The AT experience won’t be left behind

out frIt’s been nearly eight years since Amy “Willow” Allen passed through Western North Carolina as a tired-and-hungry AT through-hiker. But her journey didn’t end at the summit of Mount Katahdin. 

“It isn’t something you leave behind,” she said. “Once you become part of that community, it is part of who you are.”

SEE ALSO: Celebrate the Appalachian Trail season

2013: The year in review

cover2013 is behind us now, and all the news reported over the last 12 months is headed for the history books or perhaps a less-lofty final resting place. But lest we all forget, here’s our annual tongue-in-cheek awards, a tribute to those who played some small part in the events that held our interest for at least a few moments during the past year. 

WCU will digitize historic Smokies photos

out frWestern Carolina University’s Hunter Library will produce a new digital collection of 2,000 items focused on the history of Great Smoky Mountains National Park with support from a $93,000 grant from the North Carolina State Library.

“The park certainly has an amazing and well-cared-for archive, but it’s locked away,” said Anne Fariello, associate professor of digital initiatives with Hunter Library. “We will be digitally preserving and increasing access to material that is important, not only to the development of the park, but also to the region.”

Holiday Roundup: Christmas comes to Appalachia

art frAs the temperatures drop in Western North Carolina, the fun only heats up. The holiday season here is filled with events and activities aimed at celebrating the best way we know how — with friends, family and visitors alike.

Families can partake in wagon rides, iceless skating, craft sales and art demonstrations, all the while enjoying authentic mountain music, clogging and parades throughout several downtowns. These are just some of the activities happening around the region, with each and every date, time and place found within this section.

Trick or Treat in Western North Carolina

Bryson City

• Haunted Halls of Havoc and Corn Maze will be from 7:30 to 10 p.m. Oct. 24-27 at Darnell Farms in Bryson City. Haunted house, hayrides and corn maze. $5 per person, with children under age 3 admitted free. 828.488.3167 or 828.488.2376 or 

• The Peanuts Pumpkin Patch Express will ride from Oct. 25-27 at the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad depot. Guests will hear narrations of “It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.” Characters will be on-site at pumpkin patch. Tickets are $55 per person, $31 for children ages 2-12 and free for children under age 2. 800.872.4681 or 

• Plow Day Festival will be an all-day event Saturday, Oct. 26, at Darnell Farms. Hayrides, corn maze, plowing demonstrations and live bluegrass music. There will also be a pumpkin patch, ice cream and fresh produce. 828.488.2376 or 

• A spooky comedy will be screened at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 29, at the Marianna Black Library in Bryson City. The film stars Adam Sandler as the Hotel Transylvania owner Dracula. Free. Popcorn provided. 828.488.3030.

• Octoberbest will be at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 29, at The Storytelling Center in Bryson City. Celebrate the season with mountain stories, live music by the Dulcimer Duo, cowboy coffee and glazed almonds. $5 for adults, $3 for students. 828.488.5705 or 

• “Downtown Trick or Treat” will be from 3:30 to 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 31. With the streets closed, children can go trick or treating around to downtown merchants. There will also be a costume contest, with the winner receiving a gift certificate to Soda Pops. Free. 800.867.9246 or 



• The third annual Haunted Cherokee Halloween celebration will be at 7 p.m. Oct. 25-27, 30-31 and Nov. 1-2 at the Mountainside Theater and the Oconolafutee Indian Village. The 5 Little Pumpkins Scare-Free Kids Zone will showcase a magician, obstacle course/maze, hayride and other activities, with tickets at $5 per person. The Haunted Theatre will offer a frightening performance, $10. The Little Dorm of Horrors building presents a “worst nightmare” as creatures try to catch you in their habitat, $8. The Myths and Legends Ghost Walk offers storytelling and characters, $10. The Cherokee Zombie Run fundraiser for the Mountain Discovery Charter School will be from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 2. The celebration is sponsored by the Cherokee Historical Association. Tickets available in advance online or day of at Mountainside Theater Box Office. 828.497.2111 or 



• The “Pumpkin Patch Trail” will be from 7 to 9 p.m. Friday, Oct. 25, at the Jackson County Recreation Complex. Trick or treating will be offered throughout the park. Free. 



• Halloween activities will run from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 31, in Dillsboro. Children can trick or treat around downtown, with games at Dogwood Crafters and hayrides provided by Jarrett Memorial Church. Free. 



• Fall Hayrides and Haunted Hayrides will be from 4 to 6 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 26, at Parker Meadows. 

• Halloween in the Park will be Thursday, Oct. 31 at the Macon County Recreation Park. 828.349.2090.

• The Fall Festival and Trunk or Treat will be from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 30, at the First Christian Church. Cars will be lined up in the parking lot ready to fill candy buckets and bags. There will also be face painting, marshmellow roasting and a hot dog meal. Free. 828.524.6840 or 


Fontana Lake

• The “Hauntober Weekend & Haunted Trail” will be Oct. 25-27 at Fontana Village Resort. The celebration features a variety of activities, crafts, hayrides, campfires and live entertainment. The “Kid’s Hauntober Fun Time” will be from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Oct. 26, with a pumpkin carving, face painting and corn hole. The “Haunted Trails” tour will be from 8 to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday and is $3 per person. 



• The inaugural “Fall Festival” will be from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday, Oct. 28, in the Eckerd Living Center at the Highlands-Cashiers Hospital. Activities include a cakewalk, hayrides, trick or treating, pumpkin decorating contest, face painting, llama petting zoo and other games. Lunch is available for $5. 

• The Halloween “Enchanted Forest” Nature Trail will run every 15 minutes from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 30, at the Highlands Nature Center. Encounter friendly forest creatures and learn interesting nature facts about each one. Bring a flashlight. $1 per person. 828.526.2623.


Nantahala Gorge

• “NOCtobefest” kicks off at noon Saturday, Oct. 26, at the Nantahala Outdoor Center. Events include pumpkin decorating, noon; egg race, 1 p.m.; corn hole tournament, 3 p.m.; with live music from Bear Down Easy, 3:30 p.m. and Playing on the Planet, 7 p.m. The key event will be the “Great Pumpkin Pursuit” at 2:15 p.m., where costumed competitors try to get as many of the 400 pumpkins placed in the river as possible into their kayak. 



• “Treat Street” will be from 2 to 5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 26 in downtown. Children can go around trick or treating to local merchants. Free.

• A “Halloween Egg Haunt” will be at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 29, at Mark Watson Park. Costume contest begins at 7 p.m. Free. 



• The fifth annual “Ghosts and Goblets” storytelling and children’s event will be from 7 to 9 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 26, at the Museum of North Carolina Handicrafts in the Shelton House. The fire circle in front of the barn will feature musicians Anita Pruett and storyteller Lynne Leatherwood. Hugh Burford, Gary Carden, Bob Child and Cliff Hannah will also spin tales in the house. Children are encouraged to dress in costume. Refreshments will be available. Tickets are $10 for ages 12-adult, $5 for ages 5-11 and free for children ages 5 and under. 828.452.1551 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 

• “Treats on the Street” will be from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 31. Children can go around downtown and trick or treat at participating merchants. Free. 



• The “Great Smoky Mountains Railroad Pumpkin Patch” will be from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 24, in Whittier. Pumpkin carving, bouncy houses, marshmellow roasting, costume contest, trick or treating, with character appearances by Mickey and Minnie Mouse. $7 per person. 800.872.4681 or 

Opt-In meetings gather public input on future needs

How would you spend $800 million?

Residents and opinion leaders from the seven westernmost counties and the Qualla Boundary have just completed a series of input sessions design to gather broad-based feedback to help answer just that question.

The fastest way down: Cataloochee Ski Area

tg skiingWhat started as an unsure adventure turned into a passion-filled career for Jim Rowell.

Putting the pedal — and roots — down in the Smokies

tg bicyclingWhat looked like a risk to some was a dream for Diane Cutler and Andy Zivinsky.

Food for the soul

tg soulinfusionThe feeling of a new customer walking through the door never gets old for Haley Milner.

Magic in a bottle

tg beerIf you build it, they will come. If you brew it, they will come and party.

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