For a brilliant way to start the holiday season, visit Asheville's Biltmore Estate beginning Nov 3rd for Christmas in the daytime.

I know we literally just finished celebrating Halloween and Thanksgiving is still three weeks away, but it’s already Christmas in Asheville. This year, Christmas comes early to Asheville’s Biltmore Estate. Beginning this Saturday, November 3rd and continuing through to the new year, the historic home will be decked out in all its Christmas finery for daytime visitors.

From 9am to 4:30pm every day, visitor’s to Asheville‘s Biltmore Estate will be treated to dozens of Christmas trees, including the 35 foot fir tree loaded with oversized ornaments located in the Banquet Hall. The grand staircase is made even grander with dozens of feet of beautiful garlands woven throughout the banister. Hundreds of poinsettias bring a dash of holiday color to this Asheville home’s 250 rooms. Take a step back in time by visiting the Antler Hill Village on the grounds. The Conservatory holds a real treat for the eyes, with color exploding from every room.

The Biltmore will be holding free seminars on how to make your very own Christmas wreaths at home as well as other fun, traditional holiday decorations. Sign up for a red wine and chocolate tasting (for an additional fee). You can even start your Christmas shopping early by visiting the gift shop for a unique present under your family’s tree this year. To really get you in the mood, traditional organ music will play throughout the entire first floor, emanating from the Earnest Skinner crafted organ located in the Banquet Hall.

Tickets for the day celebration are $59 for adults and $29.50 for kids ages 10-16. You can make your reservation now by visiting their website. Each ticket includes a self-guided tour of the estate, access to the gardens, Antler Hill Village and the current in-house exhibit The Vanderbilts at Home and Abroad and a complimentary wine tasting (for the adults) as well as guided tour of the estate’s own winery. Christmas comes early to Asheville‘s Biltmore Estate. Take a step back in time with your family at the largest privately owned home in the country.

Rich Cooke, your Western North Carolina real estate specialist

Originally posted on my Western North Carolina real estate blog here:

Western North Carolina Real Estate - Whether you're interested in buying or selling your Hendersonville/Asheville area home, consider using the services of Rich Cooke, John Knapp and Jan Knapp for your Western North Carolina real estate needs.


Asheville's National Night Out - August 7, 2012 from 5:30-7:30pm, Asheville's National Night Out kicks off at the Wesley Grant Southside Center.Next Tuesday, August 7, 2012 is Asheville‘s National Night Out. From 5:30pm to 7:30pm, the Asheville Police Department will partner with the Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office and Target to bring this national celebration of community safety and crime prevention to the Asheville area. Asheville’s National Night Out will take place at the Dr Wesley Grant Sr Southside Center (285 Livingston St).

National Night Out is a nationwide event that encourages community members to get outside of their houses, meet their neighbors and introduce local law enforcement to the community. Participants will learn how they can help their local police department keep crime and drug use at bay. Being aware of what is going on in your Asheville neighborhood makes it easier to notice when something is out of place. Since the police can’t be everywhere at once, increasing the amount of eyes looking out for possible crimes in progress and alerting the appropriate law enforcement agencies can help keep crime rates low, increasing the safety we all enjoy here in Western North Carolina.

Asheville’s National Night Out will include a canine demonstration, fun backyard games, food and vehicles from the Asheville police, firefighter, EMT and other safety departments. Local police officers will also be on hand to answer questions and give advice on how to look out for and report a crime as well as how to prevent it from happening in the first place. Asheville’s National Night Out kicks things off from 5:30pm to 7:30pm next Tuesday, August 7th. Feel free to continue the evening’s festivities with your own block party after the official kickoff ends.

Rich Cooke, your Western North Carolina real estate specialist

Originally posted on my Western North Carolina real estate blog here:

Western North Carolina Real Estate - Whether you're interested in buying or selling your Hendersonville/Asheville area home, consider using the services of Rich Cooke, John Knapp and Jan Knapp for your Western North Carolina real estate needs.

The Carolina Mountain Ribfest takes place near Asheville this weekend, 7/13-15/12. Live music, fun for the kids, arts and crafts and, of course, lip-smacking barbecue will be available all weekend long.Beginning tomorrow, Asheville will be hosting the Carolina Mountain Ribfest.  From July 13th through the 15th, barbecue wizards will be grilling up their specialties at the WNC Agricultural Center Fairgrounds(actually located in Fletcher).  Some of the best chefs in the entire country will be competing to see whose lip-smacking, mouth-watering recipes reign supreme.

Yes, it is called the “ribfest” but there is so much more going on than just barbecued ribs here in the Asheville area.  Chicken, pulled pork and brisket will also be on the menu as well as some tasty desserts.  There will even be vegetarian and seafood fare to enjoy.  While you’re licking off the barbecue sauce from your fingers, you can peruse the arts and crafts show or take in some of the exhibits on display.  Kids will stay occupied with the rides and games designed specifically for them.  There is even a Custom and Classic Car Show scheduled for Sunday from 11am to 3pm.  All proceeds from the participants in the car show will benefit the Shriner’s Children’s Hospital.

What Western North Carolina festival would be complete without some live music? Musical acts will be performing everything from Bluegrass to Pop and Funk to Southern Rock throughout the entire weekend.  There’s a little bit of something for everyone to enjoy.

The festival will be open from 4pm to 11pm on Friday, 11am to 11pm on Saturday and 11am to 7pm on Sunday.  Tickets are available at the gate.  Tickets are just $7/adult, with children under 12 and active military (must show ID) absolutely free.  If you are interested in showing off your custom or classic automobile in the car show on Sunday, there is a $10 entry fee.  With that fee, you receive two free tickets for the ribfest itself (a $14 value).  Call the Hendersonville Antique Car Club for more information at (828) 329-4971.  Lawn chairs and blankets are allowed, but leave the coolers, backpacks, pets and outside food/beverages at home.

If you love barbecue, good music and fun in general, you don’t want to miss out this weekend.  Asheville hosts the Carolina Mountain Ribfest this Friday, July 13th through Sunday, July 15th.  Visit the WNC Agricultural Center Fairgrounds in Fletcher for some good old fashioned, lip-smacking, foot-stomping fun for the entire family.

Rich Cooke, your Western North Carolina real estate specialist

Originally posted on my Western North Carolina real estate blog here:

Gingerbread House Competition in AshevilleThe Grove Park Inn will be hosting its annual gingerbread house competition in Asheville soon and is currently accepting applications from competitors.  Beginning Monday, November 14, 2011, closed door judging of all contestants will start in the Grove Park Inn’s Grand Ballroom.  Awards will be handed out the same day.  However, if you don’t fancy yourself a gingerbread house architect, you can still enjoy all the entries beginning Wednesday, November 16th and continuing through New Year’s Day 2012, when they will be on full public display.

Contestants are allowed to bring their entries to the Vanderbilt Atrium (Level 7) from 2pm to 7pm on Sunday, November 13th and again from 7am to 8:30am on Monday, November 14th.  Judging will begin in the Grand Ballroom (Level 8) at 9:30am.  Awards will be handed out at 5:30pm and are open for the contestants as well as the general public to attend.  While judges look over all the entries, the public is welcome to participate in a jigsaw puzzle tournament (from 10am to 12pm), a scavenger hunt in the Great Hall (from 1pm to 2pm) or listen to live music performed by the NC Thumbpickers while enjoying an afternoon snack or drink in the Great Hall.  You definitely won’t be bored!

Entries in the Grove Park Inn’s National Gingerbread House Competition here in Asheville will actually get some air time on ABC’s Good Morning America during their December 23rd broadcast.  But you can get a preview by visiting the Inn and taking a tour any Sunday through Thursday until January 1, 2012.  Resort guests, of course, can view the displays anytime they wish.  Hour long tours will be available from 9am to 3pm Wednesdays through Sundays beginning November 16th.  On the tour, your guide will give you a behind-the-scenes look at the gingerbread competition as well as details about judging, how the winning entrants created their magnificent structures and more about the display itself.  The cost for the guided tour is just $12 per adult and $6 for kids ages 12 and under.  Reservations are required (800-438-5800).

Get in the Christmas spirit by either joining in on the Grove Park Inn’s gingerbread house competition in Asheville this Sunday and Monday or by visiting the public display of all entries beginning Wednesday, November 16th.  Christmas is a wonderful time to spend with friends and family.  It also brings out the amazing natural beauty we get to enjoy here in Western North Carolina.  The gingerbread house competition is just one of the fun ways to kick off the holiday season here in Asheville.

Rich Cooke, your Western North Carolina real estate specialist

Originally posted on my Western North Carolina real estate blog here:

Christmas at the Biltmore in AshevilleBuilt by George Washington Vanderbilt II (youngest son of railroad tycoon William Henry Vanderbilt), the Biltmore estate is one of Asheville‘s most opulent icons.  Over 2,000,000 square feet in size and still owned by Vanderbilt descendants, the Biltmore House welcomes thousands of guests every year.  Christmas comes to the Biltmore in Asheville beginning this Friday, November 4, 2011 with the Christmas at Biltmore Daytime Celebration.  The following weekend (November 11, 2011) is when this opulent estate begins their Candleight Christmas Evenings.

During the daytime celebration, guests will be treated to the most magnificent holiday decorations you are liable to ever feast your eyes on, including a 35 foot Christmas tree, decked out in ribbons, traditional ornaments and tons of lights.  This is only one of the several Christmas trees you’ll find around the estate.  Garlands sweep along the elegant banisters.  And Antler Hill Village, located on the grounds, is a perfect place to relax with the family and take in the sights.  The conservatory is bursting with red poinsettias, tropical flowers, white Christmas cactus and so much more.

At night, the estate simply glows from the millions of lights strewn about.  The ambiance of the estate takes on a totally different look when lit by thousands of candles.  The warmth of the lit fireplaces will get you in the holiday spirit as well.  The exterior lighting displays will simply take your breath away.

Fine dining is available at the Christmas style buffet.  You’ve never taken a wine tour like this before!  Wine tasting is even better by candlelight.  Do some Christmas shopping for that one-of-a-kind gift that evokes the feeling of days gone by.  The Winter Garden Choir helps ring in the holiday season with Christmas carol favorites.  There’s even a six foot long gingerbread replica of the Biltmore House set up in the main kitchen.

If you’re interested in experiencing Christmas at the Biltmore in Asheville, visit their website to reserve your tickets for the daytime festivities, candlelight evening celebration or even to spend a couple of days there.  Even though Thanksgiving is still a couple of weeks away, it’s never too early to get into the holiday spirit.  And what a unique way to do it!

Rich Cooke, your Western North Carolina real estate specialist

Originally posted on my Western North Carolina real estate blog here:

Not yet sure what to do this Sunday, May 9th to honor the mom in your life?  Here are a few suggestions on how to celebrate Mother’s Day in Asheville:

25th Anniversary Festival of Flowers – Biltmore House, 9am.  Visit the beautiful Biltmore gardens and see the colors of Spring in all their glory.  Tickets are $60 for adults and $28 for children.

Sunset Terrace Mother’s Day Brunch – The Grove Park Inn & Spa, 10am-3pm.  The brunch includes an appetizer, entree and dessert.  Cost is only $30 plus tax and service charge.  To make a reservation, please call 800-438-5800.

Mother’s Day Grand Buffet – The Grove Park Inn & Spa’s Grand Ballroom and Blue Ridge Dining Room, Grand Ballroom 11am-2:30pm, Blue Ridge Dining Room 11:30am-2:30pm.  Cost is only $36.95 plus tax and service charge.  Please call 800-438-5800 to make your reservation today.

Mother’s Day Buffet – The Grove Park Inn & Spa’s Horizons Dining Room, 11am-3pm.  Cost is $39 per person.  To make your reservation, please call 80-438-5800.

Asheville Community Theatre’s Readers Theater – University of North Carolina at Asheville’s Reuter Center-Manheimer Room, 2:30pm.  The Autumn Players perform readings of great literature that simply cannot be missed.  Tickets are only $5 at the door.  For more info, please call 828-251-6140.

These are just a few suggestions of how to celebrate Mother’s Day in Asheville.  No matter how you do it, make sure that you let that special mother in your life know how great she is this Sunday, May 8th.  Happy Mother’s Day!

Rich Cooke, your Hendersonville real estate specialist

Health and animals are the focus in Hendersonville, North Carolina throughout the rest of the month of September.  The Blue Ridge Humane Society Thrift Shop will be hosting a Pet Adoption Day at its Greenville Highway offices on Saturday, September 12th, from 11am-2pm.  Come on down and adopt one of these pets into a loving home they so desperately need.  For more information, please call 692-3503.

The third annual 5K and 1 Mile Fun Run for the Horses to benefit Hope for Horses, an equine rescue, rehab and adoption program in Western North Carolina, will be held at the Buncombe County Health Department in Asheville (35 Woodfin Street) on September 20th from 1-4pm. For more information and to register for the event, please visit

Get your flu shots at the Pardee Health Education Center in the Blue Ridge Mall from 8am-7pm on September 24th and  8am-5pm on September 25th.  The shots cost $30, but are free with participants who have Medicare Part B insurance.  The flu shot does not protect you against the H1N1 virus (swine flu).  Make sure you have your Medicare card with you (if applicable).  Otherwise, bring cash or a check.  To call for an appointment (required) or more information, please call 828-692-4600.

On September 25th, FREE cholesterol and diabetes screenings will held at the Asheville K-Mart (980 Brevard Rd) from 10am-3pm.  There is no appointment necessary and it is absolutely free to the public.

Let Rich Cooke help you find a Hendersonville home where everyone is comfortable.