Archive for NC

Be crafty in Asheville, N.C., Oct. 15-18

            One of the biggest craft events of the year in the Asheville, N.C., area runs Thursday, Oct. 15 through Sunday, Oct. 18, all day each day. It’s the Craft Fair of the Southern Highlands, held twice a year (also in July) in downtown Asheville at the civic center. Guests at our Lovers’ Loop Retreat, an Asheville vacation rental, are 10 minutes from this popular happening.

               More than 200 craftspeople display their work at the fair, and they’re all members of the guild, so it’s basically a juried show. You’ll see works of glass, metal, mixed media, paper, jewelry, wood, fiber, clay and more. The fair also features craft demonstrations: corn shuck dolls, calligraphy, drum-making, fiber art, blacksmithing, dyeing and spinning.

            There’s also live music: bluegrass, old-time mountain music, vocalists. Enjoy the washtub bass, kazoos, fiddles, slide whistles and more with a lot of festive sounds.

            This is the fair’s 62nd season. The craft guild is one of the oldest in the United States and represents craftspeople in about 10 states. The guild is based at the Folk Art Center on the Blue Ridge Parkway. The center, only minutes from Lovers’ Loop Retreat, an Asheville bed and breakfast alternative, has a gift shop with lots of handcrafted items for sale.

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Lovers’ Loop Retreat September Muse-letter

September rocks in Asheville, N.C. Great stuff going on all month long. Concerts, craft festivals, bluegrass and beer, organic and apple fests, a fair that celebrates farming and gardening, sustainable energy and healthy living and more. And yes, with the start of autumn in September, you may feel that nip in the air here, too.

            At Lovers’ Loop Retreat, our Asheville bed and breakfast alternative, we’ve made some enhancements this summer. In addition to exploring all that the Asheville area offers, some of our guests enjoy hanging out at our vacation rental, playing pingpong or just relaxing in a private, peaceful place. In addition to Wireless, our guest suite has lots of information about attractions, restaurants and events to help visitors sort through all of the possibilities.

            Many of the activities in September are FREE. Visit our Web site at to see a list of events we update regularly. We’ve posted events through December and into 2010, so you can see what’s going on whenever you plan your trip to Asheville and Lovers’ Loop Retreat. 

            One of our favorite annual events is LAAFF, the Lexington Avenue Arts and Fun Festival, on Sept. 6 in downtown Asheville. This is a free, funky street fair that really gives a flavor of Asheville’s brand of quirkiness. Many locals, including us, turn out for this fair. You’ll find a great diversity of live music, belly dancing and other dance performances, poetry, sketch comedy, drumming groups, bicycle jousting, unusual vendors. It’s a real circus.

            The annual North Carolina Apple Festival is Sept. 4-7. The Asheville area is the state’s largest apple-producing region, and this popular festival is just south of Asheville.

            Another fun, free fair is the annual Organicfest in downtown Asheville on Sept. 13. Live music, unusual vendors and crafts, good food. A great opportunity to expand your organic mind in a very organic-minded city.

            One of our favorite bands, the Indigo Girls, will play Sept. 17 at the Orange Peel in downtown Asheville. This area loves the Indigos, whom we’ve seen perform several times here in recent years. They always give Asheville a good show. The Orange Peel is a great, intimate venue for them.

            The Brewgrass Festival on Sept. 19 in Asheville mixes bluegrass with beers from the area’s many local microbreweries. Beer is big business in Asheville, and at the festival you’ll understand why.

            Heritage Weekend Sept. 19 and Sept. 20 is a big deal at the Folk Art Center on the beautiful Blue Ridge Parkway. The parkway – and the center – are just around the corner from Lovers’ Loop Retreat, and we go to this free event every year. It’s sponsored by the Southern Highland Craft Guild with traditional mountain music, dance, storytelling and crafts. You’ll also see demonstrations about beekeeping, canning and preserving, whittling, toy-making and other things. The highlight is the World Gee Haw Whimmy Diddle Competition, (the whimmy diddle is an old-timey mountain toy) which you’ve got to see to understand.

            On Sept. 25 and Sept. 26, the very popular and entertaining Womansong, an Asheville choral group, will perform in the area. People come from out of town to see this group, which gives polished, high-energy concerts with humor mixed in.

            On Sept. 26 and Sept. 27, there’s another opportunity to see cool crafts at the North Carolina Arboretum in Asheville. Also on Sept. 26 and Sept. 27, the True Nature Country Fair a bit north of Asheville focuses on health and healing, social issues and politics, sustainable energy, gardening and farming.            

            All of these events and more are listed on our Web site. Please pass along our muse-letter to your friends. And join us at Lovers’ Loop Retreat. See you in Asheville!

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Visit Asheville’s Thomas Wolfe House for FREE (just about)

Twentieth-century author Thomas Wolfe grew up in Asheville, and his most famous novel, Look Homeward, Angel is about Asheville. The house where he lived, in downtown Asheville, is open to the public as a state-operated museum. For the $1 admission, it’s about the best bargain in Asheville. This is a great activity to add to your list when you stay at our Lovers’ Loop Retreat, an Asheville vacation rental.

The tour, offered by well-informed, friendly guides, gives insightful information about Wolfe, who is buried at Asheville’s Riverside Cemetery, and his family, most of whom also are buried there. Wolfe’s mother, Julia, ran a boardinghouse at the house, and you’ll learn about that interesting business and how it affected Thomas. The house has dozens of rooms, many of which are open to the public, and lots of furniture and furnishings original with the house.

In addition to the house, the museum has a great exhibit of photos, clothing and other artifacts of and about Wolfe for visitors to see.

Even people who don’t know Wolfe’s work will enjoy this glimpse at a talented writer’s life. Check it out when you visit Lovers’ Loop Retreat, our Asheville bed and breakfast alternative.

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Watch our friend Gina on the Asheville stage this weekend

We’ve written about the many live theater happenings in Asheville, most of them offered year-round. This week, we’re looking forward to watching our talented friend Gina perform a lead role in “The Playboy of the Western World,” which will be staged this coming Friday, July 31, Sat., Aug. 1 and Sunday, Aug. 2 at 2:30 p.m. each day. We plan to catch a performance.

When you stay at our Lovers’ Loop Retreat, an Asheville bed and breakfast alternative, this would be a great activity to add to your itinerary. The production will be offered Friday and Saturday at 35below, the intimate theater beneath the Asheville Community Theatre downtown and on Sunday at UNC-Asheville. The show is only $5, and Gina’s performance alone should be worth the money. We’ve seen her perform memorably with the Montford Park Players, the Shakespeare theater company that stages free outdoor shows near downtown Asheville.

 In “The Playboy of the Western World,” Gina will impress audiences with her Irish brogue, which we’ve heard her use in readings, and you’d swear that she’s a lass from Ireland. The comedy is set in an Irish pub in the early 1900s, and it promises to be fun. Check it out this weekend when you visit our Asheville vacation rental! For more information, go to

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LaZoom to You!

           We took a magical mystery trip of downtown Asheville recently, a comedy journey that flexes your laugh muscles. LaZoom Comedy Tour offers a 90-minute trip through town to various points of interest.

            When you stay at Lovers’ Loop Retreat, our Asheville bed and breakfast alternative, get on the bus for this fun ride.

            Along the way, Babs, the tour guide, gives you a refreshing dose of irreverent commentary about Asheville’s history, its dids and didn’ts, presented with some heart and even more funny bone. You’ll learn about the craziness of kudzu, the River Arts District, Bob Hope’s appearance at the Asheville Civic Center, Charlton Heston’s theatrical contributions to Asheville and the unending construction projects known lovingly as “performance art” in the annals of local legend.

            Tour operators Jennifer and Jim Lauzon keep you guessing with a revolving cast of characters that includes Sister Bad Habit, a River District artist and a healer. Bemused onlookers will return your waves as the brightly painted purple bus makes its zany way through downtown and beyond.

            To keep you on your toes, Babs gives out prizes at random during the ride. Stay tuned to receive such delicacies as a can of tuna or cat food or a bag of gourmet chocolate pretzels.       

            LaZoom operates from April through October and at Thanksgiving and Christmas. Put the tour on your itinerary when you visit us at Lovers’ Loop Retreat, a vacation rental in Asheville.

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Lovers’ Loop Retreat May ’09 muse-letter

It’s a colorful spring here at Lovers’ Loop Retreat, our Asheville, N.C., vacation rental: azaleas in white and several shades of red, pink and pinker rhododendrons, lacy white dogwoods. The backyard is filling in with foliage. Our tomato and pea plants are humming along, and little basil plants are starting to grow. A thrill of our spring so far was seeing five finches, including a goldfinch, on the feeder at once, afeat unrepeated since, alas (but we keep looking).

            All of this is yours to behold when you stay at our Asheville bed and breakfast alternative. Many guests enjoy sitting on the porch to commune with the squirrels and birds that own the trees and air space here. As usual, there’s a range of activities happening in the area in May, too. Visit our Web site at to see a list of events we update regularly. We have events posted all the way to December, so you can see what’s going on whenever you plan your trip to Asheville. You can link directly to our blog at, or from the home page. There is also a link to another Asheville blog on the home page with YouTube links to videos about Asheville.

            This spring, we’ve done some of our favorite activities — hiking at Mount Mitchell, the tallest peak in the U.S. east of the Mississippi River, just 30 miles from Lovers’ Loop Retreat — and some things we haven’t done before — taking a women’s history (herstory) tour of downtown Asheville and taking a wild ride on a zany, purple bus called LaZoom, a comedy tour of downtown Asheville. All of this is good stuff, and you may want to explore these activities when you visit.          

            The banquet of events in May includes rhododendron (May 2-3) and rose (May 30-31) shows at the North Carolina Arboretum in Asheville, always a pretty place to visit. For more flowers, the Biltmore estate’s annual Festival of Flowers lasts through May 17. More rooms at the estate, the home originally of George Vanderbilt, have been opened to the public this year. 

            The annual Asheville Wordfest, April 30-May 3, is a poetry festival that includes internationally known and regional poets. Another literary event is the Blue Ridge Book and Author Showcase May 8-9 in nearby Hendersonville with workshops and talks by authors, sales and book signings.     

            One of the area’s biggest events is the Lake Eden Arts Festival (LEAF), held twice a year in Black Mountain, just east of Asheville. LEAF, May 7-10, features a slate of international dancers, musicians and visual artists.

             For sports enthusiasts, a popular annual event in Asheville is the Mountain Sports Festival May 29-31. The festival has demonstrations, clinics and competitive events in rock climbing, kayaking, running, cycling, disc golf and backpacking.                   

            A two-for-one comedy show May 30 in Asheville features Vickie Shaw and Jennie McNulty. And for a different type of comedy, not to mention lots of bravery and just sheer strength and stamina, there’s the Blue Ridge Roller Girls, Asheville’s roller derby team that has a bout May 30 at the civic center downtown.

            Early June brings the second art gallery walk of the season June 5, a glimpse into the many art galleries in downtown Asheville. And June 5 is the season debut for the Montford Park Players, North Carolina’s oldest Shakespeare company. These are both free things to do in Asheville! The Montford Players appreciate donations, though, of course.

            All of these events and more are listed on our Web site. And for Indigo Girls fans, the duo has rescheduled its April concert in Asheville to Sept. 17 at the Orange Peel downtown. We hope to be there. 

            Please pass along our muse-letter to your friends. And join us at Lovers’ Loop Retreat! See you in Asheville!

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Mount Mitchell beckons you!

 We celebrated a birthday last week by hiking to the top of Mount Mitchell, the highest point in the United States east of the Mississippi River. What a glorious day, beautiful enough to fall in love with.

Mount Mitchell is about 30 miles north of our Lovers’ Loop Retreat, an Asheville bed and breakfast alternative. It’s a lovely drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway to Mount Mitchell State Park. There are no entry fees.  Because of the particular geography and elevation, the flora and fauna at Mount Mitchell are akin to those found in Canada, a sort of alpine environment.

On the trail to the peak, cool, soft moss covers rocks and fallen tree limbs, and hikers follow a trail lined with rocks and tree roots. The scent of the spruce-fir forest is enchanting all along the trail, and much of the path is shaded. When the path opens to views, the vistas of the mountains are wonderful.

At the top of Mount Mitchell is an observation tower that’s worth checking out. On a clear day, the views are magnificent. You can hike or drive to the tower.

This is one of our favorite destinations in Western North Carolina, and we encourage our guests at Lovers’ Loop Retreat, our Asheville vacation rental, to consider the trip.

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Asheville Spring Events

Lovers’ Loop Retreat April ’09 muse-letter

            In April here at Lovers’ Loop Retreat, our alternative bed and breakfast in Asheville, N.C., the serviceberry tree explodes into white blooms that resemble popcorn before the petals fall to the ground. There’s more to come with dogwoods and rhododendrons.

            And when you leave our Asheville vacation rental, signs of spring abound elsewhere, in nature—redbud, pear and cherry trees, hyacinths and daffodils—and in activities. Visit our Web site at to see a list of events we update regularly.

            In April we’ll host some first-time visitors to Lovers’ Loop Retreat and more repeat guests, which always is a treat for us. They—and you— have a lot of entertainment options this month, in addition to the ever-present Blue Ridge Parkway with its hiking and biking opportunities a stone’s throw from our vacation rental and other outdoor recreational fun, including rock climbing and kayaking.

            April 2-25 is Eve-Olution, a play about motherhood, at the Asheville Community Theatre downtown. April 3 is the first art gallery walk of the season in downtown Asheville. The many diverse galleries stay open later and offer refreshments to encourage browsers. You’ll see all types of art peepers at this lively and happening event. Art walks also will occur the first Friday in June, August and October.   

            April 4 starts the season for Asheville’s Blue Ridge Roller Girls, a roller derby team that elbows its way around the fast track at the civic center downtown. These whizzing warriors on skates are great competitors and hardy souls—if not a bit crazy—and they provide some drama and flashy outfits for the audience, too. Their bouts, which run from now until late fall, are way fun. Check our Web site for more information.

            April also means the beginning of Biltmore estate’s annual Festival of Flowers, listed on our Web site, which lasts through May 17. There are tulips and other flowers galore at this beautiful estate, an easy 10-minute drive from Lovers’ Loop Retreat and the most popular historic attraction in North Carolina. Biltmore has just opened several more rooms to the public at the George Vanderbilt mansion that managers call America’s largest house.

            April brings a new festival to Asheville, HATCHfest, April 15-19, an event that features films, performances, workshops, speakers and art exhibits around downtown on themes of architecture, fashion, visual art, music, design and technology and more. There’s a link on our Web site.

            Comedian Kate Clinton will perform at the Diana Wortham Theatre downtown April 23. We’ve seen Kate more than once, and she’s still funny.

            Peeking into early May, Saffire, the Uppity Blues Women perform May 1 in Asheville, apparently part of their final tour. The spring herb festival is May 1-3 at the Western North Carolina Farmers Market in Asheville, and the annual rhododendron show is May 2-3 at the North Carolina Arboretum in Asheville. A popular event is the twice-a-year Lake Eden Arts Festival (LEAF) of visual and healing arts, dance and music in Black Mountain just east of Asheville May 8-10.  

            All these events and more are listed on our Web site. Join us at Lovers’ Loop Retreat! Please pass along our muse-letter to your friends. See you in Asheville!


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Orchids in Asheville!

If you’re not familiar with orchids, among the most bountiful flowers on earth, you’re missing out. These amazingly adaptable flowers grow in trees, on rocks and in nearly every corner of the planet. They’re beautiful in their variety of shapes and colors, and some of them look good enough to eat! They’re sensuous, sensual, provocative and just plain cool.

The annual WNC Orchid Show at the North Carolina Arboretum this coming Saturday, March 28 and Sunday, March 29 is an awesome display of hundreds of orchids in all their inspiring diversity. The Asheville-area arboretum is a lovely, easy, quick drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway from our Lovers’ Loop Retreat vacation rental. The show includes orchid vendors and growers from around the Southeast. Go with your imagination wide open. You’ll be dazzled.

The arboretum is a great place to visit when you stay at our Asheville B&B alternative, Lovers’ Loop Retreat. There are miles of walking and biking paths at the arboretum, which offers interesting exhibits year-round.

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Asheville’s a Funny Place

           And this spring, it’s a really funny place! The annual comedy weekend at the Grove Park Inn in Asheville was last week. This year Paula Poundstone, Adam Ferrara and Juston McKinney were among the featured comedians. The inn has offered this wacky weekend for about 20 years.

            For some great local humor, check out the LYLAS (Love Ya Like A Sis) show, which runs March 19-28 at the N.C. Stage Company in downtown Asheville. This all-women comedy troupe is energetic and fun, and they have a loyal local following. We’ve seen them perform, and it’s a good time. See this event listed on our Web site,

            And there’s more. From March 31 through April 5, Dixie’s Tupperware Party will be at the Diana Wortham Theatre in downtown Asheville. This interactive show evidently is a real Tupperware Party and sounds like a hoot. This is listed on our Web site.

            Chris Porter will have a one-night show at Diana Wortham Theatre on April 11. And on April 23, the intelligent, savvy and politically astute Kate Clinton will perform at the Diana Wortham Theatre. She has sold out shows there two other times. We saw her a few years ago at Diana Wortham, and it was great to be with an appreciative audience. We also saw her years ago in Northampton, Mass., and that show was a riot, too. Check our Web site for more information.

            Speaking of politically astute, the Capitol Steps comedy troupe also performs at Diana Wortham Theatre, as do the Southern Fried Chicks.

            There’s more in the summer. The third annual Laugh Your Asheville Off event, which claims to be the largest comedy festival in the Southeast, will be July 16-18.

            Remember to laugh during your visit while you stay at Lovers’ Loop Retreat, our vacation rental in Asheville, N.C., because, well, Asheville’s a funny place.


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