A closer look at WNC festivals

The proud communities that make up Western North Carolina were once mountain towns that played host to several successful blue-collar industries. These companies found a crucial, much-needed balance alongside the serene beauty and endless natural resources of our forests, rivers and wildlife.

The art of togetherness

Five years ago, Michelle and Robby Railey had one question in mind. “How do we get to the next level?” Michelle said.

Coming down the mountain: Whiteside Brewing impacts Cashiers culture

It’s just after 5 p.m. at the intersection of U.S. 64 and N.C. 107 in the village of Cashiers. Otherwise known as the “Crossroads,” the junction — atop a mountainous plateau at the southern end of Jackson County — is usually buzzing with tourists and second-homeowners spring through fall. And, normally, it’s relatively silent when winter rears its head. 

Espresso yourself: Orchard Coffee opens in Waynesville

Halfway up a steep hill in downtown Waynesville, and just a stone’s throw from the Haywood County Historic Courthouse, sits Orchard Coffee.

“I love coffee because I love people,” said Cabell Tice, co-owner of Orchard Coffee. “I’ve always really enjoyed connecting with people. Coffee is a vessel for reaching people — there’s nothing like a conversation over coffee.” 

Can’t keep a good man down: Banjo legend Raymond Fairchild on turning 80, a life in music

Though his fingers seemingly wrap around a walking cane more than his trusty banjo these days, Raymond Fairchild remains one of the finest musicians who ever picked up the five-string acoustic instrument — alive or six feet under. 

A.T. hikers share their stories

From flip-flops to overnights to the quintessential northbound thru-hike, there are many different ways to experience the Appalachian Trail on its route from Georgia to Maine. An overnight along the trail at Roaring Fork Shelter near Max Patch was enough to meet a variety of hikers, all hiking the trail their own way. 

Western North Carolina festivals

• May 31-June 1: Cold Mountain Music Festival, Lake Logan

• May 31-June 1: Ole Smokey Spring Farm Fest, Clyde

Bryson City builds on fishing tourism with new aquarium

With fly-fishing tourism on the rise in Western North Carolina, a new attraction in Bryson City will bring visitors up-close and personal with up to 50 species of freshwater fish. 

Biking hot spots

The Smokies contain some of the best bike trails anywhere. Here are the popular spots:

The beauty of simplicity: Bird in Hand & Ivory Hollow Farmstead

These days, Megan and Bryan Thurman call a 31-foot Airstream home. The iconic silver travel trailer is currently parked on a picturesque property in the rural southern edge of Sylva. 

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