Travel: WNC Family
Lexington Avenue Arts & Fun Festival
Of the many facets of this eclectic mountain town, it’s the funky, artistic attitude that most epitomizes Asheville—one that is deeply rooted in Lexington Avenue, where visitors are most likely to spot the city’s most zesty characters. It only stands to reason that there’d be a party to celebrate this expressive side of the community, and Lexington Avenue Arts and Fun Festival, simply called LAAFF, is arguably the most vibrant street festival in town.
The one-day event celebrates local arts—performing, musical, visual, culinary, and healing—while supporting the local nonprofit Arts2People and its programs. Expect a kaleidoscope of costumed characters, performers, and a crowd of 12,000 to be colorfully mixed along three blocks of North Lexington Avenue. Kids can let loose by making art, dancing, hula-hooping, or watching kids’ performance acts including hip-hop, break-dancing, jump-roping, and more. The big “kids” can watch the popular bicycle jousting; sample local brews and eclectic culinary offerings; take part in other “big people games;” and enjoy stage performances, ranging from rock bands and African beats to fire spinners and belly dancers. There’s something groovy for the entire family. —Melissa Smith
Monday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Free. www.arts2people.org/laaff.html
Mile-High Kite Festival
Watch professional kite-flying demonstrations, participate in kite-flying clinics, or learn how to build your own to compete for the biggest, the
highest-flown, and the most original homemade kite. The first 200 kids ages 13 and younger to arrive will get a free kite to decorate and fly.
Sunday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Free. www.blueridgeparkway75.org or www.beechmtn.com
Coon Dog Day Festival
July 10, 9 a.m.-10 p.m.
This 47-year-old party commemorates the end of the raccoon-hunting season and the dogs that made it possible. American Kennel Club-judged competitions prove it’s all about the pooches, but the event is also a tongue-in-cheek celebration of mountain living. Anyone is welcome to join the parade, but showing up with a pretty float proves you don’t get the joke. Free. www.saluda.com/events
Grandfather Mountain Highland Games
Competitors show off their Scottish heritage and athletic prowess in traditional events like Highland wrestling, clan tugs-of-war, hammer throws, the weight toss, and kilted races—even for the wee ones. Performances include dancing, bagpipe band parades, and Celtic music. On a less thematic note, the games include a bike race, marathon, and five-mile footrace to the top of Grandfather Mountain. —Rachel Oja
Times & prices vary. www.gmhg.org
Festival of Native Peoples
July 16 & 17
Experience living traditions, culture, and art during this celebration of indigenous American history and modern-day expression. Representatives from tribes across the Americas converge in Cherokee to tell stories, sing songs, and dance at the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians’ annual festival. Past events have included groups from Apache, Aztec, Cochiti, Mohawk, and Navajo peoples sharing dances and legends handed down through generations. —Brian Gallagher
Friday & Saturday, 9 a.m.-6 p.m. $10; children under six are free. www.cherokee-nc.com
When the Friends of the YMI Cultural Center returned from a jaunt in Bermuda, they didn’t come back with tacky souvenirs; they brought home a big idea. Every year since that 1982 trip, the center has recreated a part of their experience with Goombay!, Asheville’s Afro-Caribbean heritage festival. Drums are the heartbeat of the weekend’s activities, setting masked stilt dancers in motion as they tower over wide-eyed marvelers. Vendors from as far away as Tanzania sell exotic wares, including jewelry, traditional African clothing, and, of course, drums. —Rita Larkin
June 19 & 20, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Get out of the city and onto Mountain Farm near Mount Mitchell to take in the sweet smell of summer. It’s lavender festival time at this magical 24-acre property, where more than 1,200 of the aromatic plants thrive and organic dairy goats roam. During this two-day harvest celebration, the human kids can meander through the lavender labyrinth; make wreaths, wands, or sachets; and bottle-feed baby goats, while Mom and Dad can watch cooking demos, take garden tours, and get growing tips. Then gather together for a picnic by the pond, listen to live music, or check out the food and craft vendors—lavender ice cream or lemonade, anyone? Be sure to get some of Mountain Farm’s lavender-infused vinegars, salts, massage oils, and more for sweet summer memories at home.
$5; children under 10 are free. www.mountainfarm.net