WNC’s Small Towns

by Judi Jetson, HandMade in America

Summer camps and festivals abound for both adults and children in our area.

If you haven’t been to camp in years, unleash your inner child with a trip to one of Western North Carolina’s internationally-known craft education centers this summer: Penland or the John Campbell Folk School. Take a workshop at your local art center or community college. It’s amazing how a chance to play and create often puts our more worldly cares about economic uncertainty into a clearer perspective.

Summer in a small town in the mountains is something most people only dream about. And here in Western North Carolina, it’s how we live! Things move a little more slowly, people are a little friendlier, and the sunsets seem more beautiful this time of year. Take time this summer to visit a few of our HandMade Small Towns.


Downtown Hayesville has a new pocket park, courtesy of the Master Gardeners, and a downtown mural, painted by 35 high school students. Clay County Communities Revitalization Association has planned seven music events from April through September, and sponsored a sesquicentennial quilt for Clay County’s year-long celebration. The quilt was designed and created by the MistyMountain Quilting Guild.

The JackRabbit Trail held its grand opening in April and is now host to 50 interpretive signs thanks to the Master Gardeners.

Old Fort

The Old Fort Mountain Heritage Alliance has a new committee, the Arrowhead Artists League, hosting arts events, sales and demonstrations, monthly at the Depot. A local business has opened across from the museum and is sponsoring children in a trout fishing contest.

The Andrews Geyser will be 100 years old in 2012 and a celebration is being planned. McDowell and Old Fort are now part of the Quilt Trail with 85 quilt squares already up.

Davidson’s Fort is now open on Saturdays, with the 3rd Saturday each month featuring a re-enactment “Militia Day” in period costume.


The town of Marshall has installed a specially designed stage on the island which can be moved since it’s in a flood plain. A new gallery has opened, Flow, which offers locally made crafts, jewelry, soaps, and scarves.

Mars Hill

A new Visitor’s Center opened in downtown Mars Hill this spring. A colorful Mars Hill Historic Walking Tour brochure has been produced to give visitors one more interesting thing to do.


The Trail system designed by the High Country COG has had the 1st phase implemented. A trail by the chimneys from the ruins of the old YMCA has now been declared a bird sanctuary. Bridges were built by the Youth Offenders Forest Conservation Program. The ultimate goal is for the Trail to reach to the state forest property over the proposed rebuilt footbridge across the highway and become part of the High Country Greenway.

West Jefferson

The Town is completing streetscaping on Main Street with new lights and underground utilities. A new rock wall provides a planter for seasonal flowers and its walls feature historic photos. Fire-hydrants have been painted by local artists in a project called “Arts on Fire.” Empty windows are being filled with displays, and a sculptor has created an iron railing from the Backstreet Park up to the new library.


Their motto has been “Gateway to the Roan,” and now they have added “Home to the Arts.” They are celebrating the 150th anniversary of Mitchell County this year, and publishing a coffee table book. The Town now owns all of the land along the Creekwalk. The renovated courthouse is now home to the Center for Rural Health Innovation.


Andrews passed a liquor by the drink law and plans for a new sports bar are on the way. There is also a new zipline, dry cleaner, and family-style restaurant. The Valley River Arts guild has completed two murals and is hosting shows in their new gallery. A new trail has been created and graveled.


Tourists and retirees are encouraged to “stop, shop and live” in Graham County. Dancing on the Square has commenced for the summer with clogging and square dancing done to the tune of bluegrass and “old time” music by local and regional artists. Walking paths around downtown Robbinsville, along with murals and mosaics, a community garden, trees, benches and fountains, including a water geyser for children of all ages are being planned.


Todd Community Preservation Organization has developed two parks – one is in New River, and the other has a stage for a free summer music series and special events. During the old “timbertown” days, Todd was bigger than Boone! ASU students have created a fall event to celebrate the town’s history with students dressed in period costumes explaining the history. The annual Doc Watson concert will be held Saturday, August 20.

American Craft Week

American Craft Week will take place October 7-15, 2011. WNC was a national success story last year with 37 participating galleries and towns. This year they’re hoping for 50. Any demonstration, studio tour, show, or special event can piggyback on the national publicity designed to bring more attention to handmade crafts.

Sign up on the America Craft Week website at www.americancraftweek.com to list your events. For more information, contact Sherry Masters at sherry@grovewood.com.

2011 Summer Events

July 22 – Backstreet Park Concert Series featuring Grayson Highlands Band, 5:30 p.m. (West Jefferson)

July 30 – Avery County Centennial Celebration, 11 a.m. (Newland-Crossnore)

August 5-6 – Annie presented by the Crossnore Academy Players at the Hayes Fine Arts Center, call (828) 733-4305 for times and tickets. (Crossnore)

August 20 – Avery Centennial Celebration. Picnic dinner and puppet show at 4 p.m. in the town center, Blue Ridge Brass and Montreat Pipe and Drum Band at 5 p.m. Concert in the Crossnore School Amphitheater featuring The Johnson Family, and Gay and Phil Johnson, 7-9 p.m. (Crossnore)

Ongoing Events

Music in the Mountains, Big House Radio, Great Smokey Mountains Railroad Depot, Saturdays (June- October) 6:30-8 p.m. (Bryson City)

Crossnore Jams at the Town Meeting House, 1st Fridays, 7 p.m. (Crossnore)

Old Town Music Jam at the Depot, Fridays, 7 p.m. (Marshall)

Mountain Music, The Rockett Building on Main Street, Fridays, 7-10 p.m. (Old Fort)

Classic Car Show, 3rd Sundays 1-5 p.m. (Old Fort)

Music On The Square in front of the Courthouse, Fridays 7-11 p.m., Main Street (Robbinsville)

Storyteller’s Series at Todd General Store, Tuesdays, meal at 5:45 p.m. and storytelling at 6 p.m. (Todd)

Dinner & Bluegrass at Todd General Store, Fridays through Thanksgiving, meal at 6 p.m. and bluegrass jam at 7 p.m. (Todd)

HandMade in America’s mission is to grow handmade economies through craft, cultural heritage, and community assets. For more information please visit www.handmadeinamerica.org

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