Nearly 10,000 people call Waynesville home. A small-town atmosphere with a strong connection to the arts makes Waynesville particularly appealing. Its old-fashioned Main Street is lined with art galleries, coffee shops, bakeries and specialty stores. Homes in the area are extremely affordable, with a media house value of about $190,000. In Where to Retire magazine’s list of America’s 100 Best Places to Retire, Waynesville was called a “low-cost Eden”, the best Main Street town and best mountain town.
One of the greatest contributors to Waynesville’s appeal is the Haywood County Arts Council, which sponsors music, art and theatre productions in addition to arts events throughout the year. By promoting the arts and enhancing the lives of County citizens, the council ensures that Waynesville remains a center for artistic expression.
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Shelton House was built in 1875. Its museum of North Carolina Handicrafts features 19th century crafts and furniture in addition to Native American artifacts and displays from the North Carolina State Fairs Village of Yesterday.
In 1997, Shelton House became home to one of the strongest theatre companies in the region. Established in 1984, the Haywood Arts Repertory Theatre (HART) performed at the Strand Theatre on Main Street in downtown Waynesville until building codes forced it to relocate. Dedicated to its arts program, the community managed to raise $500,000 to construct a new facility: the Performing Arts Center at Shelton House. Now referred to as the Haywood Arts Regional Theatre, HART is the most active theatre company in the region, putting on five main-stage plays, two musicals and six studio theatre productions each season.
Waynesville’s artistic appeal also involves the visual arts. A number of galleries line Waynesville’s Main Street, also referred to as “gallery row”. One of the most popular galleries in Waynesville is Twigs & Leaves. The gallery occupies 2,000 square feet and features 150 exhibitors.
For two weeks in July, the North Carolina International Folk Festival (also known as Folkmoot) in Waynesville welcomes more than 350 dancers and musicians from a dozen different countries. In its 21 year in 2004, the International Folk Festival has previously featured guests from Italy, Israel, Spain, Norway, Russia, Uzbekistan and Egypt. The festival is held at the entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
North of Waynesville, Lake Junaluska is a 200-acre lake surrounded by more than 1,200 acres of rolling hills and valleys covered with trees and wildflowers. A community of private homes is located around Lake Junaluska, and the area is home to the Lake Junaluska Conference and Retreat Center, the headquarters of the Southeastern Jurisdiction of the United Methodist Church.
Just one hour west of Asheville adjacent to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Cherokee Indian Reservation offers opportunities to explore Cherokee culture – past and present. With 13,079 enrolled members, the reservation features a recreated vision of a 1750’s Cherokee village, a newly renovated museum and 200-foot Mingo Falls. Outdoor enthusiasts can go mountain biking, tubing or trout fishing, and others can place their bets at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino.
About 10 miles west of Waynesville on US-19, the resort area of Maggie Valley offers opportunities for skiing and snow tubing in the winter as well as rafting, hiking, kayaking, rock climbing and horseback riding.
Visit the Haywood County Chamber of Commerce site at http://www.haywood-nc.com for upcoming events.
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