Author Archives: thedillsborodish

November 2017


Joe Frank McKee reuniting with friend Logan Hull. 

WNC Pottery Festival Brings People Together From Near and Far

Potters and visitors from across the country gathered together in Dillsboro on Saturday, Nov. 4 to create, demonstrate, and appreciate the world of clay art. The WNC Pottery Festival has been hosted on Front Street for the past 13 years, and the 2017 festival did not disappoint. Dillsboro was covered in a rainbow of clay creations, ranging from functional pieces like mugs and lotion pumps to eclectic decorative pigs.


Joe Frank McKee, who owns and operates Tree House Pottery, a retail store and wholesale clay vendor in Dillsboro, has led the festival since its inception. While McKee has been in the clay business for more than 27 years and travels to pottery festivals and art shows around the country, he is happy to call WNC Pottery Festival home.

“We run a lot of people through the gates,” said McKee. “This year, the show went off without a hitch and the turnout was overwhelming.”


In addition to having more than 40 juried vendors, the Pottery Festival offers day-long raffles and live demonstrations of pottery throwing. Guests observed the creation of vases and pitchers or learned about the variety of ways a potter might leave intricate designs on their pieces. Most presenters encouraged a relaxed question and answer session during the demonstration, encouraging participants of all ages and experience levels to learn more about the art. The festival coordinators make an effort to include a variety of demonstrators and vendors from sculptors, paper clay, and raku artists.

“I love this festival because it brings potters from all over the country right to our backyard,” said Sylva native Tyra Simmons. “I first came in 2008, and it’s always a lot of fun. There are always a lot of really interesting creations.”


While the festival is a great way to physically bring people together, it also serves as an example of the way art can help form a bond between people. Mother-daughter duo Vallyn Anderson and Rusty Owens are part of the Southwestern Community College ceramics program. They were excited to be back at the Pottery Festival for their fourth year, selling a variety of pottery on behalf of their school.

“Mom begged me for a long time to take a pottery class,” said Anderson. “It’s something she’s been doing for a long time and once I took my first bowl-throwing class, I found that I really enjoyed it, too.”

In total, seven students from Southwestern had their creations for sale, each student showing off a unique style with each of their items.


No matter your familiarity with pottery, mark your calendars for November 3, 2018, when WNC Pottery Festival will return to Front Street. You are sure to leave with art, memories, or perhaps a heart-warming story of a potter’s journey to this esteemed show.



A Gift Guide To Shopping Local This Holiday Season

The weather may trick you into thinking it’s spring, but the truth is the holiday season is rapidly approaching. No matter the winter festivities you prefer to celebrate, gift-giving is a highlight of the holiday season. Feel especially good about the presents you’ve wrapped for your loved ones by buying them from your local retailers!

Dillsboro, North Carolina is home to quality artisans and crafters and unique retail stores. Here’s a quick guide to help you find just the right gifts for all of the special folks on your list:


The Artsy Olive – Select from a large variety of olive oils, vinegars, sugars, salts, and special sauces to help spice up the holidays.

Country Traditions – Find wines, gourmet specialty items and gift baskets at this little nook of southern hospitality.

Dillsboro Chocolate FactorySatisfy everyone’s sweet tooth with the Chocolate Factory’s famous selection of fudge, truffles, and candy.

For the arts and crafts  lover:

Dogwood CraftersThis local craft cooperative offers fine arts and crafts honoring Dillsboro’s mountain heritage with a tastefully modern twist.

Oaks GalleryFeaturing a variety of handmade arts and crafts, including exceptional woven pieces, checkout Oaks Gallery for creations from more than 100 local artisans.

Rabbit Creek PotteryPotters can use the studio to create pieces, but Rabbit Creek also offers a selection of locally-crafted functional and decorative clay works.

Riverwood Pottery  – Find handmade jewelry and functional pottery crafted by a family local to Dillsboro.

Treehouse Pottery – Peruse the gallery to find functional or decorative pieces of pottery, raku, horsehair, or signature leaf design pieces.

Tunnel Mountain CraftsWith more than 60 contributing artisans, you’ll find a wide variety of arts and crafts, including functional pottery and stoneware.


Golden CarpChoose from a unique and ecletic selection of home decor, original art, baskets, and special antiques. Both gift certificates and design consultations are available!


Haywood Smokehouse MercantileDid you know that your favorite local smokehouse also offers a selection of old-time toys and candies alongside handcrafted home decor?

Magnolia Jewelry Featuring a large selection of beautiful sterling silver, natural gems, or locally hand-crafted jewelry, Magnolia Jewelry offers a great selection at affordable prices.

Monkey Toes – Discover a fun selection of t-shirts, Tula hats, socks, and special gifts for the whole family in this one-of-a-kind shop.

Nancy Tut’s Christmas Shop – Whether you’re buying a new ornament for a special occasion or looking for a beautiful gift item for your loved one, your holiday shopping excursion in Dillsboro will not be complete until you visit Nancy Tut’s!

Scope out the greatest deals from the greatest stores in WNC when you visit Dillsboro on Small Business Saturday, November 25.

country traditions

Homemade Holidays Are A Country Tradition

From pumpkin spice to turkey dinner, autumn conjures up a variety of delicious foods. If there were ever a place for hundreds of flavors and tastes to combine and culminate for an exceptional experience, it would be at Country Traditions in Dillsboro, NC.

This homegrown food specialty store has been offering gourmet treats, wine and gifts to Western North Carolina residents and tourists from around the country since 2005. Their staple wines and cheeses are a hit among the local community, while newer products are capturing adventurous taste buds.

A wine lover’s dream, Country Traditions offers dozens of varieties, including an excellent selection of North Carolina wines. Whether you are a casual wine fan or a wine savant, there is something for all tastes. Full-bodied Merlots and sweet, crisp Moscato are just a few of the available options. For an amazing finish, pair your glass of wine with one of the many varieties of local cheese. Not sure what to choose? Owners John and Janet Chinners will be happy to pour you a sample of any wine in the store, as well as provide guidance on food and wine pairings.

If wine just isn’t for you, don’t fret!  Local craft beer is offered too.

With over 200 gourmet product combinations, Country Traditions has a variety of culinary delicacies to satisfy any appetite. Honey Sriracha sauce, truffle aioli, and apple jalapeno jelly are some of the wonderful goodies to take home this holiday season. You’ll find everything you need for both entertaining and gift giving at Country Traditions.

Country Traditions is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. from Monday to Thursday, until 6 p.m. on Fridays and until 7 p.m. on Saturdays. Visit them at 73 Webster Street, call them at 828-586-1600, and like them on Facebook.


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October 2017


10 Fall Dillsboro To-Do’s

Autumn colors are blazing throughout the mountains of Western North Carolina and the historic arts and crafts town of Dillsboro is your destination. While visiting for leaf season, be sure to check out these 10 “must do’s” in the area!

  1. Attend the Western North Carolina Pottery Festival

On November 4th, come to Dillsboro to enjoy and purchase pottery from some of the finest potters across the country. With more than 40 master potters in attendance, this juried show is recognized as one of the Southeast’s Top 20 arts events for November by the Southeast Tourism Society.

  1. Halloween Trick or Treat Around Downtown

On October 31st from 5 p.m. – 7 p.m. come on down to downtown Dillsboro and enjoy fall shopping, games from Dogwood Crafters and hayrides courtesy of Jarrett Memorial Church.

  1. Enjoy a Magnificent Meal

Despite its small size, Dillsboro boosts a wide range of culinary options. From family style Greek food, to North Carolina BBQ, this little town has it all! View a full list of dining options here:

  1. Stock Up On Holiday Supplies at Nancy Tut’s Christmas Shop

Nestled in the heart of Dillsboro, Nancy Tut’s Christmas Shop has become a local holiday staple. With the holiday season approaching, Nancy Tut’s is the perfect place to purchase gifts for yourself or presents for loved ones.

  1. Ride the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad

As the leaves of the majestic Blue Ridge Mountains begin their annual color display, hopping aboard the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad’s Tuckasegee River Excursion is one of the best ways to take in the breathtaking mountain scenery and enjoy Dillsboro to boot!

  1. Shop Local Arts & Crafts

The Town of Dillsboro is thriving with artistic talent just waiting to be discovered. Visit Dogwood Crafters, Rabbit Creek Pottery, Riverwood Pottery, Treehouse Pottery and Tunnel Mountain Crafts, among others, to view, purchase and learn about these unique pieces of art.

  1. Refresh Your Home Decor

Stop by the Golden Carp, Oaks Gallery, or any other one of Dillsboro’s several home shops to find a piece for your collection everyone will love!

  1. Improve your Culinary Skills

Visit Country Traditions on Saturday’s for exciting cooking classes and then stop by the Kitchen Shop to stock up on tools to keep the cooking going at home!

  1. Indulge in a Sweet Treat

Have a sweet tooth? Dillsboro is home to both the Dillsboro Chocolate Factory and Venturo’s Bakery with both featuring a wide array of scrumptious snacks!

  1. Fish the Tuck

Achieve the Tuckasegee Slam! Catch Brook, Brown, and Rainbow Trout all in one place! The Tuckaseegee River offers fishing and entertainment for outdoorsmen of all age and experience!


Dillsboro Arts Festival Is A Colorful Success

            More than 50 artists took part in the 2017 ColorFest on Saturday, Oct. 7, along Front Street in the heart of Dillsboro.

Cradled by the gleaming colors of autumn in the mountains, visitors of ColorFest are taken to another world in a way that only an artistic town like Dillsboro can provide. To your left you may find a variety of handmade pipes and jewelry while to your right you can enjoy The Maggie Valley Band as it takes you back to your bluegrass roots with raw mandolin riffs and knee-bouncing percussion.

ColorFest has been hosted by the town of Dillsboro for the last nine years. Artists and creators from the surrounding communities come together to demonstrate their creatives processes and sell their creations. This year the festival hosted a variety of creators from glass blowers to basket weavers.

“It’s a nice festival,” said Tracy Chapple, of Tracy Chapple Photography. “The people are friendly.” Chapple continued to express that she feels the support of the surrounding community as an artist, saying that she always sells enough to feel good about being a vendor.

Sharon Karras and Mary Buchanan-Smith create knitwear and felted accessories for their booth. “It’s a hobby job,” said Karras, “we go to three shows in October and spend the rest of the year knitting. It’s really nice to have this creative outlet.” The duo has participated in ColorFest for two years.

“It’s a smaller show and that makes it more fun,” said Karras. “Here, people actually take the time to come into your booth. They’re not just walking up and down the street.”

For some, the creative process stems from a family tradition. At least, that’s the story for Karen Taylor of Taylor’s Greenhouse. Taylor’s parents started the business in 1965 and she continues the greenhouse today with the help of five part-time employees. This is her third year as a ColorFest vendor.

“This is a well-put together show,” said Taylor. She explained that, by fall, business at the greenhouse is slow and she can spend time being creative and making a variety of arrangements and planters to sell at the festival.

Dillsboro continued to show its support of local artists and crafts people at the 2017 ColorFest. Be sure to put this on your calendar for next October, when ColorFest celebrates its 10th year.

dill dish 4

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Lees at the Depot features fresh and fermented


“I cannot rest from travel: I will drink life to the lees.” This line from Lord Alfred Tennyson’s poem Ulysses were words that stuck with Gary Long far beyond college where he first read it.

Long is the owner of Lees at the Depot, located in downtown Dillsboro.

Lees are the sentiments left over from the fermentation process and found in wine.

“The quote seemed appropriate because wine is our thing. Being by the railroad tracks, the travel part fits perfectly,” Long said.

Long negotiated a lease contract with the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad, which owns the building.  GSMR used it as its depot when the railroad was headquartered in Dillsboro.

Long took possession of the building in February. After extensive renovation, Lees at the Depot opened in August, 2016.

With a focus on an extensive wine list and fresh, creative food offerings, Lees at the Depot is gaining popularity among locals and visitors alike.20161116_163833

An extensive wine rack, a display of house-made desserts and catchy eclectic music greets customers as they walk in. A creekside patio offers patrons a relaxing atmosphere to sit back and enjoy a meal while watching the bustle in downtown Dillsboro.

“It’s kind of like Sunday suppers. It’s what you’d expect at Mama’s after church, and so much more,” manager Caroline Martin said of the restaurant.

“Everything is fresh. We don’t have a fryer, and you won’t find burgers and fries on the menu. But we try to offer a little something for everyone,” Martin said.

Some of the more popular items on the menu are the tacos, oversized baked potatoes, and house-made pimento cheese spread sandwich topping, Martin said.

“People have said it’s the perfect addition. They say it’s very laid back and comfortable, and they like that it is not a sports bar,” Martin said.

As the business continues to grow, Long and Martin said it will evolve to meet the desires of the customers. Future plans include live sets of acoustic music, featuring string and wind instruments, as well as possible adaptations for longer hours.

Lees at the Depot is located at 42 Depot St. in Dillsboro. Hours of operation are Tuesday through Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday 12 to 7 p.m.

For a menu and information on special events, find and Like Lees at the Depot on Facebook, visit, or call the restaurant at 828-339-1700.

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“There’s something for everybody” at Depot 40


The sounds of classic rock drift coolly through the store as shoppers browse the aisles and displays of anything and everything at Depot 40.

While you will find antiques and vintage items of all varieties, owner Dixie Mae Brendle wants patrons to know Depot 40 and Dillsboro are far more expansive than your average antique stop in a drive-through town.

20161116_171445Located next to the railroad tracks in downtown Dillsboro, in a building owned by the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad (GSMR) and leased by Brendle, shoppers will discover everything from a vast collection of cast iron cookware items to rare, old signs to soaps and salt scrubs, and much more.

Brendle said people are often impressed with the collection of unique, handmade necklaces, earrings, bracelets and other jewelry–a good amount of the collection made by Brendle herself.

“We get new items just about every day, from a wide variety of sources. You really don’t know what’s going to come through the door, but it’s never boring and there’s something for everybody here,” Brendle said.

Born and raised in western North Carolina, Brendle started her business seven years ago, opening a shop across from Depot 40’s location.

As inventory grew, Brendle opened a second location at what is now the home of Dixie Brendle Vintage in downtown Sylva.

With the GSMR providing a layover in Dillsboro on its Tuckasegee excursion, and the revival of Dillsboro, Brendle felt it was time to return, opening Depot 40 in June, 2016.

Brendle said she sees a good bit of traffic when the train stops in front of her shop, and that the store is popular among both locals and tourists.

“A lot of people say they love the music, the atmosphere, the items-everything really. They tell me it’s the best store they have been in for antiques and gifts,” Brendle said.

Depot 40 is located at 40 Depot St, in Dillsboro. Hours of operation are Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday.

Depot 40 and Dixie Brendle Vintage Market are each on Facebook, and new and unique items are posted regularly. To view some of the current inventory, search and like both businesses on Facebook.

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Boots Steakhouse & Saloon Sizzles, Satisfies

Are you ready to enjoy a delicious steak or other grilled dish in an “old west” ambience?  Then, welcome to Boots Steakhouse & Saloon!

Boots opened in October 2016 in the beautiful courtyard area of downtown Dillsboro. It is operated by Joe Beasley and Brenda Bishop, who also own Haywood Smokehouse in Dillsboro.

While Boots offers a great selecton of grilled meals, steaks, and salads, there are two meals that are exclusive to Boots Steakhouse: Boots Salad and Boots Burger.

“These two dishes were created just for this restaurant. What makes them unique is that they have fried onion straws served with a special Boots sauce, which makes those dishes very delicious,” said Bishop.

Besides burgers and salads, Boots offers a range of sandwiches and steaks, including American traditional classics.  The menu is being updated almost every week, which allows patrons to create a perfect meal “with a perfect bite, spectacular desert, and a great atmosphere,” said Bishop.

Customers have been reviewing the restaurant favorably.  “The service was outstanding, the ambiance is top notch and the filet mignon was cooked to perfection, and melt in your mouth delicious,” wrote Erin Adams on the Boots Steakhouse Facebook page.

Boots Steakhouse & Saloon is a perfect place to spend a casual business meeting, a date, or just enjoy the great southern atmosphere in a company of friends, classmates, and colleagues.  No matter where you eat, in the carefully designed dining room or outside in the courtyard, the restaurant offers excellent service and guarantees patrons won’t be disappointed.

Located at 43 Front St., the restaurant is currently open Thursday through Sunday, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

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Special Food and Beverage Edition

Here is the December Special Food and Beverage Edition article that features four different locally owned restaurants and stores in downtown Dillsboro. Enjoy!


Haywood Smokehouse Ranks Top Choice in Dillsboro

The Haywood Smokehouse has quickly become a favorite choice for diners in Dillsboro. Since opening in June 2015, they have received a five star rating on and have been named the #2 Restaurant in Dillsboro by TripAdvisor.Screen Shot 2015-12-10 at 10.29.58 AM

Known for their slow cooked meats and southern side dishes, Haywood Smokehouse doesn’t want to be consiered “just a BBQ joint”. “Our process is long and difficult, but it’s what sets us apart from the rest. We begin with the highest quality, all natural cuts of meat, which means no hormones and no steroids. Our meats are high-quality, fresh, never frozen,” said owner Joe Beasley.

Their menu is the same for lunch and dinner, and is reasonably priced. They have sandwiches such as “The Cowboy”, which is sliced brisket on toast, and “The Dixie Dog”, which is house-made smoked sausage grilled and served on a toasted Hoagie roll. They also serve Smokehouse platters of pork, brisket, chicken, and turkey, as well as St. Louis style ribs. Their traditionally southern sides include: creamy coleslaw, collard greens, burnt-end baked beans, smoked mac & cheese, potato salad, campfire taters, and green beans.Screen Shot 2015-12-10 at 10.28.35 AM

The restaurant is located in the center of downtown Dillsboro, close to nearby shops and attractions. It is decorated in a rustic style that lends itself to being a part of the Southern Appalachian experience.

“Being born and raised in the south, our recipes are greatly influenced by traditional southern culture. Collard greens, creamy coleslaw, and crackling cornbread are always likely to stay on our menu. The same level of pride and effort that goes into our meat also goes into our sides, sauces, and desserts,” said Beasley.

The Haywood Smokehouse is located at 403 Haywood Rd in Dillsboro, North Carolina. They are open Tuesday through Saturday from 11a.m. to 9p.m., and on Sundays and Mondays from 11am to 3pm. For more information call 828-631-9797 or visit their website.



Enjoy samples, glasses, and bottles of beer/wine at Country Traditions

Have you ever heard of a device called a kegorator? No? Well, it is a keg and a refrigerator combined and can be found at a little store in downtown Dillsboro called Country Traditions.


The “Kegorator”


This gourmet food shop recently obtained its permit to sell beer by the glass and installed a kegorator to dispense three tasty beers on tap. The customer’s responses have been great, according to owners John and Janet Chinners.

But if you happen to be a wine connoisseur as opposed to a beer drinker, no worries! Country Traditions offers a wide selection of wines at affordable prices.

Their best selling wines include peach and mango Moscato, Riesling white wine from a North Carolina Vineyard and Big Red Monster from a California vineyard.

Check out what specials Country Traditions will be offering for Lights and Luminaries in Dillsboro this weekend!

The Chinners really make you feel at home when you walk into their cozy store by greeting you and asking if you’d like to sample some of their products. This married duo loves working side by side every day and sharing their unique products with their customers.

For more information, visit their website!



The Artsy Olive offers samples, splurges and service

Artsy Olive is a gourmet food boutique offering unique products, such as the best extra virgin olive oils and aged balsamicScreen Shot 2015-12-01 at 2.26.46 PM.png vinegars on the market, at affordable prices. It is the perfect place to purchase items for holiday entertaining or gifts for those on your list that enjoy cooking with healthy products.

Since opening in downtown Dillsboro in April 2015, owner Jami Smith has enjoyed offering free tastings and plenty of advice to customers about how to use their products. For example, the most popular product the Artsy Olive sells is their Tuscan Herb Extra Virgin Olive Oil. It is super flavorful and can be used for dipping, sautéing veggies, a healthy Vinaigrette salad dressing and more.

Customers may purchase two-ounce size bottles of all the oils and vinegars they sell for only $4.99 each. Screen Shot 2015-12-01 at 2.36.47 PM.pngOr, for a splurge or special gift, whip out that credit card and purchase the White Truffle Olive Oil–the most elegant of all the olive oils–for $34.99. The Artsy Olive offers an array of other gourmet items and definitely something for every taste and budget.

The Dillsboro location is the second Artsy Olive store. The first Artsy Olive opened in Gatlinburg, TN in June 2014. Both of these locations are thriving, and Jami Smith and her husband are extremely grateful for their faithful customers.

For more information, visit their website.



And last, but not least…

Coach’s Boast Dillsoro Only Full-Service Bar

Since its opening in April 2015, Coach’s has brought an upscale-bistro scene to downtown Dillsboro. Providing patrons with Dillsboro’s only full-service bar, Coach’s has opened its doors to new visitors and local natives alike.Screen Shot 2015-12-10 at 10.36.49 AM.png

Coach’s earned its name from one of the co-owners, Jim Hartbarger, a former basketball coach at Western Carolina University. Hartburger and his wife, Jean, owned the Jarrett house for over 40 years. They teamed up with Greek owner Constantine Roumel to open Coach’s adjacent to the Jarrett house.

Coach’s dining room brings patrons back to a “time gone by” with a cozy, yet classic American aesthetic. The walls are decorated with black and white photos of local residents of Dillsboro and the lights are dimly lit to give diners an intimate dining experience.

Screen Shot 2015-12-10 at 10.37.34 AM.pngAt the center of the main dining room you’ll find the bar area, lit by stylish Edison bulbs that give a warm invitation for diners to relax and enjoy a cocktail. The bar offers several beers on tap such as Lazy Hiker Stout, Shock Top, and Bud Light, a full range of spirits, as well as a red and white wine selection.

Coach’s Bistro offers classic American dishes with Europen flare. Their most popular dish is their Carolina Trout, which is covered in a honey-dijon glaze, lightly breaded and seared and served with Baked Potato Wedges and Asparagus. You can get a taste of Europe in trying their Grecian Baked Chicken which is seasoned with lemon, garlic, herbs and olive oil.

The restaurant was built in hopes that it would attract a broader group of people in addition to those who love the Jarrett House’s Southern comfort food. “It was nice to take the old building and revive it to make it a part of the local community,” said Roumel.

Coach’s is open seven days a week for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and is located at 518 Haywood Road, Dillsboro. For more information, call 828.586.0265 or visit them online.

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April Video Feature

For this month’s video feature, Melvina Smith of Magnolia Jewelry demonstrated how to turn a winter scarf into a festive summer vest or tank top:

For more how to videos from Magnolia Jewelry: Long Scarf Vest, Two Layer Long Scarf Vest

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Rabbit Creek Pottery Offering Classes to Community

When you step into Rabbit Creek Pottery, it feels like you are stepping into another world filled with fairies and fanciful designs. Locals and tourists alike gravitate to the warm environment of Annie Burrell’s cozy shop that she owns and operates with the help of her sister, Jenny Patton. Quirky works of art including illustrations, pottery, and fairy houses line the walls of the shop, waiting to be brought home.

“We really do what makes us happy. If it doesn’t make us happy, we won’t do it! That’s the philosophy,” said Burrell when describing what items she and her family choose to make for her store.

Burrell has now opened up her whimsical world for guests to share in her artistry and make their own treasures to take home. She offers drop-in classes, in which each participant is guided through a unique design, such as fairy houses, or more functional pieces like sugar and cream sets or casserole dishes.


Classes cost $40 per participant, which covers the cost of supplies and materials that are needed for each project. These relaxing, two-hour sessions allow guests to express themselves and create memories to last a lifetime. No experience is needed, but as these are primarily adult classes, Burrell invites guests to bring a bottle of wine and have a great time.

As an extra treat, Burrell and Patton make art pieces alongside class participants that they raffle off via a video on their Facebook page.

Burrell and Patton are very active on Facebook, posting new creations at least once a week. They advertise their drop-in classes one week in advance on their page. Customers can also sign up for updates on the email sign-up sheet at the register in Rabbit Creek. Private classes are available per request with one-week notice.

For more information on Rabbit Creek Pottery drop-in classes, or private class requests, visit their Facebook page at, or see Annie Burrell in person at the shop on 27 Church Street, in the heart of downtown Dillsboro. Customers may also call the shop to inquire about items and classes at (828)-371-3808.

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Dillsboro’s 27th Annual Easter Hat Parade Draws Highest Attendance in Parade’s History

Visitors gathered on a breezy but warm and sunny afternoon in Dillsboro which was perfect backdrop for the 27th annual Easter Hat parade. This year’s parade was the best attended of any in the parade’s history. Photo0163Dillsboro’s sidewalks were packed with visitors from throughout North Carolina and the Southeast, many sporting festive Easter hats. Classic cars and the newest addition to the parade, Mini Coopers, decorated with Easter bunnies, streamers, flowers and even hats lined up alongside Front Street.

Outside of Dogwood Crafters, volunteers helped visitors craft their own unique Easter hats with Easter eggs, yarn, flowers and streamers. Brenda Anders of Dogwood Crafters and head organizer of the parade, estimates that volunteers made 300 to 400 hats for the parade, and the parade brought in several hundred visitors. Other visitors

Photo0170could be seen throughout the town with elaborately and beautifully crafted hats they had brought from home.

Throughout the afternoon attendees visited stores where merchants greeted them with friendly smiles and compliments on their hats. A sense of anticipation built as the hour of the parade approached.

When the time came, the classic cars and Mini Coopers led the parade down Front Street and around the town. The drivers threw candy, waved and honked as they went.

Then came the hats! Boys and girls, men and women, old and young alike proudly paraded down the street smiling and waving at the crowd gathered on the sidewalks. Some carefully tilted their heads and pointed at their hats as they went, to show the carefully crafted nuances of their hats to the judges’ sharp eyes.Photo0180

After the parade, the winners were announced to a cheering crowd outside the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad’s former depot. Awards were given to youngest to oldest hat wearers to tallest and smallest hats, as well as awards for the best dressed dogs.

Chelsea Treadway, a recent college graduate, was also acknowledged at the award gathering. “Chelsea is one of our ‘original girls,’” Anders said. “She attended the parade throughout her childhood, grew up and went off to college and now has come back to the parade. It was great to see her again.”

Dillsboro’s Easter Hat Parade started off as an “off-the-cuff” event with three or four merchants deciding to parade down the streets of Dillsboro on Easter Saturday.  The parade has always been “about having fun” according to Anders, and she is glad to see that it has grown and become a family tradition to so many throughout the region.

For a video slideshow of the parade created by Our State Magazine, click here:

And for more information about the Easter Hat Parade and other events:

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Claymates Feature

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