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French Broad River Festival

Monday, April 9th, 2012

ASHEVILLE NC – 15th Annual French Broad River Festival features area music /outdoors

This annual grassroots festival has grown steadily from a one night benefit party on the banks of the French Broad to an all weekend festival featuring some of the best music in the area and a number of outdoor events in celebration of this beautiful river and setting.

Date: May 4- May 6, 2012

Location: The festival takes place at the Hot Springs Campground & Spa, just 45 minutes north of Asheville, and sits on the edge of this historic town that is surrounded by national forest and is a crossroads of the Appalachian Trail and the French Broad River.

Music / entertainment: The Gourds, Snake Oil Medicine Show, Balsam Range, Sol Driven Train, The Legendary Singing Stars, Eyes of the Elders, Darren Nicholsen Band, Kung Fu Dynamite, American Anodyne, Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real and more! This festival always has a few surprises such as a juggling fire show, kid’s parade, trapeze artists, fireworks, late night acoustic jams, and watch out for flying marshmallows.

Outdoor events: You can enjoy the outdoors by participating in the raft race, a 9 mile whitewater race that finishes at the festival, paddling “with the pros”, or the 25 mile mountain bike race. And if you’re not feeling too competitive, you can take a nice hike on the AT or just hang out by the river, listening to the music.

The Raft Race will be held on Saturday, May 5 at 10:00 am. The biggest mass start whitewater raft race in the southeast. The race begins in Barnard , North Carolina and ends at the festival in beautiful Hot Springs , NC. During the 9 mile race, you will experience Class 1-4 whitewater excitement, as well as bumping boats, crazy people, and a lot of heckling. See website for details to pre-register for a spot on a raft with guide.

The Mountain Bike Race will take place Saturday, May 5 at 10 am. Registration fees are $15 for non-festival participants, and free for folks attending the festival. There will be prizes for the top finishers. Please plan to arrive at 9 am for pre-race registration and route information. For more info regarding the race and pre- registration, check out www.frenchbroadriverfestival.com.

Paddle with the Pros! Space is limited so sign up early! Saturday, May 5 offers a chance to paddle with an Open Canoe legend. Three time World Champion, Eli Helbert, will be leading a canoe clinic for folks with their own boat and gear. This will be great for boaters ofall skill levels. Sign up for Paddle with the Pros at the festival information booth on Friday afternoon or evening. Space will be limited, so get there early!

.Bring the Kids! Kids 11 and under are free and The Kid’s Village sponsored by Families Together has a terrific line up of fun activities including inflatables and Becky the Balloon Lady making costumes and fun balloon shapes for the Annual FBRF Kid’s Parade. Becky brings an entourage of fun folks that juggle, play with fire, and love to create an entertaining atmosphere for kids of all ages! Kid’s parade on Saturday led by Sol Driven Train, and a kid’s bike race around the campground on Saturday as well.

Food, prizes and more: There are plenty of food vendors or you can dine out in one of Hot Springs restaurants. See lots of outdoor gear and win some of it in the raffle and silent auction. Kids area. Sand volleyball. Spa. River. Mountains. Sleeping is optional.

Good Cause: Over the years, The French Broad River Festival has donated over $100,000 to designated local charities such as Manna Food Bank, Big Brothers/Big Sisters of WNC, Eliada Home, Homeward Bound of Asheville, and American Whitewater. Proceeds in 2011 will be donated to the Hot Springs Community Learning Center, Homeward Bound and American Whitewater.


Tickets include camping, music, registration fees for whitewater and biking events (if you have your own boat/ bike), one raffle ticket, festival schwag, and good times.

~ $70 plus Ticketweb fees if bought online before April 20th. ~ After 4/20 price increases. Gate admission will be $80.  Saturday only passes at gate $45 ~Children under 11 get in free.

Rafting plus Admission:

For those without boats but who would like to participate in the race, a limited number of tickets are available. These include a spot in a raft for the raft race with a guide, plus everything the general admission ticket offers. Check the website for more details. Tickets are on sale now at www.frenchbroadriverfestival.com.

French Broad River Festival celebrates river / outdoors

Have you ever floated down Section 9 of the French Broad River? In my experience there are few better ways to get away from the fast pace of modern life and to see this beautiful part of the world the way the Cherokees saw it, who actually called this section of the river Tahkeyostee (“where they race”). After several hours on the river, you arrive in the little town of Hot Springs, where throughout the 19th century a stream of wealthy visitors came via railroad to “take the waters” and enjoy the entertainments provided by a series of luxury hotels built adjacent to the thermal springs, along the banks of the French Broad. Today the Appalachian Trail runs right down Main St. and the surrounding area offers abundant recreational opportunities including hiking, fishing and mountain biking.

15 years ago a couple of friends thought it would be fun to “race” down Section 9 of the French Broad River and then have a party on it’s banks in Hot Springs, with any proceeds from the party going to charity. Well, as you can imagine a good time was had by all and the “party” has grown exponentially to a weekend outdoor and family music festival encompassing the entire Hot Springs Campground with national and local recording artists on 2 stages, a mountain bike race, a kid’s village, arts and craft vendors, outdoor vendors, and great food. In 2011 the organizers held another event on the Fall Solstice, and the 1st annual French Broad Fall Fest was a big success. In addition, over $100,000 has been donated to charities including American Whitewater, Big Brother/Big Sisters of WNC, Caring for Children, Eliada Home, Hot Springs Community Learning Center and more.

The 15th annual festival is set for May 4 – May 6, 2012 where the French Broad River meets the Appalachian Trail at the beautiful Hot Springs Campground & Spa.  Festival begins at 4:00 on Friday, May 4 and ends Sunday, May 6. Early Bird tickets are $70 online (www.FrenchBroadRiverFestival.com) prior to 4/20/12. After 4/20/12, tickets will be $80 online or at the gate. See website details or call 828-230-4054.

Musical acts include The Gourds, Snake Oil Medicine Show, Balsam Range, Sol Driven Train, The Legendary Singing Stars, Eyes of the Elders, Darren Nicholson Band, American Anodyne, Kung Fu Dynamite, Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real and more. This festival always has a few surprises such as a juggling fire show, kid’s parade, trapeze artists, fireworks, late night acoustic jams, and watch out for flying marshmallows! Proceeds from this year’s festival will be donated to American Whitewater and the Hot Springs Community Learning Center.

Asheville City Installs Bicycle Repair Station

Monday, March 26th, 2012

ASHEVILLE – City of Asheville employees recently installed a “Fixit” bicycle service station at the Clingman Avenue roundabout. It is a repair stand with an attached air pump and hand tools, including screwdrivers, wrenches and a tire lever. The station provides an opportunity for a cyclist to make minor repairs and adjustments on the road rather than having to carry tools or walk an ailing bicycle home.

“The city consulted with members of the Bicycle and Pedestrian Task Force and other cyclists about whether they would thought this was a good investment in encouraging bicycling, and to find the best location to test one of these stations,” said City Transportation Planner Barb Mee.  “This was the consensus.”

The River Arts District is a destination and a bicycle crossroads.  It is at the bottom of two long hills that join West Asheville and downtown, and near the Lyman Street and Riverside Drive bicycle lanes.  The location is also next to a transit stop that serves downtown and West Asheville.

People have already noticed the repair station.  Area resident Kelly Ingram noted, “the bicycle service station is incredibly helpful!  I can use it when I bike to and from work and when I’m commuting around town.  It is at a very convenient location so I don’t have to worry if my tire gets low or I need a few tools while I’m in the River Arts District or biking to West Asheville!”

The station is an investment aligned with city goals of integrating non-motorized modes into the city’s transportation network and providing Asheville’s residents and visitors with transportation options.  It also makes the city friendlier to bicycles, another City Council objective.  According to Mee, “An area where bicyclists feel welcome is one where they will patronize area businesses and spend their money.  This, along with good bicycle parking, is a way to make cyclists feel welcome.”

“The cycling community is thrilled by the fix-it station in the River Arts District.  Cyclists can tune up their bicycles after a ride along the river and greenway.  The fix-it station also strengthens Asheville’s commitment to multi-modal transportation as it’s located at a bus stop on the recently improved sidewalks of Clingman Ave. I’m proud of our city’s expansion of infrastructure that supports the many modes people use throughout the day.  The fix-it is a winner,” said Mike Sule of Asheville on Bikes, an area advocacy group.

Bicycling for transportation is a way to incorporate physical activity into someone’s day.  Studies have found that people who use active transportation are, on average, more physically fit and have a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease compared to people who use only motorized transportation.

“Kudos to the City for the installation of the Bicycle Fix-It Station in the River District.  People of all ages and sizes can reap the benefits of feeling good about their health and themselves by engaging in active transportation.  Studies show that the risk of chronic disease is reduced and that individuals report greater vitality and a sense of well-being when they walk or bicycle regularly”.  Vicki Rowe-Currence, Health Promotion Educator and member of the Asheville Bicycle and Pedestrian Task Force.

These public bicycle service stations have been used in other cities, including Wilmington (NC); Cambridge, Mass., and Omaha, Nebraska.

WCU Students Show the Way to Great Outdoors

Wednesday, January 4th, 2012

ASHEVILLE NC – Guides detailing how and where to enjoy fly fishing, hiking, mountain biking, snow sports, waterfalls and whitewater paddling close to Western Carolina University have been posted online and printed, and a guide about climbing is coming soon. The recently released Whee Adventure Guides were developed as part of a class project completed by students last spring in the parks and recreation management course “High Adventure Travel and Outfitting.”

The student-created Whee Adventure Guides are available online and at various locations on campus.The student-created Whee Adventure Guides are available online and at various locations on campus.

“When I first introduced this project to the students last spring, there was unanimous agreement that the previous guides needed to be updated and definitely printed in color this time around,” said Debby Singleton, coordinator of health liberal studies and instructor of parks and recreation management and health and physical education.

The students reviewed the original guides produced in 2005 and formed groups to update them by researching and rewriting content, visiting adventure locations and taking photographs. They also developed a timeline for project completion with deadlines for each section and a grading rubric with points. Group team leaders met with staff from creative services at WCU and, with Shannon Cronkrite as designer for the project, created full-color, foldable guides and discussed the process of getting them in a printable format. Photos selected to be used in the guides were submitted by students, the instructor, Base Camp Cullowhee staff, Todd Murdock from Educational Talent Search-Project Discovery, Cataloochee Ski Area, and photographers Mark Haskett and Ashley Evans from the WCU Office of Public Relations.

In addition, the students researched funding options and applied for and won a $600 grant from The Honors College to print 150 copies of each guide at the print shop on campus.

“These Whee Adventure Guides are not just a class project that demonstrates synthesis of learning,” said Singleton. “They are also a valuable tool for students, parents and visitors to use to explore the abundance of outdoor opportunities close to Cullowhee.”

The printed guides are now available in Reid Gym, Base Camp Cullowhee, Human Services Department, and the Honors College, and Singleton said she and the students hope other departments interested in using them will help with future printing costs. Meanwhile, Carla Parrish, administrative support associate assisting with technology needs in the College of Education and Allied Professions, created a website where the guides can be downloaded and printed, and linked it to the parks and recreation management website.

Singleton cited the project as a great example of WCU’s Quality Enhancement Plan and said students working in the field of parks and recreation management will most likely have to create maps, guides, program brochures or other creative pieces during their careers.

“They may not be graphic designers, but they need to be able to articulate their ideas and work with creative professionals,” said Singleton. “The class’ main focus is on adventure travel – history, risk and safety implications, trip planning and logistics, trends, and ethical issues. Although we explore national and international adventure travel, I also wanted students to understand that adventure travel happens in their local areas as well, which is evident from the multitude of activities we have close to Cullowhee.”

Click here to read more about the history of the project.

Buncombe County Opens New Riverside Trail

Tuesday, November 1st, 2011

ASHEVILLE NC – The Buncombe County Parks, Greenways and Recreation Services Department has completed construction of a new trail along the French This new half mile trail enhances Alexander Park and makes for a great addition to this picnicking and fishing area.Broad River.

Now known as the Alexander Park Trail, this new half mile trail enhances Alexander Park and makes for a great addition to this picnicking and fishing area.

Get out and enjoy one of your County parks today and visit Alexander Greenway by taking the UNCA exit off of I-26/240. Head north on Highway 251, also known as Riverside Drive, for approximately 10 miles and the park is on the left before you reach the County Landfill.

The construction of this greenway extension was made possible through the financial support of a North Carolina Recreational Trails Program grant.

For more information about this or other trails and greenways, contact Lucy Crown, Buncombe Parks, Greenways and Recreation at 250-4260 or [email protected].

Find out more about Asheville outdoors, Asheville biking and Asheville hiking trails.

Nov. 12: Jack Rabbit Mountain Biking Trip

Tuesday, November 1st, 2011

ASHEVILLE NC – Escape the confines of pavement for a fast-paced adventure along wooded trails and past lakes and mountains. Join the Western North Carolina Alliance for this guided mountain biking trip through the 15-mile Jack Rabbit Trail System in the Nantahala National Forest.  Learn about sustainable trail building, eat lunch on Lake Chatuge and experience the Fall as you fly past some of WNC’s most beautiful scenery.  Beginner’s welcome!

When: Saturday, November 12 from 10am-3pm
Where: Jack Rabbit Trail System in the Nantahala National Forest, Hayesville, NC
Who: Led by WNCA’s Education and Outings Coordinator, Joy Irby

Cost: $10 for Alliance members; $20 for nonmembers.  If you need a bike, it will cost $40 extra.

There will be a carpool if you live in Asheville.  Otherwise, we will meet at the trailhead parking lot.

Please register by November 4th if you need a bike.  Contact [email protected] or call 828-258-8737 to register!

Find out about more Asheville events!

Spring Flowers in Full Bloom this May at the North Carolina Arboretum

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010

ASHEVILLE, NC – The North Carolina Arboretum celebrates bright blooms this May as it hosts major flower shows that showcase spring’s beauty.

The American Rhododendron Society’s Southeastern Chapter Annual Show kicks the month off on May 1 and May 2. Hundreds of blooms will be displayed at the Education Center during the show, including many favorite mountain plants. Azaleas as well as spring and summer blooming rhododendrons are among the most popular. Visitors are encouraged to expand their experience by visiting the National Native Azalea Collection – a popular destination amid the Arboretum’s 434 acres.

On May 8 and May 11, the Carolinas Dahlia Society and the NC Chrysanthemum Society celebrate the season with their Spring Dahlia Tuber and Cuttings Sale. Learning from Dahlia and Mum Society experts, visitors can uncover the secrets of how to produce plants with show quality blooms. Varieties include traditional favorites plus the latest cultivars to start the growing season. Chrysanthemum Cuttings will be for sale only on May 8; tubers and dahlia plantlets will be for sale on May 11.

The fragrant and vivid world of roses will be on display on May 29 and 30 as The Asheville Blue Ridge Rose Society’s Annual Exhibit will be showcased at the Arboretum. Roses of every color and size will be featured during the exhibition and experts will present educational programs. Knowledgeable society members will be available to provide information about the selection, care and history of these magnificent garden plants. A rose sale will be held in conjunction with the exhibition, which will include the sale of rose fertilizer and soil amendments.

Shows and events are free for Arboretum Society members or with the standard parking fee ($8 per personal motor vehicle). Visitors are encouraged to explore the Arboretum’s kaleidoscope of spring color, 65 acres of cultivated gardens, 10 miles of hiking and biking trails, engaging exhibits, and bountiful opportunities to connect with nature.

The mission of The North Carolina Arboretum is to cultivate connections between people and plants. Visit www.ncarboretum.org for more information or call 828.665.2492.