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Asheville adventure of the week: Nantahala Festival



9/27/2012 - Asheville adventure of the week: Nantahala Festival
by Karen Chavez - Asheville Citizen Times

What: Nantahala Outdoor Center's Guest Appreciation Festival.

When: Friday-Sunday.

Where: Nantahala Outdoor Center, U.S. 19 west, Wesser, Swain County, about 13 miles west of Bryson City.

Details: If you're looking for a good end-of-summer deal on a canoe or kayak, or just want to get back in the river one last time, this weekend at the Nantahala Outdoor Center has your number.

NOC will hold its end-of-season Guest Appreciation Festival, also known as "GAF." One of the Southeast's largest outdoor lifestyle events, GAF is anchored by a massive used-gear sale where NOC liquidates its gear and equipment used throughout the summer season, resulting in big-time bargains.

Besides NOC's used-gear sale, there will be a used-gear marketplace for buying and selling your own used outdoor gear, and NOC's riverside Outfitter's Store will have sales on new fall season gear and apparel. Dozens of manufacturer representatives will discuss product features and answer questions.

But this isn't all about shopping. The festival will be a big outdoor party with free entertainment. Kids will enjoy the challenge of an outdoor climbing wall, special event-only access to NOC's Zip Line Adventure Park, a live raptor show, professional storytelling, bounce houses, games and face-painting.

For the older crowd, there will be acrobatic bike trials exhibitions, a head-to-head "boater cross" race, a freestyle kayaking competition and a slalom kayak race. NOC will host a wilderness survival skills clinics, an on-the-water surf school hosted by NOC's Paddling School and a mountain biking pump track.

There will be beer tasting Friday night and live music Friday and Saturday at NOC's riverside café and bar, including the Freight Hoppers, jazz from the Vertigo Jazz Project, alternative bluegrass from the Packway Handle Band, rock from the Archrivals and funk from The Secret B-Sides.

You'll probably get wet, so everyone is encouraged to bring a change of clothes.

Directions: From Asheville, take Interstate 40 west to Exit 27. Continue west on U.S. 74 west toward Bryson City. Once the highway turns to a two-lane in the Nantahala Gorge, the NOC campus is a few miles on the right. It is just over an hour's drive.

Information: Call 866-535-5743 or visit

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