Around town: Pride stays visible with Pack Square art project

BRANCHING OUT: Blue Ridge Pride volunteers hang strips of clothing from a tree in Pack Square Park. The Cup of Me exhibit “invites people to resurrect their past in all its tattered color,” says Tina White, executive director. Photo courtesy of Blue Ridge Pride

Blue Ridge Pride made the tough choice of canceling all its scheduled Pride events for September due to surging COVID-19 numbers. But one group initiative will still be visible throughout the month.

Cup of Me, an art project installed by about 20 volunteers, consists of colorful strips of clothing hanging from a large conifer tree near the main stage in Pack Square Park. Teacups dangle from the strips. All items were donated by WNC Bridge Foundation’s thrift stores.

“I wanted to see art and inclusion of art in the overall experience of Pride,” says Tony Bayles, festival director.  “I wanted to create a piece that not only connected the LGBTQ+ community, but also connected to the larger community of all of us in this region and beyond. The torn clothing felt like a good representation of our past lived experiences, and the idea that at times we need to shed the past experiences to move forward.”

Meanwhile, the teacups symbolize a chance for folks to distill those past lives and spill out knowledge and wisdom, Bayles continues.

Bayles hopes Cup of Me will bring “a smile with childlike curiosity” to the faces of those who visit it, while reinforcing Blue Ridge Pride’s message of inclusion and kindness.

The installation will be in place throughout the month for people who want to see it in person. Blue Ridge Pride also has set up a page on its website that allows people to share their own Cup of Me stories, pictures or videos. Story categories include “shame,” “rebirth,” “community” and “family.”

For more information, visit

Art in the streets

The Weaverville Business Association will present the 14th annual Art in Autumn Saturday, Sept. 18, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. on Main Street. The fine art and craft show will include 112 juried artists from throughout the Southeast in a number of disciplines.

“We have a good creative vibe on Main Street, and folks look forward to seeing what’s new at Art in Autumn each year, as well as seeing new work from returning artists,” says Beth Mangum, a member of the planning committee. “Art in Autumn has been a good fit for the community because it highlights both creative and positive community vibes.”

Justin Rabuck, organizer of Asheville’s Big Crafty arts and crafts bazaar, will be the judge. Best of show, second and third places, and honorable mentions will be awarded.

Featured artists will include Chuck Young and Deana Blanchard from Selena Glass and Metal in Burnsville, Janice Schmidt of Goddess Rags in Weaverville and Marcus Thomas, a Weaverville painter.

The event will also include live music under the awning at Rodney’s Auto Service, 37 N. Main St., beginning at 10:30 a.m. Jazz pianist Mitch Hampton kicks things off and will be followed by Lillian Chase and Travis Stuart (bluegrass, noon), One Leg Up (jazz, 1:30 p.m.) and Steelin’ Time (steel guitar band, 3 p.m.)

Masks will not be required outdoors, but organizers want visitors to be respectful of artists who ask people to wear them inside their booths. Masks are required indoors.

Additionally, a FEMA pop-up vaccine clinic will be parked in front of Town Hall, 14 S. Main St.

“We hope that folks will find something original they can take home and also a positive impression with our town,” Mangum says.

For more information, go to

Heritage Day returns

Janet Wiseman traces her Western North Carolina roots back seven generations to some of the earliest white settlers of the area.

“I have a lot of pride and interest in the lives of my ancestors and the hardships they endured, the items they made by hand out of necessity,” says Wiseman, education director of the Southern Highland Craft Guild. “The culture that evolved is unique in the world, primarily due to the extreme isolation and rural nature of the Southern Appalachians for so many years.”

That culture will be on display at the 41st annual Heritage Day at the Blue Ridge Parkway’s Folk Art Center on Saturday, Sept. 18, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. The free event, held by the craft guild, features demonstrations of traditional crafts such as woodworking, weaving, spinning, dyeing, broom making, stone carving, blacksmithing, soap making and printmaking.

Visitors will have the opportunity to try their own hand at some of the crafts at an activity table.

“It is an event that summons the feelings for me of a family reunion,” Wiseman says.

A music tent will feature bluegrass and gospel artists such as Cary Fridley and Old Time Friends, Split Rail and Buncombe Turnpike.

For many, though, the highlight of the event is the annual World Gee Haw Whimmy Diddle Competition at 2 p.m. A whimmy diddle is an Appalachian mountain toy traditionally made from two sticks of rhododendron. Notches are carved into one stick, and a propeller is attached to the end. Rubbing the notches with the second stick makes the propeller spin.

Masks are required at all time inside the Folk Art Center, located at Milepost 382 on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

For more information, visit

Chamber hosts family event

The Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce will host its annual Chamber Family Get-Down by the River at Salvage Station on Tuesday, Sept. 21, 3:30-6:30 p.m.

The free event will feature bouncy houses, kids activities, food from local caterers, beer and nonalcoholic beverages, as well as live music from students of the Rock Academy and a performance by Mars Hill University’s Bailey Mountain Cloggers.

Also on tap is a reception honoring local COVID-19 humanitarians. “Individuals representing a variety of industries will be recognized for their ‘above and beyond’ approach to helping fellow community members navigate the pandemic,” according to a chamber press release.

For more details, go to

Pan Harmonious

After more than a year away, Pan Harmonia will perform community concerts in Asheville throughout the fall.

The chamber music repertory company gets things started Sunday, Sept. 19, at 3 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church, 40 Church St. That performance will feature Kate Steinbeck on flute and John Wickey on harp.

Seating is limited, and reservations are required. Attendees must wear masks and be fully vaccinated.

To reserve a spot, go to

The write stuff

The Thomas Wolfe Memorial is inviting students and teachers to participate in the 2021 Telling Our Tales writing competition.

Students are asked to submit a work of fiction inspired by Wolfe’s short story “One of the Girls in Our Party.” The story first appeared in the January 1935 edition of Scribner’s magazine. It is written from the perspective of Miss Blake and highlights her travels across Europe with a bus group.

First-, second- and third-place winners will be chosen from three groups: grades fourth-fifth, sixth-eighth and ninth-12th. Submissions may be hand-delivered, postmarked or emailed by 5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 9.

For more information or to submit an entry, 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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