Joke-telling to horse-riding

Leave Bele Chere in the dust on the Tweetsie Railroad

Friday, July 27

As tempting as it is to laugh at the many shirtless men at Bele Chere, there are other, less mean-spirited outlets for humor. Disclaimer Comedy’s local showcase, for one, yuks it up at Elaine's Piano Bar in the Grove Park Inn starting at 8 p.m. To find out more go to http://www.disclaimercomedy.com.

Skip the throngs of festivalgoers for an upscale evening of galleries and restaurants at Brevard's 4th Friday Gallery Walk. Pick up a brochure of participating galleries at the Brevard/Transylvania Chamber of Commerce, 175 E. Main St., and stroll through downtown from 5-9 p.m. Free. Info: http://www.artsofbrevard.org or 884-2787.

Turn local into global at the Folkmoot USA festival. Dance groups from New Zealand to Peru will participate in a nearly two-week celebration of international dance and culture. Friday boasts a 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. "extravaganza" performance at Stompin’ Ground in Maggie Valley. Tickets range from $15-$30. Info: http://www.folkmootusa.org.

Trade that giant bag of kettle corn for something more nutritious at Black Mountain Center for the Arts' Bag Lunch Series. BYO lunch for an hour of jazz, poetry and music from noon-1 p.m. at 225 W. State St., Black Mountain. Free. Info: http://www.blackmountainarts.org or 669-0930.

No one wants to be attacked by a stray bird at Bele Chere (oh, those dreaded pigeons!), unless that stray bird is paired with Phil and Gaye Johnson for Tryon's Summer Tracks outdoor concert. The Stray Birds, an Americana/folk outfit from Lancaster, Pa., will take the stage at 8:15 p.m. in Rogers Park. Bring your appetite for wood-fired pizza, ice cream and other tasty treats, starting at 7 p.m. Free. Info: www.nc-mountains.org.

Bele Chere is a haven for arts and crafts, but there are still plenty of reasons to take a break from downtown and head to UNCA's Center for Craft, Creativity and Design. Internationally known fiber artist Lia Cook turns thread into pixels at her new solo exhibition, Bridge 11. "Large-scale weavings created on Jacquard looms from photographic images" will be on display noon-5 p.m. on weekdays at 1181 Broyles Road in Hendersonville. Free. Info: http://www.craftcreativitydesign.org.

When you just can't take downtown's steaming sidewalks, enjoy a lazy ride down the French Broad River for a tubing adventure with the Asheville Outdoor Center. The center now offers "express" trips that take about an hour (depending on water levels), so if there's a Bele Chere band you just can't miss, you can float down the river after the show. $14;$10 children 12 and under. Info: http://www.paddlewithus.com. 

Saturday, July 28

Bele Chere might feel like the Wild West, but not compared to the cowboys, Indians and train robbers that haunt the Tweetsie Railroad in Blowing Rock. Hop on a coal-fired steam locomotive for a trip back in time, including a stay in the jail and an authentic shooting gallery. This mini-amusement park is open seven days a week so you can flee Bele Chere anytime you want. $35; $22 for children 12 and under. Info: http://tweetsie.com.

All of downtown feels like an improv comedy scene during Bele Chere, but leave it to the pros to bring something truly funny to the stage. Reasonably Priced Babies, one of Asheville’s hottest improv troupes, wants you to take a two-day sabbatical from the insanity of downtown during its “summer getaway” comedy shows. If you missed opening night on Friday, catch Saturday’s performance at The Magnetic Field, 372 Depot St., starting at 7:30 p.m. $10. Info: http://themagneticfield.com.

When those misting stations at Bele Chere just aren't enough, dunk your head in the pools at the base of Sliding Rock. This natural slip and slide is nestled in the Pisgah National Forest and features an 8-foot-deep pool at the base of a rock formation. It’s $1 per person to enter the park and for more information go to http://www.romanticasheville.com.

Roll the dice for an evening of gambling and petty crime at Flat Rock Playhouse's production of Guys and Dolls. This classic combination of comedy and song will take over the Mainstage Wednesdays through Sundays, July 25 through Aug. 19. Saturday is the perfect opportunity to keep your wallet safe from pickpockets while catching a glimpse of the seedy underbelly of New York City. Catch a show at 2 or 8 p.m. Tickets are $40, with discounts for seniors and students. Info: http://www.flatrockplayhouse.org.

You won't see many vehicles on the streets of downtown Asheville this weekend, so get your auto fix at classic car Cruz-N in Black Mountain. The Visitor Center, 201 E. State St. will be transformed into a parking lot from the past from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. It's free to attend and to register, so pull out that jalopy for an afternoon of old-fashioned fun. Info: http://www.exploreblackmountain.com.

No need to get shipwrecked on Bele Chere Island. Just take a ride to Appalachian State University in Boone for a screening of Swiss Family Robinson. Take in this classic family movie in Farthing Auditorium at 7 p.m. Free. Info: http://appsummer.org.

Skip Bele Chere altogether for a week of old-time music and dance at the Swannanoa Gathering, hosted by Warren Wilson College. Classes on everything from fiddling to clogging will be held July 22-28 starting at 7:30 a.m. Plan ahead: registration is limited and the full week of classes costs $475. Info: http://www.swangathering.com.

Sunday, July 29

Watch the Asheville Tourists hit it out of the park as they take on the Charleston Riverdogs at 7:05 p.m. at McCormick Field. The baseball stadium is on the outskirts of downtown, so all it takes is a quick drive to feel like you're in another world altogether. Tickets range from $6-$30. Info: http://avl.mx/da.

Hop on a horse and ride into the sunset with Sandy Bottom Trail Rides in Marshall. Whether you're a master equestrian or have never put a bridle on a horse, Sandy Bottom caters to riders of all levels. Every Sunday through Thursday in July, families of four or more receive a free ride for children under 6. Prices range from $35-$99 based on length of trip. Info: http://www.sandybottomtrailrides.net.

See the soloists of tomorrow from the air-conditioned comfort of a music hall at Brevard Music Center Festival's presentation of the winners of the 2012 Jan and Beattie Wood Concerto Competition. The concert starts at 3 p.m. at 349 Andante Lane. Ticket prices range from $15-$30 and can be purchased at http://www.brevardmusic.org.

You can't fly over the crowds at Bele Chere, but you can glide across a mountain cove just 20 minutes from downtown with Navitat Canopy Adventures. This zip-line tour includes two rappelling opportunities, 10 zip-lines and plenty of long-range views. Tickets range from $84-$99. Info: http://www.navitat.com/asheville.

Do some good while beating the heat at a fundraiser for R.E.A.C.H.  of Macon County. The nonprofit provides counseling, shelter and life-skills training for victims of domestic and sexual abuse. Support the cause with a swanky evening of cocktails, food and silent and live auctions, beginning at 6 p.m. The fundraiser is held at a private home in the Highlands/Cashiers area. $75. Info, location and tickets: www.reachofmaconcounty.org or 369-5544.

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