1) Experience Naturalist Weekend at Grandfather Mountain Friday through Sunday
With flowers abloom and wildlife galore, Grandfather Mountain offers unrivaled beauty in spring.
Now, visitors have a sublime opportunity to experience this natural paradise at the annual Naturalist Weekend on May 15-17.
Throughout the three-day event, participants can scan for birds, browse for wildflowers on guided hikes or listen for owls in the night — all free with Grandfather Mountain admission.
The 2015 schedule also includes two special experiences with featured presenter Doug Elliott, a naturalist, storyteller and self-proclaimed “harmonica wizard” whose programs blend education and humor to help people better connect to the natural world.
“May is my favorite month on Grandfather Mountain. Flowers are blooming on a daily basis, trees are starting to leaf out and the temperature is near perfect,” said Chief Naturalist Mickey Shortt. “This upcoming weekend is one of the best times to experience Grandfather, and we’ve complemented the experience with an array of great programs. We’ve worked hard to prepare a lineup that offers something for every age, interest and ability.”
The event begins Friday, May 15, with a daylong spring bird count, followed by a stroll at the Linn Cove Viaduct at 2 p.m. and an evening wildflower walk along the Profile Trail.
Saturday’s schedule moves inside the gates of Grandfather Mountain for a geology-focused walk, a lively concert with Elliott titled “Woodslore and Wildwoods Wisdom,” as well as Junior Ranger programs, guided nature walks, Leave No Trace instruction and a stroll with Elliott focused on medicinal, edible and useful wild plants. The night concludes with an owl prowl to learn about native owl species.
On Sunday, early risers can meet at 7:30 a.m. for a birding expedition on the Profile Trail, followed by a sensory hike for all ages on the same trail. The event concludes with a wildflower walk at the Boone Fork Parking Area on the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Participants can attend as many or as few events as they would like, and they’ll also have ample opportunity throughout the weekend to explore the mountain at their leisure.
Just stepping foot in this unique ecosystem — home to 73 species of rare and endangered plants and animals — will allow visitors to appreciate the qualities that led famed newsman Charles Kuralt to declare Grandfather Mountain the nation’s best place to be in May.
“On a clear day, you feel that you can see the whole world from up there,” Kuralt wrote of Grandfather Mountain.
All activities that occur inside Grandfather Mountain are included free with park admission, but some require advance registration due to space limitations. All activities that occur outside the park are free to all.
The event will be led by Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation naturalists with cooperation from the National Park Service, Grandfather Mountain State Park, Mast General Store and the High Country Audubon Society.
Visit Grandfather online or call 828-733-4326 for more information and a full schedule.
The nonprofit Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation strives to inspire conservation of the natural world by helping guests explore, understand and value the wonders of Grandfather Mountain. For more information, call 800-468-7325 or Grandfather online to plan a trip.
2) Farm Dinner to Feature Four Chefs, Craft Beer on Sunday
Celebrate the spring harvest at The New Public House in Blowing Rock on Sunday. Four courses will be prepared by four chefs at $50 per person. Featured chefs include John Dean, The New Public House; John Parlier, The New Public House; Hunter Womble, Gideon Ridge; Seth Parker, Bistro Roca. Each course will be paired with a beer from Fonta Flora Brewery in Morganton. Local ingredients by New Appalachia Foods. Call 828-295-3487
3) Farmland Preservation Advisory Board to Meet Monday, May 18
The Farmland Preservation Program Advisory Board will hold its regular meeting on Monday, May 18 at 8 a.m. in the Soil and Water District Office. The public is invited to attend.
4) Weekly Events at Lost Province Brewing Company
TUES. MAY 12: Cheap date night at Lost Province: Dinner for two for only $25 fron 6-10pm.
THURS. MAY 14: $3 Thursday, $3 pints on all LP brewed beers (except high gravity). Live music from 8-10 p.m. with The King Bees. The King Bees have been stingin’ and swingin’ the blues since 1987. Paris, Rome, Amsterdam, Lincoln Center New York City (several times) — they’ve played ’em all, as well as Mississippi juke joints. Their good fortune has allowed them to tour and record with the best and most culturally significant blues artists including Carey Bell, Nappy Brown, Jerry McCain and many others. FRI. MAY 15: Freakin’ Ferkin Friday at Five continues with a Ferkin of Strawberry Cream Ale featuring Councill’s Store Cream Ale. Live music from 8 p.m. to closing with the Hot Club of Lenoir. HCOL features some of the best musicians the area has to offer. Steeped in the Americana tradition mixed with Manouche Swing flavors and modern styles, the HCOL is a family-friendly musical group of amazing talent.
SAT. MAY 16: Brunch at 10 a.m. Live Music from 8 p.m. to closing with Ameranouche. The award-winning Ameranouche trio features the melodic virtuosity of guitarist Richard Sheppard, the vehement rhythm chops of guitarist Jack Soref and the dulcet low end of upright bassist Michael Harrist. Together, this rip-roaring ensemble is a super force of hot acoustic jazz, sometimes referred to as hot swing or Gypsy jazz. The contrast of other influences like American Soul music, Flamenco and Bop are what give the fast-fingered trio such a recognizable sound. All played on acoustic instruments, the music is rhythmic, vigorous and strangely elegant. It’s hard to believe only three people are creating such a big sound.
SUN. MAY 17: Brunch at 10 a.m. Lost Province Sunday: Residents of “The Lost Province” (Watauga, Ashe, Avery and Alleghany) receive 10 percent off food with verification of residency.