Arts & Features Staff Writer
A crisp breeze in the air and the brightly colored autumn leaves envelop the quad, as the scent of hot apple cider wafts around the students and faculty gathered for UNC Asheville’s annual Turning of the Maples celebration.
Steve Hunt, events and conferences coordinator said Turning of the Maples is a UNCA tradition which has been taking place for several years now.
“This event has been going on for several years now. Every fall, we try to choose the best day for Turning of the Maples by just guessing. This
year, we decided to do it on this day,” Hunt said.
The event, which took place on Nov. 1, lasted between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., hosted students, faculty and staff who come together every year to escape their daily hustle and enjoy the beauty of nature along with some complimentary hot apple cider and cookies.
“It’s a nice break from the day-to-day routine and an opportunity to come together to share what we all love about living in this part of the country,” Hunt said.
Each year, 400 cookies are ordered for the festival. While the event was technically supposed to last until 1 p.m., students came around 11 a.m. and most of the food disappeared within an hour.
“Who knows, maybe we’ll order some more food. It seems to be so popular. It went fast,” Hunt said.
As students waited in line for their free apple cider and cookies, The Bluegrass Ensemble, a student bluegrass band from UNCA’s music department, added a euphonious touch to the festival’s activities.
“For music, I contacted Toby King from the department of music and he suggested having his bluegrass band play,” Hunt said. “In the past, there was a single musician, but I kind of like having the band here.”
Hunt said the recent uncertainty of the weather sparked concern around if the leaves would turn in time.
“We were concerned about the trees not turning, but they did turn. That was great,” Hunt said.
As the event started to wind down and the apple cider and cookies disappeared, The Bluegrass Ensemble continued playing as some attendees lingered around to listen. Senior music major Michelle Troszak was among those who stayed to listen to her fellow classmates play.
Troszak came to the event after getting out of class and said it was finally starting to look like fall.
“It was really cute. I just sort of wandered over here after class. The maples are gorgeous. I feel like overnight all the trees have suddenly changed and it finally looks like fall,” she said.
Before her class that morning, Troszak caught a glimpse of the yellow and red autumn leaves lining the sidewalks around the quad.
“I was walking to class this morning and it was before they had used the leaf blowers to get all the leaves off the sidewalks and they were coated. It was so pretty. It was like the golden walkway and I was strolling around,” she said.
Troszak said she enjoyed some of the apple cider before it disappeared.
“It was very quick. All of the cider was gone within like two minutes. These poor people are wandering around and there is nothing left,” Troszak said.
Chris Asbill, an event technician from the Events & Conferences Office, said he thought the turnout was high and he enjoyed the inclusivity of the event.
“I think the turnout was great and I was glad to be part of this traditional event that is very informal and inclusive,” Asbill said.
Event Coordinator Katy Hudson from the Events and Conferences Office agreed that the attendance was high. She said it is always her favorite event and has been her favorite since she was a student at UNCA.
“It was really well-attended. There were lots of people here at first and we ran out of stuff a little bit because it was so well attended,” Hudson said.
“I think it’s a great way to celebrate campus community while linking it to a time passage in nature, like a really good way of linking our changing as a community, moving into the exam season and the fall season, to the changing in the scenery around us,” she said.