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Archive for the 'Family Fun' Category

Cherokee’s Street Chiefs, in the Tradition of Chief Henry

It’s a marketing technique that’s uniquely Cherokee — street chiefs and dancers perform on curbside stages outside retail shops and souvenir stores, attracting crowds of shoppers. The shows, often featuring the traditional, ‘friendship dance’, ‘eagle dance’ and ‘hoop dance’, are free; yet tipping is encouraged, particularly when the “chiefs” pose for photographs. It’s a tradition that began years ago with the late Chief Henry, who was once billed as “The World’s Most Photographed Indian.”

And yes, their Native American regalia often represents indian nations and traditions other than Cherokee.

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Beware the Hoards of Sugar-Crazed Children

Robin Montieth hands out candy at last year’s Trick or Treat Day, the annual Halloween event where hoards of costumed children invade downtown Bryson City (now that’s scary!).

This year, on Monday October 31, the town will again close off Everett Street at 3:30 and turn the two-block area over to the kids. There’ll be prizes for the best costumes. Merchants will provide the treats. And if this year is anything like last — the largest turnout in the history of the event — the trick will be not running out of treats.

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Mountain Biking in the Smokies. What Other Kind is There?

Henry Singer, age 4, gets a little boost from his father Rob during Bryson City’s third annual “Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day.”

The first Saturday of October every year has been named Take A Kid Mountain Biking Day by the International Mountain Bike Association (IMBA). IMBA, along with the National Park Service and other sponsors organize the event, and this year over 200 events were hosted nationwide.

Bryson City Bicycles hosted the local event at the Deep Creek area of the National Park. Fourteen local kids braved the chilly October morning to take the ride along Deep Creek. Ranger Doug talked to the group about his police bike, wildlife in the park, and how to treat the park with respect. After the ride, kids participated in bike riding games like paperboy, slowest rider, cone slalom and stop on a line. The day wrapped up with prizes and snacks.

Photo by Scott Baste

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Hear Smoky Mountain Ghost Stories on a Ride Through Haunted Woods

Swain County’s history chronicles a number of tragic deaths — like poor Andrew Jackson Lambert, who on July 9, 1886 became the only man to be hanged in Swain County. He was an innocent man.

Lambert is one of the seven ghosts that haunt the woods beside the Tuckaseegee River in Whittier. Tim “the storyteller” Hall relates each of their stories (all true) on his “Tuckaseegee Terror Tales Tour”, a spooky covered wagon ride through those Whittier woods.

Tim normally spins yarns at his Storytelling Center of the Southern Appalachian on Everett Street in Bryson City.  But in the spirit of Halloween, he’s offering the ghostly wagon rides in Whittier every Thursday, Friday and Saturday evening in October. The rides ($5) begin at 7 pm and last about 30 minutes. For more information, call 828-488-5705 or check out Tim’s Facebook page.

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How About That? A Parade With Floats That Actually Float!

The Nantahala River’s summer-long parade of inflatable rafts, kayaks and duckies was recently interrupted for an entirely different kind of parade — the Nantahala Outdoor Center’s annual “Christmas in August” parade of outrageous, oddball rafts.

Each year in early August, NOC closes its facilities for a one-day staff appreciation celebration. The parade is the biggest draw of the event, but there’s also a duckie rodeo in the Nantahala Falls, BBQ, live music and a DJ’d dance party. The “French Broad Express” (above) was just one of many ‘floats’ constructed by NOC staffers, each attempting to out-shine the others. More photos

Thanks to Lloyd Brown, of Miami, for this week’s Postcard photo.

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With Their Eyes on Another Title, Swain Begins the Season With a Win

If you don’t think football is big in Bryson City and Swain County, you should have seen the turnout for Thursday’s Pep Rally and Parade. Despite the drizzle, Everett Street was lined with enthusiastic fans cheering for their home town heroes.

Favored to win the tough Smoky Mountain Conference, the Swain Maroon Devils began their season with 21–14 win at East Henderson Friday night. This week, they’ll face Smoky Mountain High for the first home game of the year.

Want to attend a Maroon Devils home game? Kickoff is at 7:30 pm. Tickets are $5. The stadium is on Fontana Road, just north of town.

08/26 Smoky Mountain (Sylva, NC)
09/24 Pikeville, KY
10/07 Cherokee, NC
10/14 Andrews, NC
10/28 Murphy, NC

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The Nantahala River – eight miles of whitewater fun

A group of colorful rafts emerge from the morning mist. They’ve just begun their eight-mile journey down the wild and scenic Nantahala River.

The first few minutes of a Nantahala rafting trip are rather calm and uneventful, giving everyone in the boat time to get settled and practice paddling. Guides will take this time to discuss maneuvering techniques and teamwork. But just around the bend is one of the most exciting whitewater features on the river — Patton’s Run. And that’s when the fun begins.

For more about whitewater rafting in the Smokies, including a directory of outfitters, visit the Travel Guide to Bryson City and The Great Smoky Mountains.

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Around the bonfire — Tales of Cherokee folklore

For centuries, tales of Cherokee history and folklore have been passed from generation to generation in spoken form, most likely at day’s end by the light of a campfire. And that tradition is carried on today at the Friday and Saturday evening bonfires at Cherokee’s Island Park.

Above, storyteller John John Toineeta entertains his audience with a scary story. He and other storytellers and dancers teach traditional dances and Cherokee legends each Friday and Saturdays starting at 7:00pm. There are free marshmallows to roast and you might be invited to join in a Cherokee dance. Storytelling runs through October 1 and then takes a few weeks off before moving to the Haunted Indian Village October 21-31 with all scary stories.

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Strawberry Jam Draws Draft Horses and Antique Plows

Farmers from all over Western North Carolina brought their work horses and antique plows to last week’s Strawberry Jam festival at Darnell Farms, just east of Bryson City. R.A. Luker (above) of the Tuckasegee Community took part in the plowing demonstrations using this 19th century Oliver #83 plow pulled by his two Belgian Draft Horses, Dick and Don.

Jeff and Nate Darnell stage the festival each spring at the peak of the Strawberry season to celebrate the delicious berry …and possibly, as someone laughed, “to get the field plowed.”

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The Strawberry Season Peaks in the Smokies

Three-year-old Jewlz White samples one of the juicy ripe strawberries she had just picked at Darnell Farms yesterday. She and her grandparents came from the Stecoah Community to pick berries at the Darnell’s Strawberry Jam festival, held annually at the peak of the berry season.

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Easter Bunny Includes Bryson City on 2011 World Tour

Yesterday, at the Swain County Chamber of Commerce’s annual Easter egg hunt, local children had the opportunity to meet the famed Easter Bunny up close and in person. As he’s done in years past, the legendary great white rabbit again included Bryson City on his world tour of holiday egg hunts.

Chamber Executive Director Karen Wilmot was thrilled with the Big Bunny’s arrival saying “Bryson City is indeed fortunate to have such a celebrity at our egg hunt. The kids were awe-struck. And the Bunny almost seemed dazed by their admiration. We’re already working to book him again for 2012. Keep your fingers crossed.”

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New GSMNP Visitor Center Celebrates Mountain Heritage

The National Park’s new 6,300-square-foot Oconaluftee facility is much more than a mere Visitor Center. Its centerpiece is an impressive museum dedicated to the Smokies’ cultural heritage, beginning with the Early People — the Cherokees. It follows the influx of European settlers in the late 1700s and documents many facets of their often hardscrabble life in the mountains — including ‘moonshining’.

The museum complements the Park’s other museum at Sugarlands Visitor Center, just outside of Gatlinburg, Tennessee, which highlights the natural resources and biodiversity of the park.

Located two miles north of Cherokee, NC at the park entrance, the new facility includes a much larger and more convenient comfort station. The spacious bookstore is run by the Great Smoky Mountains Association. The old Visitor Center, built in 1941, will now house office space for park staff and meeting space for park functions.

No tax dollars were used for this Visitor Center. The Great Smoky Mountains Association provided over three million dollars to finance the construction of the buildings. Friends of the Smokies spent more than $500,000 for the information and cultural resource exhibits.

The Visitor Center opens at 8:00 am every day except Christmas. Closing times vary with the season — from 4:30 pm in mid-winter to 7:00 pm in mid-summer. For more visitor information, visit the GSMNP website.

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This Year, Take a Learning Vacation in the Smokies

Preserving the rich heritage of traditional Appalachian arts and crafts is a passion for artisans throughout the Smokies. Their creativity and craftsmanship is on display at more than a dozen Bryson City area shops and galleries.

For some of these artisans, preserving that heritage includes sharing their knowledge through classes in pottery, weaving, basketmaking and quilting. Elise Pincu Delfield offers classes to locals and vacationers of all ages at her Bryson City studio-gallery, Pincu Pottery. Above, she introduces students (l-r) Katharine Beckwith, Haylee Gerard and Gillian Gerard to the potter’s wheel.

For other vacation learning opportunities in the Bryson City area, visit the “Learn Something New” page of the Bryson City online travel guide.

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A Christmas Snow for the North Carolina Mountains

Dreams of a white Christmas came true in the Smokies this year, with a thick blanket of snow that’s still falling on the 26th. About seven inches was measured at the Whittier home above where a lighted holly tree illuminates the snowy scene.

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Low Tech and No Plastic. Making Toys The Old Fashioned Way.

Before boarding the Polar Express train, Chloe and Owen LaVigne of Midlothian, Virginia paid a visit to the Appalachian Toymaker’s shop, located across the street from the train depot. Tim Hall has transformed his Bryson City Storytelling Center into an old-fashioned toymaker’s shop for the holidays, making hand crafted Appalachian wooden toys and spinning yarns. Above, Tim uses his Barlow knife to put the finishing touches on a ‘ball and cup’ toss toy.

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Ghosts, Goblins, Fairies, Monsters …And One Ugly Baby!

Last Friday afternoon, Bryson City was invaded by hordes of costumed creatures, when the town turned Everett Street over to the annual Trick-or-Treat Day. Merchants and civic groups handed out treats to the largest parade of ‘trick-or-treaters’ in the history of the event. If candy wasn’t enough, The Grove Church added free hotdogs and popcorn.

Above, even the scariest of creatures were taken aback by the ugly baby in the bassinet …who in real life is the lovely Caitlyn Carter — one of the winners of the best costume contest.

Left, the mischievous Robin Hood (Robert Waldroup) sneaks up on the demure Maid Marion (Brandi Sutton).







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Autumn Color — Take Some Home With You

Every October, people come to the Smoky Mountains to view the brilliant colors of autumn. And many of them take a little of that color back home with them — in the form of a bright, golden pumpkin from a local farm. Above, Allene Jenkins of Bryson City checks out the fall display of pumpkins and squash for sale at Darnell Farms, a family run business just east of Bryson City on Highway 19 at the Tuckaseigee River bridge.

Besides fall favorites — pumpkins, potatoes and apples — the farm has delicious strawberries every May and fresh produce throughout the summer. You’ll also find locally made jams, preserves, honey, salsas and boiled peanuts. There’s a river walk along side the Tuckaseigee and in the Fall hayrides for the kids. You might even catch some musicians jamming on the weekends. Darnell Farms is open every day. Call 828-488-2376.

When you return home with your pumpkins, try this recipe from the Hemlock Inn, a Bryson City Country Inn —

Myrtle’s Pumpkin Bread
2-1/2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
2 cups cooked pumpkin
1/2 cup peanut oil
1/2 teaspoon cloves
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Mix all ingredients together. Grease and flour two one-pound coffee cans. Pour batter into cans and bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for one hour. Turn off oven and leave in oven for 15 minutes. Turn out of coffee cans on cloth when cool. Serves 16.

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In the Smokies, Life Will Imitate The Movies

In the popular film, “Night At The Museum”, all the animals and characters in the exhibits come to life. In the Smokies next week, another museum will come to life when the Mountain Farm Museum hosts the annual Mountain Life Festival.

The Mountain Farm Museum is a collection of 19th Century farm buildings moved from different sites throughout the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and assembled in a grassy field alongside the Oconalufee River near Cherokee. Throughout the summer, the museum is a sleepy 19th century farm, with crops such as squash, corn and tomatoes cultivated in the garden and live farm animals grazing in the fields.

And on September 18, the farm will come to life with live demonstrations of soap making, hearth cooking, hominy, apple butter and cider, plus a working cane mill and wood-fired cooker used for the making of sorghum syrup — activities that typified rural life in the Smokies during harvest time.

Mountain Life Festival (free)
Saturday, September 18
10 am – 4 pm
Mountain Farm Museum
Great Smoky Mountains National Park Oconaluftee Visitors Center
Cherokee, NC

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Virginia’s Smoky Mountains Birthday

Virginia Hill came all the way from New York to celebrate her birthday in the Smoky Mountains of Western North Carolina. Her father, Garius, snapped the above photo and provided the following caption —

“This was a wonderful moment for Virginia and our family. Bryson City and the Nantahala area provided an amazing 12th birthday for Virginia. In one day, we camped in the Smokies, rode on a scenic train through the mountains, whitewater rafted, zip lined through the canopy of giant trees, ate a fabulous dinner in a mountain resort and slept that night in a yurt.”

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Cherokee’s Island Park — The Smokies’ Largest ‘Beach’

The Great Smoky Mountains are known for beautiful lakes, rivers and mountain streams …but not necessarily for beaches. That’s because the banks are often rocky and steep, and the waters too swift for casual wading. But in downtown Cherokee at Island Park, the Oconaluftee River widens and becomes shallow enough for children to enjoy playing and splashing in the water. It’s the Smokies’ solution for a day at the beach.

Nowhere else in the Smokies will you find as many different ways to enjoy water as the Bryson City area offers. To learn everything you can do in ‘Mother Nature’s Water Park’ go here.

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