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It is that time again! The air is getting a little crisper, the sun goes down a little sooner, pumpkins are popping up, and leaves are falling from the trees. Get out your camping gear, dust off your tutu, pump up the air in your unicycle tire, crank out the face paint and glitter and get your dancing shoes laced up and get to LEAF Fall  2013!


Lake Eden Arts Festival is a culmination of all things fun. The people who produce this glorious festival twice a year, i’ve come to learn, simply know how to have fun. Plain and simple, inside out, up and down. FUN. On top of fun being the main theme here, the underlying awesomeness that is LEAF is the constant contact with children not just in the U.S, but across the world, with its LEAF in School in Streets programs. LSS and Leaf International is a highly recognized program where professional musicians actually go into the field to help these children put their attention in arts, which is essential for the development of growth. This international recognition has attracted musical artists from all over to grace the stage at their festival which is held twice a year on the beautiful Lake Eden in Black Mountain,NC.


This is an outreach program that puts on a festival. Nonprofit organizations throughout Asheville and the surrounding area nourish the people within our communities, caring for those in need, protecting our historic heritage, educating young and old, and nurturing our cultural soul. LEAF does it best. Western North Carolinian’s love music and festivals and they are attracted to LEAF because it makes you feel good about wanting to feel good. Jocelyn Reese, the director of LSS, says program’s primary goal is to reach underserved populations of students and increase self-esteem in children. A lot of arts enrichment programs are underfunded, she says, if they’re funded at all. She’s encouraged to see that people are realizing students need more than what they’re currently getting.


Jocelyn says none of this would be possible without the LEAF outreach programs of both LSS and LEAF International. By outsiders becoming members of this program, people are directly supporting these important programs. When people, such as you and I, become members, we help pay for artists, supplies, instruments, materials, transportation, and community collaborations.


On the same vein of going to a festival put on by an outreach program, you should expect some amazing young talent to take stage with the major artists invited by Billy Jack Sinkovic (Performing arts director). The real magic happens when these artists lead workshops with outreach organizations and are teaching their skills to younger generations. Here a just a few more reasons why Lake Eden Arts Festival is so much fun-


1. A wholesome family- going experience. This is one where you could bring your entire family. This includes the kids, mom, dad, grandpappy Willis and memaw Myrtle. All of which will have a raging good time in their own way, and leave kicking and screaming because they never want to depart. Festivals are a type of vacation and time away from our regular lives and we all experience this differently. I’ve come to find that at LEAF, whatever way you wish to celebrate this is welcome. As long as you’re enjoying yourself, you’re doing it right.


2. Food! Ohhh the food, ya’ll! You will leave asking yourself if you can possibly fit one more bite of this festival inside your tummy! LEAF has all the festival-going foodie experiences one would regularly have, except ALL LOCAL fare and businesses. Once you leave LEAF, if you still have a hankering for something you tried, you have less than ten miles to that businesses homeland cookery.  Loaded baked potato chips with BBQ, cotton candy, coffee, chocolate delights, pancakes at 8 in the morning with the youngin’s, corn on the cob, a healthy veggie medley, or a juicy, succulent burrito at 3am, you can get whatever your heart desires.


3. Beer! Beer! Beer! There are so many local breweries cranking out kegs and kegs of delicious seasonal beer. The whole Asheville gang is there. You can get some of what Pisgah has been doing right down the road from Lake Eden, or you can try Highland’s seasonal series. Whatever your tempting tastes are, LEAF will soothe your thirst.


4. Camping. Which includes, for me, the attempt at a sound sleep. I realize festivals are not the time to catch up on ZZZ’s but a little common courtesy goes a long way and this festival has a lot of that! Your neighbors want to sleep well and get up early to enjoy yoga, breakfast or a hike before a show just as you do! It’s all relative here. Tents and bugs not your thing? That’s okay! The campground offers cabin accommodations for parties of 4 or more. They welcome RV’s and campers as well as offer showers and toilets to-day campers. They want you to be comfortable!


5. Workshops and ways to get involved. There is something for everyone at LEAF whether you’re a social butterfly or a timid turtle. You can sign up for the poetry slam or you can be a part of the endless possibilities in the barn where you can find yourself a partner and contra-dance the night away. The wellness tent invites people of all ages and stages to come try yoga at any time of day. Speaking of peace and quiet, if you need some, row a canoe out onto Lake Eden and take in the splendor of the festival in a different light. You can also hike on one of the many trails or take a frosty plunge on the zipline! If you need to get out some energy, you can take an African dance or salsa lesson. You will become mesmerized like a kid in a candy store and the endless possibilities at your disposal. You can also spend some time in the LSS tent and buy some raffle tickets and win some seriously cool local stuff from art vendors, restaurants, instruments, etc. and 100% of it goes back to the students. Your gift will provide music, dance and festive arts to underserved youth. You are helping LEAF expand its use of music and art as tools in enriching cultural experiences, self-expression, and tolerance in our youth, schools, and communities.  It is simply impossible to not be lifted by the positive energy that comes from this place. Come find yourself at LEAF!


I haven’t even begun to skim the surface of the best part of any festival:


6. The music! – Every year is a surprise and such a  treat  to see who will be flying internationally into our little valley here in Black Mountain, NC. Headlining the 37th festival is the unique blend of voodoo mysticism, funk, rhythm & blues, psychedelic rock and Creole roots that is Dr. John & The Night Trippers Belgian polyphonic Afrobeat queen Zap Mama; the voice of a country and the son of a legend, Mali’s Vieux Farka Toure and WNC’s own folk rockers, Acoustic Syndicate, performing an official record release show for their first album in almost a decade. Also including, Delhi to Dublin, Vieux Farka Toure, The Soul Rebels, Lake Street Dive, Rising Appalachia, etc. With over 50 music artists intermingling with dance and art, there’s so much to get excited about.! All I can say is, get to LEAF Fall 2013!


LEAF is such a magical world to step into, relax, dance, and be happy. If you don’t come for the music, you come for the clandestine location. With LEAF hosting a small 6,000 people per festival, it’s impossible to not create a serene adventure for you and the entire family. I hope to see you on Lake Eden October 17-20th! Until then, check out LEAF’s website that has all the answers to your questions and more! www.theleaf.org


Asheville Jams and LEAF supporters are getting a special discount with the completion of this article to show our gratitude.


•           The secret discount code is LEAF37love

•           It can be used at theLEAF.org or call 828 | 68-MUSIC (686-8742)

•           The discount offer|code will expire October 15th at midnight

•           LEAF’s Weekend Guide is hot on the press at: http://issuu.com/mountainx/docs/leaf_ocober_2013_web

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