Mountain Sports Festival for bench warmers: a guide to the weekend’s nonsport attractions

KEEPING IT CASUAL: Mountain Sports Festival offers plenty of activities for patrons, regardless of athletic ability. Aside from sports, this year's attractions include food and beverage vendors, an inaugural silent auction, youth play areas, camping and a full lineup of music. Photo by Steve Barker of Icon Media Asheville

Mountain Sports Festival drew roughly 8,000 to 11,000 attendees in 2014, and event director Terry Bemis hopes for another diverse crowd in this, the event’s 15th, year.

“I want families there, and I want not just experts, but beginners,” says Bemis of his vision for the weekend event. MSF “celebrates Asheville a little bit,” he adds.

Bemis’ come-one-come-all attitude is echoed by others on the festival’s board, which has organized a multitude of nonsports attractions — in addition to extensive athletic programming — for participants and spectators of all backgrounds. Here are the highlights:

Food and beverage

Mountain Sports Festival’s edible lineup acknowledges both ends of the wholesome-to-indulgent spectrum, says food and beverage director Martin Schmedt. That makes the event double as a mini- food fair of sorts.

This year’s food vendors include Taste & See (farm-to-truck new American cuisine) Mama Duke’s Pizza (flatbread pizza with vegetarian options), the Hop (dairy-free and dairy-full handmade ice creams), Latino Heat (authentic Mexican fare), Sweet Concessions (nachos, funnel cakes, shaved ice, cotton candy, etc.) and Avery’s Hotdogs (beef and veggie dogs).

Pisgah Brewing Co. and Sierra Nevada are bringing the beer, with Naked Apple Hard Cider of Hendersonville also available at Sierra Nevada’s serving station. Last year, patrons drank some 660 gallons of beer.

Although coolers aren’t permitted in Carrier Park, families can bring packed lunches and feast outside the festival grounds at the site’s covered tables or expansive lawns. Organizers, however, are encouraging patrons to try out some of the local vendors’ eclectic options. “We try to have that healthy, local, really-good-for-you food lineup, but sometimes with kids, you just want a snow cone or some nachos,” Schmedt says, joking, “Cotton candy keeps kids quiet.”

Youth attractions

In addition to kid-friendly sporting events, Festival Village houses a number of amenities designed to cater to the youngsters throughout the weekend. Informally, “Sunday is kind of family day,” says Bemis, “and we have a really expanded kids area. … It’s going to double in size.” The Heartstrings Family Fun Center, which is open all weekend, boasts a bouncy house, bubble machines, cornhole, an inflatable obstacle course, face painting, a mini-disc-golf area and other activities to help the little ones work off that cotton candy rush.

Silent auction

“This is the first year we’re doing the silent auction,” says MSF auction director Corinne Kelley, explaining that new items will be up for grabs on all three days of the festival, “and we’ll announce [winners] on the stage between bands.”

So far, potential loot includes various adventure tours from Nantahala Outdoor Center, Navitat Canopy Tours, Prestige Subaru and Outrider USA, overnight stay packages from Hilton Hotel of Charlotte and Biltmore Park, the Ritz Carlton in Atlanta or any Patton Hospitality property, a paddleboard from WASUP, a class package from Rise Pilates, plus goodie bags from Tupelo Honey Café, BRÖÖ and See You on the River.

“It’s been harder and harder for us to get sponsors,” says Bemis, “so [the silent auction] is actually funding our own nonprofit, and those [proceeds] are going to offset expenses so we don’t have to take a cut from the event.” Visit the silent auction tent at Festival Village to place your bids.


What better way to zip up an evening of activities than by camping out? Wilson’s Riverfront RV park (directly adjacent to the festival at 225 Amboy Road) and Bear Creek RV Park and Campground (a short drive away at 81 S. Bear Creek Road) are the nearest options for camping and RV parking. For information or reservations, visit or

Live Music

From funk to soul, roots to rock ‘n’ roll, Mountain Sports Festival’s live music lineup has something for everyone, says Ellie Schwartz, the festival’s entertainment director. All shows are free and take place at Festival Village inside Carrier Park’s bike loop. Read on for the full music lineup.


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About Kat McReynolds
Kat studied entrepreneurship and music business at the University of Miami and earned her MBA at Appalachian State University. Follow me @katmAVL

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