Fall is here, and the High Country has come alive with festivals and events that feature art, music, local food, holiday-themed adventure, and so much more! Here are just some of the happenings and featured events to enjoy!
Celebrations & Festivals
Carolina in the Fall Music and Food Festival – After a two-year hiatus, Carolina in the Fall, presented by Window World® and hosted by the Krüger Brothers, returns on September 23 and 24. The festival begins at 5 p.m. on Friday, and runs from noon-11 p.m. on Saturday. “As always, we focus on bringing bands from NC, as this festival is a celebration of our musical roots,” says Michelle Isom, Festival Director. Famous for an amazing selection of food trucks, Carolina in the Fall will have some of western NC’s best trucks to feed the audiences. This FREE festival is a production of Heart of Folk, LLC, along with the Town of Wilkesboro and The Krüger Brothers. Carolinainthefall.org
Brushy Mountain Apple Festival – On Saturday, October 1, celebrate the season in downtown North Wilkesboro and pay tribute to the apples that are grown and harvested each fall by orchardists from northwestern NC. The streets of downtown North Wilkesboro 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 will also be highlighted. The Brushy Mountain Apple Festival is one of the largest one-day arts and crafts festivals in the region, and a major fundraiser for the Brushy Mountain Ruritan Club. All proceeds are donated to the community. Over 100 civic, church and other non-profit organizations participate in the festival. And best of all, it’s FREE! Rain or shine. www.applefestival.net
Sugar Mountain Resort’s Oktoberfest – On Saturday, October 8, and Sunday, October 9, grab your beer stein, put on your Lederhosen—or your dirndl—and head to Sugar Mountain Resort for their 32nd annual Oktoberfest celebration. Take in the beautiful fall foliage, cool, comfortable mountain temperatures, and a weekend full of festival activities from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. each day. The celebration marches on wind or rain or shine or snow. Admission, parking, and shuttle service are free of charge.
Live Bavarian music will be performed by the 15-piece Harbour Towne Fest Band, and German and American food will be plentiful. Plus, barrels and barrels of beverages flow lavishly. Local and regional artists and craftspeople bring their wares to the grounds of Sugar Mountain Ski Resort, so bring your gift list. The children’s fun center includes hayrides, corn hole, pumpkin bowling, water balloon tossing, play time with Sugar and Sweetie Bear, and an array of bounce houses.
For the best mountain views, visitors can glide from Sugar Mountain’s 4,100’ base to its 5,300’ peak through the forest and above the treetops aboard the Summit Express chairlift. Experience the thrill of cycling the bike park or partake in a Bavarian costume contest. Shop for cold-weather-wear at the Sugar Mountain Sports & Gift Shop and bring home a Bavarian memento from the Oktoberfest souvenir tent. Lodging specials are available Oktoberfest weekend. Call 828-898-4521 or visit www.skisugar.com/oktoberfest for all the details.
Mountain Glory Festival – Celebrate small-town life in the mountains in small-town Marion, NC. For 37 years, beautiful downtown Marion has hosted this popular celebration on the second Saturday in October. This year’s festival takes place Saturday, October 8, from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Attendees will find locally made art and handicrafts, and enjoy food, local wine, and beer, plus two stages presenting Marion’s finest musicians. The kids will have fun in the “Children’s Arena” with hands-on activities, local entertainment, and the ever popular best-dressed pet contest. And don’t miss the annual Mountain Glory Quilt Show, inside the McDowell Arts Council. The quilt show is also the gallery’s featured October 2022 exhibit. For festival information call 828-652-2215 or visit mtngloryfestival.com. Admission is free.
Woolly Worm Festival – On October 15 and 16, one of the region’s most popular festivals returns to downtown Banner Elk, NC. Join festival attendees from near and far for the 45th annual festival, hailed as the “official woolly worm festival of North Carolina.” You’ll enjoy two full days of caterpillar races (“Woolly Worm Waces”) and so much more. For more details, see our “Fall Festivals Forever” feature on page 28. www.woollyworm.com
Valle Country Fair – The 44th Valle Country Fair will be held on Saturday, October 15, just up and over the mountain from the Woolly Worm Festival in Banner Elk. Pack your car with friends and family and head to quaint Valle Crucis, NC, to experience food, crafts, mountain music, and loads of fun. Take home freshly prepared and canned foods, and don’t forget the homemade apple butter—made right there on site by the locally famous “Apple Butter Gang.” For more details, see our “Fall Festivals Forever” feature on page 28. www.vallecountryfair.org
Find out more about the live music at each of these festivals in our “Where the Music Is” listings in our printed issue.
Arts & Crafts Events
Art in the Park – Outdoor art is at its best in downtown Blowing Rock. Don’t miss the final 2022 event on Saturday, October 1, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., rain or shine. Enjoy arts and crafts from award-winning and acclaimed artisans, jury-selected each year. Pick up gifts for everyone on your list, and add works to your own personal collections, including functional beauties like furniture, cutlery, and wearable art. https://blowingrock.com/artinthepark/
Spruce Pine Potters Market – The 16th Annual Spruce Pine Potters Market takes place on Saturday and Sunday, October 8 and 9, from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. After two years of being online, Spruce Pine Potters Market will return to its location at the historic Cross Street Commerce Center, 31 Cross Street, in Spruce Pine, NC. This annual event showcases 27 artists from Mitchell and Yancey counties who have established studios and made this area home. The ceramic work seen in this show represents a wide range of aesthetic and stylistic interpretations, ranging from functional to sculptural pieces, allowing many choices for visitors.
Returning potters include: Stan Anderson, Will Baker, Pam Brewer, Cynthia Bringle, Naomi Dalglish, Susan Feagin, Terry Gess, Michael Hunt, Lisa Joerling, Nick Joerling, Michael Kline, Suze Lindsay, Shaunna Lyons, Courtney Martin, Linda McFarling, Shane Mickey, Teresa Pietsch, David Ross, Ruth Rutkowsky, Michael Rutkowsky, Valerie Schnaufer, Galen Sedberry, Ken Sedberry, and Gay Smith. We are also pleased to announce the addition of three new members: Rickie Barnett, Jason Hartsoe and Lynn Hobaica. www.sprucepinepottersmarket.com
Mica, A Cooperative Gallery of Fine Art and Contemporary Craft – Mica showcases the work of its members and invited guests. During the fall of 2022, four artists will be highlighted, and in December, the gallery will feature holiday-themed work.
Vicki Essig and David Ross will show new work at Mica in September, while October’s special exhibition features the work of Robbie Bell of Speckled Dog Pottery. November’s featured artist is woodturner Nathan Favors. Celebrating the holidays will be the focus of the month of December—handmade stocking stuffers, art-filled gift ideas, cards, ornaments, and more will be available to add to the festive spirit of the season.
Mica is located at 37 Mitchell Avenue in Bakersville, NC. Mica is open daily, Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday 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.
Blue Ridge Craft Trails – Hop in the car and drive toward an endless variety of arts and crafts on the Blue Ridge Craft Trails. Visit with artists in their studios, shop galleries full of local handmade artwork, and discover scenic treasures and cultural gems along the way. Throughout the CML region, there are dozens of stops that you’ll want to check out, so make a day of it!
Here, we offer a partial list of some of our favorites in the area—and new venues are being added to the Trails regularly: Crossnore Weavers and Gallery in Crossnore; Pam Brewer’s studio in Newland; BE Artists Gallery at the Historic Banner Elk School Cultural Arts Center, the Art Cellar, and Maggie Black Pottery in Banner Elk; the Avery County Quilt Trail beginning at the Beech Mountain Visitor Center; Blue Ridge ArtSpace, Hands Gallery, Turchin Center for the Visual Arts and Doe Ridge Pottery Gallery in Boone; the Blowing Rock and History Museum (BRAHM) in downtown Blowing Rock; the Florence Thomas Art School, the Ashe County Arts Council and arts Center in West Jefferson, and the Ashe County Studio Tour (throughout Ashe County); Lost Province Center for the Cultural Arts (LPCCA) in Lansing; Wilkes Art Gallery in North Wilkesboro; the Toe River Arts Gift Shop & Gallery, and Fire on the Mountain in Spruce Pine. Plan your trip at www.blueridgeheritage.com.
Make Your Own Gifts at Florence Thomas Art School – The mission of Florence Thomas Art School is to provide resources for instruction, exhibition and experience in the fine arts and heritage crafts for Ashe County and the region. This season, you can make many of your own unique gifts for the art lovers in your life. Florence Thomas Art School offers workshops—from three hours to four days—for artists of all ages and skill levels. Located in downtown West Jefferson, NC, the school is open to the public and has a gallery and art supplies. Also, don’t miss the last Gallery Crawl of the season in West Jefferson. On the second Friday of October, Florence, along with the other galleries in and around downtown West Jefferson, keep their galleries open from 5-7:30 pm. It’s a great opportunity to explore the downtown scene. Additional seasonal events will be posted at www.florenceartschool.org.
Tweetsie Railroad Presents Ghost Train® – All Aboard for Tweetsie Railroad’s Family-Friendly Halloween Celebration, when the theme park transforms from the Wild West by day to a Ghost Train at night. This popular fall family tradition begins Friday, September 23, and continues every Friday and Saturday night through October 29. Younger children will love the dance parties, trick-or-treat stations, themed photo opportunities, and the all new Palace Spooktacular Show. Braver kids and adults will enjoy the scary night-time journey on the Ghost Train, walking through the hallowed halls of the Haunted House and exploring the murky Freaky Forest. And, everyone will love the park’s most popular amusement rides after dark in the Creepy Carnival. tweetsie.com
Holiday Events at Hickory Ridge History Museum – Celebrate several holidays this season at the Hickory Ridge History Museum, located at Daniel Boone Park in Boone, NC, including the Hickory Ridge “Candlelight Tours and Colonial Ghost Stories” event on October 14-15, and the “Veterans Day” event on November 5.
The Museum provides a look back at High Country history, showcasing 18th and 19th century cabins that reflect High Country heritage. Guests can roam form cabin to cabin and see how people lived, including Daniel Boone himself. The museum is open through mid-November for guided tours Tuesdays through Fridays at 10 a.m., with the last tour time at 3 p.m. Tours last approximately 45 minutes. On Saturdays the museum is open for self-guided tours at 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. Find out more details about these tours and special holiday events, and purchase tickets onsite at 591 Horn in the West Drive, Boone, NC 28607. www.horninthewest.com/museum
The Blowing Rock Halloween Festival– On Saturday, October 29, join Blowing Rock Parks & Recreation for tons of fun with a full afternoon of spooky activities. From downtown trick-or-treating to the famous Monster March, this is among the best Halloween events for kids of all ages. The fun begins at Memorial Park, located in the middle of downtown, and all activities are free. For more information and a complete schedule of festival events, visit blowingrock.com/halloween, or call 828-295-5222.
Boone BOO!– Join the Town of Boone on Monday, October 31, from 5-7:30 p.m. for Boone BOO!, as the community and visitors are invited to stop by downtown Boone merchants for a safe, family-friendly trick-or-treating event. The stage will be set with a special Halloween music playlist streaming down King Street and larger-than-life Halloween inflatables lining the sidewalks. The central part of King Street will be closed (from Appalachian Street to Burrell Street) to accommodate trick-or-treaters and to make room for some surprise guests. For children with food allergy concerns, various businesses will also be handing out non-candy treats. Be sure to stop by the Jones House and the Watauga County Public Library for some additional silly and spooky fun! www.boone150.com or Joneshouse.org, 828-268-6280
Western Youth Network’s Festival of Trees – The Western Youth Network (WYN) is taking the 2022 Festival of Trees out into the community! Designers will decorate and place trees in area businesses and retail locations, and the public can bid on these magical trees. The 8th annual Festival of Trees takes place November 15 through December 1. This popular High Country fundraiser supports local kids through the Western Youth Network (WYN).
Approximately 80 trees and wreaths will be displayed throughout the community. Bid online for these beautiful creations, many of which are loaded with gift certificates, goodies and gifts. The auction for the trees and other items will close at 7 p.m. on Thursday, December 1. The Festival of Trees also includes a wreath making extravaganza on Monday, November 28 (registration required), and don’t miss the Hot Chocolate Social at the Watauga Recreation Center on Wednesday, November 30, from 4-6 p.m. A map to trees, along with auction and festival details can be found at http://bidpal.net/wynfot2022.
Light Up Downtown North Wilkesboro – Light Up Downtown is an annual holiday lighting ceremony and street festival presented by the Downtown North Wilkesboro Partnership, held the Friday before Thanksgiving. This year’s festival takes place on November 18 from 6-9 p.m. Visitors will enjoy crafts, food and gift vendors; plus, local shops throughout downtown will stay open late. Santa Claus, a marching band, dance troupes, live holiday music and so much more is offered at this family-friendly event. 832 Main Street, North Wilkesboro, NC 28659, www.downtownnorthwilkesboro.com
Ashe County Holiday Parade – Always a great time, this year’s annual parade will be held Saturday, November 19, from 3-5 p.m. in downtown West Jefferson, NC. Often deemed “The Christmas Tree capital of the USA,” the parade and other related holiday events celebrate tree growers and our native Fraser firs. Enjoy a robust lineup of colorful and festive parade participants as they cruise through beautiful West Jefferson. Find out more details at ashechamber.com.
Christmas in Blowing Rock – Don’t miss this always-special annual event, with carnival games, visits with Santa, live music, and a tree-lighting to kick off this special event on Friday, November 25. The Blowing Rock Christmas Parade starts up on Saturday, November 26, at 10 a.m. The Christmas Parade, complete with decorated floats, animals, and festive parade walkers, makes its way down Main Street. Enjoy additional free entertainment, including more 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, including the annual Winterfest Celebration in early 2023, call 828-295-5222, or visit www.blowingrock.com.
Beech Mountain Holiday Market – On Saturday, November 26, deck the halls and skip the malls! From 10 a.m.-4 p.m., you can browse through locally made crafts, jewelry, food and art—find the perfect gift for those special people in your life, and have some fun at the same time. Enjoy live music from 12-3 p.m., as well as kids’ activities, visits with Mrs. Claus, and a Parade of Wreaths. Beech Mountain Parks & Rec hosts this annual indoor Holiday Market, located at the Fred & Margie Pfohl Buckeye Recreation Center on Beech Mountain at 1330 Pine Ridge Road. For additional details, call 828-387-3003.
Banner Elk’s A Small Town Christmas – Create lasting memories during a special weekend filled with traditional holiday activities. This year’s “A Small Town Christmas” takes place in downtown Banner Elk, NC, the weekend of December 2-4, beginning Friday evening with the lighting of the town tree and a holiday play performed by Ensemble Stage at the Historic Banner Elk School. Saturday’s events begin early in the morning with a 5K run, breakfast with Santa, a book reading with Santa at the Fire Station, ornament making, an arts and crafts market, Christmas caroling with the choir, a Parade of Lights, Christmas films and music, train rides through the park, and a captivating light show. All activities are within easy walking distance in this one-stoplight resort town in the Blue Ridge Mountains. On Sunday, visit one of many local choose & cut tree farms. Bannerelk.org, bannerelk.com, ensemblestage.com
Fields, Farms & Orchards
Corn Mazes & Pumpkin Patches – T’is the season for the ripening of fall pumpkins and corn! Our area farmers celebrate harvest time by welcoming families to pick out their own pumpkins and meander through mazes of corn stalks. Here are just a few of the offerings in our area:
- C & J Pumpkin Patch and Corn Maze (Boone, NC) – Located in Boone near the Brookshire Park trails and picnic shelter, the C & J farm is open for the season on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday until October 31. Hours are Friday, 4-10 p.m., Saturday, 12-10 p.m., and Sunday 1-6 p.m. Make your way through the corn maze, stroll through the pumpkin patch, and enjoy hayrides at the farm. A variety of pumpkins, mums, food, and drinks will be available for sale. Also experience the Haunted Trail every Friday and Saturday night in October from 7 to 10 p.m. Address: 1999 Brookshire Road, Boone, NC 28607, 843-833-0156 | C and J Pumpkin Patch and Corn Maze is on Facebook
- Ashe County Corn Maze (Jefferson, NC)– Explore at your own pace and take in the beautiful Ashe County scenery. The Ashe County Corn Maze has become a family tradition where you can pick and choose from a variety of decorative pumpkins, gourds, and sunflowers. 1332 NC Highway 16 Jefferson, NC, ashecountycornmazeandpumpkinfestival.com. Also in Ashe County, check out the New River Corn Maze and Pumpkin Patch (www.newrivercornmaze.com)
- Harvest Farm Corn Maze & Pumpkin Patch (Valle Crucis, NC) – Harvest farm is located near the Original Mast General Store in Valle Crucis. The farm has a seven-acre corn maze, with limited weekend hours. harvestfarmwnc.com
Apple Hill Farm – Apple Hill Farm is a unique mountaintop alpaca farm, home to nine different kinds of animals on 10 acres of mountaintop land. 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. Meet the animals, and afterwards, shop the farm store for scarves, blankets and other locally made items, perfect for the colder months. In October, visitors will have an opportunity to view the shearing of Angora goats. The Farm’s annual Christmas celebration takes place November 18 – January 1, 2023; visitors can tour the farm decked out for the holidays, Wednesdays through Sundays (advance ticket purchase required). applehillfarmnc.com
Orchard at Altapass – The Orchard at Altapass is one of the most visited locations on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Altapass aims 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. Take a “Heyride” through the orchard and travel back in time. You can also shop for locally made gifts in the general store, enjoy music and dancing in the pavilion, and much more. The Orchard at Altapass is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday through October 30. www.altapassorchard.org
Choose & Cut Tree Farms – Beginning in November of every year, families drive 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. 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 chocolate/hot cider, live animals 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.
In the Sky
Earth to Sky Park– The Bare Dark Sky Observatory and The Glenn and Carol Arthur Planetarium at Mayland Community College’s Earth to Sky Park in Burnsville, NC, offers out-of-this-world opportunities to star gaze and learn about the universe beyond our planet. At the Observatory, visitors will be able to view the moon, planets, and stars through the observatory’s 34″ diameter mirror on a custom-built Newtonian telescope, as well as a smaller 14″ mirror Meade planetary telescope. With the assistance of two observatory Managers, visitors can spend two hours viewing and learning about the night sky. The autumn and winter night sky is rich with incredible celestial objects not otherwise visible during the summer months. Inside the new Arthur Planetarium, audiences can enjoy astronomy shows underneath a 36-ft. projection dome. Comprised of 60 seats beneath the dome, the planetarium is a multi-use destination for visitors, residents, school children, and Mayland students. Several special productions are offered through October. Learn more at mayland.edu/planetarium.
On the Trails, Roads, & Sidewalks
Ashe County Cruise-In – Kool Nights and Hot Rods! If cruising in a hot rod, classic car or muscle car is your thing, cruise over to West Jefferson in Ashe County for their final Saturday cruise-in of the season on October 15. Car enthusiasts set up in downtown West Jefferson from 4 – 8 p.m. This event is sponsored by Blue Ridge Midnight Runners. Learn more at ashechamber.com.
Banner Elk Self-Guided Walking Tour – Walk along the path of history surrounded by the fall colors as you learn about some of Banner Elk’s most prominent historic buildings and their roles in the community. You will be surprised what you’ll learn! The Banner House Museum welcomes you to enjoy the sites of Old Banner Elk at your own pace, any time of year, using the Pocket Sights Tour Application for your cellphone. For instructions and additional information, visit their website at bannerhousemuseum.org.
Races for Runners – Throughout the High Country, you’ll find opportunities to run for a good cause. The High Country Breast Cancer Foundation’s annual 5K Fun Run/Walk is scheduled for Saturday, October 22, at 9 a.m. in Blowing Rock. This special race continues to be the Foundation’s biggest annual event, generating donations through race registration and sponsorship. Learn more at hcbcf.org.
Another popular 5K this season is the annual High Country Turkey Trot, held during the Thanksgiving holiday to benefit the Hospitality House. Hospitality House, a regional nonprofit homeless services agency, works in seven rural North Carolina counties (Watauga, Wilkes, Ashe, Avery, Alleghany, Mitchell, Yancey) providing housing, shelter, hunger relief, homeless prevention, street outreach, counseling and crisis assistance. For details about this year’s event, and more on Hospitality House, visit www.hosphouse.org/turkeytrot.
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Have an event for us to consider listing in a future issue of CML? Email your press release to CML’s editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Many other events will take place here in the High Country throughout the season. Some of the best resources for event listings and schedule 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/