Maggie Valley shows its true colors every fall
There have been many news accounts about Maggie Valley recently, and not all of them have been happy. But I have been happily working and playing in beautiful Maggie Valley for years.
Sure, Ghost Town in the Sky has come and gone and come back again — and businesses have ebbed and flowed right along with it. But this past weekend, most of the flow in and out of Maggie Valley was on two-wheels — ‘Steel Horses.’
It was Thunder in the Valley motorcycle rally, and amidst the roar of the engines (and the welcome sound of the cash registers) things were quietly — almost secretly — changing.
Camouflaged by all the heavy metal motorcycles, trucks full of fall decorations were quietly making their way into Maggie Valley. Nestled between the Harleys and Davidsons, more than 800 pumpkins rolled into town — including 100-plus Big Macs (one weighing more than 200 pounds.)
The Big Macs were clearing the way for more than 100 Cinderella (carriage-style) pumpkins and more than 500 regular pumpkins, acting as footmen.
If that isn’t enough squash to squish you, nearly 150 giant cushaws also snuck into town, along with more than 450 bales of hay, 700 corn shocks, 280 gorgeous mums, 120 scarecrows and 200 bundles of (also giant) Indian corn.
Of course, you know that the arrival of all these decorations was neither an accident nor a surprise — not at all.
It’s an annual event — part of a town-wide effort to showcase Maggie’s fall color, orchestrated for the past 22 years by Sue Pendley, co-owner of Maggie Mountaineer Crafts.
Along with running the store, making an occasional batch of fudge and organizing other community events, Pendley spends most of August managing Maggie’s colorful makeover.
Did you know? — A little bit of history here — The Maggie’s massive decorating along Soco Road was conceived in 1998 by Jeff Smith, owner of Jonathan Creek Inn, as a way of drawing “the leaf watchers” to the Valley.
Smith was clearly a man of vision, because the annual fall decorating not only draws hoards of tourists, it also draws the community closer together.
Year after year, town leaders, business owners and numerous volunteers take part — dropping hay bales in front of every lot and along side every telephone pole. Next corn shocks are secured with bright, orange tape. Finally, each station is adorned with a fresh pumpkin and a watchful scarecrow.
During this time, most Maggie Valley businesses go all out with their own artful displays of fall color — most notably, Maggie Mountaineer Crafts, Joey’s Pancake House, J. Arthur’s Restaurant and Jonathan Creek Inn.
It’s a sight to behold, and shows Maggie Valley in its true color.
“I’m so proud of Maggie Valley,” said Pendley. “It’s great to see the town come together and so many volunteers giving freely of their time.”
One of those volunteers was a teenage boy named Matthew Carrick, recently recognized as Maggie Valley Chamber of Commerce's “Volunteer of the Year.”
Another regular volunteer, Joan, started coming to the area 35 years ago, and moved to Maggie Valley (you guessed it) “because of the beautiful fall decorations.”
So there you have it — If you want to see what fall is all about, hop into your car or on your motorcycle and visit Maggie Valley. The decorations will knock you out, so “Y’all come.”