The dog days of summer are coming to a close, and the recent blast of cool, crisp air is evidence that fall is certainly upon us. As we wind down from summer vacations, evening cookouts and trips to the lake, we gear up for summer’s final “hurrah” with Labor Day Weekend. For residents and visitors alike, there is a plethora of things to see, eat, hear and enjoy in Western North Carolina and Asheville during the Labor Day holiday. Below is a list of our favorites that will help you celebrate the end to another wonderful summer season in WNC.
1.) Appreciate the Arts
It is no secret that Western North Carolina is full of talented artists, specializing in both new and traditional styles. From the bustling River Arts District to the alluring galleries in historic Biltmore Village, there are tons of places to enjoy WNC’s arts and craft scene.
This Labor Day Weekend, take in the arts while enjoying good food and fun at the Maggie Valley Arts & Crafts Show and the Art for a Cause: Cashiers Rotary Arts & Crafts Fair. Dozens of regional artists will be in attendance at both events showcasing their work in painting, photography, pottery, textiles and more. In Asheville, head to The North Carolina Arboretum for the final weekend of its summer art exhibit, Spirit of Place, featuring the artwork of Bryson City-based artist Elizabeth Ellison. Open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Monday, September 4, 2017, inside the Arboretum’s Baker Exhibit Center, Spirit of Place highlights wildflowers, animals, human inhabitants and landscapes of the Smokies region and beyond. Across the gardens inside the Education Center, visitors can enjoy the photographic works of Michael Oppenheim as part of his exhibit, A Year in the Life of a Mountain Bog, which is on display through October 1, 2017.
2.) Enjoy Music in the Mountains
Labor Day Weekend is also home to some of WNC’s most sought-after musical events and festivals. In its 111th year, the Canton Labor Day Festival is a celebration of all things made in WNC. Scheduled for September 3 & 4, this two-day festival is the longest running Labor Day festival in the South, and features local arts and crafts, food, an air dog competition and musical performances, including Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder, Balsam Range, Sam Bush and Chatham County Line.
In downtown Asheville, the LAAF (Living Asheville Arts Festival) returns after a one-year break on Sunday, September 3. In addition to three live music stages, this event will feature local art, food, beer, street performers and creativity between noon – 9 p.m. on North Lexington Avenue. LAAF has been known for bringing the “weird” out of Asheville with an emphasis on sustainability and authenticity.
3.) Get Outside
Appreciate WNC’s final summer days outside in Mother Nature by taking a hike. Learn about the forest and fauna of the Bent Creek Experimental Forest by participating in the Arboretum’s Guided Trail Walk on Saturday, September 2. Starting at 1 p.m. from the Arboretum’s Baker Exhibit Center, this 2-mile walk is led by one of the Arboretum’s expert volunteer guides and highlights the wildflowers, plant and tree identification, natural history and the cultural and land use of The North Carolina Arboretum. Walks are free, though donations to The North Carolina Arboretum Society are appreciated (regular parking fees apply).
4.) Go “All In” for Apples
The 71st annual North Carolina Apple Festival in Hendersonville is one of Western North Carolina’s premiere family-friendly festivals. Held Friday, September 1 through Monday, September 4, this annual festival celebrates one of WNC’s most important agricultural crops. Fifteen local apple growers participate in the street fair and will offer all things apples, including fried apple pies, apple cakes, apple butter and apple cider. (If you need to burn off some calories, sign up for the Tour d’Apple bicycling event on Labor Day with routes ranging from 25 to 100 miles.) The festival will close with its famous King Apple Parade at 2:30 p.m. on September 4 with professional floats, bands, youth groups, antique cars, fire trucks and more. North Carolina is the seventh largest apple-producing state in the nation, and 65% of all apples are grown in Hendersonville.
This is just a snippet of things to do during Labor Day Weekend in Asheville and Western North Carolina. To see a complete listing, check out this article from Arboretum Community Partner, RomanticAsheville.com.
The North Carolina Arboretum will be open during normal hours on Monday, September 4, from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. For more information on exhibits and activities at the Arboretum, please click here.