A few days ago, I watched a wave of yellowish-green leaves flutter off a bank of trees on Waynesville’s Wall Street. It hit me that fall really is almost upon us. I can’t wait. Enough of this hottest summer in years. Enough of these rising gas prices and swells of summer traffic. I am so ready for a new season — my favorite one, in fact — that I can hardly stand it. Fall is a time when everything feels crisp and new and possible. It makes me as giddy as those first warm wisps of spring make others.
This week, as August slips into September, the county’s got a couple of tried-and-true events to chose from, as well as some brand new ones, too. It’s your chance to say goodbye to summer through any medium you see fit — music, a talent, parade or even a test of endurance. Try a few or try them all. You do have three whole days.
Folksy music fest
Western North Carolina has more music festivals than you can shake a stick at, but how many give you free watermelon? Oh, about one — and it’s coming up quick. The 43rd annual Smoky Mountain Folk Festival will fill the Stuart Auditorium inside and out this Friday and Saturday evening. While the main-stage shows start at 6:30 p.m., I’m particularly partial to the more informal (and intensely local) talent show, which starts around 5 p.m. outside the auditorium. It’s folksier and less put together, a time when pickers try things out and joke around as they play. It’s also a good appetizer, getting your palate in the mood for a long night of down-home music and dance from the likes of the Cockman Family, Don Pedi, Whitewater Bluegrass Co. and so many more. For tickets and more information, visit www.smokymountainfolkfestival.com or call 452-1688.
Labor Day love
Canton’s Labor Day celebration didn’t become the oldest one in the South for nothing, you know. You can see what all the dedication is about this weekend, with four full days of music, food, crafts, games and — of course — the town’s famed parade, its 106th. It all starts with Pickin’ in the Park on Friday, continues with a car show and heritage day on Saturday and a gospel show and movie on Sunday. It then all culminates Monday with the parade and later music by Boss Howard and Chase Rice. I’ll be there at some point, though I’m not sure when. Not to sound like a Pollyanna, but Canton celebrations warm my heart too much to stay away. Learn more about the festival by calling 648-2363 or visiting www.cantonnc.com or.
The cheering section
I am no world-class athlete, but I have run enough races to tell you one thing with certainty: Cheering crowds matter. That’s why this Saturday morning, I fully intend on parking myself somewhere along the route for the King of the Smokies Triathlon and giving to others what’s so graciously been given to me countless times. If you’re feeling up to it, why not actually join the race and see for yourself? You can still sign up for either the sprint (800-yard swim/19-mile bike/3.7-mile run) or international (.97-mile swim/26-mile bike/7.4-mile run) the day of or before the race. Otherwise, I say grab a lawn chair, maybe a cowbell and a mug of coffee, and I’ll see you on the course. For more information, visit www.kingofthesmokies.com or call Bill Wilkins at (910) 581-2758.
Did you see Haywood’s Got Talent last year? No? Well, it’s time to get to HART, my friend. Semi finals for the second annual talent show are coming up this Friday and Saturday, and I really can’t stress enough how good last year was. From pint-sized performers to those well into their golden years, just about everyone from all walks of life came to last year’s event — and it looks like a similarly dissimilar crop is going to be there this time around. There will be 25 acts all told, from singers to the belly dancers to even a harpist. It’s sort of like that show on TV (you know the one), only friendlier, sweeter and hitting a lot closer to home. For tickets (with proceeds benefitting HART), call 456-6322 or visit www.harttheater.com.