Western NC

VOL12 ISS2 2017

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24 THE ORIGINAL RELOCATION GUIDE — WESTERN NC | VOLUME 12 — ISSUE 2 BREVARD Brevard BY ALYSSA LAFARO In 1949, a carnival truck overturned in Madison, Florida, releasing a slew of critters across the sunshine state. A man named Mr. Black caught two of them — a pair of ivory squirrels — and gave them to H.H. Mull, who brought them to North Carolina as a gift for his niece. A few years later, one escaped into the wild and so Mull let the other go after it. At least, that's how the legend goes. Today, the cream-colored critters crawl all over the North Carolina town of Brevard, which, on top of a 1986 law protecting them from harm, celebrates their existence with a festival held each Memorial Day Weekend. The White Squirrel Festival brings 20,000 people downtown for two-and-a-half days of art, music, footraces, a box derby and a meet-and-greet with Pigsah Pete, a rescued white squirrel (and the town's unofficial mascot). But Brevard offers much more than the chance to see these furry anomalies. Just a couple hundred locals shy of reaching an 8,000-person population, this small mountain town packs a hefty cultural punch. Each summer, more than 400 students of all ages flock to the Brevard Music Center to study with distinguished musicians under the direction of Boston Pops and BBC Orchestra Music Director Keith Lockhart. During their stay, the center hosts more than 80 concerts, which draw tens of thousands of music lovers to Brevard. Yo-Yo Ma, Joshua Bell and Frederica Von Stade are just a few of the world-class artists who have performed there. musical, festive, and waterfalls Brevard College — Transylvania County's sixth- largest employer — also hosts a state-of-the-art musical performance space with The Paul Porter Center for Performing Arts. It houses the $1.2 million Kirckpatrick- Coleman pipe organ, a 700-person concert hall and a black box theatre. Beyond music and performing arts, the private college offers 16 other majors, luring in prospective attendees with its 14:1 student-teacher ratio. Brevard isn't just easy on the ears. A sculpture trail teeming with native wildlife from bobcats to butterflies guides guests across town. The fourth Friday of each month, the slew of local art galleries hosts artists from varying creative disciplines. After hitting all the galleries in town, a drive up the mountain and through the Scenic 276 South Arts Corridor/Potters Row showcases even more studios and galleries, open year-round. Brevard's abounding arts community comes as no surprise — the local landscape offers endless inspiration. The surrounding Pisgah National Forest spills over with more than 250 waterfalls, earning the nickname "Land of Waterfalls." Beyond admiration, the natural area lends itself to some of the best mountain-biking trails in the country. And that's not an exaggeration — National Geographic designated Brevard as one of "America's Best 20 Mountain Biking Towns" in 2017 for its thousands of miles of trails, the famed Pisgah Stage Race and the Bike Farm, an all-in-one guide service, eco resort and base camp. While the people of Brevard play hard, they work hard, too. The largest employers for the county include Transylvania County Schools, Transylvania Regional Hospital, Transylvania County, Ingles Markets and the City of Brevard. While education and health care lead the charge, other notable industries are manufacturing and food services. More than 22 percent of the population holds a bachelor's degree and the median household income sits just below $43,000. Brevard's beauty and easy living earn it regular guest spots on "best of" lists. In the last two years alone, Forbes placed it on its list of the "25 Best Places to Retire," TripAvdvisor.com called it one of "the most charming Southern vacations you need to experience" and Country Living told readers it was one of the "30 Small Towns You Should Visit this Summer." The obvious pride and passion of the residents is what truly draws outsiders to Brevard. "The quality of life in this community is unparalleled," reports BrevardNC. com. "People are nice here because they genuinely love where they live. Few places in the United States offer our unique combination of natural beauty, stimulating cultural experiences, and commitment to community." []

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