The Asheville Music School’s fifth annual fund-raiser presents an evening of live entertainment, plus a raffle and silent auction of gift certificates, artwork, jewelry, and more. The school’s jazz, pop, and rock ensembles will perform. The main showcase presents AMS faculty and students performing The Beatles’ Magical Mystery Tour album in its entirety, with full instrumentation. Funds support the nonprofit school’s operations, scholarship fund, and outreach program. » Isis Restaurant & Music Hall, 743 Haywood Rd.; Thursday, 6 p.m.; $18, $15 advance, $6 children; (828) 252-6244; www.ashevillemusicschool.com

This year, MerleFest will celebrate its 13th anniversary in grand fashion. Organizers are presenting favorite artists from past festivals as well as new artists to complete the jam-packed lineup. Listen to the likes of Zac Brown Band, Alison Krauss and Union Station, The Avett Brothers, Marty Stuart and the Fabulous Superlatives—the list goes on. Walk through a new MerleFest Museum in honor of the milestone, right in the heart of the festival grounds, and backstage tours will be offered for the first time ever. » Wilkes Community College, 1328 Collegiate Dr.; Thursday-Sunday; prices vary, day or multi-day tickets available; (800) 343-7857; www.merlefest.org

This multimedia crossover experience begins the moment you open the Bardo Center’s doors, when you become part of the show. Watch and interact with a troupe of artists, musicians, and dancers as they create paintings on the spot and pay tribute to a variety of art forms, pop icons, and musical genres. » John. W. Bardo Fine & Performing Arts Center, Western Carolina University, 199 Centennial Dr.; Saturday, 7:30 p.m.; $24, $20 WCU faculty & staff, $8 students; (828) 227-2479; www.bardoartscenter.wcu.edu

Follow one of three routes across Jackson, Macon, and Transylvania counties, traversing 10,500 feet-plus of elevation change. Tackle the steep climbs then enjoy the super-fast descents on either the Century (100 miles), Metric (50 miles), or Quarter Century (25 miles) ride. » Cashiers/Glenville Recreation Center, 355 Frank Allen Rd.; Saturday, registration 5:30-7:30 a.m., Century 8 a.m., Metric 8:30 a.m., Quarter Century 9 a.m.; $60; pisgahpro@gmail.com; www.tourdecashiers.com

For one day every year, gravity-powered vehicles turn downtown Lenoir into a race track in this signature event of the North Carolina Science Festival. The brightest and speediest engineering minds are encouraged to participate. While the event is focused on engaging youth in science, adults can also race. A Science Street features hands-on exhibits. The creative car competition is presented by Google and Appalachian State University.  »  Downtown; Saturday, races 9:30 a.m., Science Street opens 10 a.m.; free; contact@ncgravitygames.com; www.ncgravitygames.com


The course is top secret for this adventure race, designed for kids ages five through 14. But, here’s a hint: Racers should be prepared for everything from mountain biking to wall climbing. Teams of two work together to navigate the obstacles. There’s a competitive category for those up for friendly competition and a noncompetitive category for kids out for a good time. Proceeds benefit The Mountain Community School. » Camp Ton-A-Wandah, 376 Lake Falls Rd.; Sunday, 1 p.m., registration noon; $70, $60 noncompetitive; (828) 684-0812; www.gnar.racesonline.com

This year, choose from the standard 13.1-mile race or a new four-miler. Both routes wind through tree-lined streets in historic neighborhoods and ascend to breathtaking vistas of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Music, a festival atmosphere, and even masseurs await runners at the finish line. » Haywood County Chamber of Commerce, 28 Walnut St.; Saturday, 7:30 a.m.; $85 half, $70 advance, $40 four-mile, $30 advance; (828) 456-3021; www.haywoodchamber.com

Peel yourself off the couch and away from the Food Network to learn tricks of the trade from renowned restaurateurs and cookbook authors live and in person. The chefs promise recipes and tips to benefit every culinary skill level—whether your current specialty is PB&J or duck confit. Smoky Mountain Center for the Performing Arts, 1028 Georgia Rd.; Saturday, 6:30 p.m.; $13; (866) 273-4615; www.greatmountainmusic.com

Watch the 143rd Kentucky Derby on the big screen, with a mint julep in hand. The race itself may only last two minutes, but the SALT Block Foundation plans to keep the party going all evening with live music, southern fare, cornhole, and more. The foundation’s goal? Add $8,000 to its endowment, which helps sustain organizations that deliver educational programming in natural sciences, history, and the arts to Catawba Valley residents. » SALT Block Lawn, 243 3rd Ave. NE; Saturday, 4-9:30 p.m.; $40; (828) 324-4906; www.saltblockfoundation.org

This spring, LEAF’s goal is to “Ignite & Inspire,” with artists selected not only for being masters of their craft but also messengers of hope, freedom, and inspiration. The event will feature NEA grant-funded Legends of Africa, performers representing 13 countries from the Mother Continent, along with acts Macy Gray, Martin Sexton, and more. Funds benefit LEAF Community Arts, which offers arts education in WNC and in 10 countries around the globe. » Lake Eden, 377 Lake Eden Rd.; Thursday-Sunday, times vary; $150-$210 weekend passes, $45-$65 day passes, free children 10 & under; (828) 686-8742; www.theleaf.org

It’s fitting that violinist Yevgeny Kutik, with a style said to harken back to the Romantic masters, will perform Gustav Mahler’s “Titan.” After all, Mahler was one of the last great Romantic composers. Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 3 will also be performed in this final installment of the Asheville Symphony’s 2016-2017 Masterworks Series. » Thomas Wolfe Auditorium, 87 Haywood St.; Saturday, 8 p.m.; $22-$62; (828) 254-7046; www.ashevillesymphony.org

All hands have been on deck at the Town of North Wilkesboro getting ready for the 2017 installment of this seasonal concert series. Party band North Tower starts things off, playing crowd favorites in nearly every genre, from oldies to beach to funk. The concerts continue monthly through the fall. » Yadkin Valley Marketplace, 842 CBD Loop; Saturdays, 6-10 p.m.; free; (336) 667-7129; www.downtownnorthwilkesboro.com

Browse works by upward of 70 visual artists from WNC and the Upstate with around 2,500 of your closest friends. The event celebrates musicians, too: Performance headliners include Mercury Rising Band, Bill and Tad's Excellent Duo, Fayssoux McLean and Brandon Turner, Hogtown Squealers, and Casual Zealots. » Historic Downtown Main St.; Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; free; (828) 817-2876; www.saluda.com

Dance around the maypole and much more at this annual springtime event from the Town of Long View near Hickory. Expect lots for the kids, including amusement rides, a fire safety education house, a craft booth, and balloon twisting. For adults, there’s live music from The Band 28690, Chris Marks Band, Too Much Sylvia, and others. Shuttle rides will be offered from the parking area to the event. » Long View Recreation Center, 3107 2nd Ave. NW; Saturday, 10 a.m.-9:30 p.m.; free; (828) 322-3921; www.ci.longview.nc.us

Catch Chris Rock at the only WNC stop on his Total Blackout Tour, his first full-scale world tour in nine years. The title references his prediction of a #blackout when he hosted the 2016 Academy Awards. The comedian, who rose to fame on Saturday Night Live and In Living Color, promises to bring the laughs with all new material. » Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort Event Center, 777 Casino Dr.; Thursday, 8 p.m.; $73-$475; (828) 497-7777; www.caesars.com/harrahs-cherokee

Try to do all the festival has to offer, and you may be running around like its namesake looking for a nut. That’s to say, there’s a ton going on: a gallery walk; 5 and 10K fun runs; a Memorial Day parade organized by the American Legion; the Squirrel Box Derby; a white squirrel photo contest; and a street festival with arts and crafts, kids activities, and plenty of live music. This year’s lineup includes Town Mountain, Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors, and Sarah Siskind & SUNLINER with special guest Travis Book of the Infamous Stringdusters. » Downtown; Friday, 5-10:30 p.m., Saturday, 9 a.m.-6 p.m. (8 a.m. race start), Sunday, noon-6 p.m.; free street festival, fees vary for other activities; (828) 884- 3278; www.whitesquirrelfestival.com

Now in its 94th year, this event has certainly earned its distinction as the oldest continuously run festival of its type in North America. Its goal all these years? To preserve old-time and bluegrass music and pass this legacy on to future generations. Watch or partake in fiddle competitions and workshops with master players, and learn the basics of clogging and flatfooting while you dance the weekend away. » Fiddler’s Grove Campground, 1819 W. Memorial Hwy.; Friday, 5 p.m., Saturday, 9 a.m.-midnight, Sunday, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.; $25, $20 advance, free kids 12 & under, $5-$25 day passes; (704) 682-1350; www.fiddlersgrove.com

This free outdoor music series kicks off its eighth season in May with bluegrass outfit The Robertson Boys. Music will continue every Friday through Labor Day, with notable acts such as Mountain Faith and the Darren Nicholson Band. Bring a chair or blanket to enjoy the show. Donations encouraged. » Bridge Park Pavilion, 76 Railroad Ave.; Fridays, 7-9 p.m.; free; (828) 586-2155; www.mountainlovers.com

MineFest celebrates the region’s rich gem and mineral heritage. Take a guided hike to a hidden mine and participate in a geology Walk & Talk with retired expert geologist Alex Glover, who covers the past 380 million years in an impressively short time. Enjoy music and food both days. Gem mining and gold panning are on offer for a fee. » Emerald Village, 331 McKinney Mine Rd.; Saturday & Sunday, 9 a.m.-6 p.m.; free; (828) 765-6463; www.emeraldvillage.com

Downtown Hendersonville goes green for this annual Memorial Day-weekend event: Eight city blocks overflow with thousands of annuals, perennials, vegetables, and herbs, including hard-to-find plants, from local and regional nurseries. Garden accoutrements abound, too, from planting tools to handcrafted lawn furniture and birdhouses. Workshops from regional gardening experts offer the chance to improve your green thumb. A Lowe’s Expo also includes workshops, and national reps from a variety of garden product companies will be on-hand to share their advice to get you growing. Organizers ask to please leave pets at home. » Downtown, Sixth Ave. to Caswell St.; Saturday & Sunday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; free; (828) 693-9708; www.visithendersonvillenc.org