Autumn is a special time in the mountains and foothills of our region! Listed here are just some of the many family-friendly options for visitors and residents in the High Country. We invite you to get out and enjoy the beautiful fall weather, along with all that our close-knit communities have to offer this season.
Note: Please continue to check online resources for COVID-related updates, guidelines, reservation requirements, and additional information as it relates to the establishments and events mentioned within the pages of CML Magazine.
West Jefferson Olde Time Antiques Fair – On September 17 and 18, the West Jefferson Olde Time Antiques Fair will take place in West Jefferson along the beautiful streetscapes in Ashe County, NC. Numerous antique vendors set up during this fair and you’ll find a variety of items including vintage furniture, coins, glassware, quilts, refurbished antiques, pottery, silver, vintage signage and much more! Live music and food vendors are onsite, and the Hotel Tavern restaurant and the award-winning Boondocks Brewery are within the fair area. https://wjantiquesfair.com/
Brushy Mountain Apple Festival – On Saturday, October 2, the streets of downtown North Wilkesboro, NC, will be filled with over 425 arts and crafts vendors, 100 food concessions, and four different music stages consisting of Blue Grass, Country, Folk, Gospel, and Appalachian Heritage. Cloggers, folk dancers, rope skippers, and square dancers provide additional entertainment for festival goers. Appalachian Heritage crafts are highlighted such as woodcarving, chair making, soap making, pottery throwing, and quilting. Let us not forget the apples, apples, and more apples! Local apple growers set up throughout the festival selling their apples, apple cider, and dried apples. After all, this festival also pays tribute to the fruit grown and harvested each fall by apple orchardists from northwestern NC. http://www.applefestival.net/
Sugar Mountain Oktoberfest – On October 9 and 10, 10 a.m. until 5 p.m., prepare for yodels and yodels of fun at Sugar Mountain’s annual Oktoberfest celebration! The festival features Bavarian music performed by the 15-piece Harbour Towne Fest Band. Additional entertainment will be provided throughout the weekend, and German and American food will be plentiful. And of course, the beer will be flowing!
Browse arts and crafts from local artists with a big variety of items from food to ironworks. A Kids fun center (admission required) operates 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. both days. Some of the children’s activities include fun time inflatables, hay rides, corn hole, a water balloon toss, and pumpkin bowling. And don’t miss the popular costume contest on Saturday at 4 p.m. (free to enter). Oktoberfest will be held rain or shine, and admission, parking and shuttle service are all free. https://seesugar.com/oktoberfest/
Woolly Worm Festival – On October 16 and 17 in Banner Elk, NC, one of the Southeast’s most popular festivals returns! Join festival attendees from near and far for the 44th annual Woolly Worm Festival. This “official woolly worm festival of N.C.” offers two full days of fun with fuzzy caterpillars and much, much more. See our feature article on “Famous Festivals” on page 25. www.woollyworm.com
Valle Country Fair – On Saturday, October 16 in Valle Crucis, NC, bring a carload of friends and family to experience food, crafts, mountain music, and loads of family fun. Take home fresh baked goods, homemade jams and jellies, and apple butter made while you watch. See our feature article on “Famous Festivals” on page 24. www.vallecountryfair.org
Additional coverage on our local fall festivals that include live music can be found in our “Where the Music Is” listings.
Blowing Rock Art in the Park – If you love perusing art in the great outdoors, don’t miss the final 2021 Art in the Park event on Saturday, October 2, from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Enjoy arts and crafts from award-winning and acclaimed artisans. Artists are jury-selected and each show features a different set of artists, curated to present a wide variety of mediums. Find gifts and works for personal collections, functional beauties like furniture and cutlery, and wearable art like handcrafted jewelry and textiles. While in Blowing Rock, head down the street and visit BRAHM (Blowing Rock Art and History Museum) to view its latest world-class exhibition, Emergent Landscapes: Mountains, Music, & Improvisation in the Paintings of Abie Harris. www.blowingrock.com, www.blowingrockmuseum.org
Blue Ridge Craft Trails – If arts and crafts are your main interest when it comes to destination travel, you are undeniably in a region rich in craft traditions. Travel along the Blue Ridge Craft Trails to visit with artists in their studios, shop galleries full of local, handmade artwork, and discover scenic treasures and cultural gems along the way. The Blue Ridge Craft Trails organizers welcome new Trail sites regularly, with plans to add an estimated 200 craft artists, galleries and sites to the Trails over the next year. Here are just some of our favorite Trail stops in the CML region: Crossnore Weavers and Gallery in Crossnore; BE Artists Gallery at the Historic Banner Elk School Cultural Arts Center; the Avery County Quilt Trail beginning at the Beech Mountain Visitor Center; Blue Ridge ArtSpace, Hands Gallery, and Doe Ridge Pottery Gallery in Boone; Blowing Rock Art and History Museum in downtown Blowing Rock; the Florence Thomas Art School, and the Ashe County Arts Council and Arts Center in West Jefferson; and the Ben Long Fresco in Wilkesboro (other Ben Long frescoes on the Trail, and in our region, can be found in Crossnore, West Jefferson, and Morganton). Check the website regularly to see added locations. www.blueridgeheritage.com/blue-ridge-craft-trails/
Mica – Mica, the members owned cooperative fine craft gallery in downtown Bakersville, NC, continues its monthly special ‘Featured Artist Spotlight’ series this fall exhibiting the work of its member artists. For the month of October, Mica will feature the work of Vicki Essig in a display of her small, handmade books in an exhibit entitled ‘Bookstone.’ “The term, bookstone is a very old name for our gallery’s namesake, mica; the silicate mineral which has been mined and processed for hundreds of years in the Spruce Pine Mining District,” Essig notes. In November, the gallery will feature the work of member Teresa Pietsch. “My pottery reflects the cycles of life and growth,” Pietsch explains. “My inspiration comes from the colors and textures of the flora on hillsides, fields, and the sides of the road.” For the month of December, the gallery will feature the work of clay artist Lisa Joerling, who shares, “It’s been nice—twenty-five years of working in the studio and it still makes for my favorite kind of day.”
Mica is located at 37 Mitchell Ave in Bakersville, NC. The gallery is open daily, Mondays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays from 12–5 p.m. For more information call 828-688-6422 or visit micagallerync.com. Follow the gallery on Facebook at Mica Gallery NC, or on Instagram at micagallerync.
2021 Spruce Pine Potters Market – The 15th Annual Spruce Pine Potters Market will return to Spruce Pine’s historic Cross Street Commerce Center in downtown Spruce Pine on Saturday and Sunday, October 9-10 from 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Noted for its small scale and intimate layout, this event offers visitors an opportunity to view a variety of pottery work, as well as the chance to meet and converse with each maker. The Spruce Pine Potters Market was designed and built by a group of Mitchell County, NC, potters as a collaborative venture.
“Individually, the participating artists are some of the finest craftsmen in the country,” says Spruce Pine Potters Market member Jenny Lou Sherburne. “Collectively, they bring their high standards, imagination and camaraderie together to produce a really outstanding show.” While admission to the Potters Market is free, all visitors are encouraged to join the potters in supporting a selected local non-profit organization. For more information, visit www.SprucePinePottersMarket.com, www.facebook.com/sprucepinepottersmarket/, Instagram @sprucepinepottersmarket, or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Turchin Center for the Visual Arts (TCVA) – Head over to the TCVA on West King Street in downtown Boone, NC, where you’re invited to “engage, discover and connect through the arts.” This fall, enjoy the latest art exhibitions, including the 35th Rosen Sculpture Competition and Exhibition, with this year’s works displayed outdoors on the Appalachian State University campus; Ruminations: Cheryl Prisco in the Community Gallery; Father, Grandfather, Artist: A Tribute to Warren Dennis in the Moskowitz Gallery; 98.6 – A Creative Commonality in the Mezzanine Gallery; ERRATIC: Hoss Haley in the Hodges Gallery; Every Olive Tree in the Garden of Gethsemane: Wendy Babcox in Gallery A; and Where are the birds? Retracing Audubon: Artwork by Krista Elrick in Gallery B. For more on exhibition dates and the artists in the spotlight, visit the TCVA website. https://tcva.org/
VETERANS DAY EVENTS
Hickory Ridge History Museum – On November 6 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., you can celebrate our veterans with reenactments, demonstrations, and historical activities at Hickory Ridge History Museum. TheHickory Ridge History Museum, located at Daniel Boone Park in Boone, NC, provides a look back at High Country history, showcasing six 18th and 19th century cabins that reflect High Country heritage. Guests can roam from cabin to cabin and actually see how people lived in the 18th century, including the town of Boone’s namesake, Daniel Boone. Tickets to this special event are available onsite at 591 Horn in the West Drive, Boone, NC 28607. Free entrance for all veterans on November 6. https://www.horninthewest.com/museum
The MOAA Ceremony in Boone – The Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) is a non-profit veterans’ association dedicated to maintaining a strong national defense and to preserving the earned entitlements of members of the uniformed services and their families and survivors. The High Country Chapter of the MOAA serves Avery, Mitchell, and Watauga counties, and has been awarded the MOAA 5-Star Level of Excellence Chapter recognition.
In honor of Veterans Day this November, the Chapter has tentative plans to once again hold their annual ceremony at the Boone Mall. Please visit http://www.hccmoaa.org/ for event updates and scheduling.
Visit a Local Veterans Monument – Throughout the state, a number of monuments and memorials have been erected by the community to honor local veterans and their service to our nation. This season, take some time to visit one of these special sites. Here are just a few in our area:
- Entitled “Time and Honor,” and completed in 2018, the Watauga County Veterans Memorial was the dream of the High Country Chapter of Military Officers Association (MOAA). The monument honors local veterans of all eras, from the Revolutionary War up to present-day conflicts. In the dedication ceremony on July 4, 2018, Boone Mayor Rennie Brantz stated, “This monument honors all those in our community who served and sacrificed in the defense of our country and its freedoms, and we need to honor them with this and keep this as a permanent reminder.” (pocketsights.com) 567 W King St, Boone, NC
- The Avery County Veterans Monument is located within the Town Square across from the Avery County Courthouse in downtown Newland, NC. The names are listed according to the wars in which they served dating back to World War I and through World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm, Afghanistan and Iraq. Public visitations are always welcome. 200 Montezuma Street, Newland, NC
- The Ashe County Veterans Memorial in Jefferson, NC, consists of two brick structures, two flower boxes, two benches and a flagpole. On the wall facing the courthouse are nine bronze plaque depicting combat scenes from American wars beginning with the Revolution through the Persian Gulf War with room for additional plaques. Text on the plaques gives an overview of each war and Ashe County’s role in the conflicts. 150 Government Circle, Jefferson, NC
- In Burnsville, the Veterans Memorial is an obelisk located in front of the courthouse. It is dedicated to Yancey County residents who died in 20th century wars, WW I, WW II, Korea and Vietnam. The names of heroes who gave their lives are carved into the four sides of the memorial. 110 Town Square, Burnsville, NC
You’ll find additional memorials in Caldwell, Wilkes, and Mitchell counties, and throughout the state. https://docsouth.unc.edu/commland/
Beech Mountain’s Holiday Market – On Saturday, November 27, don your favorite festive shopping wear and head over to the Beech Mountain Buckeye Recreation Center for the annual Beech Mountain Holiday Market running from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Browse through local arts and crafts to find the perfect gift for that special someone. Beech Mountain Parks & Rec hosts this annual event, located at 1330 Pine Ridge Rd, Beech Mountain, NC. https://beechrecreation.recdesk.com/
Christmas in Blowing Rock – Don’t miss this always-special annual event, with the Blowing Rock Christmas Parade kicking off the season on Saturday, November 27, 2021 at 10 a.m. The Christmas Parade, complete with decorated floats, animals, and festive parade walkers, makes its way down Main Street, then spectators can watch the Mayor “flip the switch” to light up Main Street wreaths and the Town Hall tree! Enjoy additional fun with free entertainment, including music, games, crafts, hayrides, gingerbread house building, and visits with Santa. All events take place in Memorial Park, right on Main Street in downtown Blowing Rock.
For more information on all of Blowing Rock’s autumn and winter happenings, from the town’s annual Halloween Festival in October through the annual Winterfest Celebration in early 2022, call 828-295-5222, or visit www.blowingrock.com.
Banner Elk Tree Lighting & Small Town Christmas – Always the first weekend in December, the Banner Elk Small Town Christmas takes place this year on December 3-5. Create lasting memories during a special weekend filled with traditional holiday activities. A Small Town Christmas in Banner Elk begins Friday evening with the lighting of the town tree and a holiday play performed by Ensemble Stage Theatre at the Historic Banner Elk School (www.ensemblestage.com).
Saturday’s events begin early in the morning and stretch well into the early evening. Festivities include a 5K run, Breakfast with Santa, a candy cane hunt, storytelling, ornament making, cookie decorating, luminaries in the park, visits with Santa and much more. Shopping is available, too, and all activities are within easy walking distance in this one-stoplight resort town in the Blue Ridge Mountains. After attending the main festivities on Saturday, spend some time on Sunday visiting one of the many choose & cut tree farms in the surrounding countryside, or head back to the Historic Banner Elk School for Ensemble Stage’s matinee performance of its holiday show. Lodging packages are available. For complete details and an up-to-date schedule of weekend events, visit bannerelk.org and bannerelk.com.
Light Up Downtown and Christmas in the Commons – Colorful fall leaves, apple harvests, pumpkins in the fields, the first snowflakes, Christmas trees on street corners—fall and winter are a time of celebration and beauty in Wilkes County, NC.
Downtown North Wilkesboro is home to great outdoor venues and seasonal events, including Light Up Downtown, the town’s holiday lighting ceremony presented by the Downtown North Wilkesboro Partnership. Light Up is held annually the Friday before Thanksgiving from 6-9 p.m. Activities for all ages, including a children’s craft workshop, are part of this kick-off-to-Christmas event. www.downtownnorthwilkesboro.com
Continuing the holiday festivities in Wilkes County, on the weekend of December 4, a small-town parade full of decorated floats will feature all four county marching bands, local businesses, scout troops, homecoming queens, dance troops and classic cars putting on their best show for the crowds lining the streets. This year’s theme, “A Patriotic Christmas,” is sure to enthrall spectators with bright colors and great music celebrating our country and the Christmas season. The parade starts in North Wilkesboro and makes its way over to downtown Wilkesboro, where it passes by the Wilkes Heritage Museum square, the site of the Christmas in the Commons celebration following the parade. Christmas in the Commons features the lighting of the Heritage Square Christmas Tree. Additional activities throughout the day include kids’ activities, visits with Santa, food trucks, and a holiday-themed movie. The Wilkes Heritage Museum Christmas open house will also offer tours, music, and refreshments throughout the day. www.wilkesboronorthcarolina.com
FIELDS, FARMS AND ORCHARDS
Corn Mazes and Pumpkin Patches – The fields come alive this time of year with the ripening of late summer and early fall pumpkins and corn. Our area farmers celebrate harvest time by welcoming the public to pick out their own pumpkins and lose themselves in a maze of corn stalks. Here are just a few of the patches and mazes in our area:
- Ashe County Corn Maze (Jefferson, NC)– Opening September 18, the Ashe County Corn Maze has become a family tradition. The corn maze is about four acres; explore at your own pace and take in the beautiful natural surrounds of the Ashe County scenery. You can also pick and choose from a variety of decorative pumpkins, gourds, and sunflowers. 1332 NC Highway 16 Jefferson, NC, http://ashecountycornmazeandpumpkinfestival.com
*Other Ashe County corn mazes and pumpkin patches include the Third Day Market Pumpkin Patch (https://thirddaymarket.com/pumpkin-patch/), and the New River Corn Maze and Pumpkin Patch (http://www.newrivercornmaze.com/)
- BOOger Hollar (Boone, NC) – BOOger Hollar offers pumpkins of many sizes and colors, along with hayrides and tours through the corn maze. Find BOOger Hollar on Facebook for the 2021 schedule.
- Harvest Farm Corn Maze & Pumpkin Patch (Valle Crucis, NC) – Harvest farm is located almost next door to the Original Mast General Store. The farm has a 7-acre corn maze, with limited weekend hours. Find Harvest Farm Corn Maze & Pumpkin Patch on Facebook for the 2021 schedule.
Apple Hill Farm – Apple Hill Farm, “a place where animals talk and people listen,” is located about 15 minutes from downtown Banner Elk, NC. Apple Hill Farm is a unique mountaintop alpaca farm, home to nine different kinds of animals on 10 acres of mountaintop land. “Visitors to Apple Hill Farm find joy and connection through our animals and the experience of a real working farm,” says Lee Rankin, owner and founder of Apple Hill Farm. Open year-round to the public, the farm hosts fun and educational animal experiences, while the farm store offers a variety of products made from alpaca fibers, along with local books, jams and jellies, and more.
Autumn is the perfect season to book one of Apple Hill Farm’s popular farm tours. Options include the public tour, where you’ll enjoy a 45-minute educational tour of the farm with a small group. You can also book a guided private tour for friends and family, or a “Tot Tour” for kids 5 and under. “Our tour guides lead the way for people to leave with a smile on their face and memories to share.” After meeting the animals, visitors can shop the farm store for scarves, blankets and other locally made items, perfect for the colder months. Special events, such as “Alpaca Shearing Day,” are held at different times throughout the year. applehill-farmnc.com
Orchard at Altapass – The Orchard at Altapass is one of the most visited locations on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Operating as a non-profit organization for over a quarter-century, the mission of the Altapass Foundation, Inc. is to preserve the history, heritage and culture of the Blue Ridge Mountains; protect the underlying orchard land with its apples, wetlands, butterflies, and other natural features; and educate the public about the Appalachian experience.
This fall, head to the orchards to pick your own heirloom apples. Bring your appetite for some delicious hot apple pie with hand-scooped ice cream. Pick up locally made gifts in the general store, enjoy music and dancing in the pavilion, and much more. The Orchard at Altapass is open Wednesday-Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. through October 31 (subject to change—please visit www.altapassorchard.org before you go).
Choose & Cut Tree Farms – Beginning in November of every year, families make a traditional trek to the High Country to choose their favorite Fraser firs, white pines, and other varieties of evergreens for decorating their homes during the holiday season. Choose & Cut farms in our region have become hugely popular in recent years, so to make sure you get your first choice in Christmas trees, you may want to pick out your tree a little earlier this year. You’ll find dozens of tree farms in Avery, Watauga, Ashe, Alleghany, Burke, Mitchell and Yancey counties in NC, and bordering counties in TN and VA. Many of these farms offer hayrides, hot beverages, petting zoos and visits with Santa. Pick up your “North Carolina Choose & Cut Memories” guide at visitors’ centers and retail locations throughout western NC, or visit the NC Christmas Tree Association’s website for their online guide to local Choose & Cut Tree Farms at www.ncchristmastrees.com.
Have an event to list in a future issue of CML? Email the editor at tamara@NCexplorers.com.
Many other events will take place here in the High Country throughout the fall season. Some of the best resources for checking event listings, updates and changes are our local Chambers of Commerce and Tourism Development Associations. Be sure to visit the following websites before planning your visit to take advantage of all that our region has to offer.
Ashe County Chamber of Commerce: https://ashechamber.com/
Avery Chamber of Commerce: https://averycounty.com
Banner Elk Chamber of Commerce: https://www.bannerelk.org/
Beech Mountain TDA: https://beechmtn.com
Boone Chamber of Commerce: https://www.boonechamber.com/
Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce: https://blowingrockncchamber.com/home
Burnsville-Yancey Chamber of Commerce: https://www.yanceychamber.com/
Caldwell County Chamber of Commerce: https://www.caldwellchambernc.com/
Morganton Chamber of Commerce: http://www.downtownmorganton.com/
Johnson County, TN, Chamber of Commerce: http://www.johnsoncountytn.org/
Mitchell County Chamber of Commerce: https://mitchellcountychamber.org/
Sugar Mountain TDA: https://seesugar.com/
Wilkes County Chamber of Commerce: https://www.wilkeschamber.com/