Around Town: Airing of the Quilts returns to Appalachian Women’s Museum

SOMETHING IN THE AIR: Dillsboro's Appalachian Women's Museum will host the annual Airing of the Quilts on Saturday, May 6. Photo courtesy of the AWM

The airing of the quilts, a traditional rite of spring in the mountains, lives on in Western North Carolina at Dillsboro’s Appalachian Women’s Museum.

“After a long winter used extensively in homes, often with very little heat, quilts needed fresh air and sunshine to rejuvenate them before putting them away for the warmer seasons,” says Dave Russell, a museum board member. “The Monteith sisters [Edna Corrine Monteith and Edith Irene Monteith], who lived their whole lives in the house the museum is in, would have aired their quilts every spring, possibly hanging them on the wraparound porch.”

In 2018, the women’s museum started the Airing of the Quilts as a way to honor the tradition.

The event returns Saturday, May 6, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. About 30 quilters and quilt collectors, mostly from Jackson County, will display items on the museum’s wraparound porch, clotheslines in the yard and on quilt racks and other surfaces throughout the first floor.

The quilts will be a mix of older family pieces and newer items, Russell says.

“Some of them were sewn by the Monteith sisters themselves,” he explains. “They were avid quilters. A more modern entry comes from a husband-and-wife team. He was into fractals, patterns that repeat themselves forever and often look like far-off galaxies in space, and she quilted. He printed some of his fractal designs onto cotton, and she quilted them.”

The event will include a fabric-scrap exchange, a quilt pattern and book exchange, a raffle and music.

Visitors will even have a chance to work on a quilt themselves. “I brought a hand-quilting project I have been working on for years and just can’t get myself to finish,” Russell says. “We’ll mount it on a quilting frame, and folks can sit around and finish my quilt for me.”

The event is free, but the museum will accept donations.

The Appalachian Women’s Museum is at 100 W. Hometown Place in Dillsboro. For more information, go to

Follow your BLISS

When a group of artists living in Candler’s Biltmore Lake neighborhood gathered in December 2019 to talk about their shared interests, they found many of them were eager to show and sell their work.

The idea of having a community art stroll was born, but the timing couldn’t have been worse. The plan was shelved when COVID-19 restrictions hit just a few months later.

More than three years later, the neighborhood will present the long-delayed event. Biltmore Lake’s Imaginative Studio Stroll will be held 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, May 6, and will feature 26 artists at 13 homes in the planned community about 20 minutes from downtown.

“There’s such a buzz through the neighborhood,” says Kelly Saunders, an acrylics painter and planning committee member. “It’s fun because it’s our neighbors coming to our houses and seeing artwork that they might not have seen otherwise that’s produced here in Biltmore Lake.”

BLISS will feature drawings, paintings, textiles, sculpture, woodworking, jewelry and more from emerging and established artists from Biltmore Lake and other parts of the Asheville area. It will also have some “bells and whistles” not generally found at art tours, she says.

For instance, several groups will be set up in tents along the lakefront near the neighborhood clubhouse. The YMCA, A-B Tech’s Small Business Center and the Enka-Candler Tailgate Market will be among those on hand. Horticulturist Steven Frowine from the Biltmore Lake Garden Club will give demonstrations on container gardening.

Additionally, Sand Hill Kitchen and Dripolator will sell food, pastries and drinks.

Biltmore Lake is producing the tour with Artsville Collective, formerly Sand Hill Artists Collective. People can drive or walk to the houses.

Organizers hope BLISS will become an annual event and serve as a catalyst for growing the arts scene in Candler and Enka.

“It has just blown up in the best way in terms of bringing in the community partners who want to get in front of this crowd,” Saunders says. “And we’re realizing there’s no art programs or art galleries or anything like that out here, so we’re connecting with art teachers. I think it’s the first time everyone has been brought together like this, so I feel like there’s a higher mission.”

To participate, go to the Biltmore Lake clubhouse, 80 Lake Drive, Candler. Sign in to receive a map and wristband before proceeding to designated homes. The rain date is Sunday, May 7. For more information, go to

Making history

The Western North Carolina Historical Association will establish the Asheville Museum of History at the newly renovated Smith-McDowell House in the fall.

The museum fulfills a “decadeslong efforts to have a museum in Asheville that tells stories of the mountains, a region with a rich and diverse — and sometimes misunderstood — past,” the group says in a press release.

The WNCHA began operating the Smith-McDowell House as a museum in 1981. The brick mansion, built around 1840, has undergone extensive repairs and renovations over the past two years and will provide space for the history museum’s exhibits as well as programs and meetings. Visitors also will be able to take guided, behind-the-scenes tours of the house and grounds.

Historian Anne Chesky, WNCHA executive director, will do double duty as executive director of the Asheville Museum of History.

“Anne knows the history of Western North Carolina, both as a long-term resident and scholar,” Ralph Simpson, president of the museum and association, says in a press release. “She also is sensitive to telling a broad history that represents the diversity of people who have shaped our region over time.”

Funds provided by a bequest from Virginia McDowell Colwell, a descendant of the original owners of the house, have allowed the recent restorations throughout the house, including a new roof, upgraded air-conditioning systems, plaster repairs, exterior and interior painting, restroom updates and accessible parking.

The Smith-McDowell House is at 283 Victoria Road. For more information, go to

Poetry collection

Black Mountain author Michael Hettich’s new book, The Halo of Bees: New and Selected Poems, 1990-2022, will be released Thursday, May 11, by Press 53.

The collection includes selections from his previous books — more than two dozen, spanning five decades — along with some new poetry. The cover is by Asheville artist Mark Flowers.

“It’s a big book, many years in the making, and I’m proud of it,” Hettich says.

Hettich will read selections from the collection during Malaprop’s Bookstore/Cafe’s monthly Poetrio event Sunday, May 7, at 4:30 p.m. Also participating in the hybrid event will be Mildred K. Barya, author of The Animals of My Earth School, and Lee Stockdale, author of Gorilla.

For more information or to purchase The Halo of Bees, go to To register for the Poetrio event, visit Malaprop’s is at 55 Haywood St.

Filmmaking 101

The Asheville School of Film will offer Music Video Production, a one-day workshop taught by new instructor Blake Talley, on Sunday, May 7, 1-5 p.m., at Story Parlor.

Talley, a local filmmaker and musician, will give an overview on how to film live performances and whether to use green screens, along with discussing lyric videos and how musicians can make their own videos.

Starting Sunday, May 21, Talley will lead an in-depth eight-week course, Directing for the Screen, at Story Parlor, with each week devoted to an aspect of film directing.

Cost for the workshop is $55, or $44 for alumni. The eight-week course is $495, or $396 for alumni.

Story Parlor is at 227 Haywood Road. To sign up for the one-day workshop, go to To sign up for the eight-week course, go to


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About Justin McGuire
Justin McGuire is a UNC Chapel Hill graduate with more than 30 years of experience as a writer and editor. His work has appeared in The Sporting News, the (Rock Hill, SC) Herald and various other publications. Follow me @jmcguireMLB

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