Regional Happenings

Spring has taken hold and the CML region is abuzz with activity. While life is slowly beginning to return to “normal,” please continue to check online resources for COVID-related guidelines, reservation requirements, and additional information as it relates to the establishments and events mentioned within the pages of CML Magazine.

Avery County

The Highland Games Return July 8-11

Bagpipes, kilts, and tartans representing dozens of Scottish clan families will once again gather for four days of festivities at the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games (GMHG) in Linville, NC. “We are excited to announce plans to be back on Grandfather Mountain the second weekend in July and get back to all the great traditions of this Scottish gathering—from a variety of music to highland dancing and Scottish athletic events,” said Stephen G. Quillin, Grandfather Mountain Highland Games President. “We’ll welcome more than a hundred Scottish clan associations and their members, as well as honored and distinguished guests from Scotland, while offering everyone in attendance the opportunity to be immersed in traditions and activities as old as the Scottish Highlands.”

For more than six decades, the Games have fostered interest in the rich history of Scottish culture with dancing, piping, drumming, athletic achievement, music and more. Stroll through the Clan Tent Row, hone your history and genealogy knowledge, and participate in music workshops and competitions. If you’ve never attended the Games, don’t miss this chance to partake in the tradition and camaraderie that are woven into this festive, family friendly event. Following are just some of the highlights of this year’s Games:

Thursday, July 8

11 a.m. | Children’s Wrestling Clinic/Main Field

11:45 | Children’s Caber Toss Clinic/Main Field

4 p.m. | MacRae Meadows open/Gates 2&3/Ticket sales begin

4:30 p.m. | Picnic on the grounds

Afternoon | Scottish entertainment with traditional Celtic music, plus sheep herding with border collies on the field (throughout the weekend)

7 p.m. | The Bear – Assault on Grandfather featuring a five-mile foot race climbing 1,568 feet in elevation from Linville to the summit of Grandfather Mountain

Evening | Opening Torchlight Ceremony announcing each participating Clan’s arrival to the Games; North American Academy of Piping & Drumming performance; The Bear Awards

Friday, July 9

8 a.m. | MacRae Meadows opens, with preliminary athletic competition, sheep herding, and music/dancing exhibitions; Celtic Groves will be open and other activities will highlight the day

11 a.m. | Opening Ceremony

Afternoon | Children’s athletic competitions; cultural activities

6:30 p.m. | Celtic Rock Concert at MacRae Meadows

8:15 p.m. | Scottish Country Dance Gala, Student Rec. Center at Lees-McRae College

Saturday, July 10

6:30 a.m. | Grandfather Mountain Marathon from Boone to MacRae Meadows field track

7:30 a.m. | Gates open

Morning & Afternoon | Amateur heavy athletic qualifying begins, competition begins for Highland Dancing Atlantic International Championship, piping, drumming, harp playing, Scottish athletic events, track & field events, Scottish country dancing, Scottish fiddling, and Scottish harp, Celtic Groves entertainment, cultural activities

11 a.m. | Opening Ceremony

6:30 p.m. | Saturday Night Celtic Jam Concert at MacRae Meadows

Sunday, July 11

8 a.m. | MacRae Meadows opens

Morning | Scottish Heavy Athletic Demonstration and Clinic, Highland Dancing competition

10 a.m. | Worship Service and Kirkin ‘O’ the Tartans/Worship Service Platform

11:30 | Parade of Tartans, Guests of Honor & Distinguished Guests are introduced as all members of the sponsoring clans are invited to march in the parade

Afternoon | Atlantic International Highland Dance Championship Competition, Scottish athletic events, sheep herding, kilted miles, children’s events, Scottish country dancing, Scottish fiddles and harps, piping competitions, Clan Tugs-of-War, Celtic Grove entertainment, history and cultural activities

4 p.m. Closing Ceremonies

For tickets, detailed schedules, maps, and information on lodging, parking and shuttle busses, visit the new Grandfather Mountain Highland Games website at—here you can also view the COVID-19 Operating Plan. Note that organizers are closely monitoring current safety guidelines from the state of North Carolina and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

Be sure to pick up the summer issue of Carolina Mountain Life for additional details and up-to-date listings on the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games.

Art On The Greene

Four times this year, the green in front of the Historic Banner Elk School will come to life with Art On The Greene, featuring quality, hand-made arts and crafts from select regional and national artisans. The 2021 Art on the Greene series begins this spring on Memorial Day weekend (May 29-30), and continues on Fourth of July weekend (July 3-4), early August weekend (August 7-8) and Labor Day weekend (September 4-5). Gates are open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., rain or shine. Each event represents artists from all over the south in a wide variety of arts including wood, glass, metal, pottery, clay, watercolor, oil, acrylics, photography, fiber wear, fiber art, leather, soap, and mixed media. The festivities also include food vendors and other entertainment.

Art On The Greene takes place in the heart of the walkabout village of Banner Elk, which allows patrons to make a day of it by visiting shops and boutiques in town and selecting from an impressive list of restaurants in the “culinary hot spot of the High Country.” If you’re planning ahead for a summer visit to Banner Elk, be sure to catch a Thursday evening concert at Tate-Evans Park. Banner Elk’s popular Thursday Concerts in the Park begin July 1 and run through late August.

For more information on Art on the Greene, Concerts in the Park, or other events happening in Banner Elk this spring and summer, visit the following websites:,,

Beech Mountain’s 40 Days of Family Fun

For 2021, Beech Mountain has extended its annual Family Fun Month to 40 Days in honor of the Town’s 40th Birthday! From May 21 – June 30, enjoy a wide variety of programs and activities designed for all ages to experience the beauty of Beech Mountain. On Friday, June 11, Beech Mountain Parks & Recreation will hold a Naturalist Rally, which will host experts across the spectrum for those curious about anything from mushrooms to salamanders! Other activities during the 40 days of Family Fun include family hikes, scenic chairlift rides, mountain biking lessons, fishing, cookouts, concerts, and movies under the stars. For more information on 40 Days of Family Fun and lodging discounts, call (800) 468-5506, or visit

Watauga County

Blowing Rock Art in the Park

For nearly 60 years, Art in the Park has annually hosted dozens of artists at each of six shows taking place in downtown Blowing Rock. This year’s series begins Saturday, May 22, and you’ll find some of the best local and regional artists and craftspeople showcasing their handcrafted jewelry, pottery, fiber, glass, metal, photography, painting and much more.

Art in the Park’s high standards and professional jury attract artisans from all over the Southeast to exhibit in this popular series of shows that take place once a month, May through October. The quality of work exhibited draws many thousands of people to the mountains each season.

This year’s dates include: May 22, June 12, July 17, August 14, September 11, and October 2. Each event runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Park Avenue in Downtown Blowing Rock, rain or shine. Art in the Park is planned and administered by the Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce, with COVID-19 response guidance from AppHealthCare and NCDHHS. Learn more at

High Country Spring Rendezvous

A visit to the Hickory Ridge History Museum in the Daniel Boone Park gives visitors a genuine appreciation for High Country history. Special events are held throughout the season to bring history to life in an educational and entertaining way, appropriate for the entire family. The museum hosts historical re-enactments, open-hearth cooking experts, fiber artists, and colonial musicians. The site includes six 18th & 19th century cabins that have been fashioned to reflect High Country Heritage.  

At this year’s High Country Spring Rendezvous on May 1, visitors can discover the crafts and activities settlers in the North American backcountry would have been doing during the spring months. View craft demonstrations like spinning and weaving, or try food and drinks prepared in the same fashion as the settlers of the 1700s. The Spring Rendezvous is the perfect outing for students, families, history buffs, and anyone who is interested in learning about North Carolina history and heritage.

The Spring Rendezvous is presented by the Southern Appalachian Historical Association and runs from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. on May 1. Check out all of Hickory Ridge’s special events at or call (828) 264-2120. Address: 591 Horn in the West Drive, Boone, NC 28607.

Ashe County

Celebrate Earth and One of Its Oldest Rivers!

As we recognize Earth Day on Thursday, April 22, and all month long, you’ll find a variety of Earth Day events happening throughout the High Country. In Ashe County, you can support the New River Conservancy and have fun on the river during Zaloo’s April 24 Earth Day event. Enjoy food, fun and live music, all for a great cause—the scenic New River. Recognized as the second oldest river in the world, the New River is a National and State Wild and Scenic River and one of the first American Heritage Rivers. Learn more about Zaloo’s Earth Day event and the important work of the New River Conservancy at

Live Music at Ashe County Park

Make plans now to attend a spring or summer outdoor concert at the Ashe County Park in Jefferson, NC. This series of four concerts is free to the public, but registration is required. Gather a group of friends and family and reserve your own designated space at the park where you can set up a picnic and enjoy some of the best traditional music in the region. Summer performances feature Liam Purcell & Cane Mill Road on May 21. On June 18, Steve Lewis and Bluegrass Incorporated take the stage. On July 16, enjoy the sounds of the Burnett Sisters Band, whose repertoire is equal parts old-time and bluegrass, country and gospel. And don’t miss Wayne Henderson and friends on August 20. Ashe County Park is located at527 Ashe Park Road, Jefferson, NC 28640. All events are hosted by the Ashe County Arts Council. Learn more at

Arbor Day Celebration and High Country Boil  

Celebrate Arbor Day on May 1 at the Lost Province Arts Center at the historic Lansing School. Enjoy a Tree Talk & Walk with Tim Barker of Country Gardens, and shop for trees at the Tree Sale. The event also features live music, craft demonstrations, a silent auction, and a High Country Boil at 5:30 p.m. Buy tickets online at and learn more about the Center’s upcoming programs and events. Address: 9710 NC-194, Lansing, NC 28643

Carter County, TN

The 75th Roan Mountain Rhododendron Festival

The annual Roan Mountain Rhododendron Festival heralds in the blooming of the famous Catawba Rhododendron along the highlands of the Roan. This year’s festival on June 19-20* takes place at Roan Mountain State Park, located at the foot of Roan Mountain, and features handmade crafts, food, and a variety of traditional music, plus an array of old-time folkway demonstrations. In addition to the festival activities, plan a hike on the Appalachian Trail where it runs along the border of Tennessee and North Carolina, and catch a glimpse of the world’s largest natural rhododendron gardens atop 6,000-ft Roan Mountain. These spectacular flowering shrubs are in peak bloom during late June. *As of press time, the 2021 festival is set to take place. Please visit during April to check the status of the event and find out more details.

Drive on Over to the StateLine Drive-in

The StateLine Drive-in Theater has been an important part of Elizabethton, and the greater Carter County, TN, community since 1947. A family-owned business, the theater focuses on family entertainment in a friendly, clean environment. The StateLine is a seasonal theater operating April through September and offers one feature every Friday, Saturday, & Sunday evenings, with double features on holiday weekends (Easter, Memorial Day, July 4th, & Labor Day).

This spring, grab a date and head to the NC/TN state line to enjoy the classic American experience of a drive-in movie. The StateLine is located on Highway 19E South between Elizabethton & Hampton, TN (a 40-minute drive from Banner Elk or Newland, NC). All show times begin at dusk. Admission prices (cash only): $6.00-Adults (12 years and older); $2.00-Children (11 years and under). For a list of upcoming movies, visit the StateLine Drive-in Theater Facebook page or Note that the theater has FM Digital Stereo Sound only—if you do not have a radio in your vehicle you’ll want to bring another radio source.

Throughout the High Country

Spring Farmers’ Markets

Spring has sprung, and our local open-air farmers markets look forward to welcoming shoppers! For a true taste of our region, stop by any of the markets listed below. Please note that while most of these markets will be open beginning April and May, the hours, locations and capacity may change due to COVID-19. Patrons need to check with each market prior to scheduling a trip.

Abingdon, VA Farmers Market

Saturdays 8 a.m. – 1 p.m., April – October | Tuesdays 3 – 6 p.m. April – September

The corner of Remsburg Dr. and Cummings St. in downtown Abingdon

Ashe County Farmers’ Market

Saturdays 8 a.m. – 1 p.m. | May 1 – late October

108 Backstreet, West Jefferson, NC

Avery County Farmers’ Market

Thursdays 4 – 6:30 p.m.

Historic Banner Elk School Parking Lot, 185 Azalea Circle, Banner Elk, NC

Watauga County Farmers’ Market

Saturdays 8 a.m. – Noon | May through Nov,

591 Horn in the West Dr, Boone

King Street Farmers’ Market

Tuesdays 4 – 7 p.m. | May – October

Poplar Grove Connector, Boone, NC

Blowing Rock Farmers’ Market

Thursdays 3 – 6 p.m. | May 20 – September 30

132 Park Ave., Downtown Blowing Rock, NC

Johnson County Farmers’ Market

Saturdays 9 a.m. – Noon | May 1 – October

Ralph Stout Park in Mountain City Mountain City, TN

Wilkes County Farmers’ Market

Saturdays 7:30 a.m.-Noon, Tuesdays 3:30-5:30 p.m. | April – September

Yadkin Valley Marketplace in downtown N. Wilkesboro

Morganton Farmers’ Markets

Saturdays 8 a.m.-Noon | May 1-October 30

300 Beach St., Morganton

Wednesday Mini Market, Times TBD | May 5-October 27

111 North Green St. Morganton


Many other events will likely take place here in the High Country throughout the spring 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 check out the following websites before planning your visit to take advantage of all that our region has to offer.

Ashe County Chamber of Commerce:

Avery County Chamber of Commerce:

Banner Elk Chamber of Commerce:

Beech Mountain TDA:

Boone Chamber of Commerce:

Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce:

Burke County Chamber of Commerce:

Burnsville-Yancey Chamber of Commerce:

Caldwell County Chamber of Commerce:

Johnson County, TN Chamber of Commerce:

Washington County, VA Chamber of Commerce:

Wilkes County Chamber of Commerce:

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