Photo by Daniel Stewart

WNC paddle sports on the rise: River use is up locally and nationally­; area retailers seeing more revenue

Few people spend more time on Western North Carolina’s rivers than Chris Gragtmans. Our waterways, he says, have become increasingly popular with outdoor enthusiasts in the past few years — a sentiment echoed by a number of local leaders in the paddle-sports industry. What’s more, the trend is national. And while local excursion providers, rental […]

NEW MOON: Modern day distillers in WNC are bringing the region's most-storied spirit into the 21st century. Photo by George Etheredge.

Bottled lightning: Appalachia­n moonshinin­g in the 21st century

Western North Carolina is now home to a growing number of craft distillers making legal moonshine. Blending traditional recipes with new technology and methods, these pioneers are bringing Appalachia’s most fabled and misunderstood product into the 21st century, changing cultural perceptions even as they adapt to shifting economic realities.

Not only will local photographer Ken Abbott's pictures of Hickory Nut Gap Farm make it into his forthcoming book Useful Work, but the artist's visuals will also be on display at the Asheville Art Museum from Friday, July 24, until Sunday, October 11. Photo of longtime farm employee Clarence McAbee by Abbott

Faces in the crowd: WNC crowdfundi­ng initiative­s

Each week, Xpress highlights notable WNC crowdsourcing initiatives that may inspire readers to become new faces in the crowd. This week features a photo book capturing Hickory Nut Gap Farm’s storied past and present, a “Barnraiser” to help the farm build a kitchen and butchery on-site and a mobile app for mental wellness information hub MindPod Network.

Still from Wings of Life documentary.

Wings of Life documentar­y explores the lives of pollinator­s

In its continuing recognition of Asheville’s Pollination Celebration week, Bee City USA hosted a screening of Disneynature’s Wings of Life at the Fine Art Theatre on Thursday, June 19. The screening, which served as a benefit for Bee City USA, offered attendees a chance to understand the mysteries of pollination as told from the perspective of several types of flowers.

Cigarette butts ready to be shipped for recycling pile up in Rowdy Keelor's garage.

Friends Against Butts aims to capture and recycle cigarette butts

Even though his organization is called Friends Against Butts, make no mistake, Rowdy Keelor wants your butts. Cigarette butts, that is. An Asheville environmentalist and host of Asheville FM’s “Best Day Ever,” Keelor and three others founded the venture earlier this year with the goal of recycling as many cigarette butts as possible