Planning the magic (and barbecue) for everyone to enjoy

Published 10:34 pm Wednesday, May 27, 2015

One of the things I love most about living here is watching ideas come to fruition in the form of public events.

I was lucky to be on the steering committee of the second annual Lanier Library Poetry Festival and got to watch a team of volunteers with nothing but ideas and a willingness to work hard put a wonderful community event together. So many people benefitted from the festival, and I hope it will continue. Nothing but positives came from it, and it was just someone’s idea only a couple of years ago.

When I think back to how I became so involved in the community here in Tryon, I can trace my interest and curiosity about the town back to various events. Tryon Arts and Crafts School’s Fall Festival lured me into my first pottery class. Upstairs Artspace’s Art Trek showed me what an amazing collection of artists call this area home.

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When I picked up my first Art Trek map at Upstairs and began visiting artists in their homes and studios, I saw why the arts are so important here. Yes, our artists are exceptionally talented, but they are also accessible. They’re our neighbors and our friends, and meeting them and watching how they fit into the community was a big step in my “getting” Tryon.

I’m not sure I can pinpoint such a lofty epiphany to any particular moment at the Beer Fest, but it was certainly fun, and I’m grateful to that steering committee for their work as well.

I watched Tryon Writers form here and we’ve already begun a tradition of readings at TFAC’s amphitheater. Our steering committee is hard at work finding more opportunities to engage people in literary events.

I know we used to have a Sherlock Holmes Festival to celebrate Tryon’s connection to William Gillette, an actor made famous for playing Sherlock Holmes on stage and in a 1916 silent film, and for whom Gillette Woods was named. I’ve also heard ideas to honor our most famous native daughter bandied about, and hope someday we’ll see a Nine Simone Jazz Festival.

If you want to see what can become of a great idea and what 22 years of work by dedicated steering committees can do, come to the Blue Ridge Barbecue and Music Festival June 12 and 13 at Harmon Field.

This is the mac daddy of all our local festivals.

On Friday, June 12, from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m., admission is free, although after 2 and all day Saturday, it’s only eight bucks to get in. Children under 12 are always free, and so is parking. The party lasts from 10 a.m. until 11 p.m. both days.

We expect 20,000-25,000 guests to this whopper of a festival, so get your guest rooms ready. This is the weekend all your friends and relatives will want to visit, and we’re happy to have them.

There will be not one, but two stages for continuous musical entertainment, a craft fair where you’ll watch artisans at work and happily open your wallets to purchase their wares, street vendors with more cool stuff to buy, carnival rides for the kiddies, and on Saturday, a car show will join the other festivities to amuse and entertain you.

Of course, the main reason people flock to Tryon for the Barbecue Festival is the food. The North Carolina State Barbecue Championship participants will be cooking their little hearts out in the hopes to win a bunch of awards on Saturday afternoon. We won’t get to eat any of this barbecue, but don’t worry, there will be plenty to eat across the field where food vendors will be set up to tempt us with their offerings.

You must have some barbecue, of course, and I also highly recommend the homemade ice cream. What could be better on a sunny June day in Tryon?

This shindig is put on by the Carolina Foothills Chamber of Commerce, and helps fund the Carolina Foothills Chamber Foundation. Five hundred volunteers make this machine operate smoothly, as do the festival’s sponsors.

If you have a hankering to help, go to and sign up to be a volunteer. There’s still time, and you’ll get a cool t-shirt and a belly full of barbecue for your trouble.

Whether you volunteer or come as a guest, while you’re enjoying your weekend of food, music and fun in our stunning mountain setting, think about this: the Barbecue Festival was once just somebody’s idea, and now it brings thousands of visitors here to fall in love with our town every year.

We made that magic happen, and there’s more where that came from. Enjoy.