Around Town: The East End/Valley Street Community Heritage Festival returns

CELEBRATING GOOD TIMES: After a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, The East End/Valley Street Community Heritage Festival returns. Renée White, featured, is the event founder and president of the East End/Valley Street Neighborhood Association. Photo courtesy of the EEVS Neighborhood Association

The latest East End/Valley Street Community Heritage Festival kicks off Saturday, Aug. 27, at 10 a.m. with a parade down Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. The Kuumba Watoto Dancers, Majorette Dolls of Asheville and Carver High School Band are among the many participants in the morning procession. After the march, the celebration continues at Martin Luther King Jr. Park, where vendors, food trucks and live music acts will keep the festivities going until 10 p.m.

“The festival is a transformative placemaking activity that aims not only to reinvigorate — and in many cases, repair — our public realm and trust, but to remake relationships between place and economy in ways that generate lasting memories and legacies,” says Renée White, the event founder and president of the East End/Valley Street Neighborhood Association.

As noted on the association’s website, the East End/Valley Street neighborhood was once the center of Asheville’s Black community, with several churches located in the area, as well as the former Allen High School and Stephens-Lee High School. But by the 1970s, urban renewal destroyed homes and uprooted many residents.

The theme for this year’s gathering is “We Rise as One,” notes White. The festival, she continues, aims to bring together all walks of life to share stories of the neighborhood’s history as well as create new memories.

Along with plenty of live entertainment, the celebration will also feature kid-friendly activities, including inflatables, face painting, balloon twisting, crafts, games and a bubble machine.

The latest Community Heritage Festival, continues White, is in honor of Mack Moore of M&M Heating and Cooling, who died in 2019.

“Mack worked endlessly to give back to East End and made sure that the neighborhood legacy remained in the forefront,” says White. “He never missed an opportunity to support, sponsor, help or lead the way for the East End community to remain vibrant and to never be forgotten.”

Martin Luther King Jr. Park is at 50 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. For more information, visit

Moving on out

The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians recently issued a land use permit to the Museum of the Cherokee Indian, allowing the latter to construct an off-site facility to house its growing collection. The facility will be near Kituwah, Mother Town of the Cherokee. Museum collections include artifacts, documents, photographs, maps and audiovisual materials pertaining to the EBCI, Cherokee Nation and the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians.

“I hope that our Cherokee visitors feel represented and connected when they visit both the museum and the collections facility,” says MCI director of operations Michael Slee. “These spaces were created to reflect and serve them. I hope that our non-Cherokee visitors can relate to the authenticity of the stories we tell.”

A designated facility allows the MCI to grow its collections, with an emphasis on works by living Cherokee artists and craftspeople. The museum will also implement a collections care policy prioritizing Cherokee cultural protocols. The MCI and EBCI Tribal Historic Preservation Office will work together to return the artifacts to Cherokee ancestral homeland.

Announcements on the project’s progress will be shared via the museum’s website.

The Museum of the Cherokee Indian is at 589 Tsali Blvd., Cherokee. Hours are 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily. For more information and ticket prices, visit

Symphony in the Park

The Asheville Symphony Orchestra’s season will launch with the free Symphony in the Park concert in Pack Square Park, Sunday, Aug. 28, at 7 p.m. Conducted by ASO music director Darko Butorac, the concert will feature music from Pirates of the Caribbean; The Sound of Music; The Good, the Bad and the Ugly and more.

The following month, the ALT ASO mobile chamber orchestra series returns, kicking off at Hi-Wire Brewing AVL RAD Beer Garden on Tuesday, Sept. 13, at 7 p.m. According to the symphony’s website, the season debut will feature a hybrid New Orleans jazz band and Balkan brass band.

“[We want] to make the ASO as relevant as possible, while also maintaining sky-high artistic standards,” says Executive Director Daniel Crupi. “We are seeking to do just that by continuing community engagement work, expanding music education programs and utilizing a [variety] of local venues from churches to breweries to music clubs.”

Pack Square Park is at 80 Court Plaza. Hi-Wire Brewing AVL RAD Beer Garden is at 284 Lyman St. For more information, visit

Only humanity

Asheville psychiatric nurse Maura Lin recently self-published her debut novel, Any Joe.

In the book, Lin examines the lives of two fictional youths, Joe and Cherie, who must navigate their challenging home and social lives. The author says she aims to help readers understand how a person’s family history influences many of their decisions throughout life.

“There is no pure evil or goodness among humankind … there’s only humanity,” says Lin. “Each of us is capable of anything, given the right circumstances.”

Any Joe shows the power behind healthier families, and Lin hopes that the book encourages families in need of support to reach out.

“Enhancing psychosocial and crisis intervention programs with the community to support the most vulnerable could be a first step for preventing and mitigating domestic violence and sexual crimes,” she says.

For more information or to purchase Any Joe, visit

Fall for art

Western Carolina University’s John W. Bardo Fine and Performing Arts Center will present four new exhibitions starting this month.

We Will Not Be Silenced: Standing for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women brings voice to the international Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women movement through the eyes of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, Comanche Nation, Lumbee and other Native American artists. The exhibit will be on display through Dec. 9.

When Was the Last Time You Saw a Miracle? features a selection of prints from the late Corita Kent, an artist, teacher and Catholic nun whose works convey messages of hope. The exhibit displays through Oct. 21.

The Way I’m Wired: Artist Reflections on Neurodiversity invites artists to share their experiences with neurodiversity and how those experiences influence their art. The exhibit is open through Dec. 9.

Cultivating Collections: Glass features student-led research providing information on the museum’s glass collection, which includes many artists connected to the region. The exhibit is on display through Dec. 9.

All exhibitions are free and open to the public.

The John W. Bardo Fine and Performing Arts Center is at 199 Centennial Drive, Cullowhee. Hours are Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., and Thursday, 10 a.m.-7 p.m. For more information, visit


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