Live nativity scene, College Night headline 31st annual Lights & Luminaries
Visitors and community members attending Dillsboro’s annual Lights and Luminaries festival this year are invited to “Follow the Star” to a live Nativity scene, and Western Carolina University and Southwestern Community College faculty, staff and students will be welcomed as special guests on the opening night of the festival on Friday Dec. 5.
Always held the first two Friday and Saturday nights in December, Dillsboro’s Lights and Luminaries is one of the longest running holiday festivals in the region. Merchants started the tradition in 1983 as a way of saying thank you to customers for their year-round support. The dates for this year are Friday Dec. 5, Saturday Dec. 6, Friday Dec. 12, and Saturday Dec. 13. The event runs from 5 to 9 p.m. each evening.
All four nights the town will be aglow as 2,500 luminaries line the streets and white lights adorn the storefronts. Merchants will provide free refreshments; musicians and singers will perform throughout the town; attendees may ride old-fashioned horse-drawn carriages; and children can share their wishes with Santa and Mrs. Claus. With retail shops offering a variety of quality arts and crafts, unique gifts, clothing, gourmet foods and wine, and specialty Christmas items, the festival also provides a unique holiday shopping experience.
New this year is “Follow the Star,” a live Nativity scene at Jarrett Memorial Baptist Church. Those attending the festival will be able to walk though the Nativity scene, beginning at 6:30 p.m. each night. Actors portraying Mary, riding atop a donkey, with Joseph and the Three Wise Men will make their way through the town. Refreshments also will be provided in the church’s Fellowship Hall.
While the “Follow the Star” live Nativity scene will be all four nights, College Night will include specials only available on Dec. 5.
“WCU Night has been a great event, and we decided to expand it to include SCC because of the partnership the two colleges forged to help the town with business development last year,” said Betty Farmer, WCU professor of communication who is coordinating College Night with her public relations students.
College Night will kickoff with the WCU Holiday Dancers performing “Happy Holidays” on Front Street at 5:30 p.m. The dancers are led by Karyn Tomczak, a former Radio City Music Hall Rockette and director of WCU’s dance program.
After the dancers, SCC staff and students will be guests of honor in the first horse-drawn carriage ride of the evening.
All families are welcome to attend Lights and Luminaries.
Also on Dec. 5 College Night:
•Claymates will offer one free paint-your-own ornament per customer (while supplies last)
• The Dillsboro Merchants will donate a percentage of their sales on College Night to The Christmas Connection, which provides new toys and clothing for children of families in Jackson County who need assistance during the holidays. Festival attendees are also invited to bring a new, unwrapped toy to donate to The Christmas Connection. Several collection boxes will be available throughout the town.
•WCU’s Staff Senate will be selling WCU 125th Anniversary ornaments in front of Nancy Tut’s Christmas Shop. Proceeds will support student scholarships.
Free parking and shuttle transportation for the event will be available at Monteith Park each night of the festival.
For more information about Dillsboro Lights and Luminaries, visit Dillsboro’s Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/DillsboroNC
“Hospitality is a Country Tradition”
There is nothing else in the world like Southern hospitality and few people know that better than Janet Chinners, co-owner of Dillsboro’s Country Traditions Gourmet Food, Wine and Gifts.
“Hospitality is a country tradition,” says Chinners as she sits down to discuss how her store came to be. “It’s home. You walk into my home when you come into my shop.”
Janet and co-owner and husband John Chinners value the gift of hospitality and aim to give the feeling of home to anyone who walks through their door. They designed the store with couches, tables, chairs and even free WiFi to make the experience of shopping at Country Traditions as comfortable and hospitable as possible.
Not only does Country Traditions offer an “at home feel” but it also sells lavish wines and eclectic foods from local vendors and farmers’ markets. The store is chocked full of different flavorful spreads, cheeses, baked goods, oils and spices of different varieties.
John and Janet personally sample and hand select all the wines they sell in their store. They make sure each bottle and flavor is nothing shy of the best and nothing more than $20 a bottle. Appetizing and affordable! The wines are primarily from North Carolina vineyards but some come from around the world.
But Janet takes the experience shopping at Country Traditions a step further. Not only do the Chinners offer wonderful wines and a place that feels like home,
Janet also provides free cooking demos every Saturday at 7 p.m. During the demos, she cooks with in-house products to make quick and easy meals for customers to sample.
“All the food is fresh from the farmer’s market and is enhanced with our in-house products,” says Janet. Her demos usually last approximately 30 minutes and each recipe can be cooked with only induction and microwave ovens. In addition to seeing how Janet prepares the food, patrons also get to taste the flavorful food for free.
“It all started when I was in my twenties and my husband and I would take turns with other couples to host a gourmet cooking dinner event. That’s when I got into pairing extravagantly tasting foods with flavorful wines and my hobby turned into a passion,” says Janet.
Chinners often compares cooking with being in a lab. She originally lived in New Jersey and worked as a scientist for MedTech for ten years. Her love of science really sparked her idea to start cooking demos in her wine and gourmet foods shop.
Janet came to Dillsboro eight years ago with her stepbrother, and she fell in love with the old-fashioned and charming town. After a miraculous opportunity to purchase a shop, the Chinners went for the sale and have been in Dillsboro ever since.
Country Traditions has a Facebook page that offers some of Janet’s recipes and a schedule of her cooking demos. facebook.com/countrytraditionsnc
For more information about Country Traditions, visit www.dillsborowineandgourmet.net or call (828) 586-1600.
Western North Carolina Pottery Festival heated up winter weather
In spite of bitter cold and snow, organizers, vendors and Dillsboro merchants alike characterized the 10th Annual WNC Pottery Festival, held Nov. 1 in downtown Dillsboro, a success.
Visitors and potters alike braved the below freezing temperatures and snow flurries all in the name of pottery, “The weather didn’t deter me from coming to the Pottery Festival.” said Maggie Thomas, from Asheville, NC, and a fourth year returning veteran of the festival. “We wondered if they would cancel, but they said rain or shine, so I figured snow would be okay, too!”
Vendors were impressed by the turn out, and happy with the amount of work sold, festival organizers reported. “Thousands attend the festival, from all over. We’ve had people from pretty much the whole East Coast all the way to Texas and Minnesota,” said Joe Frank McKee, co-owner of Tree House Pottery in Dillsboro and co-founder, with business partner Travis Berning, of the WNC Pottery Festival.
Dillsboro merchants also benefitted from the festival traffic. “I haven’t noticed much of a difference in turnout from the previous years. If anything, more people are visiting my shop to get warm and look around,” said Shirley Simpson, owner of Shirley’s Boutique.
The Southeast Tourism Society has named the WNC Pottery Festival one of the Southeast’s top 20 art events. Approximately 40 of the best potters from around the country demonstrate and sell their wares during the annual event.
For more information about the WNC Pottery Festival please call (828) 631-5100 or go to www.wncpotteryfestival.com.