My old stompin' grounds! Actually Maggie Valley is, but I love Asheville/Hendersonville, too. There's always been a sort of 'artsy' aspect to the area; Brevard Music College, the Biltmore Estate; lots of local mountain crafts. And in the 60's the hippies discovered the area; there are a lot of old communes. The Mother Earth News' mag is located in Hendersonville, along with their huge hands-on farming/housing/solar power exhibits.
An absolutely wonderful part of the country! And a little further west, there's Maggie Valley, a great little almost untouched town just east of teh Cherokee Reservation,home to the Eastern Band of the Cherokees - a la the 'Trail of Tears', when they were all forced out and made the trek to Oklahome thanks to the Feds, where they lost most of their tribes. The Cherokees who hid in the forest and weren't rounded up regrouped to form the present day Cherokee Reservation. An amazing people - the cherokees have the first (and ? only) written language among Native Americans; their tribal rule was/is a democracy, and it was the women who decided if they would go to war!!! Every summer there's a play on the reservation called 'Unto These Hills', which is staged at an outdoor amphitheatre carved into the side of a mountain, and it's a breathtaking summary of the events leading up to the Trail of Tears. All of the parts are played by locals, both Native Americans and white folk. It's something to see!
Over the mountain from Cherokee is Gatlinburg, Tn, which can be quite tourist-trashy , but also is home to the Smokey Mountain Craft College (not the exact name, but close), which was begun around the turn of the century in an attempt to capture the beautiful mountain crafts, and also to provide work for the people in the hills of the Smokies.
Can ya tell I love it?! If any of you get a chance, spend some great time there - it's a wonderful family vacation, and a peaceful, serene place to go to get away from it all!