Regional Happenings

Welcome Spring!!

By CML Staff

Our mountains and foothills have come to life with the vibrant colors, aromas and sounds of nature—celebrate the season with a huge variety of events and activities related to art, food, beverage, music, history, sports, plants, wildlife, astronomy and more! Following is just a sampling of opportunities in store for residents and visitors to our area.


Mayland Earth to Sky Park | April through June in Burnsville, NC

In addition to ongoing community stargazing opportunities at Bare Dark Sky Observatory, Mayland Community College’s Earth to Sky Park hosts a variety of educational and fun events for the whole family. One of their most popular offerings at the park’s Arthur Planetarium is their laser light shows. On Saturday, April 27 at 6:30 p.m., don’t miss their latest show, “Lasermau5.” Lasermau5 features the wide ranging and cutting-edge sound of deadmau5, a one-man electronic dance music phenomenon who has won countless international awards and five GRAMMY nominations. Lasermau5 is a night of movement, energy, rhythm and lasers. A favorite for laser fans of all ages!

Other family favorites this spring include showings of “James Webb Space Telescope: The Story Unfolds.” You’ll discover the furthermost reaches of the universe as revealed by the James Webb Space Telescope, the most powerful telescope ever built. Also showing is “Mesmerica,” a visual music journey that brings the mesmerizing music of GRAMMY-nominated composer and percussionist James Hood together with visually-hypnotic, 3D animated art curated from artists around the world, creating an immersive experience designed to transcend time, relax, soothe, and stimulate your mind and senses.,

Merlefest | April 25-28 in Wilkesboro, NC

One of the premier music festivals in the High Country AND the nation, Merlefest serves as an annual homecoming for musicians and music fans. Held on the campus of Wilkes Community College in Wilkesboro, Merlefest was founded in 1988 in memory of the late Eddy Merle Watson, son of American music legend Doc Watson. Explore 12 stages of “Traditional Plus” music, plus other activities including nature walks, Acoustic Kids Showcases, Little Pickers Area, a Pickin’ Place and a pleasing variety of food and craft vendors. For more on the history of the event and this year’s festival details, visit

Fire on the Mountain Blacksmith Festival | April 27 in Spruce Pine, NC

Join blacksmiths and blacksmithing enthusiasts in Spruce Pine on Saturday, April 27, for this annual festival celebrating the art of the blacksmith. Coordinated by Spruce Pine Main Street, Penland School of Craft, Toe River Arts, Arthur Morgan School, and local smiths, participants will enjoy blacksmith demonstrations, blacksmith vendor booths, a youth and adult forge-off, a hands-on tent, kids’ activities, food and more. Also this year, a group will be present to represent “Peace Nails,” an international effort to raise funds for, and awareness of, charities serving people suffering in war zones around the world. The festival will also represent RAW Tools South, an effort in which guns are purchased from the public, cut apart, and forged into garden tools from their components; these tools are then sold to raise money that supports RAW Tools’ mission to “disarm hearts, forge peace, cultivate justice.”

Stay in Spruce Pine for the weekend and add hiking and exploring to your itinerary. There are a variety of small motels in the area, including the Blue Ridge Boutique Hotel, as well as beautiful campgrounds, and many local listings on Airbnb and VRBO. Fire on the Mountain takes place 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. and is free. Facebook: FireOnTheMountainFestival,

Beech Mountain Happenings | April – June in the Town of Beech Mountain, and Beech Mountain Resort, NC

Visit Beech Mountain this spring and enjoy a full slate of activities and entertainment all season long. Hike along a vast network of hiking trails known as the Emerald Outback, and canoe and fish at Buckeye Lake (the Annual “Kiddo Fishing Derby” for ages 12 and under takes place at Lake Coffey on June 1); cycle the mountain on 51 miles of road cycling routes; mountain bike on 12 trails with over 18 miles of biking terrain; fly a kite and share a picnic in the Beech Mountain Kite Field; pig out on pizza and play mini golf at the Brick Oven Pizzeria; shop at the weekly Beech Mountain Farmers’ Market on the first Friday of each month, beginning June 7 through October; visit the one and only Fred’s General Mercantile and peruse the store’s seemingly endless selection of goods and gifts for everyone; go birding at one of the many great wildlife viewing areas; get active at the Buckeye Recreation Center, where you can play basketball, volleyball, tennis, pickleball and more; and participate in Mile High Yoga at Beech Mountain Resort (beginning June 1). Beech Mountain Resort’s “Summer Opening Day” is May 25, 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Live Music at 5,506′ begins on June 1 at 2:30 p.m. The Resort’s Summer Concert Series is one of the largest events in the area, kicking off on June 8, and headlined by big-name touring acts. For a complete list of activities, concerts, ticket prices, food and beverage options, and hours of operation, visit Visit the Beech Mountain Visitor Center in person at 403-A Beech Mountain Parkway, or check out for more on each of these activities.


Yadkin Valley Wine Festival | May 18 in Elkin, NC

Elkin is a great town year-round, but late spring is particularly lively with an annual festival celebrating the surrounding Yadkin Valley wine country. The Yadkin Valley Wine Festival fills Elkin Municipal Park with locally made wine, live music and a family-friendly good time on Saturday, May 18.

Unlike street festivals, this event encourages groups to bring blankets and chairs and spend the day relaxing on the lawn while sampling wine from approximately 20 Yadkin Valley wineries.

This year marks the 21st Yadkin Valley Wine Festival, designed to show off the award-winning wine produced in the Yadkin Valley AVA, draw visitors to the area, and encourage return visits to experience the wineries and tasting rooms in person.

70s Kids, Solid Gold Tribute Band warms up the crowd with classic rock and soul hits from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Kids in America, Totally 80s Tribute Band performs all your favorite tunes from the era of big hair, leg warmers and neon from 2 to 5 p.m. The dance area near the stage is always a happening spot, and food vendors will be on hand serving a variety of festival favorites.

The event offers a wine check service for those who purchase bottles and prefer not to carry them around. A shuttle service runs all afternoon to and from Elkin hotels. In addition to regular tasting tickets, the festival offers non-tasting tickets, and anyone younger than 16 is admitted for free. VIP tickets, including preferred parking, food and an upgraded Riedel tasting glass, are available.

Saved by a Salamander Day | May 18 in Grassy Creek, NC

The Old Store at Grassy Creek and The New River Conservancy present “Saved by a Salamander Day” on Saturday, May 18, from 1-5 p.m., with live music beginning at 5:30 p.m. This festival celebrates the significance of the New River, the small town of Grassy Creek, and the remarkable hellbender salamander. Conservation of the New River in Ashe County has a rich and successful history, one that deserves to be remembered and commended.

The day’s events will highlight success stories, teach guests about conservation efforts, and inspire us all to enjoy the New River and its wonderful wildlife for years to come. Take a walk along Grassy Creek (a tributary of the New River); enjoy lunch, dinner and snack options at the Old Store; and at 5:30 p.m., kick off your Saturday night with music by The Jeff Little Trio, an award-winning act from the Blue Ridge Mountains. From paddling outings, to workshops, to delicious food, to great music… the organizers have a full day planned.,,

Art in the Park | May 18 and June 15 in Blowing Rock, NC

Blowing Rock Art in the Park celebrates six decades of shows! Enjoy mingling with award-winning and acclaimed artisans at these juried events, curated to present a wide variety of mediums. Find gifts for everyone on your list, and works for your own collections, including functional beauties like furniture and cutlery, and wearable art such as handcrafted jewelry and textiles. Artists’ tents line Park Avenue in the heart of downtown Blowing Rock so attendees can enjoy proximity to other shopping as well as dining options and local parks.

Additional Saturday dates in summer and early fall include July 13, August 17, September 7, and October 5, with hours of 10 a.m.-5 p.m. for each show, rain or shine. Make a weekend of it and stay for the outdoor Concert in the Park that follows each Art in the Park event on Sundays!

Boone Bigfoots | Beginning May 23 through July in Boone, NC, and Beyond

If you haven’t yet made it to a Boone Bigfoots baseball game, you’re in for a treat. The team kicks off its 4th season with an exhibition game against Uwharrie on Thursday, May 23. Games continue almost daily through the end of July. The High Country’s baseball “home team” is all about family friendly entertainment. With new Head Coach Craig McAndrews and new GM Chris Merritt at the helm this year the team is bringing back the family fun and the winning Bigfoots tradition!

The Boone Bigfoots team will practice and play home games at Appalachian State University’s Beaver Field at Jim and Bettie Smith Stadium in Boone. The Bigfoots are a 501(c3) non-profit Independent baseball organization with a mission to provide competitive baseball and fun fan entertainment for all the High Country to enjoy—all profits generated go to the Appalachian State University Athletic Scholarship Fund.

You’ll find a complete Boone Bigfoots Home Game schedule on page 55 in our printed edition of CML., and on Facebook.

Sugar Mountain Food Truck Festival | May 25 in Sugar Mountain, NC

Eat to your heart’s content from 11 a.m. until 7 p.m. at this popular foodie festival on Saturday, May 25 (Memorial Day Weekend). In addition to great food, enjoy chair lift rides, the mountain bike park, yard games, live music, and more. Musical entertainment includes Classic Highway, performing from 12 to 3 p.m., and The Lucky Strikes, performing from 4 to 7 p.m. Sample fare from the following food trucks: Carolina Food Monger, Diggy Donuts, Fork in the Road Concessions & Catering, Hound DogsWicked Good Pretzels, Lobster Dogs, Ben and Jerry’s, Cousins Maine Lobster, Trucky Cheese Food Truck, Fun Time Concessions, What the Cluck, Urban Drip Coffee, and Last Run Lounge Beverages, with more to be announced.

Visitors to Sugar Mountain Resort will enjoy chairlift rides for the entire Memorial Day weekend from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. Rides aboard the Summit Express shuttle bikers and foot-passengers to the mountain’s peak, and the Easy Street lift services a beginner-level gravity skills trail for bikers only. After the special Memorial Day weekend, the bike park resumes Bike Park & Scenic Chairlift Rides July 4 – September 2. Visit for specific days, hours and times. Also part of the Memorial Day weekend festivities, Sugar Mountain’s Grillin’ and Chillin’ Live Music and Dinner Series begins on Monday, May 27 (Memorial Day), and then every Wednesday, June-August, and on Labor Day, at Sugar Mountain’s Golf and Tennis Club House Deck. Wear your dancing shoes! Seating is also available inside and all events happen rain or shine ( Visit and for all the spring happenings at Sugar Mountain!

 Art on the Greene | Beginning May 25-26 in Banner Elk, NC

This spring and summer series of fine art shows take place on the grounds of the Historic Banner Elk School in downtown Banner Elk. The first event kicks off Memorial Day weekend, with additional shows July 6-7 (Fourth of July weekend), August 3-4, and August 31-September 1 (Labor Day weekend). Art on the Greene highlights works from local and regional artists representing a variety of media, such as ceramics, glass, metal, wood, watercolor, acrylics and oil. In addition to the art, crafts, food and fun on “the Greene,” you can enjoy the many shops and restaurants within walking distance of the festival. And if you’re in town for a long weekend, don’t miss the Thursday evening concerts in Tate-Evans Park, every Thursday beginning June 20 (through August 15) at 6:30 p.m., sponsored by the Banner Elk Chamber of Commerce.,,


The Coolest Corner Ashe Bash | June 1 in Jefferson, NC

The Ashe County Chamber of Commerce will again sponsor this completely free and family-friendly musical celebration on Saturday, June 1, from 5-9 p.m. for High Country residents and visitors to the region. Ashe Bash organizers are thrilled to welcome GRAMMY winner The Steep Canyon Rangers, along with musical guest Presley Barker. “Hailing from both the Appalachian and Piedmont regions of North Carolina, the Rangers have long held traditional bluegrass paramount — with the band’s last few albums, they have gained recognition from well beyond the world of bluegrass, earning a reputation as some of the most influential songwriters in Americana today.”

This popular bash will be held at the Ashe County Court House, located above Bojangles in Jefferson (150 Government Circle). A variety of food vendors will be serving treats on site beginning at 5 p.m. Music begins at 6 p.m. Shuttle service to the venue will be provided from parking lots at the former Lowes Foods shopping center on Mt. Jefferson Road, the Ashe County Civic Center, and Ashe Memorial Hospital. Guests are invited to bring a chair; no alcohol or pets allowed.

Liberty! The Saga of Sycamore Shoals | Beginning June 7 in Elizabethton, TN

The Official Outdoor Drama of the state of Tennessee—Liberty!—launches its 45th season at Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park in Elizabethton, TN, and continues every weekend in June (June 7–8, 14-15, 20–22, 27-29) beginning each evening at 8 p.m. in the Fort Watauga Amphitheater. Tennessee’s official outdoor drama is presented by a cast of local performers against the backdrop of Fort Watauga. Liberty! portrays the significant history of Sycamore Shoals during the late 18th century and highlights the influential series of events that unfolded during that time. These dramatic chapters in America’s westward expansion set the tone for a number of happenings that helped propel the British colonies toward independence and a democratic form of government.

The 2024 season will also mark the 14th year for Carter’s Store, a venue named in honor of the original store opened by pioneers Carter and partner William Parker shortly after they arrived on the frontier in 1771. A fine menu of mouth-watering treats will be offered each evening for Liberty! guests. During your visit to Sycamore Shoals, plan to visit the Friends of Sycamore Shoals award-winning interpretive museum.

Boonerang | June 14-15 in Boone, NC

Each year, Boonerang Music & Arts Festival celebrates Boone, NC, with a free downtown street festival. This community homecoming brings Boone-linked artists and fans together every third weekend in June “to Boonerang back to the place we love.”

The Boonerang free music and arts festival includes multiple concert stages throughout downtown Boone, primarily made up of artists with Boone connections—this year, more than 30 acts will participate! Other festival highlights include local food, craft beer and wine, a vendor market, a kids’ zone (at the Watauga Library), silent discos, a dance lot, an international festival, and afterparties. Guests can also visit downtown galleries, shops, and restaurants. Find a full list of performances and a map of stages at

NC Rhododendron Festival | June 21-22 in Bakersville, NC

The NC Rhododendron Festival is in its 77th year, drawing hundreds of visitors from all over the region. This event features the Rhododendron Festival Pageant, a Craft Fair with food vendors, children’s activities, and live music throughout the day, as well as a classic car show, a 10K run, and one of the largest square dance events in N.C.! ​On Friday and Saturday nights during the Festival, grab your partner and your friends for the Rhododendron Square Dance on Main Street in downtown Bakersville. “Come discover our Small Town Mountain Paradise!” Festival hours and details at

Roan Mountain Rhododendron Festival | June 22 & 23 in Roan Mountain, TN

The Roan Mountain Citizens Club presents their 77th Rhododendron Festival at Roan Mountain State Park, located at the foot of Roan Mountain. The annual festival heralds in the blooming of the famous Catawba Rhododendron along the highlands of the Roan. You’ll find handmade crafts, food, and a verity of traditional music, plus demonstrations of old-time traditions. The world’s largest natural rhododendron gardens grow atop 6,000-ft Roan Mountain and the shrubs are in peak bloom during late June.

Avery County Heritage Festival | June 29 in Newland, NC

According to the Avery County Historical Museum, Avery County’s rich genealogical history can be traced back to the early 1700s when the area was inhabited by the Cherokee Nation. In the late 1700s, European settlers began to move into the area, including the Avery family who established a plantation near present-day Elk Park. The county was officially established in 1911 and was named after Waightstill Avery, a prominent lawyer and politician from the area.

Hosted by the Avery County Historical Society, the Avery County Heritage Festival celebrates this area and its unique history. You’ll find craftspeople, genealogists, authors, performers and plenty of fun in the Newland town square in downtown Newland (Schultz Circle). Share family genealogy and cultural traditions that are part of Avery County’s identity. The Heritage Festival is free, and the event includes craft and food vendors, and a full lineup of musicians and cloggers. Hours are 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday the 29th.


Sugar Mountain Summit Crawl | July 4 at Sugar Mountain Resort, NC

The Sugar Mountain Resort Summit Crawl is a fun and competitive event in which participants run, hike, climb, or crawl from the ski lodge to Sugar Mountain’s 5,300-foot peak by way of the grassy slopes.

Independence Day Celebrations | July 4-7 throughout the Region

Parades, fireworks, kids’ activities, fun runs, food, beverages, live music and more! Find links to area Chambers of Commerce, TDAs and Visitor Centers at Be sure to pick up our Summer issue for more details!

Christmas in July | July 5-6 in West Jefferson, NC

This year’s Christmas in July event kicks off on July 5, marking the 36th year for Ashe County’s longest-running festival! The popular event celebrates the Christmas tree industry and mountain heritage with arts, crafts, and local entertainers representative of the region. A large stage in the middle of downtown West Jefferson is the hub for several excellent bands. Food vendors will also be open on Friday evening, so bring the family for dinner and to enjoy the music. Also bring your dance shoes!

On Saturday, July 6, the Ashe County Farmers Market will open at 7 a.m., offering a variety of handmade items, fresh produce, baked goods, and even hot dogs later in the day to help celebrate the season. At 9 a.m., the festival craft vendors and local non-profits line up along Jefferson Avenue, leaving sidewalks clear for walking and browsing the many local shops. Ashe County Arts Council hosts children’s activities, performers rove the streets showcasing their magical talents, and Santa & Mrs. Claus arrive straight from the North Pole. Music, storytelling, and more will continue throughout the day. For more information on the music lineup, food vendors, and updates on the festival, follow the festival organizers on Facebook: Christmas In July Festival or visit

Avery County Fine Art & Master Crafts Festival | July 19-21 and August 16-18 at Sugar Mountain Resort, NC

Mark your calendar and make plans to attend the 2024 Avery Fine Art & Master Crafts Festivals. These juried festivals—strictly for fine art, master crafts and approved specialty/gourmet items—will feature an eclectic gathering of unique hand-crafted wares from select artists and crafters. Hours are Friday 1 p.m.–5 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m.–5 p.m., and Sunday 10 a.m.–4 p.m.

Be sure to pick up the Summer issue of CML Magazine for a complete look at Regional Happenings taking place July through September, 2024.

Preview: The Highland Games Return to Grandfather Mountain July 11-14 (Linville, NC)

Join thousands of kilt-clad Scots who make their way to MacRae Meadows each year for this renowned gathering and games. You and your family can sample Scottish music, dancing, foods, costumes, field games, sheep herding and much more. See our festival preview that follows, and read CML’s article on the 2024 music lineup at the Highland Games in our printed edition.

Plan now to enjoy four days of festivities at the 68th Annual Grandfather Mountain Highland Games (GMHG) in Linville, NC, where you’ll celebrate our area’s Scottish ancestry and culture, and cheer as you watch the clans compete. Tradition and camaraderie are tightly woven into this festive annual event, with participants traveling from across the country and world to attend; you’ll want to plan ahead to enjoy all the Highland Games has to offer.

Following are just some of the highlights to look forward to at this year’s Games. Be sure to check out for event times and locations.

Thursday, July 11

  • Children’s field games and clinics
  • MacRae Meadows open
  • Picnic on the grounds
  • Scottish entertainment with traditional Celtic music, plus sheep herding with border collies on the field (throughout the weekend)
  • Opening Torchlight Ceremony announcing each participating Clan’s arrival to the Games; Piping & Drumming performance

Friday, July 12

  • MacRae Meadows opens, with preliminary athletic competition, sheep herding, and music/dancing exhibitions
  • Celtic Groves open, and other activities highlight the day
  • Opening Ceremony
  • Children’s athletic competitions; cultural activities
  • Celtic Rock Concert at MacRae Meadows
  • Scottish Country Dance Gala

Saturday, July 13

  • 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, Scottish harp, Celtic Groves entertainment, cultural activities
  • Opening Ceremony
  • Saturday Night Celtic Jam Concert at MacRae Meadows

Sunday, July 14

  • Scottish Heavy Athletic Demonstration and Clinic, Highland Dancing competition
  • The Kirkin Worship Service
  • Parade of Tartans, Guests of Honor & Distinguished Guests are introduced as all members of the sponsoring clans are invited to march in the parade
  • 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
  • Closing Ceremonies

For tickets, detailed schedules, maps, and information on lodging, parking and shuttle busses, visit the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games website at And be sure to pick up the summer issue of CML for additional highlights on the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games.

Find more happenings on our TIDBITS page>>

Have an event for us to consider listing in a future issue of CML? Email your press release to CML’s Managing Editor at [email protected].

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.

Abingdon Visitors Center:

Ashe County Chamber of Commerce:

Avery Chamber of Commerce:

Banner Elk Chamber of Commerce:

Beech Mountain TDA:

Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce:

Boone Chamber of Commerce:

Burnsville-Yancey Chamber of Commerce:

Caldwell County Chamber of Commerce:

Damascus, VA:

Johnson County, TN, Chamber of Commerce:

Mitchell County Chamber of Commerce:

Morganton Chamber of Commerce:

Sugar Mountain TDA:

Wilkes County Chamber of Commerce:

Yadkin Valley Chamber of Commerce:

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