April thru October. 336-401-8025.

For more information

Greater Mount Airy Chamber of Commerce/Visitors Center
P.O. Box 913 • 200 North Main Street
Mount Airy, North Carolina 27030-0913
800-948-0949 or 336-786-6116

Brevard

The historic small town of Brevard is the county seat of Transylvania County, also known as “the land of the waterfalls.” The community is surrounded by nature and the Pisgah National Forest.

Diverse Populations Weave a Unique Tapestry

The earliest inhabitants were Native Americans, but after the Revolutionary War, the area was opened to immigrant settlement. Pioneers came down the Great Wagon Road from Pennsylvania and Virginia or moved westward from the Carolina coast. They came to the wild western frontier to claim new lands, to purchase land for speculation, for adventure, or to escape the fever of the low country. Each of the diverse populations that came here contributed to the identity of the county, becoming a part of the Tapestry that is Transylvania.

Family Enterprise Built Early Economy

Before Transylvania became a county, manufacturing was a family enterprise. The Gillespie family operated a gunworks on East Fork; Jimmy Neill made fur hats at Oak Grove, and Fleming Whitmire built wagons in Middle Fork.

During the Civil War, the Davidson River Iron Works, operated by George Shuford, became an important source of military supply for the Confederate Army. Ore for the mill was mined on nearby Boylston Creek.

Post Civil War

After the Civil War, speculators bought land for as little as one dollar an acre from the war-impoverished native landholders who were not aware of its true value. Families who needed money to pay delinquent taxes and re-stock the farm sold thousands of acres which was used for timber harvesting and mining. Logging and tanning companies became the largest employers of the county until the 1930s, when the timber ran out.

Brevard and Transylvania County Today

Transylvania County has come full circle since its beginnings in 1861, with the land providing commerce and trade once again. The county’s blended heritage continues to grow with new arrivals. Each year the community welcomes the return of summer residents, tourists, and retirees. Students are educated at Brevard College, summer camps, and Brevard Music Center.

The arts uplift the spirit and the National Forests soothe the soul. Sporting activities abound, whether the interest is in hiking, camping, mountain biking, rock climbing, fishing, or just plain nature observation. People continue to contribute and enrich the community with their collective knowledge and experience. The fabric of the tapestry grows stronger with each new thread.

The White Squirrel

Not everyone who contributes to the tapestry of Transylvania is human. A white squirrel arrived in Brevard as a refugee from an overturned carnival truck and its descendents have made Transylvania home. A true rarity, the squirrels are not albinos and have dark eyes. This unique animal is protected by law.

Museums

The Transylvania HeritageMuseum, located in Brevard, features permanent and changing displays of heirlooms, artifacts, genealogical exhibits, vintage photographs, and other exhibits reflective of the history and heritage of Transylvania County. The Museum offers a variety of interactive programs and events throughout the year, including the annual Founders Day Fair on Saturday of Labor Day weekend.

Local Attractions

The Cradle of Forestry is so-called because it literally is the birthplace of forest conservation in the United States.  Exhibits, a movie, and nature paths make this an excellent educational and entertaining destination for families.

Pisgah Center for Wildlife Education offers unique indoor and outdoor exhibits and programs on the state’s wildlife and mountain habitats.

Brevard is also in close promixity to the only North Carolina State Park west of Asheville, Gorges State Park. Here visitors can enjoy the rugged mountain terrain with camping, hiking, fishing, boating and many more activities.

The Brevard Music Center is one of the oldest and finest summer music institutions in the country. Every summer, hundreds of young musicians from all over the world come to study and play side by side with professional musicians in the presentation of public concerts, staged operas, and musicals. The Center offers instruction in chamber music, piano, instrumental studies, composition, and voice.

Festivals & Events

White Squirrel Festival and Squirrel Box Derby Day, held Saturday & Sunday of Memorial Day Weekend. Nutty family fun celebrating the peaceful coexistence of our wildlife inhabitants, great outdoors, and rich mountain heritage. This music festival showcases original compositions written by musicians who have claimed an attachment to Transylvania County. The Squirrel Box Derby demonstrates the passage of great engineering with mountain daring to our younger generations.

Fourth of July Celebration. Catch the hometown spirit in the Heart of Brevard! Brevard h as a long-standing tradition of celebrating our national Independence Day as a community. An all-star pet show, classic car show, traditional mountain crafts, bicycle parade, reading of the Declaration of Independence are followed by an evening fireworks extravaganza.

Halloweenfest.  Last Saturday in October.  Where better to celebrate Halloween than in Tran-syl-va-nia County? Costume parade, downtown trick-or-treat, Count Dracula’s blood drive, great pumpkin roll keep kids of all ages in the Halloween spirit. The Old Time Music Competition draws musicians from several states to compete in individual categories (banjo, fiddle, dulcimer), as well as combining their talents to compete in the old time string band category.

Twilight Tour.  First Saturday in December. Downtown takes a turn back in time celebrating Christmas mountain traditions. Horse-drawn carriages pass luminary-lighted sidewalks and strolling carolers accompany those touring downtown shops. The courthouse sparkles with lights and angelic voices entertain from the gazebo.

Location

Brevard is southwest of Asheville and easily accessed via US Hwy. 64.

For more information

Brevard/Transylvania Chamber of Commerce
175 E. Main St.
Brevard, NC 28712
(828) 883-3700

Highlands

The town of Highlands was supposed to become a hub of commerce in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, had its founders had their way. In 1875, two developers in Kansas drew two lines–one between New York and New Orleans, the other from Chicago to Savannah. Where the lines crossed, they believed would become a crossroads of trade.

They failed to take into account the rugged mountain terrain where “X” marked the spot that would make such a commercial hub difficult to create, and it never came to pass. However, their concept was sound enough, since the commercial metropolis of Atlanta grew up just 120 miles to the south.

A Resort Community Instead

At more than 4,000 feet on the highest crest of the Western North Carolina plateau in the Southern Appalachian mountains, the town of Highlands evolved into a thriving resort community instead. Attracting a blend of Southerners and Northerners, tradesmen and laborers, planters and professionals, the town has served as a cultural center for well-known artists, musicians, actors, authors, photographers, scholars, and scientists who have thrived in its natural setting.

Surrounded by Nature

Highlands is rich in natural scenic beauty, and opportunities for outdoor recreation abound on the Cullasaja River and the nearby Lake Sequoyah. Visitors and residents alike enjoy the waterfalls, hiking, fishing, National Forest walks, and Greenway trails, as well as the four excellent golf courses in the area.

The Highlands Nature Center is a program of the Highlands Biological Station, an inter-institutional center of the University of North Carolina. HBS also includes the Biological Laboratory, whose major focus is graduate education and research, and a Botanical Garden. The Nature Center features a variety of exhibits for children of all ages, including live animals and interactive displays. During the summer, it offers special events, daily programs, and a series of nature day camps. The Botanical Garden features numerous interpretive nature trails. Admission to the nature center is free; and programs are generally free or at minimal cost.

Steeped in Culture

For theater lovers, there is professional summer stock theater at the Highlands Playhouse from June through October, and Highlands/Cashiers Players presents productions year-round at the Martin-Lipscomb Performing Art Center.

The Bascom Center for the Visual Arts offers classes and exhibitions on a six-building, six-acre campus. A wooden covered bridge greets visitors; a rebuilt barn serves as the pottery studio; and a new central building, which houses the galleries and a gift shop, is a brilliant architectural blend of old and new, with wood from older buildings used to create a new one.

The Highlands Historical Society has preserved the Highlands Historic Village which comprises the House-Boynton-Trapier-Wright Home, also known as “the Prince House”, which is the oldest existing house in Highlands; the Highlands Historical Museum and Archives, and Bug Hill Cottage, once part of a tuberculosis treatment center.

The Highlands Heritage Trail offers a suggested itinerary for visiting the many heritage sites in the Highlands area.

Festivals & Events

The Annual Chili Cook Off in March puts some heat into the fading days of winter. In summer, the community celebrates Independence Day with traditional Fireworks. The Highlands Motoring Festival is also held in July.

The Highlands Cashiers Chamber Music Festival has long been a highlight of summer, with performances throughout July and August.

The Annual Highlands Culinary Weekend in November is a popular early winter festival, with food, wine tastings, cooking classes and demonstrations–everything for the discerning food lover!

The town’s Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony is held the Saturday after Thanksgiving, with its annual Christmas Parade the first Saturday in December..

Location

Highlands is located between Franklin and Cashiers on US Highway 64.

For More Information

Highlands Chamber of Commerce
866-526-5841

Highlands Historical Society

Hendersonville

Until the 1785 Treaty of Hopewell, present-day Henderson County was part of Cherokee Indian territory.  After the treaty, in which the Cherokee were forced to move further west, immigrant settlement increased, and by the end of the 18th century, all of what is now Henderson County was inhabited by newcomers.

The region developed more slowly that those further to the east, due to the continued presence of the nearby Cherokee Indians, the difficulties encountered in transversing the rugged, mountainous terrain, and the lack of adequate transportation to eastern markets.

On the Buncombe County Turnpike

Most settlers were subsistance farmers until the opening of the Buncombe County Turnpike in 1827, which established the area as an important gateway to the Blue Ridge. With the ability to transport produce and stock on the plank road to distant markets, the population of the region grew, and in 1847 the village of Hendersonville became a chartered city.

A Growing Community

Hendersonville  attracted merchants, lawyers and other professionals, as well as innkeepers whose clientele were travelers along the Buncombe Turnpike. The town was laid out with a center square on Main Street with a  stuccoed brick Greek Revival courthouse built in 1844.    In 1903, the county commissioners deemed the old courthouse inadequate and hired Biltmore supervising architect Richard Sharp Smith who designed the gold-domed Neo-Classical Revival courthouse that has recently been renovated and serves as home today to the county and the Henderson County Heritage Museum.

Historic Downtown Hendersonville

By the 1910s, contiguous rows of mostly two-story brick buildings characterized Main Street’s commercial core, many of which are preserved in today’s Historic Downtown Hendersonville, which was entered into the National Register of Historic Places in 1988.  The main street is decorated with planter boxes brimming with seasonal flowers and trees and is home to thriving businesses such as specialty shops, antique stores and restaurants.

Apple Heritage

Growing apples has been part of Henderson County’s culture and heritage since the mid 1700s. Today there are approximately 200 apple growers in Henderson County. North Carolina is the 7th largest apple-producing state in the nation, and Henderson County grows 65% of all apples in North Carolina. During a normal year it brings in an average income of $22 million dollars or more.  Hear the story of this important agricultural heritage in  a Living Traditions Moment audio program below.

Museums & Parks

The Henderson County Heritage Museum preserves and interprest the story of Henderson County from the Cherokee and pioneers who carved homes out of the wilderness to today. The Museum is housed in the Historic Henderson County Courthouse on Main Street.

The Mineral & Lapidary Museum of Henderson County was established in 1997and houses exhibits from North Carolina, the Smithsonian. The collection includes English minerals, Indian artifacts, geodes, fossils, fluorescent minerals and gems.

Hands On! – A Child’s Gallery provides educational exhibits that stimulate the imagination and motivate learning in a fun, safe, “Hands On!” environment where kids can be kids.

Jackson Park is located near downtown Hendersonville, with facilities that include picnic shelters, baseball and soccer fields, soccer fields, tennis courts, playgrounds, and many walking trails, providing a central location for many community sports and activities. The park is home to several species of birds, wildlife, and plants, making the park a great place to observe nature.

Patton Park offers 19 acres with baseball fields, basketball courts, 4 racquetball courts (open Memorial Day-Labor Day), 2 tennis courts, a football field, two pavilions with picnic tables and grills, 2 gazebos, playground, a one-half mile lighted walking trail, an Olympics-sized swimming pool (pool open 7 days during summer season), bathrooms and a skate park. Hours for Patton Park and the Skate Park are 7:00am-11:00pm daily. Hwy. 25 N, Hendersonville, NC. 828-697-3084

Festivals & Events

Historic Downtown Hendersonville hosts a number of annual and weekly events throughout the year, including:

Farmers Tailgate Markets

The Henderson County Curb Market, located on the corner of 2nd Avenue and Church Street, is a unique farmers market with all products either hand-made or locally grown. The market has been in continuous operation since 1924.

The Henderson County Tailgate Market operates from 7 am – noon Saturdays, April through October. Local, organic and conventional produce, bedding plants, flowers, herbs, baked goods, canned goods are for sale in the parking area of the Henderson County Building parking area, 100 N. King Street (between First and Second Avenues) in downtown Hendersonville. (828) 693-7265.

Hendersonville’s Community Co-op offers fresh fruits, vegetables, herbs, flowers, eggs and plants for local growers, including conventional, transitional, low-spray and organic produce. Open every Monday from 3 – 6 pm beginning June 1 in the parking lot of the Hendersonville Co-op, 715 Old Spartanburg Hwy. (828) 693-0505.

For more information

Henderson County Travel & Tourism
201 South Main Street
Hendersonville, NC 28792
828-693-9708 / 800-828-4244

Blowing Rock

Blowing Rock is a quintessential mountain village with beautiful churches, a downtown with great shops and restaurants, and a quaint Main Street. Varied accommodations, restaurants, galleries and shopping round out its appeal.  But its history reaches back to the days before immigrant settlement.

Early History

Before 1752, when the Scotch-Irish began to settle the area, the windy cliffs surrounding Blowing Rock were home to the Cherokee and Catawba tribes. The Native legend of the Blowing Rock still survives today, giving supernatural mystery to the local winds and bearing witness to the influence of those first inhabitants.

Immigrant Settlement

The Greenes were the first immigrant family to settle in Blowing Rock. They established the site that became the Green Park Hotel property. During the Civil War, many husbands sent their wives and children to the safest place they knew–the mountains–while they fought in the war. After the war many men joined the families sheltered in Blowing Rock and made their permanent homes in the village.

A Growing Village

On March 11, 1889, Blowing Rock was chartered and incorporated with a population of 300. As the village grew, word of Blowing Rock’s beauty and amenities spread, visitors became more common, and the economy became tourist-oriented. Hotels, inns and boarding houses prospered. Several of the grand hotels and homes still remain as anchors in the town’s landscape.

Blowing Rock Today

The Martin House, once a boarding house, is now home to a variety of shops on Main Street. Chetola Resort, no longer a private estate, is one of the most popular lodging establishments in the area. The Green Park Inn has been recently restored and now welcomes folks once more at the southern edge of town. The hotel is now part of the Green Park Historical District in Blowing Rock, encompassing other historic homes and properties. The Moses Cone Manor still stands overlooking the town.

A major preservation effort has been in place for the past decade to protect the proud historic heritage of the village and maintain the community character that so enhances this little town.

Hear the Story

Below, Listen to the legend of the Blowing Rock as recorded on one of the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area’s  Living Traditions Moments radio vignettes.

Parks & Museums

Adjacent to Blowing Rock is the Moses H. Cone Memorial Park, offering 26 miles of carriage trails for hiking and horseback riding. Trout Lake and Bass Lake provide fishing opportunities.

The Blowing Rock Art and History Museum houses exhibits, educational space and more on the corner of Main and Chestnut streets.

Local Attractions

  • The Blowing Rock is a natural formation overlooking the Pisgah Forest. A short scenic walk includes views of Grandfather Mountain, Table Rock, and Hawksbill.
  • The Hayes Performing Arts Center is back for a new season of live music and captivating productions. The state-of-the-art facility is located in Blowing Rock on Valley Blvd.
  • A Wild-West family theme park, Tweetsie Railroad features a three-mile steam-powered train ride through the North Carolina mountains.  The #12 “Tweetsie” is the last surviving narrow-gauge steam locomotive of the East Tennessee and Western North Carolina Railroad (ET&WNC) nicknamed “Tweetsie”, which ran train service from Johnson City TN to Boone NC from 1919 to 1940. The engine is listed on the National Register.
  • The Parkway Craft Center features the finest quality Appalachian Mountain hand-made crafts by members of the Southern Highland Craft Guild, as well as demonstrations. Located inside the Moses Cone Manor at milepost 294 on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Festivals & Events

Blowing Rock is home to many events throughout the year, including summer concert series and stage productions. Annual family festivals like the Fourth of July Festival and Christmas in the Park offer great fun for everyone. Some of the community’s longest-running and most well-known annual events include:

  • Art in the Park, a series of outdoor juried art shows, showcases the arts & crafts of 90 regional artisans. One show each month on a selected Saturday, May-Oct.
  • The Blowing Rock Charity Horse Show is the oldest continuous outdoor horse show in America. Three division shows each summer in June, July & August.
  • Blowing Rock Winterfest presents a variety of indoor and outdoor events to celebrate winter—plus the Polar Plunge! Always held near the end of January.
  • An evening under the stars with pop and orchestral music, Symphony by the Lake at Chetola is a centerpiece of the summer season.

Farmers Tailgate Markets

The Blowing Rock Farmers Market is held each Thursday afternoon on Wallingford Street from mid-May to mid-October, with special Holiday Markets near Thanksgiving and Christmas. Hours are 4-6pm in May, June, September and October, and 4-7pm in July and August.

Location

Blowing Rock is located along the Eastern Continental Divide at the southern border of Watauga County. At the intersection of Hwy 321 and Hwy 221 on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

For more information

Blowing Rock Visitor Center
1-877-750-4636 or 828-295-4636

 

Horn in the West

Horn in the West, the nation’s longest-running Revolutionary War drama, is performed in beautiful 35-acre Daniel Boone Park in Boone.

The play pays tribute to the courage and determination of the early settlers who came to the Blue Ridge Mountains seeking freedom and escape from British tyranny. The story tells of the lives of these mountain people during the turbulent years of the War for Independence, including the legendary Daniel Boone, for whom the town is named.

Horn in the West is presented in the 2,500-seat Daniel Boone Amphitheater. Students from North Carolina State University School of Design sculpted the theater out of rugged terrain, creating a venue to both fit the staging directions  and blend in with the mountain landscape.

More than 1.4 million guests have seen Horn in the West since 1952. The script was written by Kermit Hunter, who also authored the original Cherokee drama “Unto These Hills” and 40 other historical productions.

As the home of Horn in the West, Daniel Boone Park is home to other attractions and events as well, including the Hickory Ridge Living History Museum, and Daniel Boone Native Gardens. The Watauga County Farmers’ Market is held on site each Saturday morning, May through November.

Hours of Operation

The season of Horn in the West runs late June  to early August,  with shows nightly Tuesday through Sunday. Curtain time is 8 pm.

Admission Fee

Adult ticket: $24
Child ticket: $12 
Group Tour and VIP Package discounts are available (call for more information).

Hours of operation and fees are subject to change. Contact directly for most current information.

 

From This Day Forward

From This Day Forward is an outdoor drama that tells the story of the Waldenses, a people from the Cottian Alps in Northern Italy and the founders of the Town of Valdese. The production begins with the early days of religious persecution by the Roman Catholic establishment and Louis XIV of France. The play follows the Waldenses through years of exile, a triumphant battle and return to their homeland, and the journey of a group of Waldenses to America in the late nineteenth century to find new land and prosperity.

The production has been staged each year since 1968 by the Old Colony Players, a community theater company based at the Old Rock School in Valdese. The play was written by Fred Cranford, a Burke County native.

Hours of Operation

Performances are given on Friday and Saturday evenings from mid-July through mid-August. The shows start at 8:00 pm.

Admission Fees

Ticket prices are:

Adults: $14
Senior and Students 12 & under: $10
Group of 15 or more $10 per person
Special group rates of $9 per person are also available for groups of fifteen or more.

Hours of operation and fees are subject to change. Contact directly for most current information.

Location

Old Colony Players Ampitheatre
401 Church Street, NW
Valdese, NC 28690
(828) 879-2129

Historic Flat Rock

The Village of Flat Rock, considered “the Little Charleston of the Mountains,” originated in the early nineteenth century as a summer retreat for wealthy families from Charleston and Europe, as well as some of the South’s leading plantation owners. Most of the old estate homes still stand, surrounded by wide lawns, gardens, white pillar porches, and towering trees. The entire Flat Rock district is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Flat Rock is built around a tremendous outcrop of granite which is said to have been the site of Cherokee gatherings. Though much rock has been blasted away for use in highway construction, the main rock can be found on the grounds of the Flat Rock Playhouse.

Places of interest within Historic Flat Rock include the St. John in the Wilderness Chapel, the Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site, and the Flat Rock Playhouse.

Location

Historic Flat Rock is located three miles south of Hendersonville, NC off of the Greenville Hwy/Route 225 (formerly US 25).

For more information, contact:

Henderson County Travel & Tourism
Visitor Center
201 South Main Street
Hendersonville, NC 28792
800-828-4244
(828) 693-9708