Bonnie Blue Ridge: A Preview ARS Annual Convention, May 4-8, 1994
"Bonnie," to the Scottish settlers of North Carolina, meant pleasing or healthful. The Appalachian (we pronounce it with all short a's) Mountains that surround Asheville are indeed bonnie with some of the highest summits east of the Rockies. The greater Asheville area is ideal for a visit or a lifetime: just ask our many retirees. They will tell you they came to enjoy the combination of mild climate and relaxed lifestyle. Our convention has been planned with the same combination in mind, plenty of opportunity to socialize with old friends along with active and leisurely events.
The Radisson Hotel, at Thomas Wolfe Plaza, will be the convention center. Refurbished this winter, it's located in the heart of Asheville. A few short blocks lead to shops, restaurants and Pack Place, a new museum complex. If you choose to stay in for dinner, the hotel rooftop dining room offers a bonnie view of the mountain sunset.
Three climatic variations may be sampled on tours. From the spruce-fir mountain tops, through the hardwood plateaus to the gently rolling Piedmont more than 650 species of wild flowers have been counted. Called "laurel," "ivy," "honeysuckle," "headache plant" and other local names there are at least nine native Rhododendron species, six of them deciduous azaleas. Rhododendron vaseyi is found solely at higher elevations and several miles of the Blue Ridge Parkway are crowded with the pinkshell azalea. Our tour to the new U.N.C. Arboretum will thread along the parkway in search of early bloom. An alternative will be to the ever-popular Biltmore House and gardens. Tours to selected area gardens will cover a diverse area and feature wild flowers as well as rhododendrons.
Among country crafts, quilting is a favorite. Among quilters, Georgia Bonesteel is world renowned. She has custom designed a wall hanging for the convention based on our logo of the Bonnie Blue Ridge mountains wreathed by native rhododendrons. A modern heirloom, it will be a splendid collector's item and the souvenir of a lucky conventioneer.
Another well loved local pastime is barbecue accompanied by Appalachian music and dance. Why not choose to join us on Friday evening at Haywood Community College for a finger lick'n, toetappin' time with the Southern Appalachian Cloggers and Pigeon Valley Ramblers?
Are you not a rhodophile? We've got nice things planned for you, too! Daytime tours, river rafting (just adventurous enough to be fun!), a potpourri of shopping and the National Flower Show at a large mall. The plant and book sale, although featuring selected forms of native species and hybrids by members, will also offer local wild flowers and trees, local crafts and unusual books.
Although many of us, like the early Scots, are not native here, we have learned about Southern hospitality from our Southern-born members. We'll endeavor to make your convention and stay a bonnie one! Y'all come, now, y' hear!
The Southeastern Chapter