photograph by Charles Harris

Feature Image: Collard Festival • Ayden • Rescheduled to November 8-9

More than 40 years ago, Lois Theuring wrote a letter to the Ayden News-Leader, proposing that the town host a festival. Citizens voted on a theme for the event, and “collard festival” won by a landslide. Now, locals and visitors flock to downtown Ayden for four days of activities, including a parade boasting more than 100 entries, a collard-eating contest, a Miss Ayden pageant, and plenty of carnival rides and attractions.

Learn more: (252) 714-2149 or


Labor Day Picnic • Spruce Pine • September 2

Spend the day listening to live music from the Jack Town Ramblers and Slight Departure at the Orchard at Altapass.

Learn more: (828) 765-9531 or

Carolina Mountains Literary Festival • Burnsville • September 5-7

Meet more than 25 authors at the Burnsville Town Center during this festival. Participate in writer workshops, attend book signings, and listen to keynote speakers Andrew Lawler and Charles Frazier.

Learn more: (828) 208-4731 or

Historic Morganton Festival • Morganton • September 6-7

Listen to live music, watch students demonstrate construction techniques in the “Junkyard Design Challenge,” and enjoy carnival-style food and games at this free festival downtown.

Learn more: (828) 438-5252 or

Wilkes County Quilt Show • Wilkesboro • September 6-7

Meet vendors and browse their products, and enter to win daily door prizes and two grand prizes at The Stone Center.

Learn more:

Music on Main Presents: Big Daddy Love • Sparta • September 6

Kick off the first Music on Main event of the year with this self-proclaimed Appalachian rock band. Meet local merchants, participate in family-friendly activities, and eat at your favorite local restaurants during this event.

Learn more: (336) 372-5473 or

Traditional Music and Dancing • Spruce Pine • September 7-8, 14-15, 21-22, 28-29

Enjoy free live music and dancing at the Orchard at Altapass every weekend through October. Pets are welcome at this family-friendly event.

Learn more: (828) 765-9531 or

The Steeldrivers • Franklin • September 7

Listen to music this band describes as “what the Rolling Stones would sound like if they played banjos, fiddles, and mandolins” at the Smoky Mountain Center for the Performing Arts.

Learn more: (828) 524-1598 or

Mountain Splash • West Jefferson • September 9-14

Every day for a week, 15 artists in residence at the Florence Thomas Art School will display their works. The public is invited to meet the artists and watch them in action.

Learn more: (336) 846-3827 or

Smoky Mountain Elk Fest • Maggie Valley • September 13-15

This festival commemorates the reintroduction of elk into the Great Smoky Mountains in 2001 after years of overhunting. Celebrate the occasion with an educational hike, an elk tour, and cultural performances.

Learn more: (800) 334-9036 or

Sons of Serendip Concert • Lincolnton • September 13

Listen to a blend of harp, cello, keyboard, and vocals from the four talented artists who make up this group at the Lincoln Center. This group was a finalist on season nine of “America’s Got Talent.”

Learn more: (704) 735-72876 or

“Spoonin’: A Showcase of Handcrafted Spoons” • Asheville • September 14

Attend the opening reception for Grovewood Gallery’s newest exhibit, which will feature functional and sculptural spoons made by talented creators from across the country.

Learn more: (828) 253-7651 or

Girl Scout Day • Grandfather Mountain • September 14

Join Grandfather Mountain State Park’s naturalists for a fun-filled day of adventure. All Girl Scouts and troop leaders can attend this 49th annual event and enjoy Scout activities for free.

Learn more: (828) 733-2013 or

The Collingsworth Family • Franklin • September 14

Experience an evening of praise and family worship music led by the Collingsworth Family at the Smoky Mountain Center for the Performing Arts.

Learn more: (828) 524-1598 or

Music Festival • Blowing Rock • September 14

Enjoy an afternoon of live Americana, folk, blues, rock, and jazz at The Blowing Rock attraction.

Learn more: (828) 295-7111 or

“On the Same Page” Literary Festival • West Jefferson • September 16-21

If you’re a new writer with a story to tell — or just someone who loves to read — this event at the Ashe County Library is for you. Attend workshops, share your work with readers, and learn from seasoned pros.

Learn more: (828) 406-6229 or

Waterfall Photography • Brevard • September 21

Spend the day touring the “Land of Waterfalls” with Saucier Photography. Janet and Les Saucier will lead attendees on an adventure as they photograph some of the most beautiful areas in Pisgah National Forest.

Learn more: (828) 884-3443 or

Blue Ridge Conservancy 5K • Blowing Rock • September 21

Take part in a kid’s fun run or 5K through neighborhood roads in Blowing Rock for this 20th annual race. Proceeds benefit the Blue Ridge Conservancy.

Learn more: (828) 264-2511 or

Cherokee Heritage Festival • Hayesville • September 21

Learn about Cherokee heritage by observing traditional dancing, cultural arts demonstrations, and storytelling at the Cherokee Homestead Exhibit.

Learn more: (828) 389-6531 or

Lonestar • Franklin • September 21

This country band has achieved 10 number one country hits, including “Come Crying to Me” and “No News.” Listen to the band live at the Smoky Mountain Center for the Performing Arts.

Learn more: (828) 524-1598 or

Creatures of the Night & Bonfire Delight • Grandfather Mountain • September 21

Take an after-dark tour, listen to tall tales by the fire, and, if you’re lucky, meet the nocturnal residents of the park.

Learn more: (828) 733-2013 or

The Trinity Artists Series Presents: Wayne Henderson and Company • Statesville • September 22

Enjoy an afternoon of traditional folk guitar music by Wayne Henderson and Company at Trinity Episcopal Church.

Learn more: (704) 872-6314 or

Asheville Quilt Show • Fletcher • September 27-29

Browse more than 300 traditional and modern quilt styles at the Davis Event Center. More than $10,000 in prize money will be given to award-winning quilters. Participants can chat with vendors and enter a silent auction.

Learn more: (828) 298-2951 or

Arrival from Sweden: ABBA • Franklin • September 27

This cover band will play some of ABBA’s biggest hits, including “Dancing Queen” and “Mamma Mia,” at the Smoky Mountain Center for the Performing Arts.

Learn more: (828) 524-1598 or

“No Place Like Homeplace” Beer Fest • Burnsville • September 28

Sample beers from more than 18 breweries, including up-and-coming western North Carolina breweries, at the Nu Wray Inn courtyard on South Main Street. Attendees can also listen to live music and buy food in downtown Burnsville.

Learn more: (828) 536-5147 or

Old Timey Fall Festival • Burnsville • September 28

Learn about the traditional methods heritage crafters use to produce their creations at the Burnsville Town Square. Browse antique tractors and cars, and items from the local farmers market. This event offers music, food, rides, and fun for the whole family to enjoy.

Learn more: (828) 682-7413 or

ARTrageous! • Franklin • September 28

This performance group is comprised of artists, singers, dancers, and musicians who started performing together in Vancouver. Watch them live at the Smoky Mountain Center for the Performing Arts.

Learn more: (828) 524-1598 or

Terry Wenham, Mentalist • Hayesville • September 28

After a dazzling 2016 performance at the Peacock Performing Arts Center, patrons requested an encore from mentalist Terry Wenham. Experience an evening of magic and fun.

Learn more: (828) 389-2787 or

Art on Main • Hendersonville • September 28-29

More than 100 juried artists will gather on Main Street to sell paintings, photography, jewelry, and other creations during this 60th annual event. Watch live art demonstrations such as stone cutting and pottery firing, among other activities.

Learn more: (828) 693-8504 or



Greek Festival • Raleigh • September 6-8

Watch traditional folk dances, listen to live Greek music, and taste foods prepared by the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church at this annual festival at the Jim Graham Building on the NC State Fairgrounds. Proceeds will benefit Habitat for Humanity of Wake County.

Learn more:

Rural Hill’s Amazing Maize Maze • Huntersville • September 7

Test your navigation skills while working your way through a seven-acre corn maze at Historic Rural Hill. After you’ve worked up an appetite, fill up at the food trucks.

Learn more: (704) 875-3113 or

Rolesville Farmers Market • Rolesville • September 7, 14, 21, 28

Browse and purchase locally grown produce at Southtown Circle. Attendees can also purchase wine, crafts, and food from vendors each week.

Learn more: (919) 600-2654 or

Lee Regional Fair • Sanford • September 10-15

Enjoy rides, fair food, and agricultural events and exhibits at the Sanford Lions Club Fairgrounds.

Learn more: (919) 499-3594 or

Live After 5 Concert • Pinehurst • September 13

Grab a blanket and some friends, and listen to a free beach music concert by the Band of Oz at Tufts Memorial Park. Bring your own picnic or purchase a meal from a food truck.

Learn more: (910) 295-7100

NC Hot Sauce Contest • Oxford • September 14

Taste some of the state’s best barbecue with a side of hot sauce on Main Street. Beer and other spiced-up foods will also be served. Think you can handle the heat? Enter the NC Pepper Eating Contest.

Learn more: (919) 603-1164 or

Softgold World Championship • Clemmons • September 15

Compete to win a first or second place trophy during this competition at Tanglewood Park. Divisions include ages 6-11, 12-17, 18-64, and over 65 for both men and women, and an overall winner will be declared as well.

Learn more: (302) 757-5927 or

Pride Festival • Greensboro • September 15

Sip a brew from the beer garden, meet vendors, listen to live music, and entertain small visitors at the kid zone during this 14th annual event.

Learn more: (336) 505-9020 or

Evening of Hope • Raleigh • September 18

Enjoy a five-course dinner and wine pairing, and participate in live and silent auctions at the Angus Barn. Proceeds will benefit Foundation of Hope, a nonprofit that raises awareness and funds research for mental illnesses.

Learn more: (919) 781-9255 or

“Violin Virtuosos” • Greensboro • September 19, 21

See international violinists Mayuko Kamio and Risa Hokamura perform at Guilford College’s Dana Auditorium.

Learn more: (336) 335-5456 or

“Stand Together” Music Festival • China Grove • September 21

Listen to Darrel Harwood and four other musical performers in downtown China Grove to help raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Cancer survivors will share their stories between musical acts.

Learn more: (919) 462-2055 or

Sunset Signature Series Presents: Eric Montross • Asheboro • September 21

All-American UNC basketball player, Eric Montross, will talk about his experiences on the 1993 NCAA championship team at this free event at the Sunset Theatre. Montross was drafted by the Boston Celtics and selected for the 1995 Rookie All-Star Game. He’s now a commentator for Tar Heel basketball.

Learn more: (336) 318-6803 or

CenterFest Arts Festival • Durham • September 21-22

Local and regional visual artists will showcase their work, and 75 performing arts groups will provide entertainment in downtown Durham during the 45th year of this festival.

Learn more: (919) 560-2730 or

Francisco FarmFest • Francisco • September 21

Celebrate North Carolina’s agricultural heritage at the old Francisco school grounds. See a tractor parade, browse the fiber arts exhibit, and listen to live music.

Learn more: (336) 351-4142 or

Bright Leaf Hoedown • Yanceyville • September 21

Join residents of Caswell County as they embrace the next generation of farmers at this festival. Browse specialty crops and small livestock exhibits, and enjoy local foods.

Learn more: (336) 694-6106 or

“Altered Surfaces” • Hillsborough • September 23-October 20

See the Hillsborough Gallery of Arts’ latest exhibit, which will include paintings by Marcy Lansman, ironwood by Larry Favorite, and photography by Eric Saunders.

Learn more: (919) 732-5001 or

Wait Until Dark • Davidson • September 26-29, October 3-6, 10-13

In this play, con man Harry Roat Jr. is desperate to find a mysterious doll stuffed with illegal drugs. With the help of two criminal sidekicks and a married couple, Harry attempts to track down the doll. Watch the mystery unfold at the Armour Street Theatre.

Learn more: (704) 892-7953 or

Wide Open Bluegrass Festival • Raleigh • September 27-28

See performances from some of the best bluegrass musicians, including Balsam Range and Molly Tuttle, during this festival in downtown Raleigh. Proceeds will benefit the IBMA Trust Fund, which provides emergency support to professional bluegrass musicians.

Learn more: (888) 438-4262 or

Mayberry Days • Mount Airy • September 28

This festival is for Andy Griffith fans who long for a simpler time. Enjoy music, a golf tournament, a Snappy Lunch pork chop sandwich, a parade, and more.

Learn more: (336) 786-7998 or

Liberty Antiques Festival • Stayley • September 27-28

Take your pick of antiques and collectibles from more than 375 dealers from 20 states at the Pike Family Farm at 2841 Pike Farm Road. This event is held rain or shine.

Learn more: (336) 622-3041 or

9/11 Heroes Run • Cary • September 28

Run or walk a 5K starting at WakeMed Soccer Park with family and friends of all ages. This event is organized so the community has a chance to personally thank local veterans and first responders.

Learn more: (919) 618-5405 or

The Chatham Experience • Pittsboro • September 29

Attend this benefit concert, featuring performances by the Chatham Rabbits, Tommy Edwards & The Bluegrass Experience, and Diali Cissokho in The Chatham Beverage District. Attendees can enjoy locally produced drinks and food, and meet local Chatham County artists. Proceeds will benefit Chatham County’s Artists-in-Schools Initiative, which brings musical artists into local elementary schools.

Learn more:



Wilmington Boat Show • Wilmington • Due to the threat of Hurricane Dorian, this event has been cancelled. 

See and experience the latest and greatest in watersports, including boating, sailing, and fishing, at the Wilmington Convention Center.

Learn more: (864) 250-9713 or

Community Festival and 5K Run • Newport • Due to the threat of Hurricane Dorian, the Community Festival has been cancelled. 

The 5K has been rescheduled for November 23.

Learn more: (252) 223-4749 or

Port City RibFest • Carolina Beach • September 13-15

Join attendees from across the country to taste some of the nation’s best barbecue, and enjoy live music as “rib teams” compete for bragging rights.

Learn more: (910) 465-4770 or

Grape Stomp • Rose Hill • September 14

Squish grapes between your toes at Duplin Winery’s 43rd annual grape-stomping celebration. Dance to live music, enjoy wine tastings, and tour the winery.

Learn more: (800) 774-9634 or

Summer Harvest Festival • Wilmington • September 14-15

Say goodbye to summer at this end-of-season celebration at Poplar Grove Plantation. Participants can play games, meet art and craft vendors, and listen to bluegrass music from the Folkstone Stringband.

Learn more: (910) 686-9518 or

Maritime Rock & Roll Concert • Southport • September 15

Load up the car with a lawn chair and picnic basket for an evening concert featuring the Back Street Rockers at the Cape Fear Riverfront at Fort Johnston. Proceeds will benefit the NC Maritime Museum at Southport.

Learn more: (910) 612-3279 or

Island Jeep Weekend • Topsail Beach • September 20-22

Meet up with fellow Jeep lovers and participate in a variety of events, including a Jeep crawl and beach bash, a mud plunge, and several challenging obstacle courses.

Learn more: (910) 329-4446 or

Acronym • Wilmington • September 22

Hear a bunch of fancy fiddling and musical humor from this baroque band at the Beckwith Recital Hall located on UNC Wilmington’s campus.

Learn more: (910) 962-3500 or

“King of the Cape Open” King Mackerel Tournament • Beaufort • September 27-28

Put your fishing skills to the test against fellow competitive and recreational fishermen at the Town Creek Marina. This competition will award prizes for Lady Angler, Junior Angler, and Senior Angler.

Learn more: (252) 373-2504 or

North Carolina Muscadine Festival • Kenansville • September 27-28

Enjoy live music, chat with art vendors, and indulge in unlimited wine tastings from more than 20 wineries during this two-day event at the Duplin County Events Center.

Learn more: (910) 275-0008 or

The Lost Colony Wine and Culinary Festival • Manteo • September 27-28

Try fine wines and foods on the historic grounds of the Waterside Theatre on Roanoke Island. Proceeds from the festival will benefit The Lost Colony, America’s longest-running outdoor symphonic drama.

Learn more: (252) 473-2127 or

Harborfest for HeartWorks • Oriental • September 27-28

Treat yourself to two nights of food from Roland’s BBQ and The Chelsea, and enjoy drinks from the open bar at Grace Harbor. The bands Salt Water Gold and The Entertainers will perform, and participants can enter live and silent auctions. Proceeds will benefit HeartWorks, which serves at-risk children in Pamlico County.

Learn more: (252) 745-9703 or

Beach Music Festival • Emerald Isle • September 28

Dance your heart out to a variety of beach music performances during this iconic event at the Western Ocean Regional Access. Bring your own beer and wine, and fill up on food truck fare after moving and grooving.

Learn more: (252) 354-3424 or

NC Bacon Festival • Rocky Point • September 28-29

Bacon makes everything better, including this festival at Old Homestead Farms. Between all the bacon eating, take a helicopter ride, watch pig races, meet vendors, and enter your child in the festival’s pageant.

Learn more: (910) 233-8017 or

Hands-On Arts Festival • Washington • September 28

This free, outdoor arts festival at Havens Gardens Park will showcase the work of local artists and give children and adults an opportunity to make and buy art.

Learn more: (252) 946-2504 or

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