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Make Madison Memories

Madison County Visitor Guide FALL / WINTER 2018 -19

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Welcome to Madison County. Find out why it’s called the Jewel of the Blue Ridge. Time can stand still when you cross the county line. Regardless of what car brought you here, you’ll feel like you’re cruising in a DeLorean that traveled through time when you look out the window. Whether staring at the eye-catching courthouse on Main Street in Marshall or ambling past the tobacco barns that dot its rural landscape, you’ll find that Madison County is more about staying true to tradition than finding the latest fad. Move slowly to experience all the area has to offer. The county’s three towns - Marshall, Mars Hill and Hot Springs - each offer an opportunity to experience an America that can be hard to find in an era of strip malls. Specialty shops and lunch spots are almost exclusively independently-owned, a throwback to a time before national chains. Those looking to get away from text messages and constant connection can find peace in the natural beauty of the area’s mountains, fields and streams. That’s not to say that Madison is short of action. Nightlife is characterized by live music with restaurants rooted in the contemporary local food movement. Those looking for adventure can easily find it, with skiing, rafting, hiking and cycling all on offer. Whether you’re here to recharge or explore, to see new things or feel the more familiar, Madison might just have exactly what you’re seeking. Forget your itinerary, put your plans away and enjoy the past while living every moment of the present.

Welcome to Madison County. We’re glad you’re here. This guide is produced semi-annually by the News-Record & Sentinel 58 Back Street, PO Box 369, Marshall, NC 28753 (828) 649-1075 • (828) 649-9426 fax • Paul Eggers, Senior Reporter (828) 210-6071 • Karen Ingraham, Office Manager (828) 210-6073 • Leigh Anne Rhodes, Editorial Assistant (828) 210-6074 • Becky Reece, Advertising Account Executive (828) 367-8370 •

Table of Contents Page Calendar of Events 2 Tips to Navigate 6 What Makes a Meal ‘Appalachian?’ 8 Modern Landmarks 10 How Old is the French Broad River? 12 New Businesses 14 BBQ & Guns 16 A View from a School Bus 18


Make Madison Memories



Calendar of Events SEPTEMBER MADISON COUNTY FAIR Thursday-Saturday, 27-29 This annual event best exemplifies the county’s agricultural roots. In addition to mountains of food and rides for all ages, the fair features produce, livestock and cooking competitions, special contests, exhibits and horse shows. Come see who will win Blue Ribbons for everything from the largest pumpkin to the best homemade jam. Visit for the schedule of events.

ART ON THE ISLAND FESTIVAL Saturday, 29 This all-day arts festival on beautiful Blannahassett Island in Marshall features art booths, food and music. Benefitting the Madison County Arts Council, the free event will feature music from Sol Rhythms and more throughout the day. Learn more at

OCTOBER RANDY SHULL ART EXHIBIT RECEPTION Wednesday, 3 It’s almost impossible to put a label on the work of Asheville artist Randy Shull. For over 25 years, he has been working at the intersection of architecture, landscape design, furniture design and painting. A single piece might combine painting and furniture, landscape design and architecture, or any other combination. Shull’s work is colorful, energetic, decorative, and thought provoking, all at the same time. Visit the Weizenblatt Gallery is in the Moore Fine Arts Building on the campus of Mars Hill University from 6-8 p.m. The exhibit runs from September 26-November 2.

BASCOM LAMAR LUNSFORD “MINSTREL OF APPALACHIA” FESTIVAL Saturday, 6 The second oldest folk festival in the region celebrates its 51th anniversary in 2018. Started in 1967, the event has gained a reputation for its strong commitment to traditional mountain music, dance and crafts as it showcases the region’s rich heritage. Located on the beautiful campus of Mars Hill University, it has a vibrant daytime stage, evening concert, craft demonstrations, workshops, ballads and

stories. There is fun for the whole family! Search ‘Lunsford Festival Mars Hill’ for a complete schedule of events for the weeklong celebration.

MARS HILL HERITAGE FESTIVAL Saturday, 6 Traditional mountain music and old-time craft demonstrations, local arts and crafts fill the town of Mars Hill and the Mars Hill University campus at this family-friendly festival that runs in tandem with the finale of the Bascom Lamar Lunsford Festival in downtown Mars Hill beginning at 10 a.m. More online at

SOIREE AT KALAMAZOO Sunday, 21 The Madison County Arts Council holds its annual Sunday-funday fundraiser to benefit the nonprofit’s Junior Appalachian Musician program. JAM offers children the opportunity to experience community through the joy of participating in traditional mountain music together. Check for details.

FRIGHT NIGHT: APPALACHIAN GHOST STORIES Thursday, 25 Join storyteller and musician Jim Lloyd for a campfire, s’mores, and some spine-tingling mountain tales! A multi-instrumentalist best known for his banjo and guitar work, Jim Lloyd’s musical roots extend back through at least four generations of fiddlers, guitar players, dancers and singers from the mountains of Virginia and West Virginia. Lloyd is a barber, musician, and storyteller, who lives, works, and plays in Rural Retreat, Virginia. His performance credits include IBMA’s World of Bluegrass, Mountain Stage, the John C. Campbell Folk School, and the Birthplace of Country Music Alliance. The event will take place on Chapel Field, behind Broyhill Chapel on the campus of Mars Hill University. This event is free and all are welcome.

HALLOWEEN SAFE TREATS Wednesday, 31 Main Street in downtown Marshall turns into a street party for all ages as kids and kids at heart put on their costumes and trick-or-treat at the doors up and down the county seat’s main drag. The fun starts at 5 p.m.



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Make Madison Memories


NOVEMBER RECEPTION FOR DAVID HOPES ART EXHIBIT Wednesday, 14 David Hopes is an American author, playwright, and poet. He is a professor of literature at the University of North Carolina at Asheville. The free opening reception inside the Weizenblatt Gallery on the campus of Mars Hill University will feature light refreshments. Visit for details on the solo show that continues through Dec. 14.

MARSHALL HANDMADE MARKET Saturday and Sunday, 17-18 Something special among holiday art shows, the 8th annual market offers a peek into the eclectic Marshall High Studios on Blannahassett Island. Shop your heart out while touring resident artists’ studios and taking in the work of local artists, designers and craftspeople. The event runs from 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. See more on what to expect at marshallhandmade. com.

JANUARY AROUND HERE: G.B GRAYSON AND HENRY WHITTER Monday, 28 G.B. Grayson and Henry Whitter were one of the most influential musical duos in the history of traditional music, popularizing songs like “Little Maggie,” “Handsome Molly,” “Train 45,” and many others. Although their lives were both cut tragically short, their enduring legacy continues to resonate today. Learn why their lives and music provide a fascinating insight into life in the Appalachian Mountains at the turn of the 20th century in this presentation inside the Renfo Library on the campus of Mars Hill University.

FEBRUARY J. ELWOOD ROBERTS CHORAL FESTIVAL Friday and Saturday, 1 & 2 The 71st annual event will offer listeners an opportunity to gain a greater appreciation for choral music by highlighting talented choirs from across the country. The two-day showcase will hold its grand finale inside Moore Auditorium on MHU’s campus. A full schedule is available at


DECEMBER MADISON COUNTY CHRISTMAS PAGEANT Friday and Saturday, 7 & 8 A local holiday tradition brings the nativity to life. The Madison County Courthouse serves as the backdrop for the Biblical story, which features congregants representing churches from all corners of the county. Live animals, wise men, shepherds and angels take over downtown Marshall. The outdoor performances begin at 6 p.m., so dress warmly.

SMOKE ON THE MOUNTAIN: SANDERS FAMILY CHRISTMAS Runs 6th – 23rd Sanders Family Christmas is the sequel to Connie Ray and Alan Bailey’s wildly successful bluegrass gospel musical Smoke on the Mountain. It’s December 24, 1941, and America is going to war. So is Dennis Sanders, of the Sanders Family Singers. Join Pastor Mervin Oglethorpe and the rest of the Sanders family as they send Dennis off with hilarious and touching stories and 25 Southern Gospel Christmas favorites.

You’ve never celebrated Fat Tuesday quite like this. Main Street in Marshall comes to life for a family-friendly parade showcasing the quirks and eccentricities of the town’s artist community. Local restaurants share food treats and musicians belt out their best. Visit for details.

FIDDLERS OF MADISON COUNTY Saturday, 9 On the second Saturday of March every year, Madison County Arts Council presents “A Tribute to Madison County Fiddlers.” Always guaranteed to be one of the best local concerts of the year, the show collects on stage the awardwinning performers that have made the area a must-see destination for bluegrass and old-time music lovers. Tickets sell out quickly for an extravaganza of fiddlers from all generations. Acts include Grammy-winner Bobby Hicks, Arvil Freeman and Fiddlers Grove winner Roger Howell.


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Make Madison Memories



As you make your way across one of the county’s countless mountain roads, it’s easy to imagine the pavement as hard-packed dirt and gravel, your car as a horse-drawn carriage. Of course, the rural setting, where cell phone service doesn’t necessarily touch every nook and cranny, can sometimes pose challenges in today’s high-tech, ultra-connected world. Here are some tips to keep in mind when making your way around this neck of the woods.

THE MARSHALL DEPOT Every Friday night, folks from all corners of Madison County gather together for a true community event where local musicians play for local folks. Few sit down as the toetapping music gets everyone of all ages up and dancing. Country, bluegrass, old time and gospel music acts bring in audiences from around the country and across the globe. Bands play 30-minute sets beginning at 6:30 p.m. Find “The Marshall Depot” on Facebook for a full rundown.

PRINT OUT DIRECTIONS If you’re relying on cell phone service to map your every mile to a hiking trailhead like the Hickey Fork Trail, where you’ll see waterfalls and cascades at higher elevations, or a fishing hole like Max Patch Pond near the stunning views available atop Max Patch Bald, printing directions, or even jotting out notes with pen and paper, is probably a good idea. It’s even better if your directions come from a local as opposed to some satellite software. You won’t think your smartphone is so smart when it can’t get a signal or it takes you on gravel road “shortcut” that really just dead ends after you’ve driven miles up a mountain.

ZUMA COFFEE Marshall’s meetup and hangout spot attracts up-andcoming musicians every Wednesday night for an always well-attended open mic night. Thursday night features some of the finest bluegrass you’ll ever see for free when Grammy award winner Bobby Hicks takes the stage with friends from both near and far.

GET TO TALKIN’ It’s fairly easy to strike up a conversation with just about anyone in Madison County, whether they’re a lifelong local or a recent transplant. Most are happy to share their knowledge, regardless of how many years of experience they have in the area. In addition to the excellent resources offered at Visitors’ Centers in Hot Springs and Marshall and along I-26 when arriving from Tennessee, roadside stops like the Laurel River Store in the Pisgah National Forest along U.S. 25/70 (call that stretch of highway ‘the bypass’ to sound like a local) and Trust General Store in the Spring Creek community of Hot Springs have a lot more to offer than freshly baked goodies and cold drinks. You’re even invited to swing by the boxcar offices of The News-Record & Sentinel along the French Broad River in Marshall to pick-up the local paper to learn the news of the day. SLOW DOWN Things may move a bit more slowly in Madison County than you may be used to, so get in the groove and take it easy. When the sharp curves and steeps drops are too much for your backseat passengers, consider backing of the accelerator to take in the views.

STACKHOUSE AMERICAN EATERY AND PUB The popular BBQ spot in downtown Mars Hill offers live music throughout the week. Blossoming star Andy Buckner, who splits time between his native home in Madison and Nashville, performs regularly. Check out the spot’s Facebook page for details.

HOT SPRINGS The Iron Horse Station and The Spring Creek Tavern regularly feature live music acts to pair with full menus of classic American fare. Details can be found on their websites, and MAGICTOWN MOVEMENT STUDIO For those looking for more relaxation than commotion, consider taking a class at Marshall High Studios on “the island” in Marshall. Inside the charming space nestled on the banks of the French Broad River, local teachers trained around the globe share their knowledge to typically small classes. Yoga, nia, qigong, tai chi and dance offerings are available. See the complete class schedule at


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Make Madison Memories

What makes a meal ‘Appalachian?’ With quality, locally-owned restaurants in every corner of the county, visitors to the Jewel of the Blue Ridge have every opportunity to check out the spots locals visit regularly. The variety of food offered – from the freestyle fusion at Mosaic Gourmet in Hot Springs (159 Bridge Street, 828-622-9400) to the homestyle favorites at Mama’s Kitchen in Marshall (7529 US 25-70, 828-649-3565) to the classic barbeque at Stackhouse in Mars Hill (37 S. Main Street, 828-680-1213) – may have some wondering, “What makes a meal ‘Appalachain?’”

in Appalachia – even if there are some cold-hardy banana plants whose fruits are so seedy that they would be scarcely edible – and Vanilla Wafers were invented by a German confectioner on Staten Island and later sold to Nabisco, which is based in Chicago.

Does every ingredient put into “Appalachian” recipes have to come from the region?

Next, consider salt and pepper, generously used in all recipes, Appalachian and otherwise. Morton Salt, most commonly found in supermarkets, is also based in Chicago. Plus, the salt itself could have been mined from far corners of the world. Black pepper is native to southwest India, while Vietnam is the largest producer and exporter today.

Take banana pudding. Just about every family around here says they’ve got the best recipe even if key ingredients are anything but native. Bananas are certainly not produced

And in a land which reveres sweet tea (those leaves are definitely not from Appalachia!), it’d be hard to outlaw the use of any ingredient that does not originate in Appalachia.


One approach to the subject is to source close to home whenever possible, but ultimately deliciousness should decide what is in a dish, and any ingredient that makes a dish sing should be considered as a valid accent.


serving as the backdrop that brings Appalachian spirit to life in food.

More than anything else, the environment in which a dish is served is what makes a meal “Appalachian.” It is the care of the cook that prepared the plate, the joy of the companions surrounding the table and the beauty of the old mountains

Madison County native Susi Gott Séguret orchestrates a variety of culinary adventures, including a series of foragingcooking-dining events called the Appalachian Culinary Experience. A fiddler, photographer and ballad singer as well as chef, she is the author of Appalachian Appetite, Recipes from the Heart of America.


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Modern landmarks to navigate Madison County As leaves wither and fall from the trees, landmarks hidden by the greenery of summer are revealed. The roads that wind throughout the county’s 451 square miles require adept navigational skills, especially when GPS fails, based oftentimes on an object or feature of a landscape that is easily seen and recognized from a distance. With many of the county’s residents descended from local families, some landmarks remain as they were centuries ago, while modern reincarnations show a different side. Not far down Bear Creek Road, the sun reflects off random pieces of metal, scattered amongst the tree line. A sign standing just off the road reads, “Mr. Wutu’s Trailer Park, No Vacancy.” Beyond the sign, a larger-thanlife statue with dual metal coils at its side seems prepared to ski down the babbling bear creek just below it. Bud Nachman, owner of the property, plans to grow his current collection of creations to be “a kind of art gallery.” Nachman, who also owns the Star Diner in downtown Marshall, explains, “I just think some big metal sculptures outside look nice. I’m an old bartender / fry cook, and I just like stuff like that. You guys have been nice to me, and I want to do something that you guys [Madison county residents] are proud of.” “I’ve got a house boat coming to go in there – a 1974 Gibson house boat. I’ve got two more trailers and four cargo containers coming. [It will be] for people to come and stay. It’s not going to be really open to the public.” Nachman explained that he hopes to have the additional structures in place by January 2019.

The cargo containers, he said, will house art, similar to a gallery. In addition to the lone metal sculpture, there currently sits a 1961 Airstream travel trailer next to Mr. Wutu’s Chapel of Love – an awning with two chairs beneath it – on the property Nachman purchased 1½ years ago. “I think it’s going to be ok. I want to put in a drive-in theatre – maybe one or two slots, three at the most – and put a screen up on the cargo containers. But you’d need a convertible; there’s got to be rules.” These rules, Nachman explained, won’t necessarily be available for public knowledge. “It’ll just be for people coming up and going to the [Star] diner, more or less.” Nachman explained how the origination of the name, Mr. Wutu’s, saying, “If you look up Mr. Wu’s cargo container… He’s an old man. He’s got a beat up, rusted-out cargo container. He lives there by himself. He plays Mahjong. He grows tobacco, and he’s got goats. And he’s waiting for Mrs. Wu to come around. So, I named it after him, but I didn’t want [it] to be Mr. Wu – I wanted to be something else.” Another type of statue appeared less than a year ago along Highway 25/70, just past the Walnut Service Center. A mannequin, dressed to celebrate the seasons, stands affixed to the corner of the McDevitt’s wooden fence, beckoning to passersby. “I got her when I was about 11,” said Simone McDevitt. “I wanted a mannequin to paint for an art project. My mom and grandma found her for sale, because she was missing an arm.” Initially painted blue and covered in collage, she was then used as a scarecrow in Simone’s mother’s yard, and the


remaining arm was lost. After years in storage, McDevitt decided the time and place was right for the mannequin to reappear. Dressed for Halloween, she was covered in white fabric and called a ghost. “And then I just decided I would keep her up,” McDevitt explained, “In December – around Yule, Christmas-time – I gave her a costume piece handed down from an old friend, an emerald green, velvet dress. When the snow came, I put her in all white.” McDevitt explained the mannequin’s current wardrobe choice of a green cape and a leather belt given to her around Beltane – an ancient Celtic festival celebrating May Day. “I wanted to give her a look that was nice and green.” The community’s response has been mixed. “Everyone is either neutral or thinks she’s equal parts cool and creepy.” Just the fact that it’s being discussed plays a chord in McDevitt’s heart. “Being able to be known easy gives me more of a sense of community,” she said, adding that the rural nature of Madison County has made it more challenging to find a strong group of friends. “It’s one of those things that when we do meet people, it’s a very distinguishing characteristic.”



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How old is the French Broad River?

The French Broad River meanders its way through Madison County, cutting through the Appalachian Mountains from Marshall down to Hot Springs. Like the Nile in Egypt, the French Broad actually flows from south to north. Both are also ancient rivers, even if the French Broad may not be – as some locals would have you believe – the “world’s third oldest river.” “That is a long-held myth,” said Hartwell Carson, French Broad Riverkeeper with MountainTrue, an environmental advocacy organization. “No one knows that the French Broad is the third oldest in the world. It is one of the oldest and scientist know this by dating the rocks, but no one knows for sure if it is the third oldest.” The notion of the French Broad being really, really old does, ahem, hold water, but it’s likely not in the top three for age, according to Jeff Wilcox, an associate professor at UNC Asheville. Wilcox, who holds a Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin, teaches courses in groundwater and surface water hydrology, water chemistry, physical geology and environmental science. He really took a deep dive on this question. “The origin of this idea makes a lot of geologic sense,” Wilcox said. “The French Broad River is a meandering river, which typically form in relatively flat landscapes. This would suggest the French Broad existed before the Southern

Appalachian mountains, and the river carved through the rocks as they were pushed up into mountains.” So, just how old are these Appalachian mountains we love so dearly? “When the super-continent Pangaea formed a little more than 300 million years ago, Africa collided with North America,” Wilcox explained. “This collision created mountains over 25,000 feet tall, similar to the modern Himalayas. The rocks of today’s Southern Appalachians were at the core of those mountains — miles below the ground surface — and contain evidence of those ancient collisions in their mineralogy, texture, and numerous folds and faults.” “If you think of our mountains as being the remnants of those ancient, giant mountains, the Appalachians would be the oldest mountain chain in the world (which your readers may have also heard!),” Wilcox continued. “And any river that cuts across these mountains would have to be among the oldest rivers in the world, too.” But there’s a catch. “However, recent research suggests that the 300-millionyear-old, Pangaean-aged mountains actually eroded away completely,” Wilcox said, adding that as a rule of thumb he teaches his students that any mountain chain will erode


away in less than 50 million years once mountain building ceases. “Instead, our current Appalachian Mountains were re-uplifted much more recently, on the order of 20 million years ago. The more recent uplift occurred along some of the old Pangaean faults, and of course our mountains still contain the old rocks from the middle of those earlier mountains. If this is the case, then our mountains (and the French Broad River that cuts through them) are not as old as their reputation suggests.”

He cited Peter Lessing, an author and geologist in West Virginia, who says, as Means summarized, “that scientists lack a single method of determining age that can be applied to all rivers of the world, and that just for one river, the different measurements and educated assumptions that are possible can lead to a wide range of ages. For example, the New River could be anywhere from 3 to 320 million years old,” Means said. As far as the French Broad flowing from south to north, it does indeed, with its origin in Transylvania County and a flow pattern that takes it through Henderson, Buncombe and Madison Counties on its way to Tennessee.

Research wizard Tim Means or Pack Library in Asheville also weighed in on the age of Madison County’s landmark river. “That these rivers are for certain the three oldest in the world is a myth, but there is still a real possibility that the French Broad and New River, but not the Nile, are hundreds of millions of years old,” he said. “The New River and French Broad River could be among the top five oldest, but there is much uncertainty in the scientific study of rivers, so we can’t be sure they are the oldest.”

“As sources of water feed them, rivers can only flow from higher elevations to lower elevation, due to gravity,” Means said. “It may just be a coincidence that for all these rivers, the direction from higher elevations to lower elevations was south to north rather than north to south. To truly answer this question you would have to explain the formation of the highlands these rivers start in.”

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New businesses bring worldly wares and workshops to the county

Business in Madison County is growing, as evidenced by several new store fronts opened this year. Cre Willis of The Forest Faire and Pascha Solomon from Of Wand and Earth, both mothers and business women, relocated from opposite coasts to make their homes in Madison and discover how they could support themselves with their artistic skills. “This is a work in progress,” owner and operator Cre Willis said of The Forest Faire, a new craft emporium located in Mars Hill. The store, which opened for business July 2, features a variety of materials, including glass and stone beads, boar tusks, jade cicadas, coyote teeth, freshwater pearls, felt animal masks, lynx claws, feather earrings, macramé necklaces, incense and cording, and more.

With six children ranging in age from elementary school to college, the Willis family sold their handcrafted wares at local festivals and online for the last 12 years. The Mountain View Road location is not their first try at a brick and mortar store. “We had a shop on the Outer Banks for a couple years – a bead store,” Willis said, adding that it closed after the birth of her older daughter. “I missed having the studio and the shop and everything in one area. This just came about right at the right time.” The sign out front describes the store as a place for peddlers of the whimsical and practical. “With our store, we wanted to not only sell the things that we make and create, but also the mediums for people to do it themselves.”


Willis and her husband Brian craft a large majority of the current inventory themselves. Cre handcrafts feather earrings, intricate macramé necklaces and a variety of other colorful items. Her husband, a blacksmith, forges hooks of various sizes for sale in the small home-turnedshop. “Eventually,” Cre said, “I’d like to have small, intimate classes to teach feather earring making or macramé.” Offering a slightly different set of tools for creative and psychic exploration, Pascha Solomon, owner of the new healing center and metaphysical emporium along U.S. 2570, also hopes to offer classes and workshops. Solomon opened Of Wand and Earth after following a spiritual message received during prayer, guiding her husband and three children to pack up their belongings and head east. The family left Los Angeles, bringing their large-scale circus and theater entertainment business. The company produced private and public events, including one for President Barack Obama and his family. “I began the path of the healing tradition, maybe about eight years ago. One day, I was sitting at temple, and I was guided. ‘You can leave Los Angeles now. It’s time to go.’ It was one of my first really clear, channeled messages.” After sharing with her family that she’d received a message she couldn’t ignore, they put their house on the market, bought an RV and left on the date the message stated – with clothes still in the dryer. While crossing from Tennessee into North Carolina the day before their planned Asheville arrival, Solomon said that “a spirit lifted up my hand and put it here,” lifting her right hand to rest on her chest. “And I found a lump.”


A breast cancer diagnosis followed. “There was that moment that was like, ‘Oh wait, did we do something wrong?’” Solomon remembered. “’We did everything you told us to do. And now, this?’ But in time, you realize – no, that’s part of the plan. That is the plan. And this is where the next-level stuff begins to happen.” After healing treatments that included medicine woman healing, CBD oil, a peyote trip, 16 rounds of chemo and 34 rounds of radiation, Solomon states definitively, “And now it’s done... I don’t feel like cancer was something I had. I feel like it was a part of the journey. It was a blessing in many ways.” “One of the things that was shown to me was that my role in this transition of place would be to create a space where people could come together. When they come in here, this can be their temple, their sacred space.” Solomon explained that the store’s name was suggested by a friend. It offers a wide variety of handmade items, candles, salves, tinctures, stones, workshops and healing arts. “My life purpose has been working for the betterment of our young women. The ancient völva of the Norse tradition were the wand carriers. There’s archaeological reference of them being buried with wands, 20,000-year-old wands. When the völvas would come with the wands, they could walk safely anywhere. I hold this place that our young women will be honored again, so that their/our gifts of sight, of intuition, the kindness, the giving, the healing, will be safe again. It’s kind of like saying, ‘I got your back, sister.’ That’s why it’s in copper, beaming like a beacon.”


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BBQ and Guns: Smoke on the Water By Mark Goodin

Highway 25-70 can be a busy road, even on a rainy day. Old pickup trucks pass by, their big tires spinning mist up from the steaming pavement. We stopped at one spot on the highway, across from the Madison County Fairgrounds, where a black, hulking barbecue pit sizzled in the drizzle, its tendrils of hot wood smoke hissing in the rain. Pickups, new rental cars, and family SUVs half filled the parking lot. A local family sat under the porch roof eating BBQ and watching the rain. They chatted with an old man sitting at another table. When they left, the old man asked us, “Is this your first time here?” We nodded. He said, “You’re going to really like it.” I have always wanted to check out this BBQ/gun shop/ mountain outfitters combo I passed each day on Hwy. 2570. So I brought along the bass-playing sous chef that lives in my barn. I’d let him decide about the cooking.

High Ridge Adventures Outfitting and BBQ, at 4223 Hwy. 25-70, is a small building that seems much larger on the inside. As you enter, to the left is the outfitting section with serious glass cases holding serious firearms: one for handguns, one for rifles. The heads of two very large deer stared back at us from behind the counter. To the right is the dining area with room enough for any number of hungry people. We chose to eat outside under the covered porch and watch the rain. Straight ahead when you come through the door is a short wooden counter with a smiling face behind it ready to take orders and answer questions. My sous chef couldn’t make up his mind—a kid in a candy shop, I guess. He eventually

decided on a combo plate of smoked chicken and spare ribs, with collards and macaroni and cheese, and I ordered the BBQ sandwich. We stepped back into the outfitter area while we waited for our name to be called. A row of Klingon-inspired crossbows hung on the wall, each one capable of starring in its own feature film. An old wooden barrel held a bouquet of fishing rods, and a man and his son filled out the paperwork for their fishing licenses. Apparently bulls-eyes are blasé, and targets for shooting now feature colorful images of zombies eating pizza. Who wouldn’t want to shoot that? Back in the kitchen, you could see owner Jeff Willis hot at the grill. He’s a native of Madison County, and later I asked him where he learned to cook. He said “When you grow up in Madison County, you learn these things.” He must have learned them well, as local patronage has kept him busy enough to start offering catering as well. That kind of support works both ways, Willis explained. “We provided the BBQ for the 4-H Sharp Shooters event they held at the County Extension office a few weeks back.” High Ridge Adventures is the only outfitter that is certified to offer all four sports—hunting, fishing, hiking, and camping—within the boundaries of Pisgah National Forest. “Almost all our guides are either current or ex-EMTs, fire fighters, or veterans.” Willis said. “I think that went a long way to get us our certifications with the Forest Service.” My sous chef went back inside for some peach cobbler. He brought it out, saying “It’s homemade, dude. You gotta try some. It’s still warm!” I don’t much eat cobbler either,


but the way it was melting the ice cream was downright lascivious. Several glasses of sweet tea, just like Grandma made, inspired me to check the cleanliness of the restroom several times. It was always clean. I picked up a toothpick at the counter as we left with full bellies, happy tongues, and a new experience under our belt.



For more information on guided fishing or hunting trips, the outdoor equipment you need, or a look at their menu, go to Mark Goodin is a writer, beekeeper and farmer. He lives in the Bull Creek Community of Madison County.

“Asheville’s premier horseback riding destination.”

Open year round

es id R il a r T m o tt o B y Sand

We are located on a secluded ranch minutes north of Asheville, that has been in the family for three generations. Our picturesque trails pass through the high country, scenic mountain meadows and wooded areas of Madison County.

1 hour • 2 hour • 3 hour • 4 hour horseback rides leaving daily from our stables at 10:00 AM, 12:00 PM and 2:00 PM Please call for more information or for reservations. (800) 959-3513 • (828) 649-3464 1459 Caney Fork Rd. Marshall, NC

Our mo to the wst popular hors breath taking orld h eb wit ils tra ue lo y, scenic cated in a fa mous “Littlack ride takes Ou rpicturesq h the high countras of yo e remote views pass throug corner oPine Gem Min u oded. are wo and s e”, ow f our ran me mountain ch. Madison County

Gift Certificates Available AN-0100872990


Make Madison Memories

A View of Madison County from Behind the Wheel of a School Bus

Each morning, before Madison County’s schoolchildren – and some of their parents –get out of bed, about 50 men and women wake up well before the crack of dawn to drive the buses that get students to school on time. Bruce Shook is one of them. “I’ve driven this route off-and-on since 1968,” Shook said while behind the wheel of his 2014 Thomas C-2 school bus. “Some of the kids I’ll pick up today, I used to drive their parents.” Shook’s route to Mars Hill Elementary primarily covers the Petersburg community. His Bus 29 barely ever breaks the 30 mph mark as he winds up and down Grapevine, East Fork and Silver Mill roads. “I can just about tell you every car I’ll meet in the morning, because I’ll meet the same cars every day,” Shook said before making his first pickup. Moments later, as a small white economy car comes speeding downhill towards him,

Shook shakes his head. “That’s the one on my bus route that I dread meeting.” At 6:24 a.m., the first passenger gets on board. “I just sit down and look out the window,” the fourth-grader says of his time on the bus, which totals over two hours each day. Driving the mountain roads in an 18,000-pound vehicle that stretches about 45 feet requires a delicate touch. As his route reaches the end of a steep stretch of Will Arrington Road, Shook expertly performs a three-point turn where pavement turns to gravel. “When there’s no turnaround, you’ve got to create one,” he said. “Sometimes you’ve got to put the nose of the bus between two mailboxes.” Understanding that not everyone keeps the same early hours as his young passengers, Shook keeps the back-up alarm off as he sneaks between the mailboxes on the empty stretch of road. “If you can’t be a good neighbor, how do you expect to have one.”


The bus slowly fills up with kids as Shook makes his regular stops. Some parents wait with their children inside cars at the bottom of their driveways, keeping their kids dry as a light rain keeps the windshield wipers swishing on Shook’s bus. “Bruce is the best,” says one father as his two children climb aboard. Keeping kids in order is not a challenge for Shook. The 66-year-old cattleman carries an era of authority that the young students easily take on board. “If you set guidelines from Day One, you’ll have very few kids step out of line,” Shook said early in the route. “I can be your best friend, or I can be your nightmare.” If one should ever step out of line, they’ll know. Shook looked directly at a student in his wide rear-view mirror. “Sit down,” he said firmly. He only has to say it once. That’s not to say that Shook doesn’t have a good rapport with his riders. He greets each by name and isn’t afraid to joke around when necessary. As one young girl slowly makes her way from her driveway to the bus’s first step, Shook offers some gentle encouragement. “C’mon,” he says with a smile. “Your grandmother moves faster than you do.” The safety of the students is always Shook’s primary concern. “I don’t care if it’s the meanest kid ever, it’s still someone’s baby,” he said. Despite a route stretching some 26 miles, Shook never meets a stop light. Still, he does face some danger spots. When approaching a somewhat treacherous turn that is around a bit of a blind corner, Shook comes to a complete stop. “You’ve just got to ease down and stretch your neck as far as you can,” he said as he inched out. “And you pray.” Shook maintains that attention every mile of marathon route. “Right out here I’ve got one more nice little curve to get by where I might happen to meet somebody,” he said as he rounds one last sharp right turn on Bruce Road. A minute later, he pulls up to the Mars Hill Elementary parking lot, stopping his Bus 29 beside a row of other early risers. At 7:30 a.m. sharp, he opens up the bus’s sliding doors. The kids chatter as they climb down the steps for another day. “Well, that’s a typical morning run,” he said. “I love it or I wouldn’t do it. When it gets to be a chore, I’ll find something else to do.” AN-0100873000


100 Ways to “Come Play with Us” in Madison County 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19. 20. 21. 22. 23. 24. 25. 26. 27. 28. 29. 30. 31. 32. 33. 34. 35. 36. 37. 38. 39. 40. 41. 42. 43. 44. 45. 46. 47. 48. 49. 50. 51. 52. 53. 54. 55.

Go whitewater rafting on the French Broad River Listen to a free bluegrass music jam at Zuma Take in a play at the Southern Appalachian Repertory Theatre Ski the slopes at Wolf Ridge Dance (or just tap your toe) to traditional music at the Depot on Friday nights Take a picnic to Max Patch Bald—the highest spot in the county Shop for antiques or local crafts Soak in the natural hot mineral springs Fish one of the many secluded streams Attend an Arts Council concert Hike a portion of the Appalachian Trail Visit the Civil War sites along the Civil War Trails Stand on the Old Buncombe Turnpike (Drovers’ Trail) Take a driving tour through the Blue Ridge Mountains & the Pisgah National Forest Walk through our 100-year old Courthouse designed by Richard Sharp Smith Browse the galleries for local artists’ work Buy local produce, baked goods, and crafts at one of the Farmers’ Markets Eat some southern comfort food in one of the many restaurants Go on a horseback ride Attend the annual Heritage Festival celebrating our cultural history Stay in a cabin, inn, or bed & breakfast Visit where Cecil Sharp collected ballads in 1916 Attend Bluff Mountain Festival for food, fun and free music Drive the North Carolina Scenic Byway on Interstate 26 Go sledding or tubing in the snow Practice your shooting skills at Fowler Farms Sporting Clays Celebrate the Appalachian Trail at Trailfest Browse the local craft booths at Art on the Island in Marshall Enjoy blackberry pancakes at the Blackberry Festival in August Walk by the oldest buildings on the Mars Hill University campus—the oldest educational institution in western North Carolina still on its original site Experience traditional music at the Bascom Lamar Lunsford Festival Take a tour of one of the local farms Visit a working artist’s studio Try your hand at finding garnets in the Little Pine Gem Mine Walk the Laurel River Trail or one of the other hiking trails in the county Play a round of disc golf at the Mars Hill College Disc Golf Sanctuary Discover petroglyphs on Paint Rock Take in a panoramic view of Hot Springs from Lovers’ Leap Rock Watch the Bailey Mountain Cloggers perform Ride your bike in the Hot Doggett 100 (or cheer them on) Have some fun at the Marshall Mermaid Festival either to watch or participate Participate in hands-on wildlife educational adventures Enjoy the spectacular view from the NC State Welcome Center on I 26 Wander through Weizenblatt Gallery on the Mars Hill University campus Kayak or canoe down the French Broad River Enjoy the outdoors at a local campground Visit the location of the original Allanstand—the foundation for the Southern Highlands Craft Guild Stand where the Minstrel of Appalachia, Bascom Lamar Lunsford, lived Visit the site of a World War I German Internment Camp Take a dip in an old-time swimming hole on the Laurel River Trail Pick berries at a local farm Take a walking tour of the town of Mars Hill Visit some of the buildings remaining from the Dorland-Bell School Drive the NC Scenic Byway along NC Highway through Trust and Luck Fish the French Broad River

56. Cut a Christmas tree at a local tree farm 57. Go to our County Fair 58. Dance or just enjoy the music at the various restaurants, in the area, that have live music 59. Visit a bison farm 60. Marvel at the tiny St Jude’s Chapel in Trust 61. Drive by the county’s first hospital White Rock Presbyterian Hospital 62. Visit the historic Anderson Rosenwald School 63. Shop and admire all the ceramic artists at the Potters Market in April 64. Visit the sites which tell the tragic story of the Shelton Laurel Massacre during the Civil War 65. Flip through a scrapbook at the Renfro Library at Mars Hill University of Sheriff Bailey who broke up moonshine stills stored 66. Enjoy a country breakfast in an old rock building built in the early 1900s 67. Fish off the pier on Blannahassett Island in the French Broad River in Marshall 68. Stop by the latest exhibit at the Liston Ramsey Center for Regional Studies at the Mars Hill University library 69. Take a walking tour of the town of Hot Springs 70. Drive the North Carolina Scenic Byway along the French Broad River (the third oldest river in the world) 71. Attend the annual Fiddlers’ Tribute concert in March 72. Wander through the Arts Council gallery’s latest exhibit 73. Stand on the Appalachian Trail right in downtown Hot Springs 74. Watch rodeo riders compete at the Marshall Rodeo July 4th weekend 75. Visit the site of historic resorts which attracted the rich and famous to Hot Springs since the mid 1800s 76. Enjoy a concert at historic Ebbs Chapel Performing Arts Center 77. Take a walking tour of the town of Marshall 78. Fish in a trout pond (no fishing license required) 79. Stop by the local newspaper office located in a railroad car in historic downtown Marshall 80. Climb the Rich Mountain Fire Tower constructed by boys from the Hot Springs CCC Camp in the 1930s - for great views 81. Relax in a pew in Dorland Memorial Presbyterian Church, a National Register Historic Building built in 1900 designed by Richard Sharp Smith 82. Drive by the many barn quilts decorating barns and buildings in the county 83. Walk across the Old Red Bridge in Hot Springs. 84. Grab your gear for the downhill bike trails 85. Celebrate the French Broad River Festival 86. Marvel at the carvings on the Broyhill Chapel door (Mars Hill University) 87. Bring your dog to Dog Daze in downtown Marshall 88. Visit the site of the first 9-hole golf course in western North Carolina 89. Spend the night at a local farm 90. Read about the detailed stories of Hot Springs’ history at the Hot Springs Welcome Center exhibits 91. Take a guided van tour or drive a self-guided tour of our historic barn 92. Use the walking path which takes you around Blannahassett Island 93. Celebrate “Fat Tuesday” at Marshall Gras 94. Follow clues to geocaching container in the beautiful rural areas of Madison County 95. Take a yoga or niya class at various places in Madison County 96. Examine the Bascom Lamar Lunsford collection at Mars Hill University Renfro Library’s Liston Ramsey Room 97. Wonder at the sight of thousands of fireflies in a meadow in the month of June 98. Tune into wART FM 95.5 radio station 99. Research genealogy at the Madison County Library in Marshall 100. Stop by the Visitor Center - a renovated service station in downtown Mars Hill

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From AgriTourism to Ziplining THE PHYSICAL RUSH OF...

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Hot Springs Mineral Water


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Hot SpringS HealtH program Providing Primary Care for over 45 years

Hot Springs Medical Center & Pharmacy

Laurel Medical Center & Pharmacy

66 NW US Hwy 25/70, Hot Springs, NC 28743 Phone: 828-622-3245 • Fax: 828-622-7446 After Hours: 828-689-9713 Hours of Operation: Mon. – Fri. 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., Sat. 9 a.m. – noon

80 Guntertown Road, Marshall, NC 28753-7806 Phone: 828-656-2611 • Fax: 828-656-9434 After Hours: 828-689-9713 Hours of Operation: Mon. – Fri. 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Mars Hill Medical Center & Pharmacy

Mashburn Medical Center & Pharmacy

119 Mountain View Drive, Mars Hill, NC 28754-9500 Phone: 828-689-3507 • Fax: 828-689-3505 After Hours: 828-689-9713 Hours of Operation: Mon.-Fri. 8 a.m. - 7 p.m., Sat. 9 a.m. - 7 p.m., Sun. 1 - 7 p.m.

590 Medical Park Drive, Marshall NC 28753-6807 Across Hwy 213 from A-B Tech Phone: 828-649-3500 • Fax: 828-649-1032 After Hours: 828-689-9713 Hours of Operation: Mon.-Fri. 9 a.m. – 7 p.m.

Madison Home Care & Hospice Phone: 828-649-2705 • Fax: 828-649-0687 On-Call: 828-649-2112 Hours of Operation: Mon. - Fri., 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Outpatient Therapy Services Phone: 828-649-1775 • 590 Medical Park Drive, Marshall, NC 28753

Madison County Visitor Guide Fall & Winter 2018  
Madison County Visitor Guide Fall & Winter 2018