Small bites: World AIDS Day Community Luncheon

SPEAKING OUT: Transgender HIV activist Tori Cooper will offer the keynote address at this year's Worlds AIDS Day Community Luncheon. Photo courtesy of Cooper

The 2019 World AIDS Day Community Luncheon “is about raising awareness and shining a light on a population of people that are marginalized in so many ways,” says Michael Poandl, development and communications coordinator for the Western North Carlina AIDS Project, a local nonprofit that co-organizes the free annual event. The theme for this year’s luncheon is HIV and the trans experience. “We know that transgender people, particularly trans women of color, are disproportionately affected by HIV,” stresses Poandl. “Especially in the South.”

According to the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2,351 transgender people received an HIV diagnosis in the United States from 2009-14. Of these cases, 84% were transgender women, with nearly half of these individuals living in the South. Meanwhile, a separate study by the Behavior Risk Factor Surveillance System found that nearly two-thirds of transgender women and men surveyed in 2014 and 2015 reported never testing for HIV.

“A lot of trans people are discriminated against in medical settings, which discourages them from getting tested, discourages them from getting treatment and discourages them from staying in treatment,” says Poandl. “It’s that access to medical care that we’re pushing.”

The gathering’s keynote speaker is transgender HIV activist Tori Cooper. The luncheon menu includes grilled chicken, cheese tortellini, mashed potatoes and fresh greens, along with dessert options.

“Our transgender brothers and sisters are in trouble,” says Poandl. “It is up to us as allies to protect them, to keep them safe and to make sure that they have the same access to medical care — to lifesaving medical care — as the rest of us have enjoyed.”

The 2019 World AIDS Day Community Luncheon runs 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 1, at DoubleTree by Hilton Asheville-Biltmore, 115 Hendersonville Road. The event is free, but seating is limited. To RSVP, email Michael Poandl at or call 828-252-7489 ext. 313.

Miracle on Haywood Road

The Golden Pineapple, a neighborhood bar in West Asheville, is hosting this year’s Miracle, a holiday pop-up. The annual gathering, previously held at the now-defunct MG Road, features Christmas-themed cocktails, such as Christmapolitan, Run Run Rudolph and the SanTaRex. The monthlong celebration will kick off with a dance party 10 p.m.-2 a.m. Friday, Nov. 29, featuring music by DJ Meow Meow. Additional events include the Largest Ugly Christmas Sweater Party, running 10 p.m.-midnight Monday, Dec. 2, and an animal adoption fair with Brother Wolf Animal Rescue 2-5 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 8. Miracle on Haywood Road will also be selling holiday mugs, with 10% of sales benefiting Action Against Hunger, an organization addressing global hunger issues.

Miracle on Haywood Road runs through Tuesday, Dec. 31, at The Golden Pineapple, 503 Haywood Road. For details on events, visit

Sippin’ Santa

The Montford Rooftop Bar is hosting Sippin’ Santa, a tiki-themed Miracle companion pop-up. The new monthlong event features Polynesian décor and signature cocktails such as the Kris Kringle Colada and the Christmas Eve Destruction. According to a press release, the menu will also include the Jingle Bowl, “a festive shareable large-format rum punch served in a bowl resembling a hot tub, complete with Santa and his reindeer taking a boozy soak.” On Monday, Dec. 2, Sippin’ Santa will host, in tandem with Miracle, the Largest Ugly Christmas Sweater Party.

Sippin’ Santa runs through Tuesday, Dec. 31, at The Montford Rooftop Bar, 199 Haywood St. For details on upcoming events, visit

Friendsgiving potluck

Got Thanksgiving Day leftovers? Consider joining Lookout Brewing Co. for its annual Friendsgiving potluck. The gathering takes place Friday, Nov. 29. All are welcome.

The potluck runs 6-8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 29, at Lookout Brewing Co., 103 S. Ridgeway Ave., Black Mountain. For more information, visit

‘Sugar Rush’

Melissa Gray, owner of Cakes by Gray and Rosabees, will be featured on “Sugar Rush,” a Netflix original series. The competitive cooking show features four teams battling each other and the clock. Gray’s episode debuts Friday, Nov. 29.

To learn more, visit

Meat sale

On Saturday, Nov. 30, Hickory Nut Gap Meats’ wholesale division will have delivery trucks stocked with discounted inventory open to the public. According to the event’s Facebook post, all meats will be frozen and individually sealed.

The sale runs 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 30, at Hickory Nut Gap Farm, 57 Sugar Hollow Road. For more information, visit

Chill Peel Pop-Up

Instant Karma will host the Chill Peel Pop-up Treat Shop on Saturday, Nov. 30. The event features handmade truffles and chocolates along with Grateful Bread products and more. All items are organic and free of processed ingredients, refined sugars, gluten, soy, dairy and eggs. The event is a fundraiser for Bounty & Soul, a local nonprofit that seeks to create healthier communities by providing health and wellness resources, fresh food and nutrition literacy to local residents.

The pop-up runs noon-5 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 30, at Instant Karma Asheville, 36 N. Lexington Ave. For more information, visit

Hungarian wine dinner

Vivian, a restaurant in the River Arts District, will host a six-course Hungarian wine dinner prepared by chef Josiah McGaughey on Tuesday, Dec. 3. Courses will be paired with wines from Rise Over Run. Menu details were not available at press time. Tickets are $75 per person, not including tax and gratuity.

The dinner runs 6-9 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 3, at Vivian, 348 Depot St. For details and tickets, visit


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About Thomas Calder
Thomas Calder received his MFA in Fiction from the University of Houston's Creative Writing Program. His writing has appeared in Gulf Coast, the Miracle Monocle, Juked and elsewhere. His debut novel, The Wind Under the Door, is now available.

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