Liking Friday nights in downtown Tryon

by Susan McNabb

I finally made it to Rogers Park. I know it’s ridiculous that this is my third summer here in Tryon and I hadn’t been before, but I have lots of excuses.

What could possibly keep me from a fun free outdoor concert in the most beautifully landscaped setting imaginable?

Well, many things equally wonderful, that’s what.

Friday nights in Tryon fill up quickly.

There are often gallery openings, receptions and various other artsy events to attend on Fridays.

Upstairs Artspace, Skyuka Gallery, Tryon Arts and Crafts—just to name a few—often hold their receptions on Friday evenings, and I’ve never been to one that wasn’t great.

Literary Open Stage is on a Friday. There are often TFAC events. And of course, the Barbecue Festival is on a weekend.

But on the Friday nights without a special event, my husband and I are generally found at La Bouteille on Trade St. (affectionately called La Booty in our house, or even more often, just “Shelly’s”).

If you’ve ever driven by on a Friday between 5 and 7 and wondered what was going on, it’s a free wine tasting, but one that has blossomed into a kind of regular happy hour-ish social event.

Shelly Block is the owner, and has the kind of cheerful presence and knowledge of her inventory that makes one forget the name of the place and just call it hers.

She makes La Bouteille what it is, which is often the case in small town businesses.

Once we’ve sampled the wines and had a nice glass of our favorite and caught up with friends at Shelly’s, we have a decision to make, and here’s where it gets tricky.

It’s now the dinner hour and we start wondering if we can get a table without a reservation at Lavender Bistro, or do we want to stop in Ruby Slipper for a bite?

We could also grab salads and a pizza from Buck’s and go home to eat on our front porch. Or hit the eight o’clock movie up the street and have popcorn for dinner.

And if someone throws out the idea of going to their house for an impromptu party, all other possibilities fall by the wayside.

So you can see how easily even something as great as a free outdoor concert can get pushed down the list of things to do on a Friday night.

But we were determined to make it to this most recent concert, no matter what other temptations we found.

We loaded folding camp chairs into the car and filled our little picnic backpack with cheese and crackers, bought a nice bottle of chardonnay from Shelly after our usual tasting and headed to Rogers Park ready for the fun.

We set our chairs up behind a couple who’ve become good friends and as the music started, they offered to share their pizza and we shared our cheese and crackers.

When we asked if they wanted some wine, we could see some hesitation. No glasses.

But, aha! Our little picnic backpack is equipped with four plastic collapsible stemmed glasses. We poured some wine into the glasses intended for champagne—a minor faux pas—but it seemed okay considering the casual setting.

I settled into enjoying the music, the scenery, the excellent people watching, and promised myself we’d make more of an effort to come here more often.

We’d been crazy not to come sooner.

My husband checked the weather app on his phone as he frequently does when we’re out. We have a severely thunder-phobic dog at home, and sure enough, a big green and yellow blob was headed our way.

We packed up our stuff, whispered to our friends not to worry about the champagne glasses, and to enjoy the wine.

We beat the rain home, released our anxious dog from her crate and waited for the storm to hit.

It took its time, but when it did arrive we went out onto the porch, leaving the lights off so we could watch the lightning.

Before we went back inside, I noticed disassembled champagne flutes sitting on an end table on top of a piece of paper–what I thought was probably a little thank you note.

When I picked it up, however, it revealed itself in the dark to be a dollar bill.

We had a laugh at our tip, and went in the house and I forgot all about the glasses and dollar bill. I spotted them days later, still sitting on the table.

Where else can you leave cash on the porch? Or find friends who’ll share pizza at the park?

Or have so many fun choices it’s hard to make it to free concerts in beautiful amphitheaters? Tryon, that’s where. Enjoy your Friday.


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