LEAF Lake Eden Arts Festival

The Lake Eden Arts Festival (LEAF) takes place in the Blue Ridge mountains of Black Mountain, NC, just outside of Asheville.  Though the Lake Eden Arts Festival occurs just two weekends per year, it requires nearly 7 full-time staff members, 14 board of directors, and countless volunteers to pull off the bi-annual festival that attracts travelers from all around the country.  With a line-up of world-renowned musicians, performers, and artists, it's no wonder LEAF sells out almost every year well before the weekend festivities even begin.

Beginning at 4pm Thursday, the afternoon that the festival kicks-off, cars begin lining up off the Black Mountain exit near highway 40, as long time festival goers eagerly await the chance to grab their favorite camping spot. License plates from all across the country signal that people have traveled from far and wide: Ohio, Florida, Tennessee, and Colorado plates are present.  Local Ashevillians wait in line too, anticipating a weekend full of music, food, and old friends.

Lake Eden Arts Festival takes place during a weekend in the middle of May and again during peak leaf season in mid-October. It's a cherished tradition for many families and friends to come and camp out together for the weekend. In the spring, folks enjoy swimming in Lake Eden and in the fall, the ground is marked by warm fires and bright sweaters. Besides the eclectic range of music that play from 8 different stages on the grounds of Camp Rockmont, LEAF offers hoola hooping and yoga, a dozen healing arts booths, poetry, craft vendors, and home building workshops.

One of the greatest parts of LEAF is the diversity. LEAF is truly a festival for all ages and many kinds of people. Parents push small children in strollers around the festival grounds. A group of elementary school kids play a pick-up game of football.  College students happily camp with their friends, and middle-aged couples enjoy coming back each year to enjoy the music and dancing. LEAF features a Kids Village, contra-dancing that goes on throughout the weekend, and a drum circle which stretches into the wee hours of the night.

Food and drink is also served up in many different varieties. Local staples such as Okie Dokies Smokehouse, Barley's Pizza, and Ultimate Ice Cream fill up hungry campers. Other savory and sweet vending spots like Mountain Maki, The Sugar Shack, and John Beaus Gumbo keep people coming back for more. Pisgah Brewing Company serves up LEAF amber ale specialty beer, and hot meals are served three times daily at The Morning Glory Cafe in Eden Hall.

This year the music line-up consisted of an Americana folk band from nearby West Asheville, The Honey Cutters, late-night reggae music by The Original Wailers, and the festival headliners, The Indigo Girls, the folk rock duo that has been playing together since 1988. In addition, people got down to music at the Slavic Soul Party, Afro-Brazilian music, and Cajun dance.

If you missed the fall LEAF, tickets for the spring LEAF spring event is in May. Come stay the whole weekend, or visit Camp Rockmont for an afternoon. Discounts are available for Buncombe County Residents, or you can volunteer your time in exchange for a weekend or day pass. Visit www.theleaf.org for more information about ticket prices, dates, and line-up.