A festival for every taste

There are more festivals in WNC this weekend than stamens in a flame azalea. Besides the opening of the Brevard Music Festival (see feature story in this issue), revelers can look forward to a new music festival in Cullowhee, the second annual Zendik Farm music festival, and two beloved local institutions — The Blue Ridge BBQ Festival and The Bluff Mountain Festival.

The CulloWHEE! ArtsFest

Verdant Jackson County is the backdrop for The CulloWHEE! ArtsFest, the first major festival of its kind sponsored by Western Carolina University. Held Friday, June 14 and Saturday, June 15 on the intramural sports field near the Ramsey Regional Activity Center, the event features such big-name headliners as Joe Sample and David Sanborn on June 14 and legends The Manhattan Transfer on June 15. Also on Saturday: the incomparably hypnotic rhythms of salsa-jazz combo Bio Ritmo (you don’t know the meaning of the word “devoted” till you’ve met a Bio Ritmo fan). Also enjoy regional acts, a juried art-and-craft show, food vendors and more. Advance two-day tickets are $59 (kids under 13 get in free with a paying adult). Single-day passes and various discount packages are also available; for more information, call (828) 227-7722 or visit www.cullowheeartsfest.com. For tickets, call (828) 332-5200.

The Blue Ridge BBQ Festival

Nothing says summer like pork and picking … closing in on a decade of serving up the best of both, the Ninth Annual Blue Ridge Barbeque Festival happens Friday, June 14 and Saturday, June 15 in Tryon, N.C. More than 80 of the country’s top-ranked barbecue-cooking teams will compete for the North Carolina State BBQ Championship title, encompassing over $20,000 in cash prizes. Local and regional acts in folk, bluegrass, zydeco, rock and country provide the soundtrack. Hours are Friday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m. and Saturday, 10 a.m.-10 p.m. General admission is $5. For more information, call (828) 859-RIBS or check out www.blueridgebbqfestival.com.

The Bluff Mountain Festival

This free, Xpress-recommended event, sponsored by The Madison County Arts Council, began as a benefit in 1995 to help activists save the county’s venerable Bluff Mountain from developers (mission accomplished). The event continues as a showcase of some of the very best regional mountain-music acts, the majority of them from Madison County. This year features the Sodom Laurel Ballad Singers, Lawrence Dillingham and Friends, the Sim Top Ramblers and Don Pedi and Bruce Green, among many other acts, plus a special tribute to Bascom Lamar Lunsford and the upcoming, 75th annual Mountain Dance and Folk Festival. A traditional evening square dance closes the festivities. The festival occurs Saturday, June 15 at the Hot Springs Resort. For camping information, call (828) 622-7676.

Zendik Farm Music Festival

This second annual event will be held Friday, June 14 through Sunday, June 16 at the 120-acre artists’ community known as Zendik Farm. Philly’s fastest-rising funk-groove eclecticians, Townhall, are an assured highlight; the lineup also includes local favorites The Laura Blackley Band, and many more acts. Other festival features include a Sunday jam, camping and swimming. A $10-$50 weekend-inclusive donation is requested. You’ll definitely need directions to the Farm, located in beautifully secluded Mill Spring, N.C. (about 40 minutes south of Asheville, near Tryon): Call (828) 625-8280, log onto www.zendik.org, or e-mail festival@zendik.org for the latest information.

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