If you love beautiful flowers and great music, plan to attend our annual Flame Azalea Festival this year. Graham County is home to a one-of -a kind variety of native flame azalea and the history and beauty of this extraordinary plant is celebrated. This year the festival will be held on Friday, June 14th and Saturday, June 15th. The Hooper Bald Flame Azaleas have blossoms that can be as wide as 3 and 1/2 inches! The colors of the blossoms range from a scarlet red to a brilliant orange to a lemon yellow. Small numbers of these rare azaleas will be available for purchase during Saturday’s downtown festival so come early. The stalls open at noon.

Robbinsville and Graham County are very fortunate to have several existing public gardens exhibiting native azaleas. Azaleas begin to bloom in our county as early as May and continue to bloom, depending on elevation, through the end of June. The famed flame azaleas can be viewed on Hooper Bald along the Cherohala Skyway between Robbinsville and the Tennessee/North Carolina border in June. The Azalea Society has been nurturing these azaleas for over twenty years on the top of Hooper Bald. During the festival experienced guides and azalea experts will be available to answer questions and lead visitors through winding paths bordered by multicolored flame azaleas, rain or shine.

Huckleberry Knob, also on the Cherohala Skyway, is another favorable habitat for the native azaleas. A lovely hike rewards the visitor with beautiful vistas, opportunities for outstanding photos and a scattering of the same rare varieties of flame azalea that grow in abundance on Hooper Bald.

In nearby Stecoah, the Stecoah Valley Center features a memorial garden dedicated to a patron of this cultural center. At a much lower elevation, the azaleas are in full bloom in May and well worth the visit to the Center. The Center is housed in an old high school and includes a craft store featuring local artists’ work.

Blooming azaleas can be seen throughout the town and along highway 129 from May through June and helped to earn Robbinsville the title of “Azalea City”. During the festival this year, guided hikes to the Azaleas on Hooper Bald will be featured at 10:00, 12:00 and 2:00pm on Friday June 14th and at 10:00am on Saturday, June 15th.

A silent auction will take place on Saturday in downtown Robbinsville. The silent auction items will be available to view and bid on throughout the day. All proceeds from the auctions will benefit the Partners of Joyce Kilmer Slickrock Wilderness Inc. This volunteer, non-profit organization helps to maintain the numerous trails in the Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest and the surrounding Wilderness in Graham County. Teeshirts celebrating the flame azalea will be sold on both days.

On Saturday, food, arts and crafts will be featured in downtown Robbinsville from noon to 5:00pm. Local musicians will be performing throughout the afternoon. Starting at 6:00pm there will be music and dancing at the town square.

We hope you will plan your visit during this time and add a few extra days before and after to enjoy the natural beauty of the area.