Around town: Marshall’s Mermaid Parade returns to its roots

AHOY: Expect to see lots of people in nautical-themed costumes when Marshall’s annual Mermaid Parade returns Saturday, Aug. 21, at 5 p.m. Photo by Caroline Odell

The town of Marshall in Madison County is about 300 miles from the Atlantic Ocean, but that hasn’t stopped a bevy of mermaids, pirates and sea creatures from visiting each year.

Launched in 2008, the Mermaid Parade is an annual event featuring nautical-themed floats and costumes, water buckets and squirt guns — lots of squirt guns. “If you don’t want to get wet, it’s best to bring a rain jacket,” says Rhesa Edwards, vice president of the Downtown Marshall Association.

After a year off due to COVID-19, the parade returns Saturday, Aug. 21, at 5 p.m. Participants are encouraged to gather on Blannahassett Island as early as 3 p.m. to set up floats and bipeds. From the island, the parade will make its way into the town via Jerry Plemmons Way, formerly known as Back Street, before heading down Main Street.

In recent years, thousands of visitors have flocked to the streets of downtown Marshall to view the parade and participate in the event’s additional all-day happenings. But this year, the parade’s organizers are cutting back on activities due to ongoing COVID safety concerns. So gone is live music on the courthouse steps, as well as Splash Island, which included a waterslide, bounce house, dunk tank and food.

“We expect the event to be smaller,” Edwards says. “We are looking at possibly 100 participants in the parade, a total maybe 30 or so cars and floats, and a lot of people walking and playing musical instruments.”

And don’t forget about those squirt guns and buckets, which organizers will provide in three designated “water zones.”

Although activities have been scaled back considerably, there still will be plenty for visitors to do after the parade. Downtown festivities, including live music, food and drinks at local establishments, will be happening until 10 p.m.

For more information, visit

Artistic expedition

Sometimes it’s the journey and the destination.

That’s certainly the case for the Come to Leicester studio tour, which allows people to visit local artists in their studios while also taking in some of the area’s natural beauty by driving along scenic rural roads.

“The first time I went on the tour, I had only been through the Leicester community, traveling straight down New Leicester Highway on my way to another place,” says Barbara Hebert, a participating artist. “I was amazed at the diversity and unspoiled beauty in the areas off the beaten track. It was a day of adventure for me and helped to expand my view of what the Leicester community has to offer.”

The 16th annual studio tour will run Saturday-Sunday, Aug. 21-22, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Visitors choose their own tour stops with the help of a full-color map and pictures of each artist’s work, available at various Leicester locations before the tour, as well as at each stop. Signs along the route direct visitors to the individual studios as well.

More than 25 local and visiting artists are participating, offering a variety of fine art and crafts, including brooms, furniture, pottery, paintings, iron work, turned bowls and quilts.

“Many of our local artists are well known in Western North Carolina and beyond, but welcoming others to their private studios is a chance to visit and help others get to know the person behind the art,” Hebert says.

In addition to the art, the tour offers several food stops, a wine tasting at Addison Farms and a Saturday fish fry at Sandy Mush Community Center, 11 a.m.-2 p.m.

Due to increasing cases of COVID-19, visitors will be required to wear masks  at all indoor locations on the tour, Hebert says. Artists are taking additional precautions in their studios with capacity limits and extra sanitation.

For more information, visit

N.C. authors speak

Annette Saunooke Clapsaddle, the first enrolled member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians to publish a novel, will be among a group of authors and experts discussing North Carolina as a popular literary setting and inspiration during a Zoom panel Thursday, Aug. 19, at noon.

The Tar Heel State: Literary Muse and Memory is part of the Ten for NC event series sponsored by Carolina Public Press.

Saunooke Clapsaddle’s debut novel, Even As We Breathe, was named one of NPR’s Best Books of 2020 and was a finalist for the Weatherford Award. The book is a coming-of-age story in which narrator Cowney Sequoyah reflects on his experiences during the summer of 1942.

Other panelists are Jacqueline DeGroot, Jaki Shelton Green and Terry L. Kennedy.

The event is free, but space is limited and RSVPs are required. Registration is now open at

Synthesizing history

Asheville’s Bob Moog Foundation is kicking off its 15th anniversary celebration by raffling off a vintage, fully restored Minimoog Model D synthesizer signed by the late Moog himself.

Funds from the raffle, which goes through Monday, Aug. 30, will be used to support Dr. Bob’s SoundSchool, the foundation’s educational project that reaches more than 3,000 elementary school students each year. The foundation plans to make the program nationwide in 2022.

The raffle also will support the Moogseum, which the foundation describes as “an immersive, experiential facility.” The Moogseum opened in late May 2019 at 56 Broadway and has welcomed more than 10,000 visitors.

Moog (1934-2005) was an engineering physicist and pioneer of electronic music who invented the first commercial synthesizer. He lived in Asheville during the final decades of his life.

Tickets for the raffle are $20 each, six for $100, 14 for $200 or 40 for $500, and can be purchased at

Write what you know

Local author Don Harris’ latest novel, Classmates, tells the story of two young men who come of age in the same small North Carolina mountain town during the turbulent 1960s.

“All of the books I have written are set mostly in the mountains or near them,” Harris says. “I guess I choose this area because of rich and diverse history, plus the mystery of the mountains. It’s not hard to find a legend, battle, lost tribe, rich scoundrel, heroic soldiers on which to base characters. Most of my characters have some resemblance to people I have know or have heard about here in the mountains.”

An avid trout fisherman, Harris set the climax of Classmates at the headwaters of the Raven Fork River in the Smokies. “I have fished the lower section of that river in the Cherokee reservation several times,” he says. “I have not tried to climb to the headwaters because I have read how difficult it is. That seemed like a good setting for the two main characters to face physical obstacles as well as their own problems.”

To buy the book, go to

Seeking stories of Black builders

Preservation North Carolina is finishing up the research phase for its new education program, We Built This: Profiles of Black Architects and Builders in North Carolina, and wants to hear from local residents.

The nonprofit is seeking stories, photographs and other materials about Black builders, architects, brickmasons and artisans who helped construct or design buildings, churches and houses in the Tar Heel State.

“We want to make sure that we aren’t missing anyone that should be included in these materials,” says Annie Jernigan, the organization’s marketing manager.

The group does not have a deadline, but the sooner people make contact, the better, Jernigan says.

We Built This will include a traveling exhibit, a three-part film and book.

Contact Julianne Patterson at



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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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