Discover Arts Nearby
Your visit to Historic Happy Valley is only the beginning of a day, a weekend or even a lifetime spent exploring the arts of the region. Travel half an hour or less beyond the valley and you can experience an annual Sculpture Celebration, bluegrass concerts and an acclaimed clogging team in Lenoir. Continue to Blowing Rock (a short 15- minute drive) to visit a family pottery or enjoy outdoor concerts and professional theater productions. See the work of a renowned fresco artist, an outdoor drama about Tom Dula, and local exhibitions of contemporary art, photography and quilting in nearby Wilkesboro. The arts await you in and around Historic Happy Valley!
Start your visit to the city of Lenoir, only 15 minutes from Happy Valley, with a stop at the Caldwell Arts Council. Its main gallery features monthly art exhibitions, competitions and programs, and its Art-in-Healing Gallery is located in the city's Memorial Hospital. Downtown Lenoir is home to an annual indoor/outdoor Sculpture Celebration (now in its 24th year) held at J.E. Broyhill Park, as well as the St. James Episcopal Church, which displays a collection of 23 paintings by the Reverend Johannes A. Oertell, a church rector noted for his religious canvasses. The annual Caldwell County Traditional Musicians Showcase is sponsored by the Performing Arts Series every March. Friday After Five presents free music on the square in downtown Lenoir, and Echo Hollow Bluegrass Music Park (828-759-0603) features bluegrass concerts with local musicians from April-November. J.E. Broyhill Civic Center features quality entertainment throughout the year including an extensive performing artist series. And Sims Country BBQ is home to the Sims Cloggers, a talented group of young people heralded around the state as being one of our top clogging teams.
A half hour away in Wilkesboro, another piece of the Tom Dula (Dooley) legend can be found at the Old Wilkes Jail, where Dula was held after his capture by Col. James Grayson. Visitors can experience the view from inside his actual cell. Tom Dooley: A Wilkes County Legend is performed outdoors in Historic Fort Hamby Park at the Forest Edge Amphitheatre in Wilkesboro during June and July. Merlefest, now in its 21st year, is a world-renowned music festival honoring Merle Watson, the late son of local guitar legend Doc Watson. The festival takes place on the campus of Wilkes Community College on the last weekend of April. The Cultural Arts Council of Wilkes County sponsors exhibits at Town Hall in Wilkesboro ranging from contemporary art to photography to quilting. In 2002, a partnership was formed between the Arts Council, St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Wilkesboro and the world renowned artist Benjamin F. Long, IV to paint two fresco scenes of the Apostle Paul in the commons area joining the chapel and the sanctuary. These frescoes can be viewed by the public seven days a week.
Visit Blowing Rock has extensive listings of art galleries, performing arts and other activities to be found in this quaint town only 30 minutes from Happy Valley. Numerous galleries feature local handcrafted glass, sculpture, pottery, jewelry, paintings, photography and other fine arts. Art in the Park, a series of six juried art and craft shows running from May through October in downtown Blowing Rock, was established in 1962. Traditions Pottery, run by the Bolick family of potters, features an Annual Heritage Day and Wood Kiln Opening in June, featuring pottery, traditional music and demonstrations of sawmilling, log splitting and corn grinding. It also hosts a weekly music jam in the summer featuring traditional mountain music, bluegrass and gospel. A Monday Night Concert Series at Broyhill Park begins in mid-June, and Memorial Park is home to a Sunday Concert in the Park Series featuring a variety of musical styles, from the Grandfather Mountain Highlanders Bagpipe Band to a local brass band to a Dixieland jazz group. The Blowing Rock Stage Company has provided professional theater experiences for residents and visitors since 1986, and today makes its home at the Miriam and Robert Hayes Performing Arts Center.