If you take a poll, many people will tell you that fall is their favorite time of the year. The nip in the air, the warmth of the Carolina sun and the gold and red of the leaves as they change their color are an invitation get outdoors and explore the beauty of our state.
    One of the best ways to take in that beauty is by taking in one of the countless fall festivals that are staged every weekend in our state. Below you’ll find a round up of some of the upcoming festivals that are within a day’s drive of our community.

Carolina In the Fall Festival
Oct. 17-18
North Wilkesboro

    On the edge of the mountains, North Wilkesboro is an ideal place to spend a weekend, particularly if you love bluegrass music. The festival starts at 5 p.m. on Friday and continues throughout Saturday. This year the North Carolina Banjo Championship will be hosted at the festival, with the competition starting at 10 a.m.     For more information, visit www.carolinainthefall.com

Wooly Worm Festival
Oct. 18-19
Banner Elk

    In Pennsylvania they have their groundhog to predict the weather. In North Carolina, we look close to the ground as well, as mountain folks turn to the wooly worm to determine how severe our winter will be.
    These days folks may not take the prediction that seriously, but they sure enjoy the party that surrounds it. The Woolly Worm races begin around 10 a.m. Each heat consists of 20 worms and races continue all day until the grand final around 4 p.m. The winning worm on Saturday is declared the official winter forecasting agent. The Sunday worm races are for prestige, fun and small prizes.
    In addition to the Woolly Worm Races, the festival features crafts, food vendors, live entertainment and much more. Last year’s festival attracted an estimated 20,000 fans, 140 vendors and around 1,000 race entrants.
    The Woolly Worm Festival is sponsored by the Avery County Chamber of Commerce and the Kiwanis Club of Banner Elk and a portion of the proceeds go to support children’s charities throughout the county.     For more information, phone 828-898-5605 or visit www. Averycounty.com

Fairmont Farmers Festival
Oct. 17-19

    A little closer to home, the Fairmont Farmers Festival offers music, food, golf, pageants and much more. The event kicks off on Friday at 1 p.m. with the Fairmont Chamber of Commerce Festival Golf Tournament.     Opening ceremonies at on Saturday, Oct. 18 at 9:40 a.m. The ceremony will be followed by a parade, a car/motorcycle, antique tractor show, Civil War Reenactment, entertainment and a tobacco barn dance. For more information, visit www.fairmontnc.com.

Nascar Day Festival
Oct. 18

    On Saturday, Oct. 18, 2008 from 9 a.m. until 7 p.m., NASCAR excitement will once again invade Randleman. If you can imagine 40,000 people coming together to celebrate racing, you will get the picture.     An enormous amount of fun happens in Randleman during NASCAR Day & Festival.
    Each year, Main Street is transformed by its vendors to include something for everyone. There is a large selection of things to see, buy or do . . . handmade crafts, food booths, live bands and entertainment, NASCAR show cars, drag cars, vintage antique automobiles, official NASCAR souvenir vendors and games for kids. Visitors especially enjoy the opportunity to meet and visit with members of the Winston Cup Old Timers Club, and admire the collection of vintage race cars on display. A highlight of this annual event is the glittering fireworks display near the downtown festival area that is sponsored by Richard and Lynda Petty.
    Also, the Richard Petty Museum is located within one block of Main Street and visitors enjoy touring the 12,000 square foot facility, rich with mementos the Petty family has collected during several decades of racing. Racing highlights include awesome automobiles, an intimate video theater, as well as numerous awards won by Richard Petty. Apart from racing, the museum even includes Lynda Petty’s fabulous doll collection. For more information, visit  www.randlemanchamber.com/nascar.htm.

N.C. Oyster Festival
Oct. 18 -19
Ocean Isle Beach

    The 28th Annual North Carolina Oyster Festival will feature live entertainment, arts and crafts vendors, festival food, a road race, kid’s area, North Carolina Oyster Shucking Championships and an Oyster Stew Cook-off.{mosimage}
    This event is wildly popular with beach lovers, and lovers of beach music. This year’s entertainment lineup includes beach music luminaries like The Coastline Band, the Embers, the Band of Oz and the Craig Woolard Band. For more information, visit  www.brunswickcountychamber.org/OF

25th Annual Barbecue Festival
Oct. 25

    Lexington is North Carolina’s barbecue capital. To hear the folks from Lexington talk, it’s the barbecue capital of the world. Don’t believe them, then head up to Lexington to check out their legendary barbecue. You’ll find yourself in good company, as more than 100,000 people turn out for     the annual affair.
    The 25th Annual Barbecue Festival is set for Saturday, Oct. 25. In addition to the festival, the City of Lexington and Davidson County officially declared October as “Barbecue” month. Events are held throughout the month of October which lead to the grand finale, the Barbecue Festival. Events that are held during the month of October include the Tour de Pig - the annual cycling event benefiting the Mental Health Association in Davidson County. Also included are a golf tournament, a tennis tournament, the 5K Hawg run, and the Hawg Shoot Air Rifle Tournament. All of these events draw talented athletes from across the Southeast.
    The Festival is held in Uptown Lexington. An eight block stretch of Main Street is closed to traffic, with banners at either end announcing the Festival with a logo featuring four dancing pigs. Over four hundred exhibitors sell everything from handmade crafts to homemade fudge. Also a Juried competition includes artists and craftsmen from across the country. This competition, sponsored by Carolane Propane Gas, Inc., is held throughout two blocks of Main Street in front of the Davidson county Museum of Art. Five stages of entertainment showcase local and national artists. The festival is for people of all ages and includes a special section of rides and games for children, Piglet Land. Barbecue is served at three locations through the festival area. These are amazing places where no fewer than 35 people work beneath each red and white tent chopping barbecue, fixing slaw, and serving french fries. Here from Mission Central, the heart of the Festival, comes the special Festival barbecue, which is a result of the combined effort of seven masters of the trade. a

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