Buzzworm news briefs

The Battle(s) of Asheville

It was late in the game, but on April 6, 1865, Asheville finally got some Civil War action. The Confederacy would surrender in just a few short weeks, but for one day, the town’s Rebels got a taste of the struggle that was raging across the South.

Today the skirmish is known as the “Battle of Asheville.” In it, Col. Isaac Kirby led an 1,100-man Federal force from East Tennessee to the outskirts of town, approaching through an area that today is home to the Asheville Botanical Gardens, next to UNCA. But Kirby was stopped short by a force of a few hundred local militia led by Col. G.W. Clayton, and the Union troops turned tail.

This April 6, then, marks the 140th anniversary of the battle. To mark the occasion, area residents may — or may not — have the chance to attend two commemorative services at the site of the fight. Two separate groups of Civil War buffs are planning to hold events at the Botanical Gardens — but at this writing, neither event has as yet received the go-ahead from the Botanical Garden’s board of directors, which must approve such gatherings.

One independent group hopes to stage a commemoration at 3 p.m. on Sunday, April 2. The ceremony, says organizer Jeff Lovelace, will include both Union and Confederate re-enactors. For more information, call Lovelace at 253-3675.

The other event, scheduled for Saturday, April 9 at 10 a.m., is a joint venture of the Sons of Confederate Veterans and the United Daughters of the Confederacy. It will also feature Civil War re-enactors (expect more Rebs than Yanks, says one organizer). For more information, call Edgar L. Benoy at 279-6168.

For its part, the staff of the Botanical Gardens advises that neither event has been approved yet, and that the decision about whether to host the events will be made at a board meeting late Monday, March 28. So anyone who would like to attend either event is urged to check with the organizers mentioned above to confirm if the battle(s) will take place.

— Jon Elliston

You grew them — now sell ’em

If you are interested in starting a food business, or learning how to improve an existing enterprise, the N.C. Cooperative Extension Service is offering classes and scholarships — but you need to act fast. The Developing a Food Business workshops will be held April 13 and 14 at the A-B Tech Enka Campus. The class is only open to N.C. farmers/growers/entrepreneurs, with first priority given to those from Western North Carolina who apply by April 6. Ten scholarships are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Instructors will include experts in food science, farm management and business development, the economics of dairy/beef/forage management and marketing, economic development, agricultural law, and other related fields. Successful local, small food entrepreneurs will share their experiences of how they started their food business.

The regular registration fee is $85, which covers meals, a notebook and other reference materials, is due by April 6. Scholarships cover half that cost. The workshop is sponsored by N.C. State University, N.C. Cooperative Extension, and the N.C. Tobacco Trust Fund.

For general information or questions, please contact Cathy Hohenstein at Buncombe County Cooperative Extension at 828-255-5522 or email Make checks payable to: Buncombe County and mail to N. C. Cooperative Extension, 94 Coxe Avenue, Asheville, NC 28801.

— Cecil Bothwell

Integrating the dream

Equal educational opportunity has proved an elusive American dream – from the earliest efforts to institute public schools, to the present day when people of financial means often opt out of public education entirely. And no single aspect has been more hotly contended than racial equality.

Next month, Asheville’s YMI Cultural Center will host Stony the Road: Desegregating America’s Schools, a traveling exhibition from the Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia. The exhibit chronicles the journey toward desegregating public schools, and the resistance it faced in many states.

The 12-panel display explores the black experience in the fight for equal rights and escape from second-class citizenship. The exhibit incorporates more than 40 archival photographs. Among the topics considered are: legal maneuvers; the establishment of widespread resistance; the Brown decision; the doctrine of separate but equal; and the contributions of students and the NAACP through protest and legal tactics.

The exhibit will be showcased at an opening reception in the YMI Cultural Center Galleries on Friday, April 1. A series of gallery talks and panel discussions will be held through the end of the month. At the Center for Diversity Education, view highlights of the local movement in Asheville, documented in “Mountain Memories Circles.”

Admission to this exhibit will be $5 general/$4 students. Special docent tours and group rates are available for organizations and school groups.

For more info or for tour reservations visit or phone 252-4614.

— Cecil Bothwell

Pause for the cause

• Two benefit runs. Warming weather and longer days find the runners in our midst donning shoes and shorts and heading outdoors. (Well, okay, the really serious runners never quit.) And just in the nick of time, the first road races of the season have made their appearance, as well.

The North Carolina Arboretum has scheduled its fifth annual Spring Fling 10K, 5K and one-mile Fun Run for Saturday, April 9. Organizers expect more than 350 participants this year, including as many as 150 in the longest race, which has been called the most beautiful 10K in the Southeast.

Proceeds from the races benefit the North Carolina Arboretum Society and the Asheville Track Club. Everyone who pre-registers for the events can purchase an Arboretum membership at a 20 percent discount. Also, all Asheville Track Club members will receive $2 off their entry fees. As in previous years, there will be door prizes for the runners, as well.

The Spring Fling is part of the Arboretum’s User Appreciation Day and there will be no parking fee assessed the morning of the races.

Early registrations by April 1 can be made in person at Jus’ Running (828-299-9202), online at, or via mail to the N.C. Arboretum Society. For more information on the races, call Scott Bowers at (828) 299-9202 or e-mail him at

Meanwhile, just across the river, Biltmore Estate has slated its 5K/15K Classic for Sunday, May 15. Both of these races are run entirely on estate property, and both are USATF certified. The 15K event is part of the Asheville Track Club Gran Prix racing series. Entry fees or spectator tickets include admission to the Biltmore Estate but only for purposes of participating or viewing (although a general admission ticket for the house and gardens is available for a $20 add-on fee). The registration deadline is May 6. There will be no race-day registrations.

This event is a fundraiser for Kiwanis Charities. Both the Biltmore Estate and the Arboretum races are co-sponsored by the Asheville Track Club.

For more information, contact the race information hotline: (828) 645-0169.

• Survivors’ Art. Our VOICE will hold its fifth Annual Survivors’ Art Show at Sky People Gallery, Saturday, April 2, 6-9 p.m. The event is focused on the use of creative expression in healing from sexual assault. There will be food and light refreshments, live music and performance art in addition to works and writings by survivors. Admission is free, donations are welcome.

For more information, contact Our VOICE at 252-0562.

— Cecil Bothwell

The queer eye

In 1959, Ruthie Berman and Connie Kurtz were both married mothers of young children, living in a working-class Jewish neighborhood in Brooklyn. In 1974, they left their husbands and children, moved in with each other and turned their entire worlds upside down. Twenty years later, Berman and Kurtz made history in a landmark lawsuit winning domestic partner benefits for all New York City employees — and turning the two Jewish lesbian grandmothers into national Icons.

Berman and Kurtz’s story is told in the documentary Ruthie and Connie: Every Room in the House, one of three gay-and-lesbian films that will screen at the Fine Arts Theatre on Thursday, March 31. Ruthie and Connie and the short film Hummer will screen at 7 p.m. The documentary Farm Family: In Search of Gay Life in Rural America will screen at 8:40 p.m. Screenings are $6 each, or $10 for both.

The films are being shown in conjunction with the sixth GLBTQ [gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer] Studies Conference: Gender Difference and Cultural Resistance, which is being held Thursday, March 31 through Saturday, April 2 at UNCA. The three-day conference will bring together scholars from across the nation as well as from Australia, the Philippines, Hong Kong and Cameroon.

The keynote speaker will be Judith Halberstam, a leading scholar of gender and sexuality studies, who will speak on “Queer Forgetting” on Friday, April 1, 8 p.m. at UNCA’s Highsmith Union’s Alumni Hall. The event is open to the public and admission is $10 at the door.

Halberstam, an English professor at the University of Southern California, teaches courses in queer studies, gender theory, art, literature and film. She is the author of a number of books including Female Masculinity (Duke University Press, 1998), The Drag King Book with Del LaGrace (Serpent’s Tail, 1999), and her latest, In a Queer Time and Place: Transgender Bodies, Subcultural Lives (New York University Press, 2005).

For more information about the conference or screenings, visit

— Lisa Watters

A tortured tale

Special Counsel Reed Brody, of Human Rights Watch, will discuss the implications of prisoner abuse by the U.S. government and military personnel in a talk titled “From Guantanamo to Abu Ghraib: Getting away with murder.”

Brody is the author of recent HRW reports, “The Road to Abu Ghraib,” which examines the Iraqi prisoner-abuse scandal, and “The United States’ ‘Disappeared’,” which looks at the long-term incommunicado detention in secret locations of al-Qaeda leaders.

Brody will speak at UNCA on April 2 at noon, after which there will be a showing of the film The Corporation, a critique of corporate power by Mark Achbar and Jennifer Abbott, and scripted by Joel Bakan.

HRW is a global nonprofit organization defending basic rights since 1978. Three organizations are sponsoring Brody’s talk: the Human Rights Center and the Amnesty International Chapter at UNCA and the University Center for International Studies at UNC-Chapel Hill.

— Cecil Bothwell


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