Thursday, August 8, 2013

Labor Day getaways

Memorial Day getaways? It’s often seems they just happen. But Labor Day weekend is something else: With summer about to expire, you want to wrap it up with a flourish.

 Here are two tried-and-true escapes not far from home.

N .C. Apple Festival, Aug. 30-Sept. 2, downtown Hendersonville. (N.C. Apple Festival photo). The cooler temperatures and lower-humidity of the southern Blue Ridge is great for summer vacationers - and for apples. Henderson County is about as far south as you'll find commercial orchards in seaboard states. North Carolina ranks seventh nationally in apple production, and 65 percent of the harvest is from the 20-some orchards in Henderson County. We're talking red delicious, Rome beauty, Granny Smith, Stayman, Fuji and gala as well as newer and heritage varieties. The harvest is celebrated at the annual N.C. Apple Festival, a nine-block stretch of Main Street in downtown Hendersonville, with more than 200 vendors, arts and crafts, street fair, displays, competitions and the King Apple Parade (2:30 p.m. Labor Day – Sept. 2). Details:

Matthews Alive Festival, Aug. 30-Sept. 2. (Photo by Todd Sumlin, Charlotte Observer) We’re talking small-town-style charm not that far from anywhere in metro Charlotte: 6-10 p.m. Aug. 30, 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Aug. 31, noon-9 p.m. Aug. 31 and 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Labor Day. It’s focused at downtown Matthews’ Stumptown Park, between McDowell and John streets, on Matthews’ Trade Street. (An arts and crafts component at the nearby Cultural Center has shorter hours and is open Saturday-Monday only.) Carnival rides? You bet. Buy single tickets ($1) a sheet of them (20 for $15) or – for Friday only – a ride-all-night wristband ($14). Performing live on the main stage are The Embers (beach music stalwarts) at 8:30 p.m. Aug. 30; Bostyx (a Boston-Styx tribute band that includes David Victor of Boston)) at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 31; and Restless Heart (country) at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 1. There’s more music – and entertainers that range from magicians to jugglers to belly dancers – at other times, every day except Friday (Aug. 30). The parade? It’s Saturday, and starts at 10:30 a.m. Details: