October is high season here at our bed and breakfast in Asheville, so James and I have to grab free time when we get it. Long hikes and days off are out of the question but we did manage to enjoy some of the activities Asheville has to offer in shorter spurts over the past few weeks.
One of the things guests at the Carolina Bed & Breakfast often ask about is the Folk Art Center on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Asheville is justly known as a center for the Arts, both modern and traditional. The Folk Art Center is home to the Southern Highlands Craft Guild. Formed in the 1930’s the Guild is comprised of over 1000 members from more
than 200 counties in the southeastern United States. James and I had not had occasion to visit it until this past week (although we shamelessly sent people there based on its reputation!). I am so glad that we took the time out to visit the Center. The name “Folk Art Center” undersells the facility. The artwork and the craftsmanship which is on display and for sale there is of a high quality and worth the short and pleasant drive along the Parkway. While there are many stores and galleries in Asheville itself which sell traditional crafts and original art, the Center has a concentration of quality and quantity unavailable in any one location in town. Some of the craftsman were familiar to us from the Southern Highlands Crafts Fair which takes place at the Civic Center in Asheville twice a year in July and October. Others were newer members. Overall, if you are interested in mountain crafts or looking for an unusual and beautiful gift, this is the place to go.
If you are enjoying the small towns and scenery outside of Asheville, you may visit the town of Weaverville twenty minutes from the Carolina. This small town is a haven for artists as well with a number of galleries to visit. This coming weekend, October 27 and 28 the artists of the town will be holding a studio crawl similar to the one held at the River Arts District. While on a smaller scale, the Art Safari has the advantage of getting you out of town and into the mountains! While you are in town you may want to enjoy lunch at the Jack of Hearts Pub. James and I recently ate there and, while I greatly enjoyed my salad, he had a monumental Chicken Parmesan Sub on Pretzel Bread which was awesome!
The Corner Kitchen in Biltmore Village has just opened a new restaurant in downtown Asheville, Chestnut. It is a brave restauranteur who opens at the start of the high season. Even the most highly polished teams sometimes slip up under the pressure of repeated nights of high occupancy. Our experience at Chestnut was mixed. The food was generally good, although the waiter brought us our bill after the first course seeming to have forgotten we actually ordered a full meal! Glancing at the TripAdvisor reviews which have been posted, it would seem that our experience was not unusual. I imagine that Chestnut may rise above these opening pains with time and we will be happy to give it another try in about six months–we are always delighted to have a new place to dine!
James and I have also been able to slip out for a few shows in the past weeks. Once to see our beloved Montford Park Players open their winter season in the Masonic Temple with Macbeth. The Masonic Temple with its small thrust stage theater holds only ninety seats and provides an appropriately eerie setting for this tale of ambition and murder. Our second two outings were to the Diana Wortham Theater. This theater is a relatively small theater (500 seats) which brings in shows for one or two nights. We had tickets to a
political satire group called The Capitol Steps (which was fall out of your chair funny). I highly recommend them if they come to your town–no matter which side of the aisle you are on. While we were at that show we noticed that Janis Ian and Tom Paxton were the next show coming up. I imagine only half of my readers even know who they are but for those of us who grew up in the sixties they were some pretty famous folk singers. Of course the show was sold out. However, James called the box office on the night of the performance and found that someone had returned two tickets. The point of all this being that you never know what is happening in Asheville until you get here and while the town is very busy in October, it is always worth calling to see if anything has opened up at the last minute–even rooms!
If you are coming to Asheville and would like to know what is up and coming there are two very good websites we recommend: Romantic Asheville and the website of our Chamber of Commerce, Explore Asheville. Another good site for weekly updates is Mountain Express. And of course, you can always call James and me for information and ideas!