Buzzworm news briefs

Step into the past

What if you could go back in time and talk to a notable American, someone who had a real influence on our country’s culture and history? What would you say to them? You can get a taste of what that might be like at this year’s Buncombe County Chautauqua, which runs June 21-24 under a tent on the grounds of Asheville’s Smith-McDowell House Museum (283 Victoria Road). This year’s theme is “American Visions,” and visiting scholars will portray five significant historical figures: John Winthrop, Thomas Paine, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Eugene V. Debs and Martin Luther King Jr.

A musical performance by a local artist will kick off each evening’s entertainment at 7 p.m. After that, a costumed scholar will bring one of these towering figures to life, speaking as he or she might have done while presenting the character’s experiences, convictions and vision for America. Audience members will have a chance to pose questions, and each scholar will also step out of character to answer further questions from a modern, critical perspective.

Here’s the schedule:

• Monday June 21: music by Almost Famous; John Winthrop (George Frein, Furman University) and Thomas Paine (Carroll Peterson, Doane College).

• Tuesday June 22: music by Cary Fridley; Elizabeth Cady Stanton (Sally Roesch Wagner, Matilda Joslyn Gage Foundation).

• Wednesday June 23: music by The Magills; Eugene V. Debs (Joseph Stukes, Francis Marion University).

• Thursday June 24: music by Kat Williams; Martin Luther King Jr. (acclaimed presenter William Grimmette).

For more information, call Pack Memorial Library at 255-5203.

— Lisa Watters

Not your average auction

Need a lawyer to help you write a will? An accountant to do your income taxes? How about a session with a chiropractor? These are just a few of the services you can bid on at the Community Talent Auction slated for Saturday June 19, 2-4 p.m. at the Creative Thought Center (747 S. Haywood St.) in Waynesville.

What started out as a small auction to benefit the center has grown to include an eclectic mix of talents, with proceeds now also going to Waynesville’s Kid’s Advocacy Resource Effort and its program to fight child abuse.

Other auction items include classes and workshops, group social activities (such as the local premiere of a documentary film or a gourmet family dinner), works of art, books, a series of specialty items, dinner for two at local restaurants, and weekend get-aways (such as a luxury mountain cabin getaway for two to eight people near a natural trout stream and hiking trails).

Among the more unusual offerings are the services of well-known Cherokee storyteller Loyd Arneach, an all-day Breath of Freedom workshop (using the breath to release emotional blocks), the services of singer/songwriter Benjammin (recently proclaimed the winner in the acoustic category of the 2004 Mountain Xpress Virtual Battle of the Bands).

The preview and silent auction will begin at 2 p.m.; the live auction starts at 3 p.m. Celtic Knot, a traditional Celtic music ensemble, will provide entertainment, and David Guerin of PH3: Philosophy, Phun and Phellowship fame will serve as auctioneer. Gourmet finger food will be available throughout the event.

For more information, call 452-6211 or 452-7543.

— Lisa Watters

All that glitters

Through the years, rocks have held a special fascination for me — from childhood afternoons spent scratching out nuggets of fool’s gold from my elementary-school playground to learning the properties of igneous stones in a college “Rocks for Jocks” class.

If you, too, are strangely drawn to geological specimens, then you’ll likely want to check out the Colburn Earth Science Museum’s eighth annual Asheville Gem Fest. The free, family-friendly event runs June 18-20 at Colburn Earth Science Museum in the Pack Place Education, Arts & Science Center (2 S. Pack Square in downtown Asheville).

Children and adults can search for minerals at an outdoor flume, pan for gold, or use a geode cracker to discover stunning crystal surprises.

More than 25 dealers from around the country will be offering jewelry, mineral specimens, fossils, gems, beads, lapidary supplies, crystals, books and more. A silent auction will feature jewelry, gems and minerals, as well as gift certificates and items from local businesses and restaurants.

There’s a scholarly side to Gem Fest, too. The Smithsonian’s Michael A. Wise will present two lectures on Saturday: at 1:30 p.m., he’ll talk about the Moorfield Pegmatite Mine in Amelia, Va., and at 3 p.m., Wise and special guest Jamie King Hill of North American Mines will discuss recent research in Hiddenite, N.C.

Admission to both the Asheville Gem Fest and the Colburn Earth Science Museum is free during the show (though adult nonmembers will be charged $5 to hear Sunday’s 2 p.m. performance of the Land of Sky Marching Band). The festival runs from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday June 18, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday June 19, and noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday June 20.

For more info, call 254-7162 or check out

— Tracy Rose

HIV testing: It’s better to know

The slogan for the 10th annual National HIV Testing Day is: “It’s better to know. Take the test. Take control.”

Given the information available about HIV, the theme seems right on target. One in four people living with HIV don’t even know they’re infected, according to the Buncombe County Health Center. But the benefits of that knowledge are significant — if a test result is positive, health care and treatment are available. Plus, those with positive test results can take steps to avoid passing HIV to others.

To that end, free and confidential walk-in HIV testing will be available at sites throughout Asheville June 22-28. The tests are aimed at anyone who’s been sexually active, including folks who have never been tested and those who’ve had unprotected sex or shared a needle since their last test.

Testing (organized by a group of community partners) will be done on five days at the following Asheville sites:

• Tuesday June 22: 2-6 p.m., WNC AIDS Project (30 Orchard St.);

• Wednesday June 23: 4-6 p.m., Hopkins Chapel AME Zion Church (21 College Place);

• Thursday June 24: 2-6 p.m., Mission Care Van (Hillcrest community);

• Friday June 25: 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., Buncombe County Health Center (35 Woodfin St.); and

• Monday June 28: 2-7 p.m., Planned Parenthood’s Asheville Health Center (603 Biltmore Ave.).

For more info, call Taryn Strauss at the WNC AIDS Project (252-7489, ext. 12) or Anna Tillman at the Buncombe County Health Center (250-5322).

— Tracy Rose

Dysfunction Junction, what’s your function?

Somewhere along the way, the confluence of Interstates 26, 40 and 240 just southwest of Asheville acquired the nickname “Dysfunction Junction.” And for drivers who navigate the heavily traveled and confusing interchange, there’s little wonder how it got its moniker.

Now, however, the N.C. Department of Transportation wants to fix the troublesome junction. To that end, the DOT plans to hold a “citizens’ informational workshop” to explain three options for changing the interchange as well as to take public comment, says DOT Project Development Engineer Vince Rhea.

The workshop will be held Tuesday June 22 from 4-7 p.m. at the National Guard Armory, 75 Shelburne Road (off Brevard Road near I-240) in West Asheville.

The interchange project is part of Transportation Improvement Project I-2513, which also includes the controversial I-26 Connector (a matter of intense debate). The upcoming workshop, however, will focus solely on the I-26/40/240 interchange.

DOT reps will be on hand to provide information, answer questions and accept written comments from the public about the interchange. After the entire project’s environmental-impact statement is completed (which will include more opportunity for public input), the DOT’s schedule calls for construction contracts to be awarded in spring 2008, with construction completed in 2012 for both the interchange and the I-26 Connector.

“The earlier we get their input, the better,” notes Rhea.

For more info, contact Vince Rhea in the DOT’s Project Development and Environmental Analysis branch by phone (919-733-7844, ext. 261), e-mail ( or fax (919-733-9794). Or write to: Vince Rhea, N.C. DOT, Project Development and Environmental Analysis, 1548 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-1548. Be sure to refer to TIP project number I-2513. Anyone who needs auxiliary aids or services at the workshop should contact Rhea ASAP to ensure that he can make the necessary arrangements.

— Tracy Rose

I went to a garden party …

Gardens — and garden parties — surely number among the highlights of summer.

An upcoming garden-party benefit offers just about everything one could want in such an event: art, jazz, wine, a beautiful garden and the chance to support a good cause. The party — honoring cancer patients and survivors — takes place from 1 to 4 p.m. on Saturday June 26 to benefit the nonprofit Pathways-Life After Cancer. The community is invited to the ticketed event, to be held at Asheville art-gallery pioneer John Cram‘s 9-acre garden in the Kenilworth neighborhood.

Along with light refreshments, the afternoon will feature jazz by The Patrick Boland Brew trio, plus an auction of folk art including paintings, ceramics and garden sculpture. Among the artists represented are Lila Graves, Barbara Fisher, Anne Kaufman, John Payne, Dawn Rentz, Eva Scruggs, Jason Weatherspoon and more.

Graves — a cancer survivor, author and noted Alabama folk artist — will also share her inspirational story. (Her artwork and book are available at American Folk, 64 Biltmore Ave. in Asheville). After the auction, Cram will lead a garden tour.

For more than 27 years, Pathways has provided emotional support, counseling, education and other healing resources to cancer patients, families and caregivers throughout Western North Carolina. Services are provided irrespective of clients’ ability to pay.

Tickets run $65/person, $110/couple. For tickets and more info, contact Mary Hill at Pathways-Life After Cancer (252-4106 or

— Tracy Rose


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