West Jefferson, NC
Arts & Americana
As the most densely populated part of Ashe County (with a whopping 1,123 people), West Jefferson is a quaint town with almost 20 art galleries, plenty of shops and on old-time atmosphere reminiscent of the 1950s. Originally a major stop on the Northwestern Railroad, West Jefferson is now a quiet town popular for tourists and vacationers seeking a mountain escape.
The community is very focused on arts and crafts, and the natural beauty of the surrounding area is definitely the inspiration. Rolling hills, peaceful rivers and miles and miles of trees surround the small, yet vibrant downtown.
Walking through town, you will notice several murals, art galleries and shops with locally made crafts. A particularly notable attraction for arts appreciators are the Church of the Frecoes -three churches in the area featuring full-wall paintings by the world-renowned artist Ben Long. The stunning paintings are part of a longer tail of churchs that extends further east into North Carolina.
Many events take place throughout the year to celebrate the heritage of West Jefferson, including a twice weekly farmers market in the summer and a twice monthly market in the winter months, during which local farmers and craftspeople sell their wares from pick-up trucks and the town comes alive with activity. The most famous event in town is the Christmas in July Festival. Featuring live music, crafts from local artisans, food and a great family atmosphere, it is one of the High County's most highley-attended events.
Of course, adventuring through the outdoors is the most popular activity in and around West Jefferson. Explore what is believed to be one of the oldest rivers in North America -the New River. Slow waters, fetile banks and wildflowers make New River State Park ideal for canoeing, fishing, camping and hiking around the beautiful outdoor sanctuary. A day's hike along the New River followed by a stoll through West Jefferson's quaint downtown could possibly be the quintessential High Country day.