The Rotary Club of Franklin, Read2Me, and The Macon County News recently held an Essay Contest at our local schools. We will be featuring the winning stories on our blog, we think it’s the perfect way to see Franklin – “Through the Eyes of Our Youth.”
The first essay is from Elizabeth Brenner – 1st Place Winner and 5th Grade Student at Mountain View Intermediate
Franklin, a Wonderful Place to Grow Up
I can’t imagine calling another place home. Franklin, NC is dear to me for so many reasons. When I wake up in the morning, I am greeted by the beauty of the mountains and the world coming to life as the sun peaks over the mountains creating a sky the color of cotton candy. There is a feeling of peace and safety in my small town. Located in the Smoky Mountains, one can enjoy the breathtaking scenes as the trees change from one season to the next. In the fall, the leaves change to vibrant reds, oranges and yellows. The snow in the winter months covers the trees with a white blanket. Spring welcomes the arrival of new growth, greenery and the birth of young animals including black bear and deer. Continuing to bloom throughout the summer, the mountain laurel, rhododendrons and wild flowers crate a tranquil scenery for many hikers. you can hear the birds chirping, the mountain streams as they run and toss about the bees buzzing. It is truly a great place to be.
Franklin offers a variety of places to enjoy the beauty of the mountains. There are multiple parks, the Little Tennessee River Greenway for riding bikes or walking, and countless nature trails with hidden waterfalls. In the summer, one can enjoy canoeing, hiking, and rafting. My family enjoys water skiing and swimming at nearby lakes. During the winter, there is a fitness center for indoor swimming and exercise. Nearby, one can snow tube, snow ski and snowboard.
There is always a festival being celebrated in downtown Franklin. My favorite is the Fall Festival with the annual pumpkin roll and costume contest. Kids can trick-or-treat at the downtown stores. Also, I enjoy the Winter Wonderland, Appalachian Trail Celebration and Scottish Highland Festival. There are multiple parades each year including a Veteran’s Day Parade and Christmas Parade.
Because Franklin is located in the gem capital of the world, there are multiple gem shows yearly. Also, there are countless locations and gem mines for mining. People of all ages can enjoy the excitement of finding a ruby, emerald or sapphire.
There is no shortage of sources of entertainment in Franklin. One can always visit the Smoky Mountain Center for the Performing Arts to catch a concert, play, or special event. I take dance from Betsy’s School of Dance and enjoy participating in programs such as the Nutcracker and the yearly dance recital. A local theater group called the Overlook Company puts on many plays throughout the year.
Although Franklin is located within two hours of Asheville, NC and downtown Atlanta, GA, you can find anything you need in the local store. There are many specialty shops downtown and within the area. One of my favorite things to do is to read. I enjoy shopping at Books Unlimited and Dalton’s Christian Bookstore. It’s always nice to grab a book, sit outside in the fresh air and read.
I love camping with my family and being able to surround myself with sights and sounds of the mountains. However, if you are visiting for vacation, business or a sporting event, there are hotels, campgrounds and cabins in the area.
Franklin is a loving community. There is an abundance of churches that work together to help meet the needs of the community. They set up and support programs such as CareNet. The Macon County School system strives to create a safe, clean and positive environment for students to meet their potential. The teachers and staff are supportive and encouraging.
I love Franklin for many reasons. I love the beauty of the mountains, the unlimited outdoor activities, the warmhearted feeling of the small town, and the people that make up my community. I love that my family has chosen to live here. It is a wonderful place to grow up!
Macon County is nestled on the tip of the Nantahala National Forest in the Southern Appalachians and is home to some of the most unique outdoor experiences in the Southern United States. From its dozens of hiking trails and miles of river to its mountains full of pristine waterfalls, Franklin, North Carolina is the perfect spot to spend this Spring Break.
Dive into Macon County History
Spend your spring break learning the ins and outs of North Carolina History at the Cowee Heritage and Arts Center, located at the old Cowee School building. You can also check out Main Street’s three museums: the Historical Society, The Franklin Gem and Mineral Society, and the Scottish Tartans Museum.
Hike to Pickens Nose
Meander through a stunning rhododendron forest to reach exceptional views from a craggy summit. The Pickens Nose Trail is an easy, short hike that’s fun for the whole family. Peer into the Southern Nantahala Wilderness to the North, West, and South into Georgia from different clearings and rock outcroppings along the route.
Float the Little Tennessee
Rent a paddle board from any of the several outdoor supply shops in town or pack your own because the Little Tennessee River is the perfect river for a day long floating trip. The river rises in the Blue Ridge Mountains and floors through the mountains past Dillard, GA before joining the Cullasaja River in Franklin. With miles of river and various put in and take out points in Franklin, a full day floating, paddling, or kayaking is an excellent way to celebrate Spring.
Hike the Appalachian Trail
The most famous hiking trail in the country sits just a few miles up the road from Franklin and makes for the perfect Spring Break adventure. Macon County hosts 47 miles of the A.T., and Franklin sits 110 miles north of Springer Mountain, the trail’s southern starting point. Franklin has long been very supportive of the Appalachian Trail and is designated as an official Appalachian Trail Community.
Go Chasing Waterfalls
Macon County and Franklin are home to some of the southeastern United States’ most breathtaking waterfalls. Cullasaja Falls, just 11 mi. east from Franklin, and Dry Falls, located between Franklin and Highlands, are just two of the dozen other cascading treasures in the area. Exploring the waterfalls is the perfect way to let loose and get in touch with nature this Spring Break!
Comedians, gospel music, award-winning country sensations. What do they all have in common? They are all slated to take the stage at the Smoky Mountain Center for the Performing Arts during the center’s 2017 season.
“There is so much variety this year- comedy, plays, musicals, big name artists, country, rock and roll, beach music, music festivals, dance competitions- you name it, we’ve got is coming at some point during the year,” said Scotty Corbin, Director of the SMCPA.
Corbin and his staff are constantly working to fill the slots in the center’s calendar. With a focus on variety and entertainment that can span different audiences, when talent is available, even if its a year out, Corbin snatches them up. “Even though our 2017 schedule is still not complete, we already have some plans made for 2018 and tours have been contacting us,” he said.
This year’s line up includes crowd favorites like Dailey and Vincent scheduled for November 4, but are also welcoming new superstars like the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band on March 3 and County Music sensation Sara Evans on April 28. Regardless if the show has been to the center before, Corbin says the shows are already crafted to be new and exciting.
“With each performance, something different is offered,” said Corbin. “Even though you may have seen an artist in the past or seen a show of the same title, the live experience is always new and can never be duplicated the same way again. It is always a one-of-a-kind moment.”
In addition to constantly searching for new talent to book at the center, Corbin said the audience and marketing efforts for the center are also expanding.
“We are expanding our radius quite a bit,” said Corbin. “It used to be difficult to get audience beyond Asheville/ Black Mountain, but over the past year, we have seen a good number of visitors from Raleigh and beyond. Same thing with north of Atlanta- that used to be our line on the map that seemed difficult to get beyond, but now our audience is coming from much further south inclusion the Macon, Georgia area and down to the Florida line.”
Tribute bands are a big theme this year with a remembrance concert featuring the greatest sounds from The Carpenters scheduled for February 18, Departure,a Journey Tribute band scheduled for June 2, and then on August 19, The Return, a Tribute to the Beatles is scheduled.
Comedians made the lineup again this year with James Gregory, “The funniest man in America” scheduled for May 26 and on September 14, Bill Engvall will take the Smoky Mountain Center Stage.
A show that is sure to be sold out, The Beach Boys, thats right, THOSE Beach Boys, will be in Franklin on April 6 with a show start time of 7:30 p.m.
The famous Overlook Theatre Company will also be taking the stage in 2017 with two shows already on the schedule. On March 17 and 18, the always impressive theatre company will recreate E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web and then on July 14, 15, 21, and 22, the company will transform the stage to the Broadway musical, Tarzan.
“2017 is the most exciting year so far,” said Corbin. “We just completed our most attended year yet with 2016 and are looking forward to growing our numbers even more and bringing as many people as we can to experience the theatre and what a wonderful place Franklin is to visit.”
For more information about the Smoky Mountain Center for the Performing Arts, visit Greatmountainmusic.com or call 828.524.1598.
This article was originally published in the Macon County News.
Franklin’s Beer Mile touts fresh, locally brewed craft perfection
Asheville, North Carolina, may be one of the top craft beer cities in the country, but just a day trip away rests the picturesque mountain town Franklin, North Carolina. Whether you visit Franklin by hiking off of the Appalachian Trail, spend the day bicycling any one of the nearby mountain bike trails, or dry off after a day of kayaking the Little Tennessee River, Franklin is the perfect place to relax and enjoy one of North Carolina’s fastest growing exports – craft beer.
In 2011, there were just 59 breweries in North Carolina. By 2015 there were 161 across the state, two of which are located right here in Macon County. North Carolina has continued to become one of the leading states in the country for craft beer production. Even more than the economic impact craft beer has on WNC, the cultural and identity the industry brings to a region is invaluable and markets to a growing demographic.
The Lazy Hiker Brewing Company and Currahee Brewing Company make Franklin a must-see stop for beer tourism. The two breweries are located less than a mile apart, and the businesses lining main street between the two are capitalizing on the traffic. Currently on tap at both the Lazy Hiker and Currahee is the Christmas Stumbler, a collaboration beer the two breweries worked up together, adding their own twists.
Located at the foot of town hill, Currahee Brewing Company opened last summer with a 9,000 square-foot production and canning facility. The brewery’s owners built the brewery with beer aficionados in mind, and it comes complete with a 2,000 square-foot tasting room and an outdoor, German-Inspired biergarten that overlooks the Little Tennessee River.
The 15-barrel brewhouse, a 30 barrel fermentation area, and a variety of wine and spirits barrels make up the brewery’s operation. Currahee’s focus is not just unique to Franklin; with an emphasis on Belgian and barrel aged beers, the brewery is setting itself apart from other NC breweries with a distinct flare.
The brewery features the Mountain Fresh Grocery food truck, serving up indulgent specials everyday. From trivia night to the always-expanding indoor concert series, Currahee Brewing is a year-round must stop.
At the tip of town hill, Franklin’s Executive Chef Nick Powers is serving up farm-to-table delicacies at Root + Barrel Kitchen. The only thing more delicious than the fresh food is the ever-changing craft beer list, which features craft beers from not only North Carolina, but all over the United States. The restaurant’s emphasis on local beer pairs perfectly with the farm-to-table theme, promising only the best locally sourced goods.
Root + Barrel often hosts special beer dinners, working with local wineries and breweries to develop a specific menu to perfectly match the drinks. For the first time, Root + Barrel will be working together to host their first beer dinner on January 25, which will feature 5 courses and beer pairings for each.
Just down the sidewalk from the Root + Barrel sits the Rathskeller Coffee Haus & Pub, a truly unique staple for Franklin. A speak-easy feel with a broad selection of coffee (primarily from Dynamite Roasting out of Black Mountain, NC) and espresso-based drinks, floats, shakes, and italian sodas. The pub also has hand-made baked goods such as cookies, cakes, brownies, pretzels and cheese breads that go perfectly with the craft beers and ciders either on tap or in a bottle.
Founded in 2000, The Rathskeller hosts unique events such as trivia and live music, while filling the spaces on the walls with local geniuses’ creative artwork, all of which can be purchased. Take a second to relax, play a board game or a game of cards, or challenge a friend to the Foosball table along the back wall.
A little further up Main Street is Outdoor 76, one of Franklin’s premier outdoor gear and supply stores. From specially fitted hiking boots and camping gear you may want, to paddle board and kayak rentals, Outdoor 76 has it all and more – their bar, the Rock House Lodge, features 18 craft beers on tap.
Located in the back of Outdoor 76, Rock House Lodge specializes on pouring local beers, whether special-released or just the best hops in North Carolina. The 18 beers on tap are ever-changing, keeping up with seasonal trends and ensuring the perfect beer is available for the time. And if craft beer isn’t your thing, Rock House Lodge also has wine and champagne ready to pour.
After you get done shopping, try your hand in a game of shuffleboard or challenge a friend to a game of darts, beer in hand. The Rock House Lodge is no stranger to entertainment and features a stage that regularly hosts live entertainment. On Wednesday, January 25 at 7 p.m., Sean Bendula, a dashing young singer/songwriter, is set to take the stage.
Right at the end of Main Street, in the old town hall, sits Franklin’s very first brewery, Lazy Hiker Brewing Company. Capitalizing on the lazier side of life, the Lazy Hiker has been brewing beer in Franklin since 2015. Opening in the summer of 2015, the 15 barrel brewhouse has a list of mainstay beers and regularly brews up seasonal favorites you can grab while they last.
The Lazy Hiker includes an outdoor patio area, unique games like life-size Jenga, and The Yard, an outdoor concert area that keeps a full lineup throughout the summer. The taproom stage stays booked, too, with concerts on Friday and Saturday nights – and don’t forget the weekday fun, like Wednesday night trivia or Tuesday night ping pong tournaments.
If the pretzels at the bar aren’t enough to hold you over, the Food Truck parked outside of the Lazy Hiker is serving up portions that are as plentiful as they are delicious.
Franklin’s downtown Americana charm, complete with cascading brick buildings, with stories all their own, is taking advantage of the craft beer world. With two original breweries within an easy mile’s walk of each other, Franklin’s craft beer scene has exploded since 2015. With annual events in the works, it won’t be long before Franklin takes its rightful place as a craft beer staple in WNC.
That moment the first snowflake caresses the warm mountain earth, winter in Franklin sprouts and entirely new feelings takes over. Beginning with Franklin’s annual Winter Wonderland festival, held the last weekend in November and the first weekend in December, Winter in Franklin might be one of the most majestic times of year to visit Macon County.
Main Street shops remain opening, inviting visitors to shop local and shop small for the holidays. From the Ice Skating Rink in the neighboring town of Highlands, to the countless hiking trails providing the perfect winter adventure, Franklin’s Winter season is as exciting as the rest of the year.
Setting itself apart from other small southeastern towns, Franklin will be ringing in the new year in style this year with the third annual New Year’s Eve Ruby Drop. As the Gem Capital of the World, the only fitting way to count down the new year is while watching a fluorescent Ruby descend from the sky, right in the middle of Main Street. With live music up and down Franklin’s Main Street, this small mountain town knows how to throw one heck of a New Year’s Eve bash.
With all the leaves gone, revealing barren trees, the endless mountain views extended across states is a site like no other. Its quiet, serene, and paints the perfect picture of warmth and belonging. That is winter in the mountains. Come Discover it for yourself!