Garret K. Woodward

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

art placeThe floor below me began to shake.

For a moment, the idea of the structure collapsing seemed plausible. All around me, thousands of people were screaming, thrashing their arms wildly with manic looks on their faces. It was Sanford Stadium in Athens, Ga., and I was partaking in my first Southeastern Conference (SEC) football game.

Comment

art frA loud roar echoed from the back of the building. The deafening sound is terrifying, yet captivating, heightened by the smell of oil and gasoline. A cloud of smoke wafted through the air, evoking the power and intrigue of a mechanical performance about to unfold.

“It’s more than the sound,” Dale Walksler said, straddling a 1928 Harley-Davidson Hillclimber. “It’s also the sight, smell and taste. Starting this motorcycle up achieves all of your sensitivities.”

Comment

art placeThis might get loud.

I tend to say that to anyone who finds themselves in the passenger’s seat of my rusty pickup truck. I live and die for rock-n-roll.

Comment

art frDon’t mess with a mountain girl, especially one on roller skates.

“We’re a tough bunch, and we stick together,” said Krista Robb.

Aka “Butternut Squash,” the 28-year-old Robb is a star player on the Smoky Mountain Roller Girls, a nonprofit sports organization rallying folks from all corners of Southern Appalachia. 

Comment

out frSitting at a picnic table alongside the Nantahala River, Charles Conner watches the fast moving water. It’s may be a peaceful sunny morning at the Nantahala Outdoor Center, but it’s the calm before the storm.

“Right now, we’re really excited but anxious because there’s so much left to do,” he said. 

Comment

fr gearingupworldsBatten down the hatches, the 2013 ICF Canoe Freestyle World Championships are coming.

“This event shows how this tiny town can come together and work together,” said Joe Rowland. “Everybody involved has invested a lot of time and energy into making a natural connection between Bryson City and the Nantahala Gorge.”

Comment

art placeI was afraid of getting caught.

As a teenager, I found myself sneaking into the back door of my grandfather’s garage. Amid the darkness, I stepped over firewood, fishing gear and forgotten storage boxes layered in dust. Sliding past his couch-on-wheels Ford Crown Victoria, I located the refrigerator and reached for the handle. Opening the door, the bright light illuminated the interior of the garage. Squinting my eyes, I found what I was in search of – a cold can of Coors Light.

Comment

art placeI wanted to be close to the source.

When I was 20 years old, I decided to become a writer. Standing in the mud at Bonnaroo 2005, I realized all I wanted to do what talk to strangers and write about them. It’s a fascination that will never subside, a thirst that will never be quenched.

Comment

coverIt was the only thing he knew how to do. It was the only thing he wanted to do. 

Marvin “Popcorn” Sutton was a moonshiner, through and through. Meandering the thick woods surrounding Maggie Valley, and points beyond in Southern Appalachia, Sutton gained a reputation throughout the Southeast as the maker of the finest ‘shine ever created. For decades, he kept making liquor even after being caught on a handful of occasions. 

Comment

art thisplaceDon’t go in there.

As long as I can remember, I’ve been told this. From my parents, teachers, friends or just strangers in general. It’s a phrase that can refer to a dangerous spot in the woods, front yards with vicious canines, disgusting restaurants or mismanaged places of business. But, mostly, it’s been applied to certain bars.

Comment

art frLegendary American tennis stars Andy Roddick and Jim Courier will battle it out in a charity exhibition match in Cashiers this Saturday, hopefully raising as much as $200,000 to support and expand a wide variety of youth programs in the area.

“This is a once in a lifetime experience,” said William McKee, the chairman for the United Community Bank Mountain Challenge. “These are two of the most highly regarded players in their sport, and it’s incredible to have two world-class athletes donate their time. Both of these guys do philanthropy around the country, and to have them come to this little village is a huge treat for us all.”

Comment

moot martiniqueIt was a phone call Rolf Kaufman will never forget.

The year was 1983, and on the other end of the line was the voice of Dr. Clinton Border, a Waynesville surgeon and Kaufman’s neighbor.

Comment

moot hostpartyThe house is silent, but soon, it will be overflowing with voices, faces, words and languages known and unknown. Awaiting her guests, Jay MacDonald stands in the kitchen of her home in downtown Waynesville.

Comment

art frIt all started with an email. 

Last July, I was at a crossroads. Being a freelance writer for a few years, my usual summer work dried up before the warm weather even arrived. The publications I was contributing to in Upstate New York were losing money, rapidly, with their freelance budgets being the first casualty of a haphazard newspaper industry.

Comment

coverBringing together world culture and Southern Appalachia traditions, Folkmoot USA transcends any and all barriers.

Whether it’s language, physical boundaries or appearance, the art of live performance found at this international dance and music festival erases any differences by creating an ambiance that’s as embracing as it is unique. Entering its 30th year, the festival has solidified itself in the landscape of Western North Carolina.  

Comment

fr icecreamI scream, you scream, Western North Carolina screams for ice cream. 

Comment

art theplaceIt’s the question I get asked the most.

“Is there any music around tonight?”

Comment

art frKnown as the finest showcase of native traditions, the ninth annual Festival of Native Peoples will take place July 12-13 at Cherokee Indian Fair Grounds. The event features a variety of traditional dance, storytelling and song performances honoring the collected history, culture, tradition and wisdom of the indigenous peoples of the Americas. 

“An array of entertainment as diverse as the tribes that provide it ensures visitors to Cherokee will be impressed,” said Howard Wahnetah, event supervisor for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. “The tribes are so different, and when we come together to celebrate our collective native heritage, we gain a better understanding of our own history and customs.”

Comment

fr bigfootwarBigfoot is alive and well in Haywood County, at least through the pages of Eric S. Brown. 

Comment

It had been 10 years.

I kept thinking those words while boarding a plane in Charlotte this past weekend, bound for my hometown. Tucked far away in the northeast, awaiting my arrival was a 10-year high school reunion. 

Comment

art frStanding in an empty field, Martin Cook has a vision. 

Founder of the renowned Western North Carolina gospel group The Inspirations, Cook looks around the band’s 29-acre property (dubbed “Inspiration Park”) just east of Bryson City. The beauty and grandeur spills far and wide, and that’s just the backdrop he enjoys sharing each year during their “Singing In The Smokies” festival, which runs July 4-6.

Comment

fr culpepperOne man’s junk is another man’s treasure.

“Ever since I was kid, I would take home all kinds of stuff, all kinds of random, weird junk, and my parents hated it,” David Culpepper chuckled. “They thought I was crazy, but when you find something rusty and interesting, you bring it home, and I did.”

Comment

art julyfourNothing says summer more than the 4th of July, and in Western North Carolina, we celebrate Independence Day with gusto.

Comment

art garretGetting poison ivy is my official sign summer is here.

Like old men whose knees ache when there’s an impending storm, the symbolic rash and blisters are Mother Nature’s way of telling me spring is over. Ever since I was kid, I always seemed to catch poison ivy at least once during the summer months.

Comment

art frA hundred years of history and community will come together during the Centennial Homecoming Week at Lake Junaluska Conference and Retreat Center from June 30 to July 7.

Reunions, dynamic speakers, an impressive lineup of concerts, a golf tournament, a water skiing show, fine art and an antiques “road show,” home and garden tours and historic reenactments are all on tap for the thousands of locals and generations of families who will make the pilgrimage to honor and celebrate Lake Junaluska during this special week.

Comment

coverCharged with stealing, 15-year-old Charles Eason was sentenced to work on a prison chain gang.

It was 1882, and the teenager from Martin County soon found himself side-by-side with other convicts, many two and three times his age. Mostly from the eastern part of the state, the gang was sent to construct the railroad lines in Western North Carolina.

Comment

art garretIt was the reason I came to the South.

Situated in the southeastern corner of Tennessee, the city of Chattanooga is a rapidly growing, bustling hub of culture and commerce in Southern Appalachia. Like Asheville, both cities went through hard times following the end of their manufacturing eras. Each became stagnant, searching for an identity that eventually evolved into prosperous havens for artists, musicians, chefs, craft brewers, etc.

Comment

art frIn Western North Carolina, it seems the two most important things are tradition and family – and nothing incorporates those ideals more than the melodic music of Southern Appalachian.

“Music is a huge part of our heritage and of our lives here,” said musician Caleb Smith. “You go to a barn dance or play on your front porch, it’s something to be proud of. Bluegrass and mountain music may not be the biggest genre, but it’s authentic. It’s music that makes an impact on people.”

Comment

fr buyhaywoodThe “Buy Haywood” initiative is a work-in-progress example of how local businesses benefit by connecting with each other.

Comment

coverHaywood County just got a little sweeter.

Specializing in “handcrafted, locally produced, artisan beverages,” Waynesville Soda Jerks is a new business that has opened at the Waynesville Historic Farmer’s Market. At the center of it all are founders Megan Brown and Chris Allen.

Comment

art garretI had never seen the color green like that before.

Touching down at the Shannon Airport in southwest Ireland, the lush, vibrant green landscape of my ancestors took my breath away. It was August 2005, and I was about to embark on a collegiate semester abroad.  

Comment

art frRonan MacGregor didn’t know where he came from.

He knew he was of Scottish decent, but that was about it. It wasn’t until he moved to Macon County several years ago and wandered into the Scottish Tartans Museum in downtown Franklin that he began digging into his family’s past.

Comment

fr blacksmithDavid Burress wants to live forever.

Not necessarily in the immortal sense though. Burress is an accomplished blacksmith. And for him, it’s all about sharing and perpetuating the sacred traditions of working with the elements of the Earth — fire, water, metal, wind and coal.

Comment

art thisplaceWell, hello there Western North Carolina.

As the arts and entertainment writer at The Smoky Mountain News, I spend my days wandering between art gallery openings, craft beer releases and front porch pickin’ sessions. Each week, I invite you along on the ride as I bring to life all the creative people, places and things that make Southern Appalachia so unique.

Comment

art frYou’ve sung it in the shower, in the car with the windows rolled down, at weddings, in karaoke bars, and perhaps just because you simply can’t get it out of your head.

“All Out of Love” by Air Supply is a melody that’s inescapable. It overtook the world and, decades later, still resonates deeply in those who continue to support the beloved classic soft rock group.

Comment

fr oneloveThis summer, there will be a new scent wafting through Lake Junaluska.

Comment

art frFor Norma Hendrix, it’s all about connecting the dots.

“I love working in a community of artists,” she said. “I really like pulling all of those dots together, where you create a sense of community with the energy of people working side-by-side.”

Comment

coverLights, camera … Haywood County? 

During the past two years, a local reality show has become a phenomenon that’s being broadcast into homes across the country and beyond. The program is “Hillbilly Blood: A Hardscrabble Life,” and it features Western North Carolina outdoor survival experts Spencer Bolejack and Eugene Runkis.

Comment

art frAaron Lewis has always seemed to be on the outside.

Founder and lead singer of hard rock group Staind, Lewis found great success during the last decade with his soulful, heart-wrenching lyrics soaked in razor-sharp guitar chords. Yet, whenever someone tried to categorize the sound, it never seemed to fit anywhere — too hard for mainstream listeners, too mainstream for rock elitists. And thus lies the constant state of affairs for Lewis. 

Comment

art frIt’s the sound of the ancient mountains, the unique people and rich culture of Southern Appalachia.

It’s the sound of Soldier’s Heart.

Filled with the musical attitudes of bluegrass, old-time country and early rock-n-roll, the band is influenced as much by Bill Monroe as The Band, as much by Johnny Cash as The Grateful Dead. It’s about creating something bigger than yourself, about embracing the deep roots of mountain music, incorporating it into modern times, and sharing it with those family and friends you care about most. 

Comment

fr louieStanding next to Louis “Louie” Bing, you’d never know he was homeless.

While waiting for a cup of coffee at City Bakery in Waynesville, the 65-year-old stands patiently alongside tourists, retirees and locals. His clothes, shoes and beard are well kempt.

Comment

art frIn order to have a clear vision of the future, one must cherish the traditions of the past. 

“Southern Appalachian traditions are our heritage,” said Beth Woody. “They made us what we are today. To know who we are now, we need to know who and what we came from.”

Comment

art beerfestAll five North Carolina breweries west of Asheville medaled in the recent Carolinas Championship of Beer during the Hickory Hops Festival.

 

“It’s a testament that we are all in it for the long haul, that we will strive to get better,” said Clark Williams, owner/brewer at Frog Level Brewing in Waynesville. “We felt the pride that all of Western North Carolina should have for this craft. It’s easy to say we all work hard to make great beer.”

Comment

art frIf the litmus test of a community’s health is how strong its art scene is, then, by the looks of it, Waynesville is in tip-top shape.

Hundreds will take to the streets of downtown this Friday evening for the first Art After Dark of the year. For some serious art purveyors, it’s a time to study and muse over the latest works to emerge on gallery walls. For artists, its time to compare notes about the creative process.

Comment

art totalwarWhen finding your artistic voice, it’s about moving forward and not looking back, being true to yourself and refusing to run around in well-worn circles of creativity.

Comment

fr clyderaysIt’s Monday morning, and Mary Lou Rinehart is taking a moment to relax.

Owner of Clyde Ray’s Flower Shop in Waynesville, Rinehart spent most of the weekend putting the final touches on innumerable corsages and arrangements for the two high school proms that were on back-to-back nights.

Comment

out frDana Dowdy raised a razor-sharp axe above her head, let it hover a moment and then slammed into her competition with the first of many swift, deft blows. 

The throngs of cheering people on the sidelines became background noise. The other lumberjills looking on weren’t her concern either. Today, her beef was with the large, stubborn block of wood between her feet.

Comment

fr wheelchairIt was a moment that forever stuck with Don Schoendorfer.

While on vacation in Morocco several years ago, the southern California engineer/inventor witnessed a disabled woman dragging herself across a busy street. She had no wheelchair. Nobody seemed to even notice her, let alone provide her assistance. 

Comment

art melangeHaywood County Chamber of Commerce held their annual “Melange of the Mountains” culinary gala at Laurel Ridge Country Club on April 11. Winners included The Waynesville Inn (soup, fowl), Frogs Leap Public House (Culinary Excellence, salad, seafood, dessert), The Gateway Club (meat, vegetarian) and Harrah’s Cherokee (People’s Choice).

Comment

coverWhen Doug Weaver looks around Haywood County, he sees potential. 

“We’re on the fence, right in the middle of where it’s almost a scene,” he said.

Head chef and co-owner at The Sweet Onion in Waynesville, Weaver is at the forefront of a pioneering movement within the county and greater Western North Carolina to make his backyard a culinary destination.

Comment

Smokey Mountain News Logo
SUPPORT THE SMOKY MOUNTAIN NEWS AND
INDEPENDENT, AWARD-WINNING JOURNALISM
Go to top
Payment Information

/

At our inception 20 years ago, we chose to be different. Unlike other news organizations, we made the decision to provide in-depth, regional reporting free to anyone who wanted access to it. We don’t plan to change that model. Support from our readers will help us maintain and strengthen the editorial independence that is crucial to our mission to help make Western North Carolina a better place to call home. If you are able, please support The Smoky Mountain News.

The Smoky Mountain News is a wholly private corporation. Reader contributions support the journalistic mission of SMN to remain independent. Your support of SMN does not constitute a charitable donation. If you have a question about contributing to SMN, please contact us.