If you’re lucky enough to stay home this Labor Day weekend, revel in the fact you live somewhere other people — lots of other people — love to visit.
By Friday, droves of tourists will be here. In our house, we approach these prime time tourist weekends the same way others react to the weatherman’s call for a wintery mix: hit the store and stock up while the getting is good, because by Saturday, the inventory of hotdog buns and selection of sweet pickle relish will be severely depleted.
But there’s an upside to living in the midst of all this tourism mayhem. Every town seems to offer some kind of Labor Day festival or party that we, as locals, get to bask in. The hard part will be choosing.
• In Canton, a hometown Labor Day parade will weave through downtown at 10 a.m. Monday. With centuries-old roots as a blue-collar paper mill town, no one does Labor Day bigger than Canton. The Canton Labor Day festival — now in its impressive 107th year — runs Friday through Monday at the town park on Penland Street, and comes complete with carnival rides, bluegrass, country and gospel acts, clogging groups and youth performances. (See www.cantonnc.com/events for each day’s schedule.) Note there’s a contemporary youth Christian concert from 6 to 10 p.m. Sunday.
• At Lake Junaluska, the Smoky Mountain Folk Festival held Friday and Saturday evening is a great place for kids to get up-close and personal with bluegrass. A staggering 40 some musical acts and clogging groups will take the stage at Stuart Auditorium over the two-night run.
But you don’t need a ticket to mosey around the jam sessions on the lawn just outside the auditorium. My kids are captivated by being so close to these intimate huddles of musicians, innately sensing the special interplay that unfolds as their hands work the strings, trading melodies and weaving impromptu tunes. A special show for children with songs and stories will be staged each evening at 5 p.m. under a big tent outside the auditorium, and is free as well.
• In Cashiers, you can even catch a fireworks show Sunday, Sept. 1, on the Village Green. This is a reschedule from the rainout on July Fourth. A free concert by the energetic pop-rock-folk-blues band The Extrodinaires will be held Sunday evening before the fireworks, with beer, wine and food for sale on-site.
• In Waynesville, a Saturday night downtown block party features a “Kids on Main” segment from 6 to 7 p.m. with various activities geared for kids scattered up and down Main Street. The street will be closed to cars and taken over by pedestrians, with live bands from 7 to 10 p.m.
As always, check our calendar for more great stuff going on.