More of what’s going around:

Workers at local hotels, restaurants, coffee shops and bars are just now recovering from last weekend’s influx of tourists. I’ve had several reports from folks in the service industry that some local businesses saw new highs in terms of sales volume. Coffee shops couldn’t fill orders fast enough. Restaurants saw lines out the door. Hotels were booked full. My friend Trevor described it as the “perfect storm.” It was the unofficial start of the fall leaf-peeping season in Western North Carolina; it was a holiday weekend for Columbus Day; and it was the weekend that Hurricane Matthew drove thousands of people away from the Florida, Georgia and South Carolina coasts (many of them required to evacuate.)

The Weaverville Art Safari is set for Oct. 29 – 30.

The Biltmore Beacon’s annual 40 Under Forty Awards Gala at The Omni Grove Park Inn, which recognizes the area’s rising business leaders who are involved in the community in impactful ways, will be held Thursday starting at 6 p.m.

French Broad Chocolates made headlines this summer when it announced plans to scale its production 10-fold over the next decade, according to the Venture Asheville newsletter. More:

That’s 200 tons of chocolate being produced annually at its expanding South Slope facility by 2026. Their delectable craft has earned the founders Dan and Jael a 30-minute national TV spotlight on “A Craftsman’s Legacy,” which airs nationwide on public stations like UNC-TV. Watch a sneak preview of the episode airing live on Nov. 12.

Montford Park Players, an Asheville theatrical tradition, has announced that their upcoming production of Julius Caesar, the classic tragedy written by William Shakespeare, will feature an all-female cast. The performances will be held at the BeBe Theatre, located at 20 Commerce Street in the heart of Downtown Asheville, from Nov. 4-20 on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings at 7:30 p.m. This performance like ALL of Montford Park Players’ shows will be absolutely FREE to attend.

-The artists of Asheville’s River Arts District are encouraging people to shop in the RAD on Friday, Nov. 25, a date also known as “Black Friday” and the unofficial kickoff of the holiday shopping season.

Vessels of Merriment, a celebration of handmade drinking vessels, opens at Grovewood Gallery in Asheville on Saturday, Nov. 12 with a reception from 3 – 6 p.m. that’s free and open to the public, according to a press release. More:

This invitational exhibition will showcase everything from beer steins and growlers to porcelain sake sets and decorative moonshine jugs. During the opening reception, viewers will have the opportunity to meet some of the participating artists and enjoy wine and local craft beer. This exhibition will remain on view through Saturday, December 31, 2016. Vessels of Merriment will feature the works of 14 ceramic artists from across the country, including Asheville potters Julie Covington, Marissa Domanski, Kim Dryden, Lisa Gluckin, and Helen Purdum. Other participating artists are Sunshine Cobb, Kelly Lynn Daniels, Jordan Jones, Beth Lo, Didem Mert, Brooke Noble, Debra Olivia, Ronan Peterson, and Charlie Tefft. Vessels of Merriment is curated by LouAnne Jordan, Events & Merchandising Coordinator for Grovewood Gallery.

 

Kasumi Mountain Martial Arts in Asheville is bringing local businesses and other martial arts schools together to increase women’s safety in Asheville, according to a press release. Nesta Kennedy, who owns and runs the school with her husband, Sean, have started a project called Kunoichi Game. Here’s more:

Kunoichi (Koo-no-Eechy) is a term that describes a female ninja warrior, but it also holds a symbolic meaning of transformation. The program is breaking down barriers that sometimes divide martial arts schools and encouraging women to join in self defense training from any school that works for them. As they come to classes – and bring friends – they can earn gifts donated by local businesses. “This is much more than a game,” explains Kennedy. “It’s about our community coming together in solidarity to support women’s safety, wellbeing and empowerment.”

The movement appears to be set for success. Several businesses have already come forward to donate prizes, including L’eau de Vie Spa, LaZoom Bus Tours, and the West Village Market. Currently, six schools are participating in the Kunoichi Game, all of which are listed at AshevilleNinjas.com. Alana Johnson, co-owner of Blue Ridge Tae Kwon Do explains she joined the movement because, “I think self-defense training is important for a woman. It helps build a sense of her own inherent strength, and can help her tap into tremendous amounts of power that lie within.” Johnson offers self defense classes for women throughout the year.

Kasumi Mountain’s own women’s course was a collaborative effort developed by 4 different instructors together. Kennedy and her husband joined forces with Beth Stewart, who also leads the self defense classes at AB-Tech, and Steve Ledford, who runs Asheville Combatives, a prominent Krav Maga studio that also hosts its own women’s classes. The collaborative course at Kasumi Mountain this fall filled to capacity and they plan to hold another session next year. They also have a self defense series open to men and women starting Thursday, October 27th.

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