Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Fun Fall Favorites

By Amber Deen

Some Autumn favorites
Roaring Fork Falls and Setrock Creek Falls are my two favorite waterfalls because they’re nearby - just below Blue Ridge Parkway, the walk to both is short and easy, and they’re only three miles apart so I can visit them both in one excursion.  See more at, a nice site.

Burnsville’s Farmers’ Market is my “must do” thing on Saturday mornings.  You can see the row of white canvas booth tops west of Town Center from the light at 19E & South Main St.  All the fresh, naturally grown fruits and veggies, were picked just a couple of hours earlier.  There are also preserves, baked goods just made from those locally grown farm fresh fruits and veggies (I love the little loaves of rhubarb & strawberry “bread,” so moist, they’re more like cake), honey, preserves, fresh cut flowers, cheeses, and interesting mountain crafts.

The growers are happy to answer questions, and to suggest ways to cook produce you may not have tried before.  I learned how tasty Swiss Chard is when the leaves and stems are sliced and sautéed with onions.  Now a favorite veggie of mine. 

I also learned how much healthier is grass-fed beef that has no hormones or chemicals in it, and now buy it regularly at the Market.
Sometimes when I go, there are musicians playing traditional mountain music.  Along about 10am, the place is bustling.  It becomes a social hub every Saturday morning from 8:30am to 12:30pm.  IF the weather turns really cold and wet, everybody just sets up inside the Town Center, and the friendly bazaar-like socializing and business continue as usual.

Ranger programs & the museum at Mount Mitchell State Park.   Every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at 11am and 2pm, there are on a variety of subjects including the bears and other wildlife that live there, and the history of the park.  The talks are always interesting for children and adults. 

The hands-on museum is fun for every age too.  You can move around slices of model mountains to see the different ages of the formations, a version of counting tree rings to tell its age.  You can push a button on a picture of a bird (there are lots to choose from), and a little door will open like a book, and you can learn about the bird, and hear its call.  There’s also a mechanical mountain man in front of an authentic cabin who, when you push a button, will tell you an interesting story about Mount Mitchell. 

There’s a small campground in the park, a picnic area, a snack shop, a restaurant, and many trails to hike.  My favorite is the short and easy Balsam Trail.  It begins and ends up by the gift shop and snack shop, and goes through different kinds of forest.  When I worked there, I’d tell the kids how dark and spooky it was in one spot.  Their eyes would get real wide, and they’d beg their parents, “Oh, let’s go!  I want to go!”

The park is open 8am to 8pm in October, and accessed on road 288 from Blue Ridge Parkway at Milepost 355.  Phone 828 675-4611, or go to for details.  And read my last blog of Oct. 3, “Fall Forests Beckon,” about when I lived and worked at Mount Mitchell.
Mount Mitchell and Grassy Creek Golf Clubs are favorites of resident and visiting golfers.  They’re nearby and especially beautiful this time of year.  Mount Mitchell Club is below the Blue Ridge Parkway, not on Mount Mitchell.  Grassy Creek is about 30 minutes away in Spruce Pine.  Check out their websites: and 

Autumn calendar of fun things to do
Rural Academy of Theatre presents a free, innovative performance of live music, theater, and  puppetry; a silent film shown by bicycle power; and a variety of weird and fun “audience manipulated kinetic sculptures” (whatever that is), all unfolding from horse-drawn wagons Oct. 11 at 7:30pm on Burnsville’s Town Square.  Bring a blanket or chair, and a jacket.

“Wine and Unwind” wine tasting Oct. 12 from 2-7, at Burnsville Wine And…, 25 West Main St., a benefit for the 4-H Alumni and Friends Scholarship Fund.  Wines are for tasting or purchase by the glass or bottle.  There will be heavy hor d’oeuvres and door prizes (you need not be present to win).  The cost is $20.  For details, call my old friend Joyce Watts, who retired from Yancey County’s NC Cooperative Extension a few years ago as its director, got bored, and opened the wine shop, 828 682-3456.  Joyce has a wine tasting every Friday, and frequently for a charity, but this one is special because this charity is near and dear to her heart.

The play “Opal’s Baby,” by Burnsville Little Theatre Players, Oct. 11, 12, 13 at 7:30 and Oct. 14  at 2pm at historic Parkway Playhouse, a benefit for the County’s Operation Feed a Child.  Burnsville Little Theatre Players, a loosely knit group of residents who apparently like the joy and drudgery of putting on a show, was born in 1928 and, except for a few war years when male actors were scarce, has been staging two plays a year ever since.  Phone the diehard president-for-life and retired Air Force officer, Bob Wilson, 828 682-2609, for details. 
Toe River Art Council’s annual auction Oct. 13 of fabulous one-of-a-kind art pieces in every imaginable medium (and one or two you couldn’t imagine), all generously donated by our world-class artists of Yancey and Mitchell Counties.  The event is the Council’s primary funding source to enable it to continue to support the many resident artists – more artists per capita in Yancey County than any county in the country – who are the backbone of our community and our Cultural heritage, and a number of educational programs for our local schools.  Art lovers won’t want to miss this.  People come from all over to buy these incredible pieces at bargain prices.  Read details at

Yancey County Dream Home Tour Oct. 12 & 13, benefits Mayland Community College’s scholarship programs.  Six unique and beautiful homes in our county will be showcased.  There will also be a silent auction of artwork.  Get details at

Burnsville Car Show Oct. 13 benefits the Burnsville Fire Department.  There will be all makes and models of trucks, cars, and motorcycles, plus hot dogs, hamburgers, and music.  It’s all around Burnsville Town Square from 9am to 4pm, and like most events on Town Square, I’m sure it’ll be one giant, fun block party.

Mineral City Heritage Festival Oct. 13 will take place in our neighbor town, Spruce Pine, known as the Mineral City because mining is the town’s economic mainstay.  The Heritage Festival will have demonstrations of mountain skills such as making apple butter and caning chairs from 10am to 4pm.  Then stay for the evening of music from 6 to 10:30pm.  

Spruce Pine Potters Market Invitational, Oct 13/14, is a weekend sale featuring the work of 30 ceramic artists, many of the top ceramic artists in the southeast who live and work in Yancey and Mitchell Counties.  The Market runs from 10am to 5pm each day, and attracts several thousand people each year for the chance to meet many artists in one place, in one afternoon.   It’s free and light breakfast and lunch options will be available.   Call 828-765-0520 for details, or go to
Fall Stars on the Square Oct. 20.  Now that fall has arrived, it’s time for the Blue Ridge Astronomy Group’s fall stargazing event on Burnsville Town Square.  The evening begins at 7pm and lasts until midnight.  You may bring a telescope or, as always, there will be a variety of telescopes to share, their owners to explain what you’re looking at, and a sky full of amazing things to see.  There’s always a big turnout for these events.  For more information on the event and/or the astronomy group, see  

Town Square Scamper 5k Oct. 20.  This popular annual event benefits the county School Foundation.  You can run, stroll, walk or be a cheering spectator.  The “race” starts and finishes in front of Burnsville Town Hall.  So come join the fun for a good cause.  Contact Erica Deaton at 828 682-7557.

A leisurely Sunday walk in the woods Oct. 28, led by members of our NC High Peaks Trail Association, will take us from Blue Ridge Parkway to a fire tower with a spectacular view.  The Trail Association has one major hike early in every month, and a “stroll” for us older kids later in the month. The public is always invited. Many members also do trail clearing and maintenance during the month.  Those men and women get their exercise!  See pictures of them working and playing, and get updates of their schedule at  

The 2nd Annual Halloween Costume Ball Oct. 31, a benefit for Shortbus Studio, the daycare provider for developmentally handicapped individuals, will star Emmy nominated Kat Williams with her powerful Blues music.  There will be monsters, munchies, music, and more.  The location is Burnsville Town Center on South Main Street, a stone’s throw from Town Square.  Doors open at 7pm.  Tickets are $20.  Contact for details, or call 828 682-7209.  By the way, that website will have the entire listing of musical events at the Center as well, usually one every weekend.

Coming in the next blog:  more “don’t miss” favorites to see and do in the mountains.

Meanwhile, art appreciators can learn about many art-related events in this, and surrounding, areas at the Toe River Arts Council website,  You might want to ask for the weekly e-newsletter, full of information.  And don’t forget to check for updates on the Chamber of Commerce Calendar,

You’re invited… as always, to come and let us show you what life is like in The Cove at Celo Mountain and Yancey County.  We want you to explore the ancient peaks and hollows and waterfalls of our forests.  Stroll and shop and enjoy a meal in our postcard-perfect Burnsville.  Be amazed at the beauty and quality of art that comes from the studios of our nationally renown artists and Penland School of Crafts.  Then stroll with us around The Cove at Celo Mountain…walk the trails…relax in the picnic areas beside the creek…watch the sunset from the ridge. 

Make reservations today for your two-day October Getaway.  Phone us for details at 866 378-4769.  And give yourself an autumn treat.  You deserve it, and probably need it.

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