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30th anniversary of Dillsboro holiday festival kicks off with WCU Night
Iceless ice skating and a huge fireworks show headline the activities for the 30th annual Dillsboro Lights & Luminaries Festival, which is always the first two Fridays and Saturdays in December in downtown Dillsboro.
The festival opens with Western Carolina University Night on Friday, Dec. 6, from 5 to 9 p.m., during which an iceless ice skating rink sponsored by WCU’s A.K. Hinds University Center will be open to all festival-goers. Admission is free and skates will be provided. The rink will be located in front of Dogwood Wellness and may be accessed via the footbridge behind the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad’s depot. The rink will be available only on Dec. 6.
The WCU Holiday Dancers will “kick off” the event at 5:30 p.m. with a performance of “Happy Holidays” down Front Street. The dancers are led by Karyn Tomczak, a former Radio City Music Hall Rockette and director of WCU’s dance program.
Then, several WCU guests of honor have been invited to experience the first horse-drawn carriage ride of the evening at 5:35 p.m. They include Sam Miller, vice chancellor for student affairs; Carol Burton, associate provost for undergraduate studies; Jeff Hughes, director of the University Center; Ryan Hermance, president of the Student Government Association; and WCU Homecoming king and queen Brandon Truitt and Mary Hannah Hughes.
In addition to a variety of musicians and singers who will provide entertainment in individual shops throughout the town every night of the festival, entertainment for WCU Night will include:
•Voices in the Laurel at 6 p.m. – A nonprofit youth choir in Western North Carolina headed to Carnegie Hall in the spring will be caroling at Dillsboro businesses on Front Street. Voices in the Laurel provides young people quality choral education in fun and innovative ways.
•Sing-A-Long with Susan Belcher at 6:30 p.m. at the Front Street Courtyard – Cullowhee Valley elementary students, under the direction of music teacher Katee Johnson, will join Belcher, an accomplished opera performer and wife of WCU Chancellor David Belcher, singing favorite holiday tunes.
•Broadway Cat Singers at 7 p.m. at the Front Street Courtyard – The WCU Broadway Cat Singers will perform Christmas songs in a classical musical theater style.
•WCU Horn Choir at 7:30 p.m. at the Front Street Courtyard – The WCU Horn Choir is a student French horn group.
•The Trantham Family Band at 8 p.m. in the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad depot – The Trantham Family has been prominent in the music scene of the Western North Carolina mountains for three generations. In addition to playing music for all ages, the musicians teach audiences about Appalachian culture.
•WCU Inspirational Choir at 8:30 p.m. in the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad depot – The Inspirational Choir promotes African-American culture and diversity through song.
•Pick ‘n Play Dulcimer Group will be performing holiday music from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Riverwood Shops on both Friday, Dec. 6 and Friday, Dec. 13.
Additional free activities on WCU Night include paint-your-own ornaments at Claymates while supplies last and face painting provided by Macon Faces at K.J.’s Cross Stitch Store and Emporium from 6 to 8 p.m.
Dogwood Wellness, Located at 114 West Hemlock Lane, will also host an Open House from 6 to 9 p.m. on Dec. 6. They will offer samples of healthy food and drink and free mini-sessions with their care providers, e.g. massage and reflexology.
WCU Night at the Dillsboro Lights and Luminaries is an activity of the Dillsboro/WCU Partnership, which was formed at the request of Dillsboro leaders in 2009 and matches the expertise of WCU faculty, staff and students with Dillsboro’s challenges and opportunities.
Dillsboro 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 supporting them year round. The shops stay open late and offer a variety of free refreshments and entertainment. The historic village is adorned with more than 2,500 luminaries and white lights. Local musicians fill the air with the sounds of the season and Santa and Mrs. Claus hear children’s wishes at Town Hall. The festival takes place from about 5 to 9 p.m. Friday, Dec. 6; Saturday, Dec. 7; Friday, Dec. 13; and Saturday, Dec. 14.
This year’s festival will conclude Dec. 14 with fireworks provided by Jackson County Parks and Recreation at 8:30 p.m. The county’s annual Independence Day fireworks celebration was rescheduled to this date due to heavy rain.
Free parking will be available at Monteith Park every night of the festival. The Cullowhee United Methodist Church will provide a free shuttle from Monteith Park to downtown Dillsboro on Dec. 6
For more information about Dillsboro Lights and Luminaries, go online to visitdillsboro.org or www.facebook.com/DillsboroLuminaries
WCU professor and her students light and learn in Dillsboro
Carroll Brown, a professor in the hospitality and tourism program at Western Carolina University, is much more than a spectator during Dillsboro’s annual Lights and Luminaries Festival. For the last five years, Brown and her students have used their time, effort and resources to make the town of Dillsboro glow.
“Having the students help out during our Lights and Luminaries Festival has been a great blessing for the town of Dillsboro,” said Susan Leveille, co-owner of Dillsboro business Oaks Gallery.
Brown’s students gain valuable experience by helping light the more than 2,500 candles and placing the bags in their designated locations. The students also contribute by illuminating the town with decorations and lights.
“There’s no better teacher than experience. Taking part in setting up the Lights and Luminaries Festival taught me more than any textbook could have. Helping out Dillsboro when they needed a few extra hands was so rewarding,” said Western Carolina student Elizabeth Kilmer.
Shortly after Brown started teaching at WCU, she realized the book concepts weren’t enough for her students. When she became aware of the Lights and Luminaries Festival, Brown knew the event was the perfect opportunity to create a relationship with the town of Dillsboro and her students.
“Because of the Lights and Luminaries special event, there’s an ongoing relationship between my students and the people of Dillsboro,” said Brown.
The relationship is mutually beneficial: experience is invaluable for the students enrolled in Brown’s festival and special event course, and the town of Dillsboro appreciates their help.
“The event helps my students get into the Christmas spirit, and many of them bring their parents, which helps the merchants in Dillsboro,” said Brown.
Brown uses the Lights and Luminaries Festival as a time to complete most of her Christmas shopping, which she purchases in Dillsboro.
“I truly love this event, and I look forward to it every year,” said Brown.
The Lights and Luminaries Festival will be held on December 6-7 & 13-14 in downtown Dillsboro.
For more information about the event, please click here: http://visitdillsboro.org/specialevents.html
2013 WNC Pottery Festival attendance up 20 percent
WNC Pottery Festival organizers reported a 20 percent increase in attendance from the
previous year and the Great Smoky Mountains Railroads brought in over 600 tourists to enjoy the 9th Annual WNC Pottery Festival on Sat. Nov. 2.
The festival featured 40 master potters from 15 different states who demonstrated their talents and displayed their crafts to the public.
The people who attended were from areas that were as close as Sylva, NC to as far away as New Jersey.
“I had a great time seeing the different artists show their own unique style,” said Hannah Whitehead, a Western Carolina University student. “The pottery was really innovative and inspiring.”
The WNC Pottery Festival started in 2005 and was inspired by large pottery festivals held in Texas. The goal of the festival is to educate the public on the craft of pottery through displays and demonstrations and to provide attendees the opportunity to purchase quality pottery from across the nation.
For more information, visit the website at http://www.wncpotteryfestival.com/.
Christmas is celebrated year-round at Nancy Tut’s Christmas Shop
Nancy Tut’s Christmas Shop is one of the oldest businesses in Dillsboro and continues to be a staple in the Dillsboro economy.
First opening in 1969 by Nancy Tut, the business has always remained family owned and operated.
Lisa Potts and her husband Mike took over the business 19 years ago when Nancy Tut was looking to sell.
“My sister was working part-time [at Nancy Tut’s Christmas Shop] and told us that the owner was looking to sell,” said Potts. “We saw this as a great opportunity to move back into the area, something we were looking to do while living in Greensboro.”
The busiest months are those leading up to Christmas: October, November and December.
Even though Christmas comes once a year, visitors are drawn to the Christmas Shop year-round because of the wide variety of ornaments and Christmas-themed merchandise.
The most popular selling products at Nancy Tut’s Christmas Shop have been the unique pet ornaments, most of which usually cannot be found at retail stores.
Their website touts that “whether you are looking for anything from an astronaut to a zebra chances are we have it!”
Testimonials from customers indicate that Nancy Tut’s Christmas Shop has the best variety of Christmas-themed products for sale.
The Potts once tried dabbling into selling non-Christmas products but found that their patrons were mainly interested in their Christmas items, so they kept the focus on that.
“What we like the most about having a business in Dillsboro is how friendly the ‘village’ of business owners are and how wonderfully we all get along,” said Potts.
With Christmas around the corner and thousands of ornaments and Christmas merchandise available for sale, now would be the best time to shop to make sure one can nab the most unique gifts before they are gone!.
For more information about Nancy Tut’s Christmas Shop, click here: http://www.nancytutschristmasshop.com/
KJ’s transitioning to quality consignment
“I took up an interest in sewing crafts and felt passionate about crafts,” said Karla Forbes, owner of KJ’s Needles in a Haystack. “We’re excited to be transitioning into selling consignment and we will be focused on selling quality consignment.”
KJ’s Needles in a Haystack is currently collecting consignment items including furniture, clothes, books, and household items from people around Western North Carolina and will finish making the transition from crafts to consignment at the end of November.
Though KJ’s Attic will not be focusing on selling crafts, they will continue to keep Mill Hill cross stitching kits stocked.
KJ’s rents space out to So Crafty whose proceeds go to the Clean Slate Coalition, a non-profit organization located in Sylva, NC that provides safe and affordable housing for women who face serious life challenges.
KJ’s will be the site of free face painting by Macon Faces on Dec. 6, which is WCU Night at the Dillsboro Lights and Luminaries,
For more information on the store visit their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/pages/KJs-Needles-in-a-Haystack/472508259433298?fref=ts
For more information on the Clean Slate Coalition visit the website at http://www.cleanslatecoalition.org/