Mill the Around the Village Festival
Excerpts from an article in Asheville Citizen-Times:
Dozens of Swannanoa area residents, business owners, nonprofit organizations and other supporters gathered on the grounds of the First Baptist Church to enjoy food, music, arts and crafts, information booths, homegrown produce, historical exhibits and children's activities.
The festival, sponsored by the Swannanoa Pride Community Coalition, also was designed to foster community spirit and to offer opportunities to participate in ongoing projects that will help shape the community's future
Jerry Pope and his wife, Rebecca Williams, had a booth promoting their documentary film project on the former Beacon Blanket mill, which was considered the heart of the Swannanoa community until it burned down in 2003.
Dozens of community members have taken part in the history project to tell their stories about pride in the mill and the community surrounding it.
"Rebuilding the community today requires an understanding and appreciation of the strong community it once was," Pope said.
"This project will help maintain a sense of identity for Swannanoa, preserve that identity in the face of rapid development, and teach newcomers what is culturally unique about this community."
A group of cheerleaders from Owen Middle School was painting faces and performing gymnastic feats for festival-goers, happily perspiring in a welcome sun that followed a cool, drizzly morning.
"I like living in Swannanoa, and it's important for our community to come together," said seventh-grader Brittany Creasman. "It's a beautiful place, and the people are nice; I want to stay here."
Fellow seventh-grader Jessie Craig said she's worried about development on the mountains that surround the valley.
"Especially in the fall, when the seasons are changing, you used to look up and see this beautiful scenery, but now it's just a lot of mud where they're building the golf course," she said. "When we're practicing (cheerleading), we can hear the dynamite.""
Swannanoa resident Maureen Dillow said the Swannanoa Valley is changing rapidly, "and we need to make sure people are participating in how that change happens."
"There is a lot of stuff going on in terms of development, and we need to be sure people are aware of what's happening," Dillow said. "This festival is a way to make people aware, and have fun at the same time."