May seems to jumpstart Western North Carolina’s summer season — what with local festivals happening practically every weekend, tourists appearing in smallish droves, and the winding down of the academic year.
Oh, and the Tourists, as in the Asheville Tourists, are back in the ballpark.
Which brings me to my topic for this week: cool, fun stuff to do with your kids over the next month or so — much of it free.
Tourists ball games are high on my family’s list of fun, despite not being free, especially the Sunday slots, which don’t interfere with bed time. The next three Sunday home games take place on May 23, June 6 and June 20 at 2:05 p.m. Don’t forget your sunscreen.
Next on the happening agenda includes free events at The Hop Ice Cream Shop in North Asheville. I tell ya, these folks are revving up the parties lately. They’re throwing fundraisers for a variety of non-profits that support kids and animals, such as the Asheville Buncombe Youth Soccer Association, Asheville City Schools Foundation, Animal Compassion Network, and the Wild for Life rehabilitation center.
The Hop’s also offering a variety of free performances throughout the summer. On June 9, at 6:30 p.m., a group of kids calling themselves the Curtain Call Collective Acting Troupe will be performing in honor of Rudyard Kipling (he’s the dude who wrote The Jungle Book). On June 22, Professor Whizzpop, local magician, will delight families from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. And on June 26, The Jolly Balloon Smiths will rock their balloon art from 3 to 4 p.m. These dudes regularly appear at Tuesday family night at Asheville Pizza and Brewing Company, and they do amazing stuff with latex and air.
Cows, lambs and veggies, oh my. The Family Farm Tour, organized by the folks at Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project, happens on June 26 and 27. You and your fam are invited to visit up to 37 different farms and gardens throughout six counties in WNC. The idea is that you can tour as many or as few as you want, but all during this one weekend between 1 and 6 p.m. each day. You buy a $25 button that admits everyone in your car (seat belts for all, please).
The idea is that you get a farm map, and then fill your car with family and friends, choose the farms you want to visit and plan your routes. A variety of vegetables and fruits, trout, beef, pork, lamb, eggs, cheeses, herbs, mushrooms, honey, garlic, preserves and more will be available to sample or for sale. Just thinking about summer produce is making me salivate. To purchase a ticket or for more information, visit www.asapconnections.org.
If, like us, you’ll be out of town the weekend of the Family Farm Tour, the ASAPers recently put out a version of their well-loved Local Food Guide, but this one’s specifically for kids. My two loved reading about their school garden and seeing photos of and quotes from kids they know. The best part about the guide is the listing of area farms to visit (a lot of these are already on the Family Farm Tour). My kids want to go see the American Buffalo at Blue Ridge Bison, pick blueberries at Hop n Blueberry Farm or Imladris Farm and hang with the pigs at Hickory Nut Gap (oh yeah, and buy some pork sausage there too — my son refers to himself as a hogatarian. The only meat he eats is swine. What can I say? He was born and raised in North Carolina).
While we’re talking produce, Asheville City Market, which runs downtown on Saturdays, will offer free kid activities from June 5 through August 28 from 9 a.m. until noon. There will be a kid tent with live music and a children’s book raffle every week. Activities range from cooking demonstrations to healthy eating games to a market scavenger hunt. It’s all organized by the kid-friendly folks at ASAP.
It’s almost time to dive into summer, y’all.