Shindig on the Green, Organic Festival, Chimney Rock and NC Arboretum

Downtown Asheville's Pack Square Park is the hub for a variety of festivals and concerts.  On Saturday evenings, through the summer months, you'll find hundreds of old-time and bluegrass music fans at the park to enjoy the Shindig on the Green.  The event, founded by Folk Heritage Committee members, has been presenting free music for the public since 1967.  Luckily, we were able to catch two of the programs.  Every 15-20 minutes, a different entertainer, band or dance troupe would come to the stage.  Starting at "along about sundown," the program runs for 3 hours.  Behind the elaborate stage, there is a second program going on, as musicians jam on the courthouse steps, or anywhere else they can find a space.

The following day, we were back at Pack Square for the Organic Festival.  Featuring products from
over 100 vendors, offering a diversity of organic goods, entertainment, eco-crafts for kids, and even a parade, the celebration offered a little bit of something for everyone.  Sampling coconut pancakes, chocolates and honey, and lunching on organic foods from one of the local restaurants, we received coupons and handouts from many of the businesses represented.  As the finish line for the Gran Fondo National Championship, bikers completing the 30, 60 or 110-mile mountainous journey were riding into the middle of the festival.  Plenty of healthy food and beverages were on hand to provide sustenance at the end of their long ride.

Later in the week, we drove south to Chimney Rock State Park.  Named for the 315-foot granite monolith, which extends out from the surrounding mountains, the park provides 6200-acres of recreational lands for visitors.  Purchased by the State of North Carolina, from a private owner in 2007, the lands were incorporated with the Hickory Nut Gorge State Park (established in 2005) and the park was renamed for Chimney Rock.  On the day of our visit, the elevator to the top was broken.  The 541 steps to the top, and the 85 degree heat made us decide to come back another day.  We scoped out future kayaking at nearby Lake Lure, and visited the 155 feet Lake Lure Flowering Bridge.  Maintained by volunteers, this portion of an old bridge is closed to traffic, and offers primarily native plants, with views of the Lake and the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains.

Chinese Elm
North Carolina Arboretum, west of Asheville, provides 65 acres of cultivated gardens for perusing.  The 434-acre parcel
also offers 10 miles of walking and biking trails.  No admission is charged for the park, but there is a $12 parking fee for non-members.  Spending about 3 hours walking the grounds, we were most impressed by the Bonsai gardens.  With over 100 specimens, the Arboretum has one of the finest collections in the country.  All of the plants were donated, over the past 20 plus years, by bonsai enthusiasts.  Rigorous cultivation techniques keep the plants in their miniaturized state.  Rocky Cove Railroad, a G-scale train and town, are also on the grounds for kids of all ages, but unfortunately, it was not running at the time of our visit. 
Shindig on the Green 
At the Organic Festival

At the Flowering Bridge
At the Flowering Bridge
Quilt Garden at the Arboretum
Rocky Cove Railroad
Sculptures at the Arboretum
Lake Lure Flowering Bridge
Lake Lure
At Chimney Rock

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