Things To Do

Highlands Motoring Festival

 

Longing to have a close-up encounter with a coveted Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwing worth somewhere to the tune of two million dollars? Look no further than in your backyard to experience such a rare moment. At the Highlands Motoring Festival in Highlands, North Carolina, you never know which spectacular collectible car will take your breath away. This festival draws a sophisticated group of car collectors who showcase their pride and joy and give you the opportunity to admire and inquire. So, rev your engines and mark your calendars for this year’s Festival, an extraordinary weekend of unforgettable cars, community,  and camaraderie. 


Touted as the “Festival with an Altitude,” the Highlands Motoring Festival (HMF) is proud to shout from the Blue Ridge Mountains that it is the highest motoring festival east of the Rockies. Celebrating its twelfth year, this rapidly-growing, family-friendly event attracts car collectors, enthusiasts, and the curious. This June, it is expecting around 3,500 attendees from across the nation, including 125 car owners for Saturday’s main judging event, “Cars in the Park.” 


The vision behind the Highlands Motoring Festival is to produce a unique educational and social car event, creating a fundraising platform to give back to the community. With most car shows charging a hefty entrance fee, this festival is free to the public, making it even more special as a gift to the community. According to the motoring festival spokesman Steve Ham, “It is exciting to think that an open-to-the-public event like this could inspire someone to start collecting. It is a spectacular opportunity to celebrate the history of the automobile and experience many rare and exotic cars in one place.”


The HMF weekend is chock full of daily events, from “Monte Carlo Night” to a scenic 160-mile technical driving rally called “One Lap of the Mountains” to the grand event, “Cars in the Park,” where a judging competition takes place. Trophies created by a local artist will be awarded to cars designated as Best in Class and Outstanding in Class. This year’s competition registration is already filling up with collectible sports cars like the 1966 Chevrolet Corvette and 1967 Porsche 912 making their inaugural trip to Highlands. Showcased at this year’s festival is an exciting new class of vintage racing cars with an established racing history in famous races such as Le Mans and the Daytona 500.


The level of sophistication of this regional car show is quite evident by the impressive competition. Remarkable past entries include a 1926 Model T and the most unusual of entries, the Amphicar, which operates as both a car and a boat. Copious touring models and high-performance cars are also present. In the case of the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwing, there was not only one at the show a couple of years ago, but three! Entrants are judged in eight different classes with an awards ceremony to follow. The car owners have gone to great monetary and physical lengths to restore and prepare their cars for show. 


Fundraising dollars are raised through Platinum sponsors like Mercedes, Porsche, Ferrari, and BMW, as well as important local supporters, ticket sales, donations, and registration fees. All net proceeds from the HMF go to charity with this year’s event serving three beneficiaries: The Literacy Council, which endeavors to advance lifelong learning and a knowledgeable community; R.E.A.C.H., whose mission is to prevent family violence in all its forms; and the Community Care Clinic, which provides free medical services to the needy.


If you have a pre-1990 collectible car you would like to register for the Saturday, June 8th competition, go to highlandsmotoringfestival.com. If you want to feel like you are walking onto a James Bond movie set, make a plan to attend any one of the weekend events. The pulse and enthusiasm of this unique class of people and cars is something you don’t want to miss.

Monte Carlo Night
THURSDAY NIGHT, June 6

A high-stakes “gambling-for-good” fundraiser that kicks off the weekend hosted by Highlands Falls Country Club. Expect game tables, hors-d’oeuvres, cocktails, exotic cars, a live auction, and chances to win lots of “play money.” Cost per ticket: $75.

One Lap of the Mountains
FRIDAY DAY, June 7

In its sixth year, this popular road rally is an adventure of a lifetime, giving participants an opportunity to explore a bespoke curvy route through the countryside. A technical rally rather than a timed rally, the event allows participants to meander 160 miles as a group over paved rural roads taking in vast mountain vistas, lush forests, waterfalls, pastures, historic landmarks, flora and fauna, and a multitude of lakes and babbling brooks. Passing road markers like Happy Place Lane and following detailed maps with directional cues such as “take a left at the hound dog by the red mailbox” make the route even more interesting and fun for drivers and their passengers. The lap begins at 9 am and ends at 3 pm with a stop for lunch along the way. Only a max of 40 cars are allowed. Register now so you don’t miss this special event. Cost per vehicle: $125 (includes one passenger).

Welcome Party at High Dive
FRIDAY NIGHT, June 7

An evening meet and greet at Highlands’ newest watering hole, from 6 pm to 8 pm for all “gear heads” (that’s industry talk for car enthusiasts). Free to participate. No registration required.


The Main Event: 
Cars in the Park
SATURDAY, June 8

This classic car show with a judging competition takes place in the heart of Highlands at the Kelsey-Hutchinson Founders Park beginning at 11 am. Entrance is free for all spectators, but donations are greatly appreciated to benefit three local charities. Competition cars are judged and awarded Best of Class in the following car classes: Touring, Classic, Street Rod and Custom, American Sport and High Performance, Foreign Sport, Foreign Classic, and Trucks/Utilities. This year’s special interest class is Vintage Racing Cars, requiring a racing background in such prestigious and varied venues as Le Mans, Indianapolis, Daytona, Monte Carlo, etc. Competition entry cost: $35.

After the car show ends at 4 pm, “Music in the Park” will round out the night beginning at 6 pm. Free to the public.

Cars and Coffee
SUNDAY, June 9

Located in Wright Square, this casual morning send-off at 8:00 am allows participants and spectators alike to gather one last time, relive the weekend, and make future plans. Free to participate. No registration required. •

 

Bald Rock 2019 Season

May 25 - Memorial Day Dinner

June 10 - Mule Ride and Party

June 15 - Pavilion Dinner

July 6 - Independence Day Celebration / Pavilion Dinner

July 15 - Mule Ride and Party

August 3 - Pavilion Dinner

August 19 - Mule Ride and Party

August 31 - Labor Day Celebration / Pavilion Dinner

September 9 - Mule Ride and Party

September 21 - Pavilion Dinner

October 5 - Chili / Fall Celebration / Pavilion Dinner

The Craft Beer Revolution

The godfather of Asheville craft beer, Oscar Wong, opened Highland Brewery in 1994 in the basement of Barley’s taproom. Passion for his hobby led to the tourism and craft that has earned Asheville national accolades of “Beer City USA” many times since 2009. Today, with more breweries per capita than any other city, this area is a craft beer lover’s paradise. From hoppy IPAs to dark stouts and every taste you can imagine, where can you find craft beer to taste and enjoy on an afternoon in Asheville? Everywhere, but we’ve got the guide to match both your palate and style. 

  

1 Sierra Nevada - Located near the Asheville airport, it is the perfect stop—pre or post flight. With a Jackson Hole style lodge look, this national brewery is coming onto the scene big time in Mills River, NC. With 23 beers on tap, their selection of craft brew is a force to be reckoned with, and their small plates and farm-to-table culinary menu options include the sinfully engaging duck fat fries. Don’t miss a chance to do some sitting by the fire outdoors, listen to live music at the amphitheater, or stroll the Mills River Estate Garden.

sierranevada.com/brewery/north-carolina

 

Burial Beer - This local favorite in the South Slope of Asheville has a mysterious vibe. Its name suggests something morbid, yet the art surrounding their selection of beer is a celebration of life, the harvest, and what is to come. The name matches their taproom, the low lighting and unfelt dampness of the earth inside leads to a sunny patio to toast your friends. It is one of the “it” spots, and the brew is good. 

burialbeer.com/taproom

 

Wicked Weed - This is a tourist trap, yet well worth a visit. Since opening in 2015 with their West Coast style of brewing, it has become known for labels such as Pernicious IPA, Lunatic Belgian Blonde, and a portfolio of barrel-aged sour and farmhouse ales. The hot spot was recently purchased by Anheuser-Busch in an effort to tap into the increasing popularity of craft beer. The brewery also offers a small, tasty menu, which can be helpful when indulging in some of their high gravity beers.

wickedweedbrewing.com

 

New Belgium - The Colorado-based brewery opened its Asheville location in 2015 with a conscious, sustainable craft beer business model. The space has a California industrial feel paired with a grass-roots vibe. Nestled next to the French Broad River off of Craven Street, the tasting room offers an outdoor park for kids, dogs, and outdoor games. Register online for the 90-minute tour of the facility prior to visiting if you want to learn more about their process. Food trucks are on location, as the taproom serves beer only. 

newbelgium.com/Brewery/asheville/tasting-room

 

Highland Brewing Company - The first craft brewer of Asheville, is also the largest family-owned brewery in the Southeast. Named after the Scots Irish who settled in these Appalachian Mountains in the 18th and 19th century, the brewery is a legend in North Carolina. Located approximately ten minutes from downtown Asheville, the brewery offers a rooftop, outdoor venue location and large taproom that is used to host many non-profit events. I recommend the Highland Gaelic Ale, and Cold Mountain (winter seasonal) on tap.

highlandbrewing.com

 

Oskar Blues - Close to the plateau, you’ll find Oskar Blues in Brevard. Its funky atmosphere accompanies its most recognized label, Dale’s Pale Ale. Located 10 minutes away from Pisgah National Forest, it is a popular stop for bikers and hikers. Hungry? The CHUBwagon serves tacos and CHUBburgers.

oskarblues.com/breweries/brevard

 

Satulah Mountains - Of course, we can’t go without mentioning our neighborhood brewer - Satulah. East of downtown Highlands, this quaint spot offers great live music and a down to earth atmosphere. satulahmountainbrewing.com

 

It used to be that only the sophisticated, geek beer drinker enjoyed and explored the crafts. Now more favored by the average beer consumer and tourist, the craft beer industry is on the rise across the nation. Here in Western North Carolina, there is an app for that. Dedicated to all things craft beer in Western North Carolina, the Asheville Ale Trail is your guide for craft beer destinations and current happenings. Download the Ale Trail App here - ashevillealetrail.com

Raise a glass, because our region’s beer is some of the best! 

Old-Fashioned Family Fun

Trending today is the idea of strengthening the family bond by sharing more memorable and meaningful moments together. Families are increasingly electing to put down their smartphones and turn off their televisions in order to find group activities away from screens. In the new year, if you and your family resolve to find quality time together then the Highlands-Cashiers Plateau has several terrific options to enjoy good old-fashioned family fun outdoors. The small town of Highlands, surrounded by national forest and nestled in the mountains at 4118’ in elevation, may appear like something out of a Norman Rockwell painting. The town plan lays out ideally for visitors and residents alike to easily walk the sidewalks and enjoy the quaint shops and plentiful restaurants, or sit on a bench to watch the world go by (perhaps with an ice cream cone in hand). Steepled churches, rhododendron walkways, and front porches adorned with rocking chairs make for a handsome picture-perfect postcard. Adding to the charm and character of the town is the newly opened ice skating rink that draws more families to experience the fresh air and find fun on the ice. Sandwiched between Main Street and Kelsey-Hutchinson Founders Park, the town green space named after Samuel Hutchinson and Clinton Kelsey who founded Highlands in 1875, the state-of-the-art rink was a gift to the town by Art and Angela Williams of Old Edwards Inn and Spa. Open from November to March, Thursday through Tuesday, the ice rink entices people from families to singles to wrap themselves in fleece and don their skates. People of all ages take to the ice amid gleeful faces and peals of laughter. While lively background music plays, you’ll see some young and old holding hands, solo skaters finding their own magic, and observers on the sidelines snapping photos of loved ones and sipping hot chocolates. While there is the option to use your own skates, the $5 entrance fee includes skates, making it an affordable form of entertainment. And for those with more limited skating abilities, plastic Skate Helpers are available to assist in keeping everyone upright on the ice. One visiting Atlanta family staying in town was thrilled to find amusement of this kind for their five kids ranging in age from 5 to 13. They loved the accessibility of the rink and the beauty of its surroundings. While the rink hosts birthday parties, after-school gatherings, and events, “date night” has become popular on Friday and Saturday nights when the rink remains open late. No matter who is on the ice, bliss and delight seem to be a common theme. If you need to be outfitted for chilly weather, go to Highland Hiker in Cashiers or Highlands to find the best brands in outdoor apparel. Around town or at the rink, you may just run into an old-timer who recalls many years past when ice skating on local lakes was commonplace. Neighbors and families would gather to enjoy a good skate, but not before shoveling lots of snow off the ice. Times have changed because winters are not as cold as they once were, but this area is fortunate to have two manmade rinks on the Highlands-Cashiers Plateau, along with other outdoor sport offerings for you and your family. With the summer crowds gone, winter is a perfect time to enjoy the beauty this area holds. Don’t let time skate by before you and yours find some adventure on the ice.

A Mountain Christmas

Christmas on the Plateau is much more than a single day or a week. It seems to begin the moment one pushes away from the Thanksgiving table.

Be sure to check out the Highlands ice-skating rink which will be open extra hours during the Christmas holidays. The charge to use the rink is just $5 and ice skates are provided.  For more information regarding the holiday schedule, call the Highlands Recreation Department at 828-526-3556.


With the lighting of these community Christmas trees and the season's kick-off comes thoughts of a tree for one's own home. There is no better place to find a live tree than here in Western Carolina, where Christmas tree farms are a cottage industry. Our region's elevation, excellent soil, and well-dispersed rainfall contribute to its deserved reputation as a reliable source for Christmas trees.


A perfect place to visit is the 80-acre Tom Sawyer's Tree Farm in Glenville, where families can choose and cut their own Fraser Fir trees, measuring from three to twelve feet. While the tree is being packed to take home, visitors can check out the farm's charming village populated with Christmas elves, a craft tent for creating Christmas art, and a storytelling room. Move to the big red barn for food, drink, and evergreen selections, participate in a scavenger hunt and then drop off letters to Santa at his own post office. A ride in a horse-drawn carriage can round out a memorable experience. Tom Sawyer's is open through the season until Christmas Eve for people arriving to the mountains later in December. Please note, because of his busy schedule in December, Santa will only be at the farm on weekends.


Of course, you could choose to create a truly indelible family memory with the “Christmas Tree Package” from Old Edwards Inn in Highlands, the luxury hotel which is included on the National Register of Historic Places. Spend one night, enjoy dinner at Madison's, and take in such family-friendly amenities as popcorn, holiday movies, and games in the Kelsey Game and Theater Room. You can even ask an elf to come to your room to tuck in the children. Awake the next morning and drive to a local tree farm with a voucher for a five-to-six-foot Christmas tree. Now that's a holiday kick-off!


The month-long celebration continues the following week with Highlands' Olde Mountain Christmas Parade, Saturday, December 1 at 11 a.m. This tradition draws participation by area marching bands and school groups and boasts a live nativity scene including real camels, the Mountain Garden Club Dancing Ladies and, of course, Santa Claus. Small children are encouraged to bring bags for the candy that is distributed from the various floats. The merchants in Highlands will be competing in a holiday window decorating contest, making Main Street and surrounding streets perfect for strolling all day long. 


Cashiers hosts its Christmas Parade on Saturday, December 8, at noon. This year's parade is titled “Over the River and Through the Woodes” and honors Camp Merrie Woode's centennial. Look for another appearance by Santa and then head to the nearby Community Center for the eleventh annual Christmas luncheon showcasing Cashiers Cares. The luncheon provides a timely opportunity to learn about the work of this “neighbors helping neighbors” organization which supports ten local charities. A hot dog luncheon will be provided by Cashiers Rotary Club, and Santa (he's everywhere!) and Mrs. Claus will be guests of honor for those wanting photos.


Christmas, of course, would not be Christmas without special music and The Cashiers Adult Community Chorus is practicing for its Christmas concert to be presented in the Sanctuary of the Cashiers United Methodist Church on Sunday, December 2 at 2 p.m. Selections include the "Sing Christmas" cantata.


Another community offering on December 21 is "A Bluegrass Christmas with Sierra Hull" at the Smoky Mountain Center for the Performing Arts. Sierra Hull is a singer and mandolinist who was the first bluegrass musician to receive a Presidential Scholarship to the Berklee College of Music.


Of course, merchants from Highlands to Cashiers will be a big part of the holiday spirit with lots of festive temptations. One must-see is the famed “Christmas Cottage” on Main Street in Highlands which has been a local landmark for more than thirty years. Richard Osborne, who owns the shop with his wife Teresa, says that Downton Abbey and Game of Thrones themed ornaments are very popular this year, as is an electric “climbing Santa” who walks up and down a ladder that can be leaned against a wall. Animated “Christmastime televisions” are also flying off the shelves. A visit here will fortify you for the rest of your holiday shopping and preparations.


And, before you know it, it's here!


Packages wrapped, family safely gathered, pantry fully stocked. By Christmas Eve it's time to slow down and remember what the season is all about. After all, isn't this where the best family memories are made?

The Nirvana of Fly Fishing

 

The mountains of western North Carolina lure those far and wide seeking higher elevations, stunning views, waterfalls, and verdant forests. However, it is the copious streams, creeks, and rivers lying within these mountains that draw fly fishermen, of all levels and skills, year-round. North Carolina’s waterways are abundant with wild or stocked rainbow, brown and brook trout as well as smallmouth bass in mid-summer.

 

When asked what attracts them to the sport, many fly fishermen find it hard to put into simple terms. The collective agrees there is no easy formula in making “the catch,” for an angler is challenged before even stepping into the water. The sport requires thought, instinct, and strategy. Great consideration goes into understanding the fish on that particular day, on that particular stream, since it varies day-to-day, stream-to-stream, season-to-season. Sometimes is varies hour-to-hour. One must consider the fish’s relationship with its environment, the weather, water temperature, level, and current. What and where does it eat now? The answers are key in crafting a cunning approach to the day’s journey.

 

“There is an art to fly fishing,” according to Ben Elmer, an avid fisherman, prominent local guide and manager at Brookings Anglers in Highlands. “The draw for me comes with chasing the fish and convincing them to eat my fly.” With tens of thousands of artificial flies to consider, wisely choosing a fly that best matches the current bug hatch creates a greater opportunity for this to happen. Equally as important to an aspiring fish catcher is mastering casting techniques where the fly mimics the actual habits of the “bug du jour.”

 

Elmer describes the scene on the river. An angler first strategically scopes out an ideal location where the fish might be found. He then chooses his fly, not just any fly, the right fly that will tease and tempt the fish. After quietly wading into the water, he fortifies his stance, chooses his cast, and delivers his fly. Patiently he waits. Feeling camaraderie with nature and perhaps his fellow fisher friends nearby, he enjoys the whip and grace of his cast as his fly dances on the surface. There is no impatience in the wait as the rewards are great, and then suddenly, possibly many casts later, STRIKE! He hooks one. A rush of adrenaline courses through his veins as he works to keep the trout or bass on the line. His skill at properly setting the hook will hopefully secure the catch as the duel plays out. However, stalking and catching the fish is only part of the game. “It is not over until the fish is successfully in the net,” says Elmer, “and that is a challenge in itself.”

 

Gail Bell, a ten-year veteran fly fisherwoman from Scaly Mountain, North Carolina says, “Fish are spooky and smart. Stealthiness is always your mantra. Imagine, now the fish has his choice from tens of thousands of natural food floating by. What are the odds he will choose your artificial fly? But when he does ... POW ... lights out awesomeness! It can be spiritual and technical with a little luck thrown in.”

 

“You don’t have to catch a fish though to have a good time,” Elmer shares like a secret. Fishermen are unique in the experiences they seek. Some choose to float rather than wade, some want private over public waters and some prefer to fish in the quiet winter months when they can take their catch home. Finding a peaceful experience grounded in nature is ideal for some who want to “get away from it all,” while others seek the thrill of the chase.

 

American author Norman MacLean who wrote A River Runs Through It equates fly fishing to a piece of music that slowly builds to an exciting crescendo. Maybe this metaphor best explains the growth of the sport and its captive audience of all genders and ages. Regarded as being meditative and therapeutic, restorative fly fishing retreats are plentiful and hosted by groups such as Casting Carolinas for cancer survivors and Project Healing Waters for military personnel and disabled veterans.

 

Brookings Anglers, with locations in Cashiers and Highlands, is a trustworthy resource for finding the best experience. Their guided trips are a terrific way to learn, grow, and perfect techniques. In addition, they offer fly tying courses, licenses, and full or half-day packages for individuals, couples, and groups. Packages start at $200.

 

 

Here is Redington’s Quick Guide to Common Fly Fishing Terms:

Cast: This is the motion you make when you collectively 'throw' a fly rod, reel and line.

Delivery: Used to describe the action of casting the fly to a fish or into a promising-looking area of water. 

Dry Fly: Any fly fished upon the surface of the water, usually constructed of non-water-absorbent materials. Dry flies are most commonly used to imitate the adult stage of aquatic insects. 

Fly: A hand-tied artificial lure imitating natural insects or baitfish to entice fish.
Fly Casting: A standard method of presenting a fly to a target using a fly rod and fly line.

Forward (or Power) Stroke: In fly fishing, casting is a back-and-forth motion of the rod and line that allows you to place your fly where you'd like.

Hatch: A large number of flies of the same species.  

Matching the Hatch: An attempt by a fly angler to select an artificial fly that imitates the color, size, shape, and behavior of natural insects that fish are feeding on at a particular time. Often when a hatch is happening, fish become very selective and refuse insects that do not match the predominant insects present. 

Mayfly: Commonly found in cold or cool freshwater environments, mayflies are the most commonly imitated aquatic insects worldwide.

Roll Cast: This is a main cast every fly fisher should master. It can be used to cast short to medium distances - 15 to 30 feet of line.

Setting the Hook: The act of pulling the hook into the flesh of the fish's mouth.

Stalking: The action of creeping up on a fish so as not to surprise or disturb it. 
Stance: The foot of the casting side should be back at roughly a 45-degree angle from the lead foot and about shoulder width apart. Right handed: right foot back. Left handed: left foot back. This stance allows your body to twist back and forth with the cast easily.

Strike: The attempt a fish makes to eat a fly, successfully or not. This term also refers to the movement of the rod a fly angler makes to set the hook. 

Wet Fly: Any fly fished below the surface of the water; nymphs and streamers are wet flies.

The Reach of Art: A Visit to the Bascom

Cross the covered wooden bridge just off Franklin Road in Highlands, and you will find yourself on the magical campus that is The Bascom.
Set on six lush acres of what was once Crane’s Horse Farm, this extraordinary center for the visual arts is a sensory treat for anyone who loves art.
You know you are somewhere special long before you walk through the door. To one’s right is the original horse barn which has been transformed into a ceramics center. The main building, designed by the Atlanta architectural firm of Lord Aeck Sargent, is composed of wood, glass, and stone to pay homage to the natural materials that are native to our part of the world.
A walking nature trail surrounds the campus, containing a variety of site-specific sculptures comfortably positioned among indigenous plants and flowers. An outdoor amphitheater, tiers defined by stone seating, is the perfect setting for weddings, classes, and guest lectures.
Like the warm hostess that she is, Teresa Osborn, meets me at the Center’s front door. As executive director, she quickly explains how she sees the Center’s three important missions: exhibition, education, and outreach. This is no hushed gallery of hands-off, “important” art—nor is it intended to be.
The exhibition aspect of the Center’s mission is everywhere you look, as the 30,000 square feet of space abound with remarkable pieces created by artists from the Southeast, many of whom call the Blue Ridge Mountains home. Oil paintings mix comfortably with photography and pottery, the occasional piece of primitive furniture and whimsical pieces like a room-size “tree” composed of discarded clothing. One can also find jewelry, basketry, and wood-turned vessels here. The collections are fluid so visitors can enjoy a totally unique experience each time they come.
A fun aspect of this art center is the opportunity for hands-on creativity. Check out the “smARTspace” loft on the third floor, and try any of many self-directed art activities. A “wishing tree” downstairs invites visitors to write their deepest desires on papers to hang from a tree. The wishes are as random as you would expect, from “I wish I was a horse” to “I wish I could destroy my computer and phone.” These two areas speak to Teresa’s deepest passion: that art be a unifier, accessible to all, regardless of income, ability, or anything else.
Education is unquestionably a big part of The Bascom’s mission as well. The Center offers artist residencies, fellowships and internships in ceramics, photography, sculpture and community, which is a teaching position involving outreach to all ages. Residencies range from two weeks to one year and afford artists housing, teaching opportunities, unlimited studio access, and the opportunity to sell their art.
The community at large is a huge focal part of the educational component, and an adult education calendar offers a palate-pleasing menu of everything from “Playing in the Clay” to “Highlands Landscape Photography.” In addition to after-school classes during the school year, area children (and visiting grandchildren) are invited to eight different art day camps in the summertime. Private lessons, too, are available for all ages through Art by Appointment.
“Outreach,” says Teresa, warming to a subject dear to her heart, “is a yearlong activity, diverse and widespread.” Area youth are served through school programs: the Boys and Girls Clubs, Big Brothers Big Sisters, and the Gordon Center for Children, to name just a few. The needs of our adult community are addressed through programs like those at Cashiers and Jackson County Senior Centers, the Center for Life Enrichment, the Chestnut Hill retirement community, and the Eckerd Living Center.
It is no small feat that admission to this visual feast is free. Thanks to year-long sponsors, such as Delta and The Chaparral Foundation, The Bascom is accessible to everyone. A robust membership lends further support, as do various sponsors of individual exhibits.
The vision for this Center began in the 1980s, when Watson Barratt’s estate made possible an exhibition space in the Hudson Library. Proceeds from the sale of his family home on Satulah Mountain founded The Bascom, which honors the maiden name of his wife, Louise Bascom Barratt. Although he died in 1962 when Highlands was still a village, his belief in the need for a permanent gallery was prescient. Today, more than 20,000 individuals visit The Bascom each year, and that does not include all those who learn and create at the Center, or the thousands of people who are enriched through the outreach programs.
A centerpiece of Teresa’s delightful, art-cluttered office, is a charming piece of decoupage, teeming with buttons and ribbons and miniatures, created by a gentleman who struggled with developmental challenges. His family, she says, was stunned and thrilled to see how much joy he gleaned from the compilation of this masterpiece, and she keeps it in a place of honor to remind her always, of the life-changing possibilities of art.
The Bascom’s ever-growing impact in the community is a living testament to Watson Barratt’s foresight and a gift to all of us who call these mountains home.

A Stroke of Timeless Tradition: The spirit of croquet is alive and well on the Plateau

One of America’s favorite backyard pastimes is one that distinguishes Cashiers and Highlands from many other mountain towns. What is it? Croquet. 
The traditional game played with wooden mallets and balls brings laughter and competition to the area known for its lush landscape of waterfalls and golf courses. From tournaments to weekly gatherings, summer on the green takes on a whole new meaning with over 1,600 croquet players in the highlands of Western North Carolina. 
It is a sociable spectacle where teams face off to hit a ball through a course of hoops or wickets (as Americans have named them). Croquet dates to the 1400s, but it didn’t become a recreational activity in the United States until the 1860s. The game turned into a tradition for many East Coast families, and has remained part of the lifestyle on the Highlands-Cashiers Plateau.
Despite its French name, croquet is very English. The polished appearance of the wisely dressed players and immaculate grass can be deceiving. Players must outwit their opponent(s), creating a slight dog-eat-dog aspect to the game. If you can manage to roquet, or hit a rival’s ball, you might gain a slight edge with gaining an extra shot. Strategy is the key, as you should consider not only your current shot, but the one after that and the one after that, making this game an authentic technical challenge. 
The classic game of croquet brings the community together for social events throughout the season. With clubs offering wine and wicket hours, it is common to see players sip their favorite vintage in between running a hoop. 

The Plateau offers a myriad of courts for the croquet-lover to choose:

The Chattooga Club is an East Coast croquet treasure with its world-class courts and facilities. Offering a nostalgic feeling of the early 1900s with its scenery and services, the club is postcard perfection. It is a United States Croquet Association (USCA) member club.

Cedar Creek Racquet Club is minutes from both Cashiers and Highlands with a course overlooking its lake. Down-to-earth in nature and perfect for a family-friendly escape, it’s named one of the top twenty tennis facilities in the country by World Tennis Magazine. 

Burlingame is nestled among the Blue Ridge Mountains and adjacent to the Horsepasture River. It is breathtakingly beautiful, and its croquet lawn is an integral part of member activities. It is a United States Croquet Association (USCA) member club.

The Country Club of Sapphire Valley is known for Wednesday Twilight Croquet, Friday Croquet Mixer, and Sunday Wine and Wickets. Prefer to watch? Take in the serene vista from the Mountain Verandah and watch the competitive spirit unfold. 
Highlands Country Club is distinctive with its Donald Ross designed golf course and unspoiled mountain landscape. Tuesdays and Thursdays play host to Wine and Wickets at this alluring, sociable croquet lawn. 

Cullasaja Club is known for its par-72 championship golf course designed by Arnold Palmer, as well as Ravenel Lake, and the cascading waters of the Cullasaja Rivers; however, the private club opened a full-size croquet court, The Lawn at Cullasaja, in 2013. 

Highland Falls Country Club is set amongst heart-stirring long-range views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Enjoy the social game while breathing in fresh mountain air, or visit with friends on the croquet pavilion, which offers a wood-burning fireplace, wet bar, and washrooms.

Lake Toxaway Country Club is set amongst peaceful woodlands, offering a regulation-sized croquet lawn. With a 20-acre golf learning center, five Har-Tru tennis courts, and a private lake, this club is deeply rooted in scenic elegance. It is a United States Croquet Association (USCA) member club.

Trillium Links & Lake Club is the perfect lake escape in the Blue Ridge Mountains. It is a private residential, lake, and golf community known for wine and wickets each Monday and Thursday afternoon during the season. 

Tips to enhance your croquet game: Use a regular golf ball rather than a croquet ball when practicing. Keep your head down and make good contact in the ball, and take note of your swing. This will help you recognize how fast or hard you are hitting the ball, creating a more precise rhythm for your swing. 

A Test Drive Like No Other: The BMW Performance Center Is Your Own Personal Danger Zone

Are you ready for an afternoon thrill? Do you like your hands behind the wheel and want to take an engine to its limits with no fear of blue lights in the rearview mirror? Make your way to the BMW Performance Center in Spartanburg, South Carolina. 
Your day begins with the basics by getting to know your instructor and the cars. Professional drivers provide insight into each of the BMW models. You quickly graduate to a course designed to challenge your skills where you learn how to properly maneuver the vehicles around obstacles. 
At the performance center, you are encouraged to test the brakes—stopping on a dime on a wet track— or open up the engine from 0 to 60 in under five seconds. The course not only tests the limits of the car, it will test yours. This bucket list experience is a great one or two day escape from the Plateau. 
My favorite part of the day was the timed lap race in the M240i. Speed, cut corners, but don’t knock over the cones, all while trying to beat your friends’ times to earn bragging rights. If you apply your skills, you could win the best time of the day. I finished in 24.3 seconds, and I challenge you to beat it. 
The excitement and laughter alone are worth it. The fun of skidding around a circular wet track and nearly losing control of the car is a rip-roaring blast. When you understand the type of car you are driving, your insight into speed, braking, lane-changing, and taking fast corners bring your driving skills and entertainment to a whole new level. 
Whether you’re with your buddies or your spouse, this experience is something you won’t soon forget. The center also offers corporate retreats. A little healthy competition and fun are always good for office morale. With an on-site cafe offering options for every diet, you are well taken care of during your day-long adventure.
Want to try your skills off-road instead? The two-day driving school provides you the opportunity to pilot the X series vehicles through various terrain obstacles and adverse conditions you may not think the vehicles (or you) can handle.
Sometimes you just need to step on the gas pedal and get out there. Open it up, channel your inner race car driver, and show them what you’re made of. If you’re ready for acceleration, perhaps it’s time to cross racing off your bucket list.  
If you find yourself wanting more, test your hand at the M School Experience, where you only drive the M Series vehicles; it’s an experience guaranteed to quench your thirst for speed.
 If you have a new driver in your family, they also offer a driving school for teens! 

All driver’s classes start at $849.

BMW Performance Driving School 
1155 SC-101
Greer, SC 29651
1-888-345-4BMW
bmwperformancecenter.com

A Regal Night's Sleep: A Peek inside a Trio of High Country Luxury Lodgings

 

Nestled in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the Cashiers-Highlands Plateau holds as many allures as there are stars in the sky high above Whiteside Mountain. From a romantic escape to a weekend adventure, what often draws visitors to the Cashiers-Highlands Plateau are the picturesque views, enchanting waterfalls, temperate climate, charming collection of shops and restaurants, and incredible array of exciting events and outdoor activities. Of course, once they arrive, these sightseers are often pleasantly surprised by the caliber of our accommodations and the fact that Southern Hospitality is still alive and well. Whether seeking rustic refinement in a rental lodge or a posh place along Main Street to rest one’s head for the night, our lodgings serve as a sophisticated sneak peek into what life might be like as a regular high country homeowner. To that end, NC Living Magazine is proud to shine the spotlight on three of our finest proprietors of repose to aid you in planning your next visit to our beautiful little corner of the world…

 

Old Edwards Inn & Spa
This five-star oasis at the heart of Highlands’ renowned Main Street has garnered the attention Travel + Leisure, Conde Nast Traveler, U.S. News & World Report, Forbes Magazine, Southern Living and TripAdvisor, among others – making its mark as one of the best hotels in the state, the South, the nation and the world. Boasting Old World-inspired architecture, Old Edwards Inn touts itself as a “casually elegant” resort. At center stage lies the historic inn with its individually appointed guest rooms featuring period antiques, fine European bedding and Italian linens alongside thoroughly modern conveniences such as free WIFI, heated floors in the bathroom and flat-screen TVs. Radiating out from there is the award-winning Spa with a number of sophisticated Spa Suites, a variety of quaint Cottages and an awe-inspiring assortment of Guest Estates. Not far away, the Old Edwards Club showcases 18 holes of golf that are as scenic as they are challenging, as well as an outdoor heated mineral pool, clay tennis courts and state-of-the-art fitness center. In perfect balance with the stylishness of the surroundings and the superiority of the guest experience is the diversity of the culinary encounters. Presenting farm fresh local cuisine crafted using ingredients harvested as close as Old Edwards own gardens and a number of regional farmers, Old Edwards showcases seven sophisticated restaurants, eateries and watering holes, including the highly-touted farm-to-table Madison’s Restaurant, The Wine Garden, Hummingbird Lounge, Arts at the Lodge, The Spa Café, The Grill Room at Old Edwards Club and seasonal opportunities for poolside dining. Eat, Drink, Play, Sleep and Repeat.

 

200 Main
A sister property to Old Edwards Inn, this rustically refined mountain retreat currently features 40 guest rooms and one chic suite – some of which boast private balconies overlooking Main Street. In order to keep up with growing demand, 200 Main will throw back the curtain this summer on two additional buildings to include 20 new guest rooms and a state-of-the-art fitness room. The new guest rooms will comprise two queen beds, a fireplace and a choice of either patio or balcony. In keeping with the tranquility of its setting, 200 Main offers an overwhelming sense of leisure with its heated outdoor mineral pool, fire pit on the terrace, friendly cornhole competitions on the lawn, and so much more. Adventure abounds within mere miles of 200 Main, including hiking trails, waterfalls, zip lining, boating at Lake Glenville and an active arts scene – not to mention the unique boutiques and excellent eateries of Highlands and the neighboring village of Cashiers.

 

Half Mile Farm
This self-proclaimed “country inn” is also owned by Old Edwards Hospitality. Like its sister property at 200 Main, Half-Mile Farm has undergone significant property enhancements – all of which will be revealed June 2017. Imbued with the sense of an authentic Bed & Breakfast experience, Half-Mile Farm provides complimentary chef-prepared breakfasts and afternoon social hours featuring delectable wine and hors d’oeuvres on the house. In addition to a spectacular collection of rooms and suites in the historic main inn, Half-Mile Farm also boasts a number of surprisingly sophisticated cabins. As a member of Old Edwards Hospitality, Half-Mile Farm guests are afforded room signing privileges at each of the restaurants at Old Edwards Inn, as well as access to the amenities at Old Edwards Club. However, with 14 acres of fields, forests, streams and lakes for the exploring, there’s rarely a reason to leave the Farm in search of distractions. While here, guests can take a dip in the heated outdoor mineral pool, wander along a creek side trail, go fishing or canoeing on the 6-acre Apple Lake or simply relax and soak up the serenity of their scenic surroundings.