Blog :: 10-2012

Holiday season begins Thursday at Biltmore House in Asheville



10/31/2012 - Holiday season begins Thursday at Biltmore House in Asheville

The holiday season begins Thursday Nov. 1 at the Biltmore House in Asheville, N.C. when a horse-drawn carriage driven by Santa Claus delivers the Christmas tree.

A 35-foot Fraser fir will be decorated and placed in the Banquet Hall at the chateau-styled mansion in Asheville, N.C. The tree will be carried into the house by hand. Between 30 and 40 employees will lift and carry it through the front door in a synchronized manner.

Once the tree is inside, the staff will hoist it into place using ropes and pulleys to secure it into position. The tree will come to life with the holiday spirit as members of the floral and engineering services teams decorate the tree with more than 500 large ornaments, hundreds of lights and many gift-wrapped packages.

Christmas at Biltmore will be celebrated beginning Saturday through Jan. 1. To accommodate the holidays, beginning Nov.9 through Dec. 31, the estate is open 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m., Sunday through Thursday, and 8:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

The decorations and holiday cheer will be reminiscent of what the estate was like during the time of its builder George Washington Vanderbilt III.

Vanderbilt first opened the house to family and friends 117 years ago on Christmas eve this year. Thousands of visitors have continued the tradition of touring the estate during the holiday season.

For more information, go to


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Asheville part of Clean Cities for alternative fuel



10/30/2012 - Asheville part of Clean Cities for alternative fuel
by Dale Neal - Asheville Citizen Times

BENT CREEK -- It used to be fuel in Western North Carolina came in two basic flavors -- regular and premium petroleum.

Now more drivers are pumping biodiesel, ethanol, propane or compressed natural gas into their tanks. Other motorists bypass the pumps altogether, plugging in their vehicles to recharge on electricity.

On Monday, the Asheville area was officially named the nation's 85th Clean Cities Coalition by the U.S. Department of Energy, capping more than eight years of work promoting alternative fuels, cleaner cars and better air quality for the region.

In a signing ceremony at the N.C. Arboretum, elected officials, business and civic leaders marked the long road that led to the award.

Bill Eaker of Land-of-Sky Regional Council recalled that when the initiative started in 2004, the region had only about 100 alternative-fuel vehicles and a handful of motorists driving the Toyota Prius and other hybrid cars.

"Now fleets have 1,300 alternative-fuel vehicles, and there are over 1,700 gas electric vehicles registered by N.C. Department of Motor Vehicles," Eaker said.

In 2011 alone, the program saved 500,000 gallons of petroleum locally and prevented an estimated 4,000 tons of greenhouses gases from escaping into the atmosphere over Western North Carolina.

As a Clean Cities Coalition, the Asheville area becomes eligible for more federal grants that, in turn, could encourage ever more cleaner vehicles on area roads and cleaner air for the five-county region of Buncombe, Haywood, Henderson, Madison and Transylvania.

The coalition will help the city of Asheville stake its claim as the greenest city in the Southeast, said Maggie Ullman, the city's sustainability coordinator.

"Fuel and fleet are a huge part of the solution to reducing our carbon footprint, and the coalition offers a workable road map to get there. This means so much to Asheville," she said.

Alternative fuel is a good fit for Asheville with its history of manufacturing as well offering protections for the natural environment with cleaner air and fewer greenhouse emissions linked to climate change. "Those high-elevation balds we have are really special. As we pursue alternative fuels, we are better able to protect those places," Ullman said.

The program has already paid off in funding for the region. The coalition won $1 million in DOE funds to help Asheville and Hendersonville, Henderson County and Mission Health System buy 37 compressed natural gas vehicles. The money helped in expanding compressed natural gas fueling stations for Asheville and Henderson County, Eaker said.

Stan Cross saw the coalition designation as the next step to weaning WNC off dirty energy toward cleaner, more renewable power for cars.

"I love petroleum, but it's day is done. We need to move past oil-based and even coal-based power all the way to more renewable energy," said Cross of Brightfield Transportation Systems. Brightfield is promoting Electric Vehicle Tourism, offering electric rental cars for tourists to travel the Blue Ridge Parkway.

The coalition designation isn't the end of the road, Cross said. "This is just the beginning. This is the starting line. Now we need to move forward."

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Asheville area calendar of events



10/29/2012 - Asheville area calendar of events
by Asheville Citizen Times

To submit an event to the Family Friendly Calendar, send information to


HALLOWEEN BLOOD DRIVE: Seventh-annual drive at Pack Memorial Library, 67 Haywood St., Asheville. Come and be a hero -- save up to three lives with every pint. With treats, costumes and fun. Visit or send an email to to sign up today.

WEE NATURALIST: N.C. Arboretum program for ages 2-5 with nature lessons, stories, crafts and visits from classroom animals. Runs 10-11 a.m. Mondays and Tuesdays (explore classroom starting at 9:30 a.m. or at 11 a.m.). $5 if registered online, $6 for drop-ins. Younger siblings and adults free when accompanied by paid participant. Free parking for registered participants. Visit to register. Contact Michelle Pearce at 665-2492, ext. 243, or


ART LESSONS: Roots + Wings School of Art offers four-week sessions, Oct. 30-Nov. 20, for ages 3 to fifth grade. $50 per child. $50 per child. Classes at Cathedral of All Souls, Biltmore Village. Register online at For information, call 545-4827 or email Ages 3-6: 1:30-2:30 p.m. Tuesdays. Underwater designs with painting and collage. Grades K-5: 4-5 p.m. Tuesdays. Printmaking and collage inspired by nature.

ASHEVILLE COMMUNITY THEATRE CLASS: "You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown" is a great first show for those who would like to perform in a musical. Class is open to ages 6-12. Classes start Oct. 30 and meet 4:30-6 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays until Jan. 3, after which rehearsals are Monday-Thursday. Performances Jan 18-20. For tuition information or to register, visit or call 254-1320.

GHOST STORIES ON THE DECK: Spooky stories by a variety of local storytellers, shared at 7 p.m. outside on the deck next to the Weaverville Library, 41 N. Main St. Bring a flashlight, a blanket or a chair and prepare to be scared. Call 250-6482 or email

KIDS YOGA: A fun and imaginative class for budding yogis, ages 2-4. The yoga storytelling of certified yoga teacher Natascha leads kids through simple yoga poses, teaches them to focus and appreciate nature, while they increase their motor skills and flexibility. Four-week series, Oct. 30-Nov. 27 (skipping Thanksgiving week). $30 At Nest Organics, 51 N. Lexington Ave., Asheville. Call 259-1901 to register. Visit

PARI SCI GIRLS PROGRAM: For girls ages 9-14. Each month's program will lead young girls to try a different facet of science and bring real connections to that field for their pursuit beyond the monthly program. October's topic is 4-H EcoBot Build, at the Transylvania 4-H Office, 98 E. Morgan St., Brevard. $10. Register online at or call 862-5554.

'SKIPPYJON JONES': Diana Wortham Theatre's matinee series brings the story of Skippyjon Jones, the kitten with big ears and bigger dreams, to life. Recommended for pre-K (older than 2) through grade 3. At 10 a.m. and noon. $7 individual tickets, $6 for groups of 11 or more. Visit or call 257-4530 for tickets.

WEE NATURALIST: N.C. Arboretum program for ages 2-5 with nature lessons, stories, crafts and visits from classroom animals. Runs 10-11 a.m. Mondays and Tuesdays (explore classroom starting at 9:30 a.m. or at 11 a.m.). $5 if registered online, $6 for drop-ins. Younger siblings and adults free when accompanied by paid participant. Free parking for registered participants. Visit to register. Contact Michelle Pearce at 665-2492, ext. 243, or


CRAZ Y CHEMISTRY: Make Boo Bubbles. For ages 3 and older. Call 697-8333 to register; limited spaces. Free with admission. At 11 a.m. at Hands On! A Child's Gallery, 318 N. Main St., Hendersonville. Visit

FALL FAMILY FESTIVAL: 5:30-8 p.m., First Baptist Church of Asheville, 5 Oak St. Free and open to the community. Pony rides, inflatables, prizes, games, face painting, concessions, preschool area and more. Rain or shine. Visit or call 252-4781.

HOOPLA: 5:30-8:30 p.m., Biltmore Baptist Church, 35 Clayton Road, Arden, and East Campus, 74 Riverwood Road, Swannanoa. Games, prizes, food, inflatables, more. Free, Visit

TRICK-OR-TREAT STREET: 4:30-7:30 p.m. at Main Street gazebo, downtown Hendersonville. Costume contest for children and pets, Monster Mash entertainment.

TRUNK OR TREAT: 3-5 p.m., First Presbyterian Church of Swannanoa, 372 Bee Tree Road. With treats and face painting. Call 686-3140.


BREAST-FEEDING CLASS: One-day intensive intro to breast-feeding class designed to give you an in-depth introduction to the ins and outs of becoming a breast-feeding mom. Taught by IBCLC Michelle Shelfer. $40. From noon-1:30 p.m. at Nest Organics, 51 N. Lexington Ave., Asheville. Call 258-1901 to register. Visit

BRICKS 4 KIDZ: Lego-based enrichment classes for home-school, preschool and elementary age students. Build themed models and learn architecture and engineering skills. Six-week session of Thursday classes starts Nov. 1 at Mountain Play Lodge in Arden. $60 per session. Register at Email with questions.

KIDS YOGA: A fun and imaginative class for budding yogis, ages 4-6. The yoga storytelling of certified yoga teacher Natascha leads kids through simple yoga poses, teaches them to focus and appreciate nature, while they increase their motor skills and flexibility. Four-week series, Nov. 1-29 (skipping Thanksgiving week). $30 At Nest Organics, 51 N. Lexington Ave., Asheville. Call 259-1901 to register. Visit

"MOTET": Diana Wortham Theatre's matinee series brings a collaboration between Finland's creative Circo Aereo and Britain's acclaimed Gandini Juggling. This juggling like you have never seen before. Five performers manipulate objects that float, collapse and mesmerize, combining captivating and gravity-defying movement with magical images. Recommended for grades K-12. At 10 a.m. $7 individual tickets, $6 for groups of 11 or more. Visit or call 257-4530 for tickets.


BRICKS 4 KIDZ: Lego-based enrichment classes for home-school, preschool and elementary age students. Build themed models and learn architecture and engineering skills. Six-week session of Friday classes starts Nov. 2 at The Tree House in North Asheville. $60 per session. Register at Email with questions.

PARI HOME SCHOOL DAY: Astronomers and educators have designed age-appropriate modules for home-schoolers. 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at PARI, outside Rosman. $20 per student, nonrefundable. No charge for parents/chaperones. For information or to register, visit

BREVARD STORYTELLING FESTIVAL: At Transylvania County Library, with national favorites Heather Forest and Len Cabral and other regional tellers. Concert on Nov. 2 and workshops and concerts on Nov. 3. Free and open to the public. For schedule and more information, visit

ASHEVILLE INTERNATIONAL CHILDREN'S FILM FESTIVAL: The largest children's film festival in the Southeast features more than 70 films from around the world. Blend of programs includes live performances, animation, features, shorts, historical films and fantastic hands-on workshops for the filmmakers of tomorrow. Neo folk funk pajama party kicks off event on Nov. 2 for ages 3 and older, with a sneak peek of films and a concert b y Jacob Johnson. Screenings for schools, home schools and child care providers are scheduled each weekday morning, Nov. 5-9. Ten children ages 8-12 will be chosen for a children's jury to judge films and award winner at closing at 5 p.m. Nov. 11. Email Visit for details.


GIRL SCOUT DAY: Chimney Rock Park hosts programs for scouts. Check in by 9:30 a.m., with programming 9:45 a.m.-12:15 p.m. $15 for scouts (includes program fee, admission and a patch); $12 for adults (adult chaperones required, one adult per 10 scouts admitted free); $5.50 for nonscout children (younger than 6 is free). Visit for details.

JOYFUL BIRTH & BREASTFEEDING EXPO: Free speakers, films, giveaways, kids' activities and exhibitors. Featuring internationally known midwife and author Ina May Gaskin. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. at Blue Ridge Mall, 1800 Four Seasons Blvd., Hendersonville. Visit

NAZARENE CHRISTIAN SCHOOL FUNDRAISER: Flea market at 8 a.m. and auction at 10 a.m. Proceeds benefit the school, a nonprofit ministry. At 385 Hazel Mill Road, Asheville. Call 252-9713 or email

REUTER FAMILY YMCA SWIM LESSONS: Classes for ages 6 months-12 years on Saturdays, Nov. 3-24. Register by Oct. 30. Starts at $25. Call 651-9622 or visit




HEALING THE BIRTH EXPERIENCE: An after-birth process group. Birthing a child can be both a beautiful and a devastating experience, leaving individuals feeling many conflicting emotions. If you have experienced childbirth recently and long to share and process your experience in a creative, healing, way, join the group. Come with your baby or without. Facilitated by therapist Andrea Olson, MA. $35. From 1-3 p.m. at Nest Organics, 51 N. Lexington Ave., Asheville. Call 258-1901 to register. Visit

ROYAL BOOK CLUB: Discusses "Where Things Come Back" by John Corey Whaley. Open to adult readers (18 years+) of young adult books. No joining or RSVP needed. Free. 4-5 p.m. at Spellbound Children's Bookshop, 21 Battery Park Avenue.

VERITAS COMMUNITY OPEN HOUSE: Visit Veritas Christian Academy, 2-4 p.m., 17 Cane Creek Road, Fletcher. Call 681-0546 or visit


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Moogfest Begins Today!



10/26/2012 - Moogfest Begins Today!
by Carol Motsinger - Asheville Citizen Times

The "AC" in AC Entertainment, the company behind Moogfest, stands for the name of its founder, Ashley Capps. But the company name might as well be ML Entertainment, for Music Lover, or, better yet, MS for "musical sponge."

"If you can hear it and it has some sort of musical quality in it, I'm interested in some way or another," said Capps, 57. An intense love of music is what seems to connect the Capps career stages, from Knoxville, Tenn., radio DJ to booking agent to club owner and now organizer some of the biggest music festivals in the country -- including Bonnaroo, Big Ears and this weekend's Moogfest.

His personal playlist may be "all over the place," he said. But his heart isn't: His love of Asheville -- its hiking trails, top-notch eateries and adventurous, creative spirit -- has ensured that this national taste maker has booked shows here since 1985. In the more than 25 years since that first club show on Wall Street, Capps and his company have been instrumental in the expansion and elevation of Asheville's live music landscape.

"I just had this feeling in my gut that the Asheville community would be receptive to a lot of what I wanted to do," said Capps, a Knoxville native. "Ultimately, I was right."

Moogfest is AC Entertainment's most extensive annual offering in Asheville, but the Knoxville-based event production, booking and artist management company is responsible for about 175 events in town each year, primarily at The Orange Peel and U.S. Cellular Center.

"Asheville is an incredible destination city," he said. "People who know about Asheville start looking for excuses to go. We are happy to provide them with some of those excuses."

Liz Whalen is marketing director for The Orange Peel, which celebrated its 10th anniversary Thursday. The Peel started working with AC Entertainment before the Biltmore Avenue hotspot and Moogfest venue even opened. "Now, AC Entertainment is one of the most, if not the most, well-respected and successful booking agencies in the Southeast."

The secret to Capps' success -- which also includes managing historic Knoxville's Tennessee Theatre -- is simple, according to Whalen. "Ashley himself is truly a music lover," she said, noting that she follows his Facebook posts and Tweets about next-big-thing acts that he's seen.

Capps traces his audio admiration back to his family. His parents were musicians, his mother a pianist, his father a drummer.

One his favorite childhood photos: a 14-month-old Capps cranking "Purple People Eater" on a little red plastic record player. More recently, he's been cranking up tunes by the Talking Heads and Trixie Whitley, an up-and-coming singer-songwriter that AC Entertainment manages.

Capps never imagined a career in the music industry. He took piano lessons and played in the band, and as a high school senior, he started hosting rock shows on the local NPR affiliate, WUOT. Capps would seem a natural fit for radio -- his rich, deep voice is tinged with Southern twang. But he didn't consider spinning the likes of Led Zeppelin, Janis Joplin and Velvet Underground at 2 a.m. as viable employment and instead earned his B.A. at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville in philosophy and religious studies.

"In the back of my head, I was always pursuing other career options," he said.

Capps continued to man WUOT's DJ booth after graduation, transitioning from cutting-edge rock sets (like before-their-time German icons Can) to avant-garde jazz (He maintained the jazz program, off and on, for 31 years).

His transitions continued outside the station, too. And then, somehow, in 1979, Capps got lucky and went from turntable to backstage.

"I started to make contact with artists and agents who were interested in coming to town and playing shows," he said. "I just started putting it together."

He started booking shows for acts like R.E.M., Chick Corea and Johnny Winter, and by 1985, Capps was booking 12-15 shows a year in the Knoxville area. That year also marked his first offering in Asheville: Montreux, an American jazz-bluegrass fusion act, at the first Asheville Music Hall on Wall Street (now the Jubilee community space).

"I think I became hooked on it early on," he said, noting that, at that time, he still saw booking shows as just a hobby. "It was something that I developed a lot of satisfaction doing. It's really interesting to bring an artist to town and connect them to an audience that appreciates what they do."

He committed more fully to music when he and a friend opened the Knoxville club Emma Guru's in 1987 (a reference to a Captain Beefheart song). "That was really my full-on jump into the business," he said of Emma Guru's, which lasted 2 1/2 years. "I lived and breathed it. ... But my partner was a novice developer, and I was a novice club owner, so it was not exactly a foundation for strong success."

In its short run, Emma Guru's hosted such diverse acts as Widespread Panic, Garth Brooks and the Neville Brothers.

Right after the club closed, jazz musician Wynton Marsalis, Widespread Panic and hard rock's Drivin' 'N' Cryin' all reached out to Capps to ask him to book them in Knoxville. In two weeks' time, he said, he had lined up three sold-out shows -- enough to start a company. "And off we went," he said.

He founded AC Entertainment with Troy Sellers (a co-worker at Emma Guru's), and by the end of the 1990s, the company grew to about 10 employees.

In 2002, AC staged its first Bonnaroo, now an iconic Manchester, Tenn., outdoor festival that draws about 80,000 each year. And afterward, the company flourished, swelling to a staff of 40. Although happily based in the Southeast, Capps said he and his team may be opening a New York office in the coming year.

"We tend to spend a lot of time there and have a number of clients, partners and projects that are based there," he said.

Moogfest, founded in 2010, represents the company's most recent new, large venture.

"The Asheville community is so supportive for music and the arts," he said. "We are always looking at new ideas and concepts that we can bring to life. I wanted to do a downtown festival, and the concept of doing something around Bob Moog and his legacy seemed like no-brainer."

Moogfest Basics

When and where: It runs Friday-Saturday at the arena (that's the old Civic Center, now the U.S. Cellular Center); Thomas Wolfe Auditorium (next to the arena); The Orange Peel, at 101 Biltmore Ave.; Diana Wortham Theater at Pack Place on Pack Square; and later shows at the Asheville Music Hall, at 32 Patton Ave.

Who's playing: Some 30 shows are scheduled through the weekend. The biggest acts are Primus 3-D, Nas, Miike Snow, Bear in Heaven (all on Friday), Santigold, Orbital, and Shpongle presents "The Masquerade," Thomas Dolby and The Magnetic Fields (on Saturday).

Tickets: Yes, they're still on sale for the moment. A weekend general admission pass is $125, or $75 daily. In order to redeem your pass or single-day ticket for a wristband, visit the main lobby of the U.S. Cellular Center from 3-5 p.m. and 6 p.m.-1 a.m. Friday, and 6 p.m.-1 a.m. Saturday. Your wristband will be your ticket into the venues. Visit

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Asheville may get bicycle taxis



10/25/2012 - Asheville may get bicycle taxis
by Mark Barrett - Asheville Citizen Times

ASHEVILLE -- Residents and visitors might be getting around downtown on three wheels starting next spring following action by City Council on Tuesday.

Council approved a franchise agreement that allows Asheville Bike Taxi LLC to operate a pedicab service in downtown, Montford and the River Arts District.

Company head Jessie Lehmann said the human-powered taxis -- most are technically tricycles, although the vehicles are commonly called bicycle taxis -- have become increasingly common in recent years in cities with significant tourist traffic.

"It's kind of funny that Asheville doesn't have a pedicab service," Lehmann said before the meeting.

The city approved a similar agreement with a different company in 2008, city Transportation Director Ken Putnam said, but the service never got off the ground.

In a nod to the city's sometimes steep terrain, Lehmann said she will use pedicabs with electric motors to assist the human power provided by drivers.

She envisions people using the service as a way to tour parts of the city, as well as for ordinary transportation.

The agreement limits the motors to no more than one horsepower. Pedicabs will not be allowed on streets with speed limits of more than 35 mph except for Clingman Avenue.

Also Tuesday, City Council:

o Approved rezoning 1.9 acres at 671 Sand Hill Road in West Asheville from multi-family residential zoning to institutional zoning to allow a small school to locate on the property.

New Classical Academy, which has about 40 students in kindergarten through eighth grade, plans to move from Weaverville into a church on the property, city planner Alan Glines said. The church will continue its operations.

o Approved exceptions to some city policies to allow staffers to speed up loaning $300,000 from the city's housing trust fund to Mountain Housing Opportunities for Eagle Market Place.

The project MHO is developing with Eagle Market Streets Development Corp. will involve renovating existing buildings at the southwest corner of Eagle and South Market streets downtown and adding space above to create a total of 62 affordable apartments and some commercial space.

Environmental work is being done now on the property and actual construction is scheduled to begin in summer or fall of 2013, said Scott Dedman, MHO's executive director. Construction is to take about 18 months.

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Asheville Area Literary & Book related events



10/22/2012 - Asheville Area Literary & Book related events
by Asheville Citizen Times


BOOK DISCUSSION: The Fireside Fantasy Book Club meets at Fireside Books and Gifts, 111 W. Main St., Forest City, 6 p.m. Call 245-5188.

BOOK DISCUSSION: The Our Favorite Books club meets at the Black Mountain Library, 105 Dougherty St., Black Mountain, 7 p.m. Call 250-4756.

H. BYRON BALLARD: Asheville author presents her book on Appalachian folk magic, "Staubs and Ditchwater," at the Enka-Candler Library, 1404 Sandhill Road, Candler, 7 p.m. Call 250-4758.

WRITING GROUP: The Adult Writing Group meets to work on all kinds of creative writing at the Jackson County Public Library, 310 Keener St., Sylva, 7 p.m. Call 586-2016.


BOOK DISCUSSION: The Friends of the Library Book Club meets at the Polk County Public Library, 1289 W. Mills St., Columbus, 2 p.m. Call 894-8721.

LEE KNIGHT: Folklorist and storyteller presents music and stories from the Southern Appalachians and the Adirondacks at the Hudson Library, 554 Main St., Highlands, 3 p.m. Call 526-3031.

FAITH HUNTER: Author of the Rogue Mage and Jane Yellowrock series presents her new novel, "Death's Rival," at Blue Ridge Books, 152 S. Main St., Waynesville, 6 p.m. Call 456-6000.

MARY STEWART ATWELL: Author presents her debut young adult novel, "Wild Girls," at Malaprop's Bookstore/Café, 55 Haywood St., Asheville, 7 p.m. Call 254-6734.


MYSTERY WRITERS: The WNC Mysterians meet at the Atlanta Bread Company, 633 Merrimon Ave., Asheville, 6 p.m. Call 765-0571.

FRED CHAPPELL: Appalachian author talks about his works at Fountainhead Bookstore, 408 N. Main St., Hendersonville, 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $5. Call 697-1870.

WRITING DISCUSSION: Lenoir-Rhyne writing program director Laura Hope-Gill presents a talk on writing, "When the Beautiful Tree Blocks the View of the Beautiful Lake," at Malaprop's Bookstore/Café, 55 Haywood St., Asheville, 7 p.m. Call 254-6734.

SAMARITAN STORIES: "Listen to This: Stories in Performance" features tales about surprising saviors and unexpected Samaritans at the Asheville Community Theatre, 35 E. Walnut St., Asheville, 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $10. Call 254-1320.


RON ELLER: University of Kentucky professor and author of "Miners, Mill­hands and Mountaineers" and "Uneven Ground: Appalachia since 1945" presents the talk "The Gilded Age and Appalachia" as a keynote to the WNC Historical Association's "History Symposium," in the Reuter Center on the UNCA campus, 7 p.m. Call 253-9231; visit

PAM DURBAN: Award-winning author reads from her historical novel, "The Tree of Forgetfulness," at Malaprop's Bookstore/Café, 55 Haywood St., Asheville, 7 p.m. Call 254-6734.


WNC EXPERTS: Four major Appalachia scholars -- Richard Starnes, Kathryn Newfont, Steve Nash and Bruce Stewart -- give talks about the history of the exploitation of WNC, 1877-1900, in the WNC Historical Association's "History Symposium," in the Reuter Center on the UNCA campus, 9 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Cost is $90 (including lunch); $75 for OLLI and WNCHA members. Call 253-9231 or visit

AMERICAN GIRLS CLUB: The club meets to celebrate the American Girls book series at City Lights Bookstore, 3 E. Jackson St., Sylva, noon. Call 586-9499.

READING GROUP: The Animal Rights Reading Group meets to discuss written theories on animal rights at Firestorm Café and Books, 48 Commerce St., Asheville, 1 p.m. Call 255-8115.

KATHERINE SCOTT CRAWFORD: Author presents her debut historical novel, "Keowee Valley," at City Lights Bookstore, 3 E. Jackson St., Sylva, 2 p.m. Call 586-9499.

PETS FOR PRESIDENT: Asheville author Suzanne Kline and her Norfolk terrier, Cosmo, present "Cosmo for President," and author Nick Bruel presents his book, "Bad Kitty for President," at Malaprop's Bookstore/Café, 55 Haywood St., Asheville, 2 p.m. Call 254-6734.

JOHNNIE SUE MEYERS: Author and cook presents her Cherokee and Southern Appalachian traditional cookbook, "The Gathering Place," at Blue Ridge Books, 152 S. Main St., Waynesville, 3 p.m. Call 456-6000.

ALEX SANCHEZ: Author presents his young adult novel, "Boyfriends with Girlfriends," at Malaprop's Bookstore/Café, 55 Haywood St., Asheville, 7 p.m. Call 254-6734.

ASHEVILLE YOUTH SLAM: Youth poets, emcees, writers, and performers between the ages of 13 and 19 perform at the N.C. Stage Company, 15 Stage Lane, Asheville, 8 p.m. Tickets are $5. Call 239-0263.

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Downtown Asheville Enjoys Peak Tourism Traffic



10/22/2012 - Downtown Asheville Enjoys Peak Tourism Traffic
by Casey Blake - Asheville Citizen Times

ASHEVILLE -- Harold and Leslie Jenner may have been the best unofficial indicator that tourism season in the mountains was at fall peak this weekend.

Between the two of them they were toting about a half dozen shopping bags, two point-and-shoot cameras, a sack of lunch leftovers and not one but three fanny packs -- because one each just wasn't enough for a weekend like this.

"We tried to fit everything into two, but this is a big shopping weekend for us, so we had some real stuff to carry," said Leslie Jenner, of Bryson City, who joined her husband Harold for their annual October trek to Asheville.

"We always stay a couple nights, drive around and look at leaves and buy gifts at the Craft Fair," Leslie Jenner said. "We always think we'll just window shop at stores downtown but then we end up bag shopping, so there's no room for purses here on these arms."

Downtown businesses felt the fanny pack economic indicators in a big way this weekend, with leaf-peeping season in full swing and big tourist events, including the fall edition of the Craft Fair of the Southern Highlands and the annual Hard Lox festival, drawing shoppers downtown.

Lauren Napoli, a book seller with Malaprops bookstore downtown, said the weekend of the Craft Fair is usually one of the busiest the shop, located just up the street from the fair's U.S. Cellular Center home, sees all year.

"Historically, this is one of the best weekends we have all year as far as sales go, just behind Christmas weekend," Napoli said.

&ldq uo;We don't necessarily have way more people coming in, but they just seem to spend more. People just really come ready to shop."

Laila Boggs, shop and events coordinator for the Asheville Art Museum, said the gift shop and museum have seen record ticket sales, in part because of the museum's recent expansion and because of increased foot traffic from the Hard Lox Jewish Food and Heritage Festival, just outside the museum on Pack Square.

"Our ticket sales are up by about 400 percent from this time last year," Boggs said, "so we've seen a drastic increase from what was already a very busy weekend for us."

Boggs said shop sales were also up, by about 20 percent. "The festival has definitely helped us quite a bit."

Downtown hotels also felt the October uptick, with many reporting full occupancy. The Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority reported recently that hotel sales for the 2011-12 fiscal year were 9.2 percent above the previous year, although representatives of the TDA did not return calls for comment Sunday on occupancy rates so far this fall.

Gray Line Trolley Tours manager and tour guide Matt Wilson said the weekend kept the downtown trolleys at full steam with especially high ticket sales Friday and Saturday, and somewhat lower sales Sunday afternoon.

"October is always our very best month, with lots of out-of-towners," Wilson said. "With people wanting to look at leaves, it stays busy for pretty much the whole month, but especially when there are events folks are coming into town for."

Slightly out of the festival foot-traffic fray, Carmel's restaurant in the Grove Arcade also saw an increase in what is traditionally a very busy weekend for downtown restaurants, up from last year.

"It's actually been a record weekend for us -- we've been extremely busy all weekend," Carmel's co-owner Carole Bowers said.

"Octobers are almost always fantastic for us, but we've seen about a 15 percent bump from this weekend last year," Bowers said of the eatery, which filled its outdoor seating area almost all afternoon Saturday and Sunday.

"I think it's a combination of the great weather, the location close enough to all the festivals and shopping traffic and people just knowing our overall quality of food and service."

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Travel Picks: Top 10 U.S. destinations in October



10/17/2012 - Travel Picks: Top 10 U.S. destinations in October
by Reuters

NEW YORK (Reuters) - As the calendar page flips to October, we are fully and unquestionably into autumn. As thoughts turn to cooler days, harvest-driven fare and Columbus Day weekend, where are U.S. travelers heading? Online travel consultants took a look at the destinations that spiked in October flight searches and came up with a list of the Top 10 October destinations. Reuters has not endorsed this list:

1. Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Home of Louisiana State University and Saturday night football games at Death Valley, Baton Rouge is energized in the fall, especially when the Bengal Tigers are in the Top 5. This October, the SEC home opener rolls around in mid-October; surely fans from near and far are planning their pilgrimage. However, there is more to October than football in Baton Rouge. The city also hosts one of the most acclaimed Halloween attractions: the 13th Gate. This haunted house, complete with a 40,000-square-foot graveyard, is where Hollywood meets horror to give a trip into your worst dreams.

2. Fort Myers, Florida

While the snow birds are starting to trickle in, our guess is it's the shoulder season appeal that's attracting other travelers to this popular beach community. If you love warm instead of hot, are not interested in dodging hurricanes and want to beat the high-season costs, this is a great time to go to the Gulf Coast. Of course, fish also react to the slightly cooler air and water, which also makes October a prime time for anglers to head to the Fort Myers area to chase the migrating tarpon as well as the fall crop of red fish and mackerel.

3. Austin, Texas

A college town, state capital and popular year-round destination, what could make October particularly special in Austin? Well, how about back-to-back international festivals? First up is Austin City Limits (October 12-14), eight stages and nine hours a day of big names, rising stars and new sounds. Then the city turns itself over to the movie industry for eight nights of films and parties during the Austin Film Festival and Conference (October 18-25). Throw in a couple Big 12 Conference games for the Longhorns and great fall weather, and it's no wonder Austin is on this list.

4. Albuquerque, New Mexico

Here's a town that has a different burst of color every October. Rather than fiery leaves, Albuquerque's fall splendor is from a sea of hot air balloons. The annual Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta (October 6-14) is a draw for hundreds of thousands of visitors eager to watch, ride and photograph the mass ascension of the balloons as well as local food and entertainment. Of course, visitors to Albuquerque can also see Mother Nature's autumnal show, especially if they head up into the mountains. For a bird's-eye view, many take to the Sandia Peak Ski & Tramway, which carries you from the edge of the city 2.7 miles up to a 10,000-plus-foot summit.

5. Knoxville, Tennessee

Is the draw here football or fall foliage? It's hard to say, since Knoxville has plenty of both to offer in October. A gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Knoxville is a great starting point for a "leaf peeping" road trip into some of the Southeast's most colorful mountains. And the city itself is building its own "Urban Wilderness," a series of trails designed to connect and expand nearby parks, historic forts and a state wildlife management area to make outdoor activities and the area's natural beauty more accessible. The other colors vying for attention this month, though, are the orange of the University of Tennessee Volunteers and Alabama's Crimson Tide, which roll into town on October 20.

6. Toledo, Ohio

While many think of New England first when it comes to fall foliage, Ohioans will tell you that their state puts on a pretty spectacular show. With their lakefront locale, Toledo and nearby Maumee Bay State Park are great options for an immersion in autumn. With a choice of camping, cottages or lodge living, and hundreds of acres along Lake Erie for hiking, biking, golfing and fishing, visitors to the park find there is no shortage of ways to entertain themselves. However, any hint of boredom can be countered with a drive over to Cedar Point, home to some the most intense roller coasters in the world. In October, zombies and creepy clowns take over the park at sundown, making it an eerie destination worth the drive.

7. Asheville, North Carolina

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited national park in the US. The 10 million annual visitors come for the fresh air, flying fishing, horse-back riding, camping and, of course, scenery. Asheville sits on the eastern edge of this great park and welcomes nature seekers with a host of restaurants, hotels, spas, shops, concerts and crafts. With fall in full swing, it's not surprising that Asheville gets a bump in visitors. It's even better to know there's a full line-up of events - from Oktoberfest celebrations to Craft Week to the Ghost Train Halloween Festival - to keep visitors coming back.

8. Greenville, South Carolina

The emerging foodie destination throws its biggest festival the second weekend in October. This year marks the 31st Annual Fall for Greenville (October 12-14) and promises offerings from 40 local restaurants, as well as wine and beer tastings, cooking demonstrations, a jalapeño-eating contest and live music. With the growing acclaim for Greenville's restaurant scene and nightlife, this festival, well timed to lure those planning a fall mountain getaway, is becoming a highlight on the South Carolina tourism calendar.

9. Columbus, Ohio

Here's another toss-up: Is it the Nebraska Cornhuskers coming to town, the annual grape crush Via Vecchi Winery or the fall food and foliage that's drawing the crowd? One thing is for sure: It's events like the Circleville Pumpkin Show, the largest and oldest festival in the state, that epitomize the best of October in Ohio and beyond. This slice of American tradition attracts roughly 100,000 visitors on each of its four days who buy approximately 23,000 pumpkin pies and 100,000 pumpkin donuts. Since we're counting, the public has also crushed as many as 13,500 lbs. of grapes at past winery events. And the record for attendance for Ohio Stadium stands at just over 106,000. All in all, it seems like a busy month.

10. Tampa, Florida

This time of year, Tampa offer visitors easy access to beaches, a still-warm ocean and major tourist attractions that are off peak in terms of crowds, costs and high temperatures. Those are all good reasons to put Tampa on your October getaway must-go list. However, it's also worth noting that Tampa and its sister city, St Petersburg, like to throw a good party, especially if there are costumes involved. October is, of course, prime time for that. From Thrill Day (October 27), a zombie dance party on the St Pete pier, to Necronomicon, the 31st annual "convention of science-fiction, fantasy and horror fans," to Ybor City's takes on Oktoberfest and Halloween (or Guavaween, as the adult-centric celebration is called), it seems like Mickey Mouse isn't the only character you might see this month in Central Florida.

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Asheville families with kids volunteer together



10/16/2012 - Asheville families with kids volunteer together
by Amy Sullivan, Asheville Citizen Times

ARDEN -- For the Lowman family, it makes sense for Ally, 20, Daniel, 12, and Matthew, 9, to serve others. After all, parents Sean and Julie met through the Jackson Hole, Wyo., Jaycees, a leadership organization specializing in community service.

"After we were married and moved to North Carolina, we knew we needed to continue in the area community service," Julie Lowman said.

And continue to serve they have, all around Western North Carolina. They have worked with more than 12 organizations and service agencies over the years, including the March of Dimes, Special Olympics, Boys Scouts of America and CarePartners.

In addition to doing good for others, the Lowman children actually enjoy volunteer work.

One of daughter Ally's favorite childhood memories is watching her parents help run a breakfast where an entire street had been shut down, with batches of eggs and pancake batter mixed in giant buckets with electric drills.

Daniel loved being a part of the Mix 96.5 Christmas Extravaganza, and Matthew's favorite volunteer experience was making valentine cards for the residents of CarePartners day care.

The Lowmans believe that completing service activities as a family brings them closer together, and they admit fun is bound to happen when volunteer work requires your family to wear hairnets and plastic gloves. Thank you, MANNA FoodBank.

But where does a family interested in doing good for others find opportunities to serve? Check out these family-friendly ideas if you are considering having fun and doing good this school year.

The Rathbun Center

The Rathbun Center provides support services and lodging for patients and caregivers coming to Asheville for medical treatment.

How can families with young volunteers possibly contribute? Why not make cookies?

Recently, Masen Sherrill, 9, of Weaverville, spent an afternoon baking at the center.

"I made sugar cookies, put cream cheese icing on top, and then I put strawberries and blueberries on top of the icing," says Masen. "I made little pictures with the fruit like smiley faces, flowers, and Mickey Mouse ears. I bet the kids staying at the Rathbun Center loved the cookies."

Contact Caryl Dean at 251-0595.

Asheville Humane Society

If loving furry friends sounds fun, Asheville Humane Society has a place for your family to get involved. Although the Humane Society requires volunteers to be 18 or older to volunteer on their own, junior volunteers are welcome to work with parents after attending volunteer orientation and training sessions.

"Vol unteers have a wide variety of options to choose from here at the Adoption Center," said Heather Brennan, Asheville Humane Society's manager of community programs. "All of which can be done as a family."

She offered some examples: "Volunteers can suds up and clean dishes and laundry. They can play master chef and stuff Kong toys with food and treats for the dogs. They can interact and play with dogs, cats, puppies, kittens, rabbits, guinea pigs -- whatever we have in house.

"We also have special on-site and off-site events where they can participate in the Cookie Crew (decorating treats for the animals), hand out materials, make crafts, decorate crates and rooms and more."

Contact Brannan at or 761-2001.

Hands on Asheville-Buncombe

Hands On Asheville-Buncombe is the volunteer program of the United Way. It is a resource for people interested in getting involved with local nonprofits. Its user-friendly website allows potential volunteers to log on and discover service opportunities based on interests, needs and availability.

In addition, Hands On offers a program called Kids Care in which parents and children volunteer together.

"Kids Care is age-appropriate volunteering," states Julie Lowman. "It is a perfect fit for my boys."


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UNC Asheville Career and Graduate School Fair takes place Oct. 16



10/16/2012 - UNC Asheville Career and Graduate School Fair takes place Oct. 16
by Mountain XPress

The Career and Graduate School Fair offers a chance to meet local employers and representatives of graduate schools in the region. The fair, sponsored by UNC Asheville's Career Center, takes place from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 16 in the Kimmel Arena concourse at the Sherrill Center. The fair is free and open to all degree-seeking college students and college graduates.

Some 35 employers are scheduled to participate, including Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, Mission Health, WLOS, Home Trust Banking Partnership, City of Asheville, Blue Ridge Parkway and other representatives of industry, the service and retail sectors, government, the media and non-profit organizations. More than 20 graduate programs will also have a presence at the fair, which presents a chance to network, exchange information, and learn about professional and educational opportunities.

Because employers at the fair are seeking prospective employees with higher education, the Career and Graduate School Fair is only open to area college graduates and degree-seeking college students, including UNC Asheville students and alumni.

For more information, including the list of participating employers and graduate programs, visit, or call the UNC Asheville Career Center at 828/251-6515.

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