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Well, the creek did rise last week and we didn’t attend the Gold Festival in Old Fort last Saturday, but tomorrow looks promising for the 23rd Bluff Mountain Music Festival in Hot Springs, NC from 10 am – 5 pm.

Did you know that the Bluff Mountain Music Festival first took place in 1996 to raise funds and awareness to save Bluff Mountain, part of the Pisgah National Forest, from a destructive logging and road-building plan? A compromise was eventually reached with the timber industry and now hiking trails and a public parking area have been built where logging roads were once planned. We feel connected to this festival, as we wrote about the damage inflicted on the Appalachian Mountains by timber companies and Bessie’s efforts to save her mountain from their assault.

This is one of our favorite festivals, with the best bluegrass music throughout the day, a silent auction (to which we always donate a book), lots of artists and craftsmen selling their wares, and great food. It looks to be a beautiful day, and we hope if you attend, you’ll drop by and visit.

 

 

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Did you know that in the 1800s, North Carolina was the biggest gold producer in the country until gold was discovered in California in 1848? Not many people are aware but gold was one of the reasons the US government wanted to move the Cherokee and other Native Americans out of the mountains so they could claim the land and poach the gold.

There are actually two Gold Festivals this year, and we’ll be attending the official one in Old Fort on the banks of Mill Creek at the Mountain Gateway Museum on Saturday, June 2nd, from 10-4. Activities include live music, gold and gem panning contests, gold vendors and a display by the Reed Gold Mine, a Bechtler Gold Coin exhibit and Bechtler Museum House exhibit, along with artisans and food vendors selling their wares. And for country music fans, comedian Cledus T. Judd will take the stage at 2 pm.

The other Gold Festival will be held at the Lucky Strike Gem Mine in the Vein Mountain region of McDowell County, near Marion, NC on Friday, June 1 and Saturday, June 2 from 10-6. There will be a variety of vendors, including the latest in gold mining equipment, and a lapidarist will demonstrate gem faceting. Other activities include live music, BBQ, nugget races, horseshoes, and artisans and food vendors selling their wares. At the mine, attendees can learn to sluice and crevice the river or pan for gold at the flume. The Thermal City gold mine is only two miles away.

The two festivals are within half an hour of each other, making it easy for those who would like to attend both in the same day. There is no entry fee for either festival, and as participants in past Gold Festivals, we can attest that it will be a fun day for all.

 

 

We had a wonderful time at the Old Fort Pioneer Day this past Saturday. This is one of our favorite, have-to-attend festivals and this year was no exception. Along with seeing bunches of our readers and a few family members, we just love the atmosphere in Old Fort. Like in Hot Springs, we always feel closer to Aunt Bessie and Uncle Fletch when we’re there. The train station where they arrived when they moved from Hot Springs is right down the road from the museum grounds where the festival is held.

It turned into a picture-perfect spring day after a rather chilly morning. We enjoyed the lively music and seeing all the craftspeople demonstrating their skills, from milling corn to quilting to weaving. Like every year, we also enjoyed all the people dressed in period costumes and wondered how they could stand wearing all those layers back then, especially the Confederate and Union troops, with their wool uniforms. To top it off, it was a record-breaking day for us and kept us so busy the time just flew by.

This Friday and Saturday, we’ll be in Townsend, TN for the Townsend Spring Festival from 10-6 both days. This is a new one for us and we’d love to see some familiar faces if you’re in the area!

 

Meanwhile, enjoy some more pictures of Pioneer Day in Old Fort.

                           

And finally, can anyone tell us what this plant is? We meant to ask but forgot. My guess was some kind of rhododendron, possibly wild. I know they grow here in the mountains but I don’t think I’ve ever seen one this pretty orange color.

This year’s Donut Festival in Marion is in the books and one we’ve decided we want to attend each year. This was a relatively small festival last year, but this year the organizers extended the festival area, and we were amazed at the number of people attending. We had a fantastic time meeting and talking to readers–both old and new–, signing books, listening to some really great music, seeing all the exhibits and eating some delicious food including scrumptious ice cream. And, of course, there was the lovely drive to and from Marion. You just can’t beat spring in the western North Carolina mountains!

It was wonderful to see our dear friend and awesome reader, Carole Markum, and to meet another of our beloved readers, Rita Jones. We also had the good fortune to meet the great-great-great (I think I got that right) granddaughter of Keith and Malinda Blalock, whose story we hope to include in the next Brown Mountain Lights book (don’t know why neither of us thought to get her name!). And finally, we really enjoyed chatting with readers who came just to see us and/or check to see if we had a new book this year. Thanks to all of you for your interest and support. You inspire us in so many ways and we are so blessed!

Next up, Pioneer Day in Old Fort, this Saturday, May 28, from 10 – 4. We’d love to see you if you’re in the area.

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We had a wonderful time last Saturday at the inaugural Mossy Creek Arts Festival in Jefferson City, TN near the beautiful campus of Carson-Newman College. It was a beautiful spring day and the drive to and from Jefferson City was gorgeous with dogwoods and redbuds blooming. Once we got off the interstate, the drive into town with the numerous blooming azaleas was nothing short of glorious.

Beyond all that beauty, we sold and signed a lot of books and met a bunch of new readers, including several politicians (election day’s coming up!).  The reception we received from the festival facilitators was heartwarming and we were made to feel more than welcome. We also received quite a few invitations to participate in future events in the area. I took notes but most of them look like chicken scratches. Let’s see if I can decipher them:

A lady stopped by who knew the head librarian at the Carson-Newman College Library. She took one of our cards with her to pass along because she said she was sure they’d be interested in having the books.

String art by the kids

The Mayor of New Market, TN introduced himself and invited us to participate in his city’s festival in September, which we look forward to.

Several people stopped by to invite us to participate in Jefferson City’s Old Timer’s Day in October which, from what we understand, is a really fun festival.

We were thrilled to meet Robert Tucker, candidate for Mayor of Jefferson City, who told us his son Kegan was required to read Whistling Woman in his history class at Jefferson County High School. He was kind enough to ask for a photo of us with him, with me holding the book.

Though it was the smallest festival we’ve ever attended, for us, it was a wonderful, fun day and we’re looking forward to adding the Mossy Creek Arts Festival to our permanent calendar of events.

Next up, the Donut Festival in Marion, NC on Saturday, April 21st. It’s a fun festival with lots to do and see and we’re really looking forward to it. We really enjoyed it last year and know we will this year as well.

 

We’re excited to announce that we’ve been invited to participate in the inaugural Mossy Creek Arts Festival which takes place in the historic Mossy Creek District this Saturday, April 14,  in Jefferson City, TN. This is the first festival of its kind and we are so grateful to have been asked to participate. It promises to be a fun time with local artists and crafts people, live music and food. According to the weather, it’s supposed to be a beautiful spring day in the mountains of East Tennessee, and we can’t think of a better way to spend the day. If you’re in the area, we hope you’ll stop by and say hello.

For more information, click on the link above.

This past Saturday, September 30th, we participated in the Art on the Island Arts Festival on Blannahassett Island in beautiful Marshall, NC. This is the only town I am aware of that has an island in the middle of its downtown area, and it is just gorgeous. The weather couldn’t have been better with sunny skies and mild marshall3temperatures. And talk about ambience! Fantastic live music (was that Santana I heard?), great food from the Sweet Monkey Cafe, artisans selling their wares, and even a blacksmith in the midst demonstrating his art. And dogs, my favorite animal, galore. I tried to get a picture of Cyndi at our booth but she ducked just before I clicked. If you look closely, you can see her trying to hide behind the mum. Gotcha, Gik!

Although this is the smallest festival we’ve attended yet, we were thrilled to break another record while meeting new and past readers. Georgeann at Penland Department Store in Marshall told us she had sold out of all books but one in the Appalachian Journey series so placed an order for more books as well as book 1 of the Brown Mountain Lights series. We were marshall5asked to do an interview on a live radio show around Halloween and are really looking forward to that. And met a couple who lived on Brown Mountain and were more than willing to share their fascinating recollections of seeing the Brown Mountain lights on “many” occasions. Both admitted to now being firm believers that there is something mysterious and unexplained about these lights.marshall1

Next up: the Mars Hill Heritage Festival in Mars Hill, North Carolina. They’ve placed us close to the bookstore, which is exactly where we wanted to be. This is a really fun festival in this marshall2small college town, with close to a hundred booths including diverse and talented artisans and vendors, live music, activities for children, and food and drink. If you’re in the area, we hope you’ll drop by and say hello. So far, it looks like the weather will be perfect and what better way to spend your day than participating in a fall festival in the mountains of North Carolina?

 

 

Friday and Saturday, September 8th and 9th, we participated in the Historic Morganton Festival in beautiful Morganton, North Carolina. We couldn’t have asked for a better day, with gorgeous cerulean skies dotted with puffy white clouds and highs in the 70s. Or for a mfbetter site, being placed on the lawn of the historic Old Courthouse, which is where William Waightstill Avery shot his nemesis Samuel Fleming, and which we write about in our book Through the Brown Mountain Lights.

This is the largest festival we’ve yet attended with close to 1000 vendors and I would estimate fifty thousand or more attendees. Somf2 many, the streets were packed throughout the festival. During the day, the crowd was entertained with live music (at one point, I wondered if Tina Turner was actually there!) with live concerts each evening. We loved it when a bluegrass band set up next to our booth and played during the afternoon.

We were pleased when several of those who bought books commented they had read about us in the paper and wanted to come meet us. And even more thrilled when Ed Phillips, Director of Tourism at the Burke County Tourism Development Authority, stopped by to chat and ask if he could add our book to an exhibit he’s putting together about the Brown Mountain lights.  Ed is mf3known for the symposiums he holds on this subject and we’re looking forward to visiting Morganton when he unveils the exhibit around Halloween. We had fun chatting with readers, always asking if they had seen the Brown Mountain lights. More than a few actually had and it was fascinating listening to their stories and descriptions about the lights, which only made them more mf7mysterious to us the more stories we heard.

Our cousins Mary Paris Merriken and Melinda Paris stopped by. We’re related to them through Lucinda Henderson, Bessie’s mother. I knew we were descendants of Clan Henderson through Lucinda, but Melinda and Mary told us we are descended from several other clans in Scotland, one of which is the Balfour clan. Didn’t Diana Gabaldon write about a Balfour in her Outlander series? Whether she did or not, it’s great knowing we can definitely claim Scottish heritage. Mary has done extensive research on Bessie’s cousin Frank Henderson, the first man to die in the electric chair in North Carolina (skeletons in closets, right?), and is planning a book which we look forward to reading.

All in all, we had a fantastic day with the added bonus of breaking our sales record. We’ve been so blessed with these festivals and library and book club presentations and signings this year, and appreciate more than we can ever express our fabulous readers, who are always so inspiring and mf5encouraging. Y’all are absolutely the best!

Up  next: Art on the Island in Marshall, NC on September 30th, and the Mars Hill Heritage Festival on October 7th.

We had the best time at the Bluff Mountain Festival in Hot Springs this past weekend! Nice weather–look at that beautiful sky!–live bluegrass music, lots of readers, some known and some new. This is a special festival for us because it’s the first one we ever attended, instilling in us a love for these events. This past Saturday was the fourth time we’ve participated and although you might think attending the same festival in a town as small as Hot Springs year after year would get old, all we can say is it doesn’t. Every time we go, we come away surprised, inspired and happy.

We started off the day selling our first books before the festival even started then moved on to have a record number of sales before lunch. This was a complete surprise for us as usually this festival is slow in the mornings and we make the majority of our sales during the afternoon. But this time, we broke our top sales record before noon.

Things slowed down a bit after lunch but the readers kept coming and by the end of the day we’d sold completely out of Whistling Woman and Through the Brown Mountain Lights! I won’t say it’s getting old in the case of Whistling Woman, since we’ve sold out of it at other festivals we’ve attended, but when we realized we’d sold out of Through the Brown Mountain Lights … well, I’ll just say there were multiple happy dances going on, in our heads, of course. And by the end of the day, despite the fact we couldn’t get our Square to connect so we could accept credit cards, we’d not only broken our all-time sales record, we shattered it. More happy dances!

But as always, the best part of the day was seeing our readers, both the ones we’d already met and the new ones, talking to them about the Appalachian Journey series and introducing them to the new series. We can’t even begin to tell you how much the favorable response inspires us to continue writing. We’ll definitely be keeping that feeling close as we finish the next book in the Brown Mountain Lights series.

This year, while there were fewer vendors at the festival, there was a much larger crowd. We saw some family members we’d met before and also met some new ones (a huge thank you to our ever supportive reader and cousin many times removed, Mary Paris Merriken) which we always enjoy. We had people who came specifically to the festival to see us and get books signed and people who came to buy print books even though they had already purchased the series on Kindle.

All in all, it was a wonderful day and though we enjoyed the new sales record and the sellouts, we have to say, the best part was the reunions with known readers and family members and meeting new ones. And once again, we have to say it, we are so blessed to have all of you in our corner!

Oops, I almost forgot, be sure to watch our CC Tillery Facebook page this week. We’ll be announcing a give-away!

We’re continuing on with festival season and this past Saturday, June 3rd, we participated in the Gold Festival in Old Fort, NC. It was a beautiful day with temps in the low 80s and a nice breeze, comfortable enough that we didn’t have to resort to the improvised “air conditioner”. Although this is a relatively small festival, the turnout was fantastic and we had a fun day chatting with artisans, meeting readers, selling and signing copies of our books, and listening to live music while watching people pan for gold in the mountain stream that runs behind the Gateway Museum.

We always love feedback from our readers and a highpoint of our day was when a reader who bought the Appalachian Journey books at the Donut Festival in Marion a couple of weeks ago stopped by to tell us this series has become her favorite, that they made her laugh and cry and touched on all emotions, and she wished she could find more books as well written as ours.  Another highpoint was when Becky Bussert, co-owner of Smith’s Old Country Store in Black Mountain (the very store we always walked to when we visited our grandmother) came by to talk about placing our books in her store and showed her fabulous retail skills when she pitched the books to passersby.

And I guess all our faithful readers know what’s coming next … I know we say it a lot but it’s so true, we have the most awesome and inspiring readers!

Since the area is so beautiful, we wanted to take pictures to share with our readers. The first one below was taken on the drive to Black Mountain/Old Fort. It’s easy to see why they’re called the Black Mountains and look at that gorgeous sky. Next shows a group of people at the stream panning for gold. The third is one of the bands, which was awesome – the singer’s voice reminded me of  Stevie Ray Vaughn. And the last is of some women line dancing to Bob Dylan’s “Rock Me Mama”.  Never have I connected Bob Dylan to line dancing but, dang, they were good.

Next up: Bluff Mountain Festival in Hot Springs, North Carolina, this Saturday, June 10th. Hope you’ll stop by if you’re in the area! Oh, and we’ll have free audiobooks to give away so look for the announcement on our CC Tillery Facebook page!

 

Seeking the Brown Mountain Lights

Through the Brown Mountain Lightss

Brown Mountain Lights Book 1

Wise Woman

Appalachian Journey Book 4

Beloved Woman

Appalachian Journey Book 3

Moonfixer

Appalachian Journey Book 2

Whistling Woman

Appalachian Journey Book 1

Madchen, die pfeifen

Whistling Woman (German)

Les deces arrivant toujours par trois

Whistling Woman (French)

Christy Tillery French Cynthia Tillery Hodges

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