Picks by Stina

A point in the right direction
By Stina Sieg | Sep 13, 2012
Photo by: Donated photo The Southeast Tribes Festival is returning to Cherokee this Friday and Saturday. Above, Kody Grant and Kara Martin do the Cherokee Corn Dance at a past celebration.

As a small-town reporter for about seven years, I’ve been to my fair share of cookouts, potlucks and benefits of all stripes. I have never, however, been as awestruck by a community gathering as I was last Thursday evening. It was Haywood Builders Supply Customer Appreciation Night, and oh did I feel appreciated.

For those not in the know, as I wasn’t, this is a local tradition, a time when hundreds of people (and about just as many cars) gather at the American Legion for a night of free music and grill-your-own steaks with all the trimmings. On my inaugural visit, I thought everyone I knew was there, from cops and cloggers to mayors and musicians — not to mention more babies and little kiddos than you can imagine. Everyone looked as happy, and as full, as can be.

As I sat down to my steaming steak and cold beer, I chatted up my roommate’s English friend, who looked just as wide-eyed as I felt in that sweet scene.

“Does every town have one of these?” he asked me, in his British lilt.

“No,” I replied. “I’ve never seen anything like this.”

It’s true. I’m happy to say I feel that way quite frequently in Western North Carolina. Here are a few other “only-around-here” picks for the next few days.

For all you ‘Thunder’ lovers

Since I moved to Haywood County, there have been no fewer than four Thunder in the Smokies bike rallies — so I guess I better finally attend one. I’m actually really excited about the fest, which starts this Friday and runs through Sunday, Sept. 14 to 16, at the Maggie Valley Festival Grounds. 
While I’m not a huge bike fan (though I was raised on and around them), I am a fan of seeing people who love something come together. And if there’s good music and free pancakes,  too, all the better. For the rally’s full schedule (including all the bands, dancers and that Sunday morning pancake feast), check out www.thunderinthesmokies.com — or perhaps I’ll just see you there.

The queen of Cherokee cuisine

Note: This event was scheduled for this weekend and now has been moved to Oct. 27. When it comes to cooking stars, Savannah has Paula Deen, New York City has the Barefoot Contessa and Baltimore has those hipsters from “Ace of Cakes.” In WNC, we’ve Johnnie Sue Meyers, and I know I’m not the only one who thinks that’s pretty cool. The Cherokee elder recently penned “The Gathering Place,” which gives the low down on traditional Cherokee and Southern Appalachian dishes. 
Fancy this is not, but fascinating it is, with recipes like “Sweet and Sour Venison Meatballs” and “Baked Raccoon.” Meyers will literally be giving you a taste of the book (and, yes, that means free samples) when she makes a stop at Blue Ridge Books. For more information (and even a free recipe for venison cubed steak with gravy), visit www.cherokeecooking.com. Blue Ridge, at 152 S. Main St., Waynesville, can be reached at 456-6000.

Stepping into the past

Going along with the Cherokee theme, if you feel like getting out of town, our Native American neighbors have an idea for you. The Cherokee Indian Fairgrounds will host the Southeast Tribes Festival from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and from 7 to 9 p.m. this Friday and Saturday. The celebration will include everything you might expect — and probably some things you wouldn’t — from storytelling to traditional dances, and ancient games to demos from Colonial Williamsburg trades people. I’m thinking about joining in Saturday morning’s 5K — if only to later sample all that traditional food without guilt. For more information and ticket prices, visit www.cherokeemuseum.org or call 497-3481.

Knitting for a cause

Everyone, not just the fiber folks among us, is invited to this Saturday’s “Afternoon Extravaganza” at the Performing Arts Center in Waynesville. Put on by the Smoky Mountain Knitting Guild, the fundraiser features a “Sound of Music” ballet performed by MusicWorks!, a fashion show of hand-knit items, several drawings, and a dessert and wine bar. Best of all, of course, is the fact that the proceeds benefit  the Good Samaritan Clinic of Haywood County, which serves the many, many underserved people around here in medical need. 
As a knitting addict and a big fan of the clinic’s mission, I definitely hope to be there. For tickets, call 246-4651 or 691-8409. Learn more at www.smkguild.com.