By: Tony Kiss and Mackensy Lunsford
RiverMusic is back. So is Asheville's Beer City Festival. There are new ones too, including the Mother Earth News Fair.
After a long cold winter, spring has arrived (by the calendar anyway), and with the season comes spring fests -- art walks, rock shows and new events like Mother Earth News Fair.
It's been a bumpy time for local festivals, with the demise of Asheville's big Bele Chere street party and the recent cancellation of Mountain Oasis Electronic Music Summit, scheduled for Halloween.
But after a one-year break, the retooled Moogfest has returned with a five-day lineup of concerts and workshops. And many other celebrations are in the planning stages, like the new Little Montford Festival, which will make its debut this summer on a date to be announced. All Go West comes back June 7, and there's another new fest in store for summer: Yoga Fest, slated for July 11-13. More on those in future issues.
Meantime, here's a rundown on what's coming up this spring.
Mother Earth News Fair goes whole hog
While fermentation and charcuterie are in the food-trend spotlight, sustainable living is no fad. And it's at the heart of the Mother Earth News Fair, which in April weaves together animal husbandry demonstrations and keynote talks from the likes of Sandor Katz, a fermentation superstar of sorts.
Mother Earth News is a publication geared toward every point on the green-living spectrum -- everything from making pizza to creating a micro-dairy.
The publication's first fair was in Pennsylvania in 2010. This will be the fair's southeastern (and Asheville) debut. Yet Mother Earth News has deep roots in the area. The 44-year-old publication employed hundreds and hosted thousands each summer between the mid-'70s and '80s on its 600-acre eco-village in Hendersonville.
Though most demos at this year's fair are built on a DIY foundation, focusing on practical skills like composting, some topics are more esoteric and take on TED-talk overtones.
Author Douglas Stevenson, who grew up on The Farm Community, talks about life on one of the largest and longest-lived communes in the country. And Lee Walker Warren of the Organic Growers School will talk about the benefits and challenges of cooperative farming.
Sandor Katz, who's been featured in the New York Times and the New Yorker for his fermentation prowess -- a subject about which he's written several books -- will talk about the technique's history.
But some of the most interesting exhibits are also the most basic. For example, creative tips for rethinking household food budgets and stocking the kitchen pantry appropriately. Workshops will detail ways to save your own herb and flower seeds, grow culinary herbs and use them in meals.
On the food-making front, workshops will detail cheese-making, charcuterie and even whole-animal butchery. Matt Helms, butcher at Foothills Farm and Butchery will lead a demonstration for breaking down a pig and will discuss techniques and cooking uses for all parts of the animal.
Helms, once the executive chef of Frank, an artisan hot dog and sausage restaurant in Austin, Tex., will also lead an intro to sausage and charcuterie for home chefs.
And if you really want to go homegrown with pork, there's also a workshop that shows you how to pick a pig and raise it right.
More fests and happenings
Downtown Art Walks, beginning April 4 and running through December. More than 20 downtown Asheville art galleries participate, all within a half-mile radius of each other. Many galleries offer refreshments on the night of these free self-guided tours. http://www.ashevilledowntowngalleries.org.
The ReHappening, April 5. It's a one-day celebration that channels the artsy former Black Mountain College "happenings" of the '50s and is a collaboration between Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center and the nonprofit Media Arts Project. www.rehappening.com.
Beer, Bites and Bands, April 4-5. Two Biltmore Village breweries and eight restaurants partner up for this new fest, which runs 5-10 p.m. both nights. $25 per person includes food, music and flights of beer from French Broad Brewery and Catawba Brewing Co., which just opened a new tasting room in the village. www.historicbiltmorevillage.com.
Biltmore Blooms, through May 23, Biltmore estate. The grounds at Biltmore are popping with floral color in this big signature event. Keep track of the flowers online at www.Biltmore.com/WhatsBlooming. The celebration includes lots of live music, demonstrations and the annual Easter Egg Hunt and brunches at estate restaurants April 20.
Moogfest, April 23-27, performances at Thomas Wolfe Auditorium, U.S. Cellular Center, The Orange Peel, Asheville Community Theatre, The Mill Room, Diana Wortham Theatre and other venues. More than 70 acts booked including Kraftwerk, the Pet Shop Boys, MIA, Nile Rodgers and Chic, Flying Lotus, Zed's Dead and Dillon Francis. Moogfest will also include daytime lectures and seminars. www.moogfest.com.
Merlefest, April 24-27, Wilkes Community College, Wilkesboro. One of the nation's big Americana music events, guests this year include Alan Jackson, the Carolina Chocolate Drops, Dailey and Vincent with Jimmy Fortune, the Claire Lynch Band, Donna the Buffalo, Ralph Stanley, Clinch Mountain Boys and others. www.merlefest.org.
Fire on the Mountain Blacksmith Festival, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. April 26, downtown Spruce Pine. Demonstrations and sales from area blacksmiths, plus food and craft vendors. www.downtownsprucepine.com.
Greening Up the Mountains Festival, April 26, downtown Sylva. The day includes two music stages, a 5K race, children's entertainment, a talent show, craft demonstrations and more. www.greeningupthemountains.com.
Hickory Hops Brew Festival, April 26, downtown Hickory. The area's first big outdoor beer festival of the year, the 11th annual edition will feature many regional breweries from Bryson City to Kill Devil Hills and elsewhere. The Baby Black Orchestra will perform, plus another band to be announced. www.hickoryhops.com
Asheville Herb Festival, May 2-4, Western North Carolina Farmer's Market. This is the place to get your herbs, tomatoes, flowers and other spring plants. www.ashevilleherbfestival.com.
French Broad River Festival, May 2-4, Hot Springs, NC. Now in its 17th year, it includes lots of music by such bands as Toubab Krewe, the Jeff Sipe Trio, Pierce Edens and the Dirtywork, Dangermuffin, the Accomplices and more, plus outdoor events including whitewater raft and mountain bike, races, food, outdoor gear and prizes, kids village and more at the Hot Springs Campground & Spa. Festival Early Bird tickets are $80 online (www.FrenchBroadRiverFestival.com) prior to 4/20/13. $90 at the gate.230-4054.
LEAF Festival, spring edition, May 8-11, Camp Rockmont, Black Mountain. The big names this spring are Chicano rockers Los Lobos, funk legend Bootsy Collins, Sierra Leone Refugee All-Stars, world fusion players Beats Antique, The Lee Boys with sacred steel music, Bhangra band Red Baraat, rock group The Fritz, dance band Wild Asparagus and Colorado folk players Elephant Revival. Now is the time to get tickets; discount tickets are available until midnight March 31. All tickets must be purchased in advance. www.theleaf.org.
Mother's Day Gemboree, May 9-11, Macon County Community Building, U.S. 441, Franklin. Gem and mineral dealers will show and sell stones. www.fgmm.org.
Downtown After 5, shows on the third Friday of the month May-September. The Asheville Downtown Association will again host free musical parties on Lexington Avenue, near the I-240 overpass. May 16: St. Paul and the Broken Bones, the Broadcast. June 20: Drivin' N' Cryin', American Aquarium. July 18: Hayes Carll, Chatham County Line. Aug. 15: The Dynamites featuring Charles Walker, Ruby Velle and the Soulphonics. Sept. 19: Asheville All-Stars, Asheville Rock Academy. www.asheville downtown.org.
Montford Music and Arts Festival, May 17, Asheville's Montford. This neighborhood celebration will have over 100 vendors and two stages of music. www.montfordfestival.org.
Saluda Arts Festival, May 17, Saluda. Historic downtown Saluda will be filled with various arts vendors.
White Squirrel Festival, May 23-25, downtown Brevard. Live music by such acts as Shannon Whitworth, plus music, food vendors, arts, crafts, activities and 5K and 10K races. whitesquirrelfestival.com.
Garden Jubilee Festival, May 24-25, downtown Hendersonville. Southern Living garden expert Bill Slack presents free lectures. http://www.historichendersonville.org/garden_jubilee.
RiverMusic, concerts at the RiverLink Performance and Sculpture Park on Riverside Drive. May 30: Orgone, Emefe. June 13: Treetop Flyers and River Whyless. July 11: Billy Sea and River Guerguerian with the Jeff Sipe Global Percussion Ensemble, Robert Mangum and Parrish Ellis. Aug. 9: Soldier's Heart, Ashley Heath and Plankeye Peggy. Aug. 29: Artimus Pyle Band, Andrew Scotchie and the River Rats. Sept. 12: Fruition and The Fireside Collective.
Beer City Festival, May 31, Roger McGuire Green, Pack Square Park. This celebration of local suds honors Asheville's long run as winner of the Beer City USA poll. More than 30 breweries are expected. Tickets on sale April 15 at local breweries, and online one week later at www.brewgrassfestival .com.
COME TO MAMAWhat: The Mother Earth News Fair is a family-friendly sustainable living event with more than 200 hands-on workshops and demonstrations from homesteading to green building. Want to learn how to grow food and store it for winter? This is your event. There will also be children's projects; vendor, livestock and craft demonstrations; and local and organic food offerings. When: Apr 12, 9 a.m.-7 p.m.; April 13: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Where: Western North Carolina Agricultural Center, 1301 Fanning Bridge Road, Fletcher.Tickets: Weekend pass, pre-ordered: $25, at the gate: $30; single-day pass, pre-ordered: $20, at the gate: $25. Children 17 and under get in. Tickets at 234-3368, www.motherearthnews.com, and at the gate.