Romania’s medieval castles and creeping fog may be thousands of miles away, but Dracula would feel right at home in Brevard this fall. It’s the town seat of Transylvania County, after all — and a spooky opportunity like that cannot be squandered. The celebrated Halloweenfest happens for the 33rd time this year — a full day of costumes, pumpkin carving, and ghost tours.
“This festival is a favorite,” says event organizer Nancy Coleman. “The weather is a little bit cooler, the leaves have changed, and it’s just a lot of family fun.”
Kids can explore Brevard during a downtown trick-or-treating hour or try to hit the target at the Great Pumpkin Roll down Jailhouse Hill. The pumpkin theme continues with a bake-off and creative pumpkin carving for all ages.
Outlandish costumes are key to the festival’s atmosphere, says Coleman. Seeing the entire town decked out in silly or clever or creepy outfits sets the tone.
“Almost everybody that comes dresses in costume, and then we have a contest in the middle of the day,” she explains.
If all of this sounds a bit too wholesome, adults and older kids can embark on a ghost tour later in the evening. Volunteers from the Transylvania Heritage Museum will lead brave souls through downtown while sharing some rather terrifying mountain legends.
Silvermont Mansion, about a block away from the town’s center, will host a stroll through their grounds to uncover the scariest nooks and crannies of the property. Creeping through parts of the mansion’s 8-acre estate after dark promises many satisfyingly eerie moments.
“Because we’re in Transylvania County, it seems like a natural fit to have such a long-running Halloween festival,” remarks Coleman.
There’s the town of Transylvania in Louisiana (population 743) and a university in Kentucky that bears the name, but North Carolina takes great pride in having one of the few Transylvania Counties this side of the Atlantic.
The area was named after a failed 18th-century colony that would have also encompassed parts of Kentucky and Tennessee, had the deed been upheld. And the word’s Latin breakdown translates to “across” (trans) “woods” (silva), which makes good sense in the thickly forested Blue Ridge. But it doesn’t really explain why Dracula’s fabled hideout came first to mind when land speculators labeled the region.
In other words, the mystery’s still up for solving. “If anyone wants to celebrate Halloween in Transylvania in the United States,” says Coleman, “this is pretty much it.”
The 33rd Annual Transylvania Halloweenfest happens Saturday, Oct. 31, 10am-10pm. See www.halloweenfestnc.com for a complete schedule.