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Hendersonville vying for 'friendliest city'
By John Harbin
Times-News Staff Writer
Published: Saturday, August 23, 2008 at 4:30 a.m.

Barbara Hughes, right, owner of Narnia Studios, takes a picture of Times-News Publisher Ruth Birge in the newsroom. Hughes has started a project to get Hendersonville known as the friendliest city in America.

Ever thought Hendersonville just might be the friendliest city in America? Well Narnia Studio’s owner Barbara Hughes sure does and is working on making it official.

Hughes said it was a tag line in an e-mail she received from Hendersonville City Councilman Jeff Collis that ignited her work on dubbing Hendersonville the friendliest city in America.

“The tag line said something to the effect of when life hands you lemons make lemonade, but not in those words,” she said of Collis’ e-mail tag line. “Anytime I have a complaint I look for a solution. If I run into brick walls along the way, I just do it myself.”

Hughes said she took her marketing ability and decided to apply it to Hendersonville.

“When the whole town is doing well, everyone is smiling,” she said.

So Hughes took it upon herself to start the Web site www.friendliestcityinamerica.com and go around town and take pictures of all the smiling faces.

“Hopefully this will drive tourism to Hendersonville,” she said. “I went down to Travel and Tourism and took pictures. People have been asking me if they could link my Web site to theirs.”

Hughes said it is her hope that the Henderson County Chamber of Commerce will link to her Web site and her movement will go national.

“We have a great town,” she said.

The Hendersonville City Council will hear from Hughes during their Sept. 4 meeting and have tentatively planned to issue a proclamation to follow in Hughes movement and dub Hendersonville the friendliest city in America.

“Mayor Greg Newman was the first person I told,” Hughes said. “He said ‘wow’ when I told him. He agreed with what I was doing and said he liked the idea.”

Hendersonville resident Jim Marshal said he thought Hughes’ idea was great.

“It doesn’t surprise me,” Marshal said. “Hendersonville is a great city. I think this is a good thing for the city.”

Newman said that Hughes does a good job promoting her business and the city.

“I told her I would get behind her anyway I could,” he said. “I think this is a positive way to promote the city and a great idea. I appreciate her thoughts on this.”

Newman said that he’s behind it because he knows how friendly Hendersonville is.

“It is the people who make Hendersonville a favorable place to be,” he said. “Barbara’s efforts go a long way and I applaud her efforts.”

Councilman Jeff Collis said he thought Hughes’ idea was a good one.

“I haven’t seen her proposal in depth,” he said. “Looking at her Web site, it looks neat to me. It would be nice if we could be dubbed the friendliest city in America.”

Hughes isn’t stopping with the Hendersonville City Council.

“I have contacted both U.S. senators, Richard Burr and Elizabeth Dole,” she said. “I also plan to contact Congressman Heath Schuler.”

One of her goals in getting Hendersonville the new slogan is her hope to help the local economy.

“This is a creative solution to the economy,” she said. “When I contacted Sen. Burr, that is how I approached him when I made the proposal. This is a way to bring people to Hendersonville and a positive way to enhance the city.”


Web site touts friendly spirit of Hendersonville

Published: Friday, September 5, 2008 at 4:30 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, September 5, 2008 at 1:00 a.m.

Hendersonville was proclaimed “the friendliest city in America” on Thursday night during a city council meeting.

Narnia Studio’s owner Barbara Hughes took it upon herself to start the Web site www.friendliestcityinamerica.com, and went around town taking pictures of all the smiling faces.

“Hopefully, this will drive tourism to Hendersonville,” she said. “I went down to Travel and Tourism and took pictures. People have been asking me if they could link my Web site to theirs.”

Hughes said it is her hope that the Henderson County Chamber of Commerce will link to her Web site and her movement will go national.

“As you are aware, I am enamoured by Hendersonville and am one of the city’s biggest fans,” Hughes said. “What’s not to love about Hendersonville?”

Hughes isn’t stopping with the Hendersonville City Council.

“I have contacted both U.S. senators, Richard Burr and Elizabeth Dole,” she said. “I also plan to contact Congressman Heath Shuler.”

Hughes hopes the new slogan will help the local economy.

“This is a creative solution to the economy,” she said. “When I contacted Sen. Burr, that is how I approached him when I made the proposal. This is a way to bring people to Hendersonville and a positive way to enhance the city.”

Mayor Greg Newman proclaimed that Hendersonville is ‘the friendliest city in America’ during the meeting Thursday night. In addition to Newman’s proclamation, Dole has expressed her feelings about Hendersonville.

“I was thrilled to open my western office in Hendersonville shortly after my election to the U.S. Senate, and have enjoyed visiting as much as possible,” Dole said on Hughes’ web site. “Hendersonville continues to be a shining example of the kind of warm and caring communities that we North Carolinians are so proud of. I commend Barbara Hughes on her pride as a Hendersonville citizen as well as her efforts to publicly recognize the welcoming spirit of this great city.”

A Bold Life: Barbara Hughes


"I love Hendersonville. I think it's the most awesome place on earth," says Barbara Hughes, owner of Narnia Studios in the city's downtown, and an unabashed promoter of the locale and its many attractions.

Hughes is the one-woman show behind an effort to proclaim Hendersonville "friendliest city in America." Says Hughes, "I was looking for a market angle. 'How could I get it started, how could I get it country wide?' You really try to bring in tourism so that people will spend their dollars here. I thought, 'Who doesn't want to come somewhere friendly?'"

So, entirely on her own, Hughes developed the website friendliestcityinamerica.com. Her efforts to make the slogan official are paying off. The City of Hendersonville recently passed a proclamation declaring the city friendliest in America. Senators Burr and Dole, along with Representative Shuler, have sent in letters of support.

Not bad for a web newbie and a site that's been up for a mere three months. The tireless Hughes hasn't stopped there. "I have a new campaign where I attach a card with the name of the website to a beautiful leaf like a sugar maple or oak and I mail it to personalities like Diane Sawyer and Katie Couric. If it will tweak their interest, maybe they'll say something about it on TV," she says.

Marshall Gordon

Neighborhood Watch: Friendly and Fabulous

By Joanne O'Sullivan

Photos By Rimas Zailskas

These days, it’s not enough for a destination to be charming, historic, or a great place to shop: it’s got to have a brand. While Hendersonville has long been known as "The City of Four Seasons," and its fall festival is legendary, local shop owner Barbara Hughes thought there might be a way to put a little more polish on her adopted hometown’s apple. What slogan would highlight the city’s best asset—its people—while emphasizing its small-town appeal? This August, Hughes rolled out a new moniker that she’s hoping the town will get behind. Ladies and gentleman, welcome to "The Friendliest City in America."  

It’s a bold claim, to be sure, but spend a day in downtown Hendersonville, and you find they just might have the smiles, handshakes and "How y’all doin?’s" to back it up.

Walking down Main Street, you get the feeling that Hughes might just be on to something: it’s certainly pedestrian-friendly, with wide sidewalks, outdoor dining, flower-filled planters and plenty of park benches that invite you to set a spell. On any given afternoon, there may be a crowd, but there’s no bustle—more of a sense that wherever you’re going will still be there when you arrive, so you might as well enjoy yourself along the way.

For many of the locals, the day-to-day social scene centers around the Black Bear Espresso Bar & Café (318 N. Main, 692-6333), a 15-year-old neighborhood hangout, where residents gather to sip their lattes at the sidewalk tables, peruse the paper while relaxing on one of the overstuffed sofas inside the shop and engage in conversation.

McFarlan Bake Shop (309 N. Main, 693-4256) is another fixture, serving up cookies and pastries since 1930, using the same tried-and-true recipes all along. On the other side of the street, skate shop 4 Down and fine lingerie boutique Pink Corsets (318 N. Main St., 696-2227) have recently brought some new flavor to the block.

That’s Hendersonville—old and new, small town and sophisticated, all cozied up together in a friendly embrace. The restaurant scene reflects that same mix of the fresh and the traditional. You can still get a burger, fries and a shake while sitting at the authentic soda fountain at Mike’s On Main (303 N. Main St., 698-1616). But if you’re looking for, say, black sea bass ceviche with arugula tostadas in Persian lime vinaigrette, just walk down the street to Never Blue (119 S. Main St., 693-4646), a bistro and tapas restaurant that opened earlier this year.

"It’s a fantastic time to be a foodie in Hendersonville," says local blogger The Hendersonville Epicurean (who prefers to remain anonymous to keep the reviews impartial). New restaurants in town have brought a wider variety of cuisine, such as wood-fired artisan pizzas, Thai, Jamaican and Japanese food, expanded menus and a greater emphasis on local, organic ingredients. The one commonality among all these diverse dining experiences is—you guessed it—a warm, welcoming atmosphere and friendly service.

For a taste of true Hendersonville, just head to the Curb Market on North Church Street, a beloved tradition that’s been offering "old-fashioned hospitality since 1924." Locally-grown vegetables, home-baked goods and handmade crafts draw tourists and locals alike. "Most of us have had stalls here for generations," says Nancy Ball, who has sold products from her flower farm here at the market for decades. "We’re like a family here."

Hughes, whose Narnia Studios (315 N. Main St., 697-6393) features flowers and fantastical gifts, says that out-of-towners really take notice of that close-knit atmosphere in Hendersonville. "It’s something they’re not used to where they come from, so it really stands out. "

So much so that many Hendersonville visitors end up becoming residents. A slower pace of life and the small-town atmosphere continues to draw them to the area. And while Main Street isn’t exactly suffering from stroller gridlock yet, Hendersonville County Travel and Tourism spokesperson Karen Baker says more young families are moving here.

The seasons may change four times a year, but one thing’s constant: There’s always a warm welcome for tourists and transplants alike in "The Friendliest City in America."

Real Estate

A three-bedroom, two-bath house near Downtown Hendersonville starts from around the mid-$200s, but more homes are available from the $400s. Further out in Henderson County, the recent sales have averaged from $200,000 to $250,000.


There’s nothing small-town about the restaurant scene in Downtown Hendersonville. It’s a grazer’s paradise, with a surprising variety of epicurean delights. The smell from the wood-fired oven tempts passersby in to Flight Wood Grill and Wine Bar (401 N. Main St, 694-1030), but the array of grilled specialties and the extensive wine list keeps them there. The award-winning cuisine at the refined Inn on Church Street (201 Third Avenue West at Church, 693-3258) focuses on organic and locally grown ingredients. Hip and easygoing, The Grove Street Café (224 S. Grove St., 693-1222) also favors sustainable, regional sources.

For lighter fare, Square 1 Bistro (111 S. Main St., 698-5598) features local organic entrees and "small plates" in an upscale atmosphere. Bistro 502 (502 N. Main St, 697-5350) features inventive café cuisine. Terra Nova Café (133 4th Avenue East, 698-8584) has great sandwiches and baked goods with an Italian accent. Three Chopt Sandwich Shoppe (103 3rd Ave. E, 692-0228) has been serving up soup and sandwiches for the lunchtime crowd since 1980—everybody seems to know everybody else here.

More exotic choices abound. If you have a yen for eastern flavors, try Umi (633 N. Main St, 698-8048) for beautifully presented Japanese fare, Thai Spice (220 S. King St., 693-7323) for curries and lemongrass soup or Champa (437 N. Main St., 696-9800) where you can enjoy either cuisine. Sinbad Restaurant (202 S. Washington St., 696-2039) features Mediterranean specialties. If Cajun and Creole is more your style, Cypress Cellar (321-C N. Main St., 698-1005) serves it up hot and tasty with a side dish of live music on weekends.

Hannah Flanagan’s (300-A N. Main St., 696-1665) is a favorite watering hole, offering more than 100 imported and domestic beers plus traditional pub grub in a chummy atmosphere. The creative wood-fired pizzas, handmade pastas and sleek, urbane ambiance at West First (101-B W. First Ave., 693-1080) have folks lining up. Or stop by newbie Mezzaluna Pizza Company (226 N. Main St., 697-6575) for pizza, pasta, subs or salad.

When it comes to getting caffeinated, amble over to The Black Bear (318 N. Main St., 692-6333) for gourmet java, freshly baked breads, pastry, sandwiches and a laid-back attitude. For a genteel experience, enjoy a traditional Victorian three-tier tray at the tearoom at Savannah’s on Main (117 S. Main St., 696-9052). White gloves are optional.


Once you’ve fortified yourself at one of the nearby eateries, enjoy some retail therapy in the many charming specialty stores that dot downtown. The crafty shopper will enjoy My Garden of Beadin’ (433 N. Church St., 698-0715) which offers a plethora of fascinating beads along with finished jewelry and classes so that you can fashion your own. Portobello (530 N. Main St., 698-7290) offers sophisticated monogramming services, in addition to unique home decor.

If you’re in the mood for a new outfit, The Sanctuary (150 1st Ave. East, 698-2646) features Eileen Fisher’s fabulously comfortable, chic and understated essentials and offers private wardrobe consultations. Savannah’s has a selection of special occasion and cruise wear. Even those on a budget can indulge in some new acquisitions at The Beehive Resale Shop (449 N. Main St., 692-8882) specializing in nearly new, upscale clothing.

While you’re at it, spruce up your abode. Homestead Fine Linens (110 N. Main St, 697-8787) is stocked with the finer things for the home, be it your first or second. Purple Sage (416 N. Main St., 693-9555) has gadgets and tools for the experienced chef and classes for the novice and Rabbit & Co. (124 4th Ave. East, 692-6100) is a veritable toy store for the well-equipped cook. Delton & David Interiors (225 N. Main St., 450-0609) is filled with antiquities, jewelry, furniture, art, lighting and accessories.

Check the local forecast with Hendersonville’s own weatherman Paul Speranza at Speranza’s Weather House (100 6th Ave., 698-1952) and marvel at his array of thermometers, barometers and weather vanes.


Hendersonville is renowned for its antiquing, and downtown offers several excellent options within easy walking distance. The Village Green Antique Mall (424 N. Main St, 692-9057) is a collector’s paradise, packed with American antiques, mostly from the 20th century. Jane Asher’s Antiques and Fine Traditions (344 N. Main St., 698-0018) is brimming with fine appointments: linens, china, glassware, silver and fascinating ephemera. The Stock Market (340 N. Main St, 697-2005) offers fine American and Asian antiques and unique pieces of architectural salvage. Seldom Ever Antiques (144 Third Ave W, 696-3660), which bills itself as "two floors of nothing in particular," is fun to browse for this and that.


Western North Carolina is a wellspring of creativity, and Hendersonville’s galleries reflect that bounty. Red Step Art Works (142 3rd Ave. West, 697-1447) represents more than 30 regional artists in many disciplines. Wickwire (329 N. Main St, 692-6222) sums up itself up in one phrase: "the place where the heart finds art." Its blend of contemporary and traditional art and crafts includes artisan furniture, sculpture, painting, jewelry, and other handcrafts.

Stylish and sophisticated Silver Fox Gallery (508 N. Main St., 698-0601) offers contemporary art and crafts and revolving exhibitions. Visit their furniture gallery on the lower level. William Gordon Gallery (321-A N. Main St., 693-3456) exhibits fine art paintings, prints, sculpture, photography and ceramics. McCarter Gallery (451 N. Main St., 698-7117) celebrates the natural beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains with evocative original works and giclée prints.

To give your own works (created or purchased) the gallery touch, have them professionally mounted at Framing Arts (119 3rd Ave. West, 696-3818) or choose from the etchings, serigraphs and photography on exhibit.


Check out the best view in Henderson County from the newly restored Historic Henderson County Courthouse (One Historic Courthouse Square, 694-1619). The courthouse is home to the Henderson County Heritage Museum (693-4226) (free admission). Tours of the gold-domed cupola take off every Wednesday at 2pm.

The Mineral and Lapidary Museum of Henderson County (400 N. Main St., 698-1977) displays a variety of minerals and gemstones from North Carolina and around the world, and features several interactive displays.

Hands On! A Child’s Gallery (318 N. Main St., 697-8333) is not so much a gallery as a fun, interactive play space that introduces kids to art through a "hands on" approach.  

Visit historichendersonville.org to learn more about Hendersonville. Learn more about Barbara Hughes’ mission to make Hendersonville known as "The Friendliest City in America." Visit friendliestcityinamerica.com.

Merchants report campaign success

Pam Burrus of Atlanta gets cheese, crackers and tea for herself and Chris Burrus at Narnia Studios in Hendersonville last month during the Tannenbaum Tea event. Ten merchants in the 300 block of North Main Street participated in the event that featured tea, snacks and specials.
Published: Sunday, January 4, 2009 at 4:30 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, January 3, 2009 at 10:20 p.m.

Every year, local residents spend $157 million outside of Henderson County or online, leaving officials scratching their heads.

Not this year, they hope. Several business owners reported the Shop and Dine Henderson County campaign was a success, drawing more local traffic into stores for the holiday season and softening the blow of a staggering national economy.

“The feedback we’re getting is that the traffic is pretty good,” Henderson County Chamber of Commerce President Bob Williford said. “I think people realize how important it is to support local businesses, who in turn support local charities and nonprofits and provide jobs to our friends and neighbors.”

No sales figures are in yet, he added, but he hears people talking about shopping locally before hitting the Internet or looking elsewhere. It’s not just business owners who benefit from shopping locally. The county and its municipalities would receive about $3 million in sales tax revenue from that $157 million, the Chamber says.

“We see that as an opportunity,” Williford said. “That translates into thousands of jobs.”

The campaign

To increase local spending the past two years, the Chamber and county municipalities and organizations have held an annual Shop Henderson County campaign. For 2008, they decided to include restaurants and change the name to Shop and Dine Henderson County.

“The restaurants are also getting hit hard this year with the economic challenges,” Williford said, “so we thought it was important this year to include our restaurants in our campaign.”

The campaign is the product of a coalition of businesses and nonprofits who work together to encourage residents to spend money locally.

Henderson County has grown tremendously in the last 10-15 years, Williford said, and the offerings have grown as well. You can find anything you want here, and can even call the Chamber if you can’t find something you need.

All of the municipalities and organizations chipped in money, and together raised $10,000 to spread the message that shopping locally keeps sales tax in the community and provides jobs. Media outlets also worked with them to get them twice as much advertising for the money.

The campaign continues, as Williford said January, February and March are typically slower months. The worsening economy in 2008, and the expectation of an even worse 2009, make it especially important to support local businesses, he said. A Valentine’s Day promotion is ready to launch.

In addition to the Chamber and the municipalities, campaign contributors included Downtown Hendersonville Inc., Hendersonville Merchants and Business Association, Flat Rock Merchants Association, Blue Ridge Mall, Fletcher Area Business Association, Highland Square Shopping Center and Laurel Park Village.


Eva Ritchey, owner of Once Upon A Sign on Main Street, said she was glad to participate in the campaign “because I recognize that if we’re going to have small local businesses, we’re going to have to shop locally.”

She placed a poster in her window and talked to people about the campaign and its message, telling people, “hey, this is not the year for online shopping.”

There’s a misconception that there aren’t affordable gifts in town, she said, but nothing could be further from the truth.

The average cost of an item in her shop is $20, and Ritchey said many other affordable, unique gifts can be found.

As for Once Upon A Sign, Ritchey said they did well enough to support the store through the winter. She hopes the campaign has helped other businesses as well.

“There have been some pretty lean times down here, and there have been some shops thinking about moving on, and that’s not what we want,” she said.

When she talked about the campaign with her customers, some said they had decided to shop locally this year. Ritchey herself saw an increase in traffic and local shoppers.

“I think Henderson County really stepped up,” she said.

And the shoppers haven’t left, said Barbara Hughes, owner of Narnia Studios on Main Street. The days after New Year’s have been just as busy, as people don’t have to be back at work right away and family members are still visiting.

Overall, 2008 “was the best year in five years for the store,” Hughes said. “I think some of that comes with longevity. You get those repeat customers. I just feel blessed.”

Narnia Studios has been in Hendersonville for 14 years. The bestsellers locally were fresh flowers and arrangements, while fairies and similar items sold well online.

Hughes said she had more local than online customers. She always encourages business owners to have a Web site, even if they don’t use it to sell merchandise. Just having a Web presence can help, she said.

She also participated by shopping at her neighbors and encouraging others to do the same, and buying American.

One of the biggest differences she noticed in 2008 was that people were shopping every day of the week. Last Christmas, they came toward the end of the week and over the weekend, but this year people came out during the middle of the week, she said. And there were five fewer shopping days this year because Thanksgiving fell later in the year.

Even the weather cooperated this season, she added. On Friday, Hughes had her door open as people strolled down Main Street.

Diana Hecht, an artist at Wickwire Fine & Folk Art Gallery on Main Street, said the store’s owner told her this year was better than last Christmas.

“I personally heard a lot of people say they wanted handcrafted items, nothing from China,” she said. “So it was a very good Christmas for us. We haven’t had a downtime yet.”

A flier advertising the campaign also sat in the window at Sherman’s Sports. Owner Becky Banadyga said she heard some customers say they decided to shop locally.

“It was good,” she said of the store’s sales and the traffic downtown. “It seemed busy. It seemed like a normal Christmas season.”

Hannah Flannagan’s owner Matt Johnes said 2008 was similar to 2007 in sales, although he did see fewer tourists and more local residents. “In our case, most of our business is local customers. We really count on the local customers year round.”

Although most of his crowd already dines and shops locally, Johnes said the campaign “is a great thing to keep it on people’s minds.”

At Blue Ridge Mall, the campaign seems to have helped with foot traffic as some merchants said they saw more local shoppers this year, Mall Manager Lisa Schaack said, especially Waldenbooks and JCPenney. People she considers “mall regulars” told her they thought the mall was the busiest they have ever seen it in the last month. Some merchants also had fliers posted to get the message out. Schaack herself did a lot of promoting, appearing on a radio show and working hard to spread the word about the importance of spending money locally.

“In general, (sales were) probably lower than last year, but we’re probably not hurt as much as others unfortunately were,” she said.

The mall manager praised her tenants and said they offered a lot of strong promotions to draw shoppers. Black Friday and the day after Christmas were especially busy.

“It was even busier than we had anticipated,” Schaack said.

Downtown Hendersonville merchants team up for 'Lover's Lane'

Published: Friday, February 13, 2009 at 4:30 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, February 12, 2009 at 8:11 p.m.

Downtown merchants are hoping for a little love from shoppers to boost February sales with the “Lover’s Lane on Main” promotion happening through Saturday.

Businesses pair up to offer special deals in an attempt to increase customers’ visits to all the merchants who participate in the "Lover’s Lane on Main" program, said Barbara Hughes, owner of Narnia Studios.

Hughes created the program a few years ago to help downtown businesses during the typically slow winter month of February.

The idea is really a very simple one, she said.

“For instance, if someone comes in my shop and shops with me, I have ‘valentines’ (coupons) for my "Lover’s Lane" partner, the Inn on Church,” Hughes said. “The valentine could be something like 15 percent off lunch for two.

“If the person goes to Inn on Church, they will give that person a ‘valentine’ for a special deal off Valentine-related merchandise at Narnia Studios, such as flowers or balloons. This makes the customers happy and it enhances both businesses. The concept is that if this scenario is repeated at businesses throughout downtown, then everybody wins.”

The program has resulted in a little spike in business at Red Step Artworks, said Kelli Redmond, a jewelry designer who owns the business with Andrew Stephenson, a local potter. The art galley, located on Third Avenue across from the Church Street Exxon station, represents 35 local artists and musicians, selling artwork and CDs.

This year is the first time she has participated in the "Lover’s Lane" promotion, Redmond said.

“It’s sort of like when you would exchange valentines in school,” she laughed. “We’ve had a wonderful partner with Mike’s On Main because we’ve gotten in some people who said they got valentines from them and we’ve sent some people up there with valentines for their business.”

The event began Feb. 1 and runs through Valentine’s Day.

Downtown to get a burst of spring color with tulips

Times-News staff reports
Published: Friday, March 27, 2009 at 4:30 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, March 26, 2009 at 7:48 p.m.


Tulips begin to bloom in front of City Hall on Tuesday. The first day of the Tulip Extravaganza will be April 1.

Get ready for a burst of color in downtown Hendersonville as the tulips begin to bloom.

With the budding flowers also comes the sixth annual Tulip Extravaganza, which will run April 1-25 this year.
Narnia Studios owner Barbara Hughes sparked this downtown event six years ago to get people downtown.
“We, the merchants, spent a lot of money on these planters,” she said. “It is a sight to behold when all of the tulips are in bloom.”

Hughes said the first week of April is a huge visiting week and tourists are coming to Hendersonville.
Hughes initiated a photo contest during the second year of the extravaganza. “With the photo contest, citizens can take as many photos and present them for the contest,” she said. “I have had some amazing entries over the years.” Hughes said the deadline for entries will be April 25 and the winner will be announced April 30. Hughes said spectators can expect to see 8,000 to 10,000 tulips in bloom.
“It’s a big splash of color,” she said. “Some of the merchants decorate their windows with tulip themes.”
There is also a sidewalk sale merchants participate in. This year the sidewalk sale will be April 10 and April 11.

Hughes said she came up with the idea because she is a florist. “I am interested in flowers anyway,” she said. “We weren't’t getting a crowd downtown during this tourist season. So we came up with an idea to bring people downtown.”

Friendliest City Website Featured

WLOS   Meteorologist, Julie Wunder featured this website on her segment called "The Morning Surf" Tuesday May 19, 2009. Wunder showed several pages of information and images from the website and agreed with the website's premise of declaring Hendersonville friendly!

Chalk it Up!

Sidewalk artists chalk up downtown

By Jessica Goodman
Times-News Staff Writer
Published: Sunday, July 19, 2009 at 4:30 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, July 18, 2009 at 9:15 p.m.
From red to blue, orange to green, in bright vibrant colors, kids of all ages, from just starting to scribble to professional artists, downtown Hendersonville is marked.

Click to enlarge

Alex Blankenship, 15, sketches from a photo of singer Johnny Cash.
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Saturday was the 13th year for Chalk It Up, the annual sidewalk chalk art contest. The contest is second to the beautiful talents displayed by members of the community.
"It's fun. They look forward to it each year," said Pam Gessler, mother of 12, with nine children showing their artsy side. "They like the prizes, but it's fun to do it and think of an idea."
150 artists

Barbara Hughes, with Narnia Studios, organizes the event each year. One hundred fifty people came out to create on the concrete from First to Sixth avenues along Main Street in Hendersonville.

"Wow, 13 years have now passed since the beginning of 'Chalk It Up!' Almost half of the contestants this year hadn't even been born" when it debuted, Hughes said.

The Tuttle triplets and their mom, Chris Tuttle, were out on a stretch of concrete. Anna, Elizabeth and Caleb, 8, feverishly colored in their squares.

Anna did a self-portrait, the blonde hair in pigtails. Elizabeth, or "Lizzy," created a geometric pattern and Caleb designed circles that looked like a spaceship.

"I encourage them to draw a picture ahead of time," Chris said.

"I drew mine," beforehand, Anna said. "I made an art book and found it in there."

"I was going to draw a tower, but I thought it'd be hard, so I started drawing these circles and it kind of looks like a spaceship to me," Caleb said. "And I like blue."

A family affair

Hughes said 42 family units showed up for Chalk It Up, the most ever. They varied from fathers and sons creating next to each other to full families making designs. The Kelsch family took up four squares on the south of Main Street. Reece, 12, Quinn, 10, Grace, 7 and Katherine, 4, all drew things they loved, from kitty cats to cars.

"Concrete makes it turn out a little rougher," Reece said. "It smears, which is different than on paper."

The Gessler family took up a large portion of a block. Members of the family have been drawing in Chalk It Up since the event started.

"We used to do this a lot," said Bethany Gessler, 20. "We used to make chalk roads at our home and bike on them."

"We all plan on planning, but some of us do it five minutes before," Hannah Gessler, 22, said of creating an art piece. "It's fun."

Make sure to walk the streets to see the menagerie of items from artistic minds before the next rain washes it all away.


The winners for 5 & under: Katherine Kelsch, Phineas Smith, Ella Neve, Abigail Welch, Makenna Marcy

The winners for 6-8 years old: Arianna Juarez, Ben Williams, Caleb Tuttle, Grace Kelsch, Madison Bailey

The winners for 9-12 years old: Reece Kelsch, Liam McBride, Michaela Orr, Johanna Conejo, Chloe Ford

The winners for 13-20 years old: Sam Benson, Alex Blankenship, Hannah Rochester, Abigail Gardner, Annalace Gardner

The winners for 21 & over: Michelle Benney, Hannah Gessler, Katie Hughes, Anita Segers, Michelle Ford

The winner in the charity category(50.00 US Savings Bond): Kate Brighton drawing for Absolute Theater Company

The winner in the professional category(100.00): Yoriko Russell

*All the smiling faces and friendly people are real Hendersonville citizens!
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