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Greening Up the Mountains: Fun Activities, Picturesque Surroundings and a Great Community

In the shadows of the majestic Great Smoky Mountains and nestled in the lush expanse of the Nantahala National Forest, Sylva, North Carolina, is a beautiful destination for your next big getaway. The town was incorporated back in 1889 and it began to attract new residents because of the rich local soil, which was perfect for farming and agriculture. The turn of the century brought continued growth to the area. A post office, school, train depot and town center were established and Sylva became the county seat for Jackson County in 1913, and soon after a beautiful courthouse was constructed. Not long after this, the city became a center for commerce in the region.


The population of Sylva is just over 2,000 residents and it has become a haven for tourists thanks to heartfelt southern charm, great activities and stunning natural surroundings. If you're ready for an outdoor adventure, Sylva is the place for you. You’ll find ample opportunities for fishing in local streams, rivers and lakes.  Plus, there are numerous guides in town waiting to show you the hottest spots. The Nantahala National Forest is full of things to do including camping, hiking, biking, photography, nature viewing and much more.  For the avid bargain hunter, Sylva has many unique shops filled with great items you won't find elsewhere. Live music and entertainment at various establishments around town is a highlight for many travelers, and local wineries and breweries offer tastings and tours. The city is also home to some great local events and festivals like the highly anticipated Greening Up the Mountains, which is held each April.


Greening Up the Mountains has been drawing thousands of people into the beautiful mountain city of Sylva for nearly 20 years. The event is free to enter and is ideal for everyone from families to groups of friends. The focus of the event is celebrating the revitalization and growth that comes with spring. Plus, it's a great way to reconnect with friends and meet new people. You’ll find games for all ages, a market filled with vendors and artists, live entertainment, plenty of food options, great conversation, and the opportunity to learn about the region. For an unforgettable vacation experience, head to Sylva for Greening up the Mountains and you’ll figure out why this great community is held in such high regard. got the opportuntiy to speak to Amy Ammons, Event Planner for Greening Up the Mountains, to speak about this unique event.


RAL: Tell me a bit about the event.

AA: This will be the 19th year of the event. Attendance numbers have been estimated at nearly 10,000 people in downtown during one typical day of the event. It’s free and non-ticketed. Good weather always helps. Our crowd consists of various ages including children, families, couples, and senior citizens. You name the age group, and you’ll find it here. There is something for everyone at this event!


RAL: What makes the event unique?

AA: The event is free for one. There will be an abundance of different vendors selling merchandise, arts and crafts, locally made goods and more. We have a wide array of food vendors and great music encompassing all genres. Plus, downtown Sylva always lends itself to people just window shopping while strolling down the sidewalks of a beautiful small mountain town.


RAL: Take me though what attendees will find for activities, food and overall environment.

AA: We have great live music, shopping at various craft and retail vendors, opportunities to learn about Western North Carolina, various children’s activities, a 5K race and more! Most of our restaurants will be open and there are many food vendors coming with a wide variety of dining options.


Expect to walk quite a bit as this is an open downtown festival on the Main streets of Sylva. The weather is typically warm, but you really never know what you’ll get until the morning of the event.  It might not be a bad idea to bring a raincoat or umbrella just in case!


RAL: What can attendees expect to find for local lodging?

AA: We have a nice selection of lodging choices including some big chain names like Best Western, Holiday Inn, Comfort Inn, Microtel, and Days Inn. All of these options are either new or newly remodeled within the last year. You’ll also find the recently remodeled Blue Ridge Inn downtown, and for those wanting a more quaint or rustic mountain inn or bed and breakfast experience, we have those as well.


We think there is a definite increase in tourism across the board during this time of the year. The mountains are greening up causing everyone to have spring fever.  Of course they want to come to the mountains! Even if they don’t come for this event, the natural environment around us is worth the trip any day of the year. We don’t think we reach max occupancy, but it’s always good to plan ahead.


RAL: What does the event mean to the community?

AA: It’s by far our largest festival of the year and it means a lot to our merchants, but also our community, our town, and our lodging and dining industries. Plus, it’s a great measuring stick for spring and warmer weather finally being here to stay.


Every year our attendees put a lot of money into the local economy, and we certainly hope that continues. It’s a major goal of ours for the attendees to not only support our local businesses, but to learn more about them as well.


RAL: Why should people come?

AA: This is a fun, free event that will entertain you and all ages within your particular group. If you want ice cream or a beer, a hot dog, a funnel cake, a fancy dinner or a cup of coffee, we have it. We really hope everyone goes home talking not only about Sylva and Jackson County, but also about the many non-profits, businesses, musicians and artists that they encountered. We want people to leave knowing what a special place this is and we hope they come back and bring more friends and family!

For more information about Greening Up the Mountains, please visit their website.