Autumnal fun

Summer may be flying by, but don’t worry: the heat of August and the cooler months ahead promise lots of festival fun. We’re making plans now for a full season of events. We’re wild about Goombay, that celebration of African and Carribean culture (the dancing! the costumes! the food!) that happens downtown on The Block. We’re excited that the Lexington Avenue Arts and Fun Festival has blossomed into two days, as the fun was getting a little crowded for just one Sunday a year. You don’t want to miss the Mountain State Fair out at the Ag Center, with its wild rides and fried butter balls. There are newcomers and old-timers, but it’s certain that there’s something for everyone. Read on to find your fancy.


Asheville Wine and Food Festival
The rundown: Really, get wine and food together in the same place and you’ve got something to celebrate. WNC Magazine perfects that simple formula while also showcasing chefs, wineries, farmers and food producers around the area.
The dates: Friday and Saturday, Aug. 12 and 13
The location: Grove Arcade, Asheville and Western North Carolina Agricultural Center, Fletcher
The cost: $75 VIP/$65 general admission
More info at:

Music on Main Street
The rundown: Hear pop, oldies and good old fashioned rock ’n’ roll on Friday nights, the perfect time to relax in a lawn chair and take in the sounds of summer. A dance area is just below the stage, perfect for kids or anyone who just can’t stay in their seat.
The dates: Fridays, Aug. 12 & 19
The location: Visitors Information Center, 201 S. Main St. Hendersonville
The cost: free
More info at:

RiverFest 2011
The rundown: The highlight of this annual riparian celebration is the Anything that Floats Parade during which local groups race watercrafts of their own concoction. The more outlandish the better. Of course there’s also food, beer from Craggie Brewery and live music. Josh Phillips Folk Festival headlines.
The dates: Saturday, Aug. 13
The location: French Broad River Park, Asheville
The cost: free
More info at:

Sourwood Festival
The rundown: It’s a small-town festival at its best. Vendors, arts and crafts, a kids area, food, dancing and music — what more could you want? Okay, one thing’s off the menu: this family friendly fest is alcohol free. But there is gourmet sourwood honey to sweeten the deal.
The dates: Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 13 & 14
The location: Downtown Black Mountain
The cost: free
More info at:

Shindig on the Green
The rundown: This, the nation's longest-running folk festival, is a feast of old-time and bluegrass jams, clogging and smooth dance demonstrations, ballad singing and storytelling. Mountain life and lore are celebrated just as they have been for 46 seasons. Bolo ties and crinolines are appropriate attire.
The dates: Saturdays, Aug. 13, 20 & 27 and Sept. 3
The location: Pack Square Park, Asheville
The cost: free
More info at:

Hendersonville street dances
The rundown: Square dancing, clogging and the sounds of traditional banjos fill downtown Hendersonville at this annual festival. Local callers lead Appalachian dance and teach basic square dancing. Leave your pets at home and skip the beer – no alcoholic beverages allowed.
The dates: Monday, Aug. 15
The location: Visitors Information Center, 201 S. Main St., Hendersonville
The cost: free
More info at:

NC State Bluegrass Festival
The rundown: Celebrating 37 years, this festival is all about camping, and bluegrass. (No alcohol in the concert area.) The lineup includes Balsam Range, Dr. Ralph Stanley and His Clinch Mountain Boys, Rhonda Vincent & the Rage, Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver and many more.
The dates: Thursday through Saturday, Aug. 18-20
The location: Tom Johnson Rally Park and Camping Center, 1885 U.S. Highway 70 West, Marion
The cost: $35 day tickets/$85 three-day tickets. Admission for children is $15/$45.
More info at:

The rundown: Troy & Sons Distillery presents this roots-heavy festival, hence the name. Nashville singer Matt Stillwell headlines, and other country artists will perform: Jim Lauderdale, Black Lillies, Blackberry Smoke, Dean Dillon and more.
The dates: Friday through Monday, Aug. 19-21
The location: Fontana Village Resort, Fontana Dam
The cost: $60/$40/camping and VIP packages available.
More info at:

Music on the Mountaintop
The rundown: Not only is Music on the Mountaintop two days-worth of Americana, newgrass, bluegrass, acoustic, folk and funk performers (Same Bush, Railroad Earth and Greensky Bluegrass are on this year's bill), but it’s also a green festival. A portion of proceeds go to the Appalachian Energy Center.
The dates: Friday and Saturday, Aug. 26 & 27
The location: The Grandfather Campgrounds, Foscoe
The cost: $70/$40; camping passes $15/$12
More info at:

The rundown: Celebrate African and Caribbean culture on "The Block," Eagle and Market Streets in downtown Asheville. 2011 marks the festival's 30th anniversary. Caribbean-inspired street food, stilt dancers and vendors of everything from hand drums to shea butter make up the scene.
The dates: Friday through Sunday, Aug. 26-28
The location: Eagle and Market Streets, Asheville
The cost: free
More info at:


North Carolina Apple Festival
The rundown: Held each year over Labor Day weekend, the N.C. apple festival has been going strong for more than 60 years. Bring the family for live music each day, a street fair, children's activities and a host of special events (apple breakfast, apple recipe contest, orchard tour). The King Apple Parade takes place on Monday.
The dates: Friday through Monday, Sept. 2-5
The location: Downtown Hendersonville
The cost: most events are free
More info at:

Lexington Avenue Arts & Fun Festival
The rundown: Affectionately called "LAAFF," this gathering not only sources its food, drink, entertainment and artwork locally, by celebrates the local community that spawned it. LAAFF is a slice of Asheville's whimsical, artistic and downright freaky side. Festival-goers wear costumes and partake in bicycle jousting, local band and theater performances and locally-made wares. This year is the first that the festival expands to two days.
The dates: Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 3 & 4
The location: Lexington Ave., Asheville
The cost: free
More info at:

Carolina Mountains Literary Fest
The rundown: Think less hula-hoop-y, more bifocal-y. The gathering is intended to unite authors and readers and to inspire writers. Lit Fest is for "novelists, poets, historians, journalists and everyday people who enjoy stories, conversation and a real good time." Readings, Q&As, panel discussions, storytellers and children's programs are on the agenda. Ron Rash and Audrey Niffenegger are this year's featured authors.
The dates: Friday and Saturday, Sept. 9 & 10
The location: Burnsville
The cost: free (workshops are $25 per person)
More info at:

Mountain Song Festival
The rundown: This annual event is hosted by Asheville’s own Steep Canyon Rangers, who will also perform with banjo player/comedian/author/actor Steve Martin. Other musical acts include Tim O’Brien, Bryan Sutton and Shannon Whitworth.
The dates: Friday and Saturday, Sept. 9 & 10
The location: Brevard Music Center, Brevard
The cost: Lawn tickets for Friday are $25 advance/$35 at the door; Saturday tickets are $40 advance/$45 at the door.
More info at:

N.C. Mountain State Fair
The rundown: The annual state fair is expanding this year. That means more rides, more deep-fried munchies, more animal shows, more dance and song competitions and more concerts.
The dates: Friday, Sept. 9 through Sunday, Sept. 18
The location: Western North Carolina Agricultural Center, Fletcher
The cost: $7 adults/$3 seniors and children
More info at:

Grandfather Mountain Kids Fest
The rundown: It's a day for introducing kids to nature and getting them inspired about the culture of N.C. Activities included a guided hike, learning about birds, nature crafts, story time and face painting.
The dates: Saturday, Sept. 11
The location: Grandfather Mountain, Linville
The cost: $15 adults/$13 seniors/$7 children ages 4-12
More info at:

Dirty Dancing Festival at Lake Lure
The rundown: Perfect your mashed potato while reliving the romance of Baby and Johnny at Lake Lure where the film Dirty Dancing was set. Dance lessons, film screenings, Q&As and watermelon carrying contests are just a taste of what the festival entails.
The dates: Thursday through Sunday, Sept. 15-18
The location: Venues around Lake Lure
The cost: Some events free/daytime family dance festival is $25/$30/$10
More info at:

Southeast Tribes Celebration
The rundown: The aim of this festival us to reunite the original Native American tribes of the Southeast for a weekends' worth of dancing, food, storytelling, living history, arts and crafts demonstrations, stickball, blowguns and more.
The dates: Friday and Saturday, Sept. 16 & 17
The location: Cherokee Fair Grounds, Cherokee
The cost: $7 adults/$3 children
More info at:

Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion
The rundown: According to the website, the Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion is no mere festival, it's "an infectious, three-day music experience, bursting with creative passion, electricity, and soul." It's also bursting with some 22 stages, a dance tent, children's artists and headlines like Robert Randolph & the Family Band, Railroad Earth and Marty Stuart & The Fabulous Superlatives.
The dates: Friday through Sunday, Sept. 16-18
The location: State St., Bristol, Tenn.
The cost: $42
More info at:

Weaverville Art in Autumn
The rundown: Juried fine arts and crafts exhibitors (more than 100 of them) line Weaverville’s Main Street. It’s kind of like a one-day non-hostile takeover, with food and live music in the mix as well.
The dates: Saturday, Sept. 17
The location: Main St., Weaverville
The cost: free
More info at:

The rundown: Tickets sell out early to this much-loved beer and music combo. This year, more than 40 brewers (French Broad Brewing, Abita and Brooklyn Brewery among them) strut their stuff. Festival goers get a commemorative sample-size glass for tasting a wide array of brews while listening to live music. Bands include Mountain Heart, Jett's Creek, Cumberland River and Bloodroots Barter. Pace yourselves, people.
The dates: Saturday, Sept. 17
The location: Martin Luther King Jr. Park, Asheville
The cost: $40
More info at:

Catawba RiverFest
Get out your kayak and spruce up your canoe for a day of water derby. While spectators wait for boats to arrive at the finish line, they can watch a rehabilitated raptor fly to freedom. Live hawks, owls and eagles will also be on display at this eco-themed festival.
The dates: Saturday, Sept. 17
The location: Lake James State Park
The cost: free
More info at:

F. Scott Fitzgerald weekend
The Grove Park Inn celebrates the author of The Great Gatsby (writer F. Scott Fitzgerald stayed at the inn during 1935 and 1936 while his wife, Zelda, was treated at Highland Hospital). Events include guided tours of Fitzgerald’s rooms, live music, a poetry contest, a cooking demonstration and Great Gatsby-themes drinks.
The dates: Friday through Sunday, Sept. 23-25
The location: The Grove Park Inn Resort & Spa, Asheville
The cost: free
More info at:

Mountain Heritage Day
The rundown: The 37th annual Mountain Heritage Day, held on the campus of Western Carolina University, is part old-time mountain fair and part southern Appalachian showcase. Cherokee stickball, shapenote singing, a chainsaw competition and a heritage encampment are some of the day's offerings.
The dates: Saturday, Sept. 24
The location: Western Carolina University, Collowhee
The cost: free
More info at:

French Broad Fall Fest
The rundown: The popular, laid-back French Broad River Festival (that happens each May) debuts a new incarnation this year with the Fall Fest. It’s a celebration of craft beer and music, with a lineup the likes of which will be sure to get the revelers dancing in the forest: The Lee Boys, Yarn, Eyes of the Elders, Josh Phillips Folk Festival, Aaron Woody Wood, Sons of Ralph and more. Oh yeah, it’s also a beer festival, with a brew tent and unlimited craft brew samplings from nearly 20 local and regional breweries, from 4 to 11 p.m.
The dates: Saturday, Sept. 24
The location: Hot Springs Campground
The cost: $75 includes beer samples / $60 without / all tickets include camping
More info at:

Asheville Qfest
The rundown: Asheville’s first LGBTQ film festival, held during Blue Ridge Pride weekend (see October for more info on Blue Ridge Pride). Films will touch on LGBTQ topics, though organizers say the film selections are not for the LGBTQ alone. A complete program will be listed at on Aug. 31.
The date: Thursday through Sunday, Sept. 29-Oct. 2
The location: Fine Arts Theatre, Asheville
The cost: TBA
More info at:


Blue Ridge Pride
The rundown: Celebrate the LGBTQ community with a day of music, entertainment, vendors and workshops.The 2011 lineup includes kid-hop artist Secret Agent 23 Skidoo, jazz and blues vocalist Kat Williams, Canteria (the gay men’s chorus of Asheville), female impersonator Natalie Smalls and indie-pop band stephaniesid among others. The first-ever Asheville Qfest also takes place during Pride weekend. (See September for details.)
The date: Saturday, Oct. 1, noon-6 p.m.
The location: Pack Square Park, Asheville
The cost: free
More info at:

A Surrealistic Celebration
Billed as “a celestial gathering of epic proportions,” the event kicks off at 4:20 p.m. and features Tennessee Jed Band, The Native Sway, Vertigo Jazz Project, Discordian Societ, Sonmi Suite, Agobi Project and more. Earth-friendly camping is included, but there will be no car camping except for at VIP sites.
The date: Saturday, Oct. 1, 4:20 p.m.
The location: “In the Magickal Mountains near Asheville” (directions to be revealed a few weeks prior to the festival)
The cost: $25 advance/$35 at the gate, cash only
More info at:

Asheville Art in the Park
The rundown: Nationally-known/locally-based artists exhibit their work while connecting with the community during this biannual festival. Visitors can wander through the displays and shop at an art market where 10-percent of the proceeds is donated to a local art non-profit.
The dates: Saturdays, Oct. 1-15
The location: Pack Square Park, Asheville
The cost: free
More info at:

Cherokee Indian Fair
The rundown: A tried-and-true festival if ever there was one: This year marks the 99th anniversary of the Eastern Band of Cherokee's annual fair. Carnival rides and games, Cherokee foods and an exhibit hall displaying the traditional and contemporary arts and crafts of Eastern Band enrolled members is part of the drawn. There are also bands each night and a fireworks show.
The dates: Tuesday through Saturday, Oct. 4-8
The location: Cherokee Fair Grounds, Cherokee
The cost: $10
More info at:

True Nature Country Fair
Created in the spirit of an old-time country fair, this gathering celebrates southern Appalachian heritage with a focus on local, organic and sustainable. The fair include a farmers market and crafts, and exhibits on energy and shelter, health and healing, and social and political action. crafts. There are also workshops on gardening, farming and homesteading as well as nature walks, a children’s program and small livestock displays.
The date: Saturday, Oct. 8, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
The location: Highland Lake in Flat Rock
The cost: $10 adults/$3 children ages 3-12
More info at:

Stingy Jack’s Pumpkin Patch
The rundown: It’s the first year of this festival, which will take place in the Pisgah Forest mountains. Expect scenes carved from pumpkins, a corn maze, hay rides and local art.
The dates: Oct. 14 to 16, 21 to 23, 28 to 30.
The location: Mountains and Meadows at Turkey Pen in Pisgah Forest
The cost: $15/$12.50
More info at:

Hard Lox Jewish Festival
The rundown: Celebrate Jewish culture with traditional foods, Israeli dancing, crafts, klezmer music, a kids' zone and more. "Have your name written in Hebrew, discover the Torah, learn about Jewish holidays and festivals, and join in the singing and dancing," says the website.
The dates: Sunday, Oct. 16
The location: Downtown Asheville
The cost: free
More info at:

Lake Eden Arts Festival
The rundown: Once you've been you know: Fall colors, gorgeous mountain surrounds, a wealth of roots, worldbeat and eclectic music, cultural and healing arts, dancing, drumming, morning yoga, late-night parties and tons of family-friendly activities. The fall headliners for this biannual event include Sweet Honey in the Rock, Leo Kottke and Wanda Jackson.
The dates: Thursday through Sunday, Oct. 20-23
The location: Lake Eden Road, Black Mountain
The cost: Weekend passes are $151 adults/$124 kids, Weekend plus Thursday $174/$144. Community tickets are $99/$84 Friday-Sunday, $42/$34 Friday or Sunday, $52/$45 Saturday.
More info at:

Craft Fair of the Southern Highlands
The rundown: Twice a year is twice as good, and so members of the Southern Highlands Craft Guild showcase and demonstrate their work both spring and fall at this fair, which has been running for 64 years. October brings demos in bookworks, Raku pottery and natural dyeing and spinning.
The dates: Thursday through Sunday, Oct. 20-23
The location: Asheville Civic Center
The cost: $8/free for children under age 12
More info at:

The rundown: Following a wildly successful first year, electronic music festival Moogfest returns with three days of workshops and live music. This year's lineup includes The Flaming Lips, Moby, Passion Pit and STS9 among others. Shows are held in various venues around downtown Asheville.
The dates: Friday through Sunday, Oct. 28-30
The location: Venues around Asheville
The cost: $199.50 (final-tier pricing) for full weekend
More info at:

Franklin Pumpkin Festival
The rundown: You may think that this annual event (gearing up for its 28th year) is all about jack-o'-lanterns. Not so. There's a cemetary tour, a costume contest, live music and dance, and lots of food. Sample entries in the chili cook-off and the Memphis BBQ Network-sanctioned Battle of the BBQ contest.
The dates: Saturday, Oct. 29
The location: Main St., Franklin
The costn: free
More info at:


65th Asheville Antiques Fair
The rundown: One of the oldest antiques fairs in the southeast, this extravaganza includes more than 40 antiques dealers from the whole of the east coast. There is also a lecture series and an heirloom road show.
The dates: Friday through Sunday, Nov. 4-6
The location: Crowne Plaza, Asheville
The cost: $10, good for all three days
More info at:

Asheville International Children's Film Festival
The rundown: "Moving minds through movies" is the tagline for this 10-day festival which celebrates more than 70 films from 25 countries. Animation, features, shorts and historical films are represented, as well as interactive workshops, a kick-off gala and a costume pancake breakfast.
The dates: Friday, Nov. 4 through Sunday, Nov. 13
The location: Held at various venues around Asheville
The cost: tickets on sale Sept. 1
More info at:

Weaverville Art Safari
The rundown: It's both a studio stroll and a weekend drive through the scenic countryside around Weaverville, N.C. Visit artists in their home, watch demonstrations and purchase unique arts and crafts. A gala pre-event party, with a silent auction, food and entertainment, takes place before each of the biannual safaris.
The dates: Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 5 & 6
The location: Weaverville and surrounding areas
The cost: free
More info at:

National Gingerbread House Competition & Display
The rundown: Bakers (both novice and professional) from across the country try their hand at creating award-winning edible architecture. The results range from traditional icing-and-gumdrop-trimmed gingerbread cottages to fanciful culinary feats, like Hogwarts Castle and Noah's Arc.
The dates: Wednesday, Nov. 16-Sunday, Jan. 1, 2012
The location: The Grove Park Inn Resort & Spa, Asheville
The cost: free to view
More info at:


Holly Jolly Christmas
The rundown: Get into the festival spirit: The shops of downtown Black Mountain stay open late, refreshments are served, the streets are lines with luminaries and Old St. Nick himself — with a team of elves, no less — makes an appearance.
The date: Friday, Dec. 2
The location: Downtown Black Mountain
The cost: free
More info at:

Biltmore Village Dickens Festival
The rundown: Now in its 23rd year, this three-day holiday affair tips a cap to the writer who gave us A Christmas Carol. In fact, the Montford Park players act out scenes from that beloved Charles Dickens script while musicians, choral groups, singers and dancers perform in the streets. Shops stay open late, shopkeepers dress up in Victorian costumes and buildings are decorated in lights.
The dates: Friday through Sunday, Dec. 2-4
The location: Biltmore Village, Asheville, N.C.
The cost: free
More info at:

Candlelight Stroll
The rundown: The Weaverville Business Association sponsors this event, now in its seventh year. Santa Claus opens the festivities, arriving in a horse-drawn carriage, merchants stay open late, carolers rove the streets and groups like The Sweet Adelines, Weaverville First Baptist Church Hand Bell Choir and Southern Connection Cloggers perform. At 7 p.m., the town Christmas tree is lit.
The date: Friday, Dec. 9
The location: Downtown Weaverville
The cost: free
More info at:

Christmas at Connemara
The rundown: Get into the Christmas spirit at the Carl Sandburg Home. Musicians and storytellers provide the sounds of the season while hot cider and cookies are served. The poet's house is decorated for Christmas in simple, traditional style.
The date: Saturday, Dec. 10
The location: Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site, Flat Rock
The cost: free
More info at:

Del Yeah!
The rundown: This second annual fest is hosted by Pisgah Brewing and the legendary Del McCoury, he of bluegrass fame and daring and innovative collaborations. Headliners include Del McCoury Band, Cornmeal, David Mayfield Parade and more.
The dates: Saturday, Sept. 3
The location: Pisgah Brewing, 150 Eastside Drive, Black Mountain
The cost: $20 advance/$20 day of show, VIP tickets available.
More info at: or

About Alli Marshall
Alli Marshall is the arts section editor at Mountain Xpress. She's lived in Asheville for more than 20 years and loves live music, visual art, fiction and friendly dogs. Alli is the winner of the 2016 Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize and the author of the novel "How to Talk to Rockstars," published by Logosophia Books. Follow me @alli_marshall

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