Stina's picksA point in the right direction
I know Disney claims to be the “happiest place on earth,” and maybe that’s true for some, but I’ve never had as full an experience at its “World” or “Land” as I did at Dollywood this weekend. My buddy and I hit that place hard, spending no less than 11 hours in its homespun, adrenaline-inducing embrace. After a full day of raucous roller coasters, long lines and overpriced eats, we had gone through a wide range emotions, from joy and anticipation to fear and frustration — and right back to awe again. I already miss Dolly’s glamorized version of Appalachia.
But I am glad to be back in my own. Here’s what I’m looking forward to these next few days.
Those of us who didn’t grow up in a tight-knit community sometimes get brief, beautiful windows into what that might have looked like. When that happens to me, I’m usually in Fines Creek. I hope to be in its old-time schoolhouse this Saturday, May 19, when the little place celebrates (and raises money for) the Junior Appalachian Musicians afterschool program. The program, in which youngsters learn to make traditional mountain music with fiddles and banjos and the like, is the kind of thing that could easily fall by the wayside in these tight times. This kind-hearted evening of clogging, bluegrass barbecue is here to make sure that doesn’t happen. Supper is from 4:30 to 6 p.m., and the community music jam from 6 to 8 p.m., with raffles and cakewalks sprinkled throughout. Last year, watching the evening unfold was like getting a constant hug. I even won a cake. Call the Haywood County Arts Council at 452-0593 for tickets.
Grief and growing up
Evangeline Crittenden is an actor, a writer, a director, a comedian, a singer — and a dear friend of mine for 15 years. Of course I’m seeing her one-woman show, “Chrysalis,” because I care about her, but that’s not the only reason. I’m doing it because I applaud anyone who takes something unimaginable (her brother’s death, in her case), and creates something beautiful from it. Her show, which was recently accepted into the New York International Fringe Festival, explores her loss in a multi-character tragicomedy meant to lift you up, not weigh you down. It is about her experience, but it really is meant for anyone who’s ever lost someone. No advance tickets are needed. Just arrive at Asheville Community Theater’s 35 Below, at 35 E. Walnut St., in Asheville, in time for the 8 p.m. show this Thursday, May 17.
A ‘Flourish’ for females
Mother’s Day has come and gone, but I’m dead-sure that every mom I know (and daughter, too) could use a little more pampering. This Saturday, Harrah’s Cherokee Hotel and Casino is hosting Flourish, MedWest’s all-day women’s health expo meant to “renew the mind, body and spirit.” I went last year, and while I can’t say that I came out an entirely different person, I was refreshed. A few memorable words from amazing keynote speaker Maya Angelou certainly helped. This year, singer Naomi Judd is on tap to speak. Come early to snag a free bag and oodles of complimentary goodies that last year included everything from makeup and lotions to coupons and pamphlets meant to steer you into a healthier way of being. Call 452-8343 for tickets.
A new kind of commute
In this car-happy culture, it’s easy to forget that bicycling is even an option, especially one that could get you to work. Luckily, BicycleHaywoodNC is here to remind us how far two wheels can take us. The local bike advocacy group is teaming up with the Waynesville Police Department, Smoky Mountain Café and Best Buy this Friday to celebrate Haywood County’s second-annual “Bike to Work Day” ride. The friendly group ride will take off from the Best Buy parking lot in west Waynesville at 8 a.m. and will swoop through various parts of town. Everyone is welcome. Just bring your bike, a helmet and an open mind. Visit ww.bicyclehaywoodnc.org for more information.