Calling all fandom members: head to the inaugural Beer City Comic Con, dubbed, “Asheville’s smartest comic con.” The weekend event is jam-packed with all sorts of sci-fi related activities, including intellectual seminars and panel discussions, a pop-up dance, costume contest, a Star Trek comedy show, and a performance of Star Wars: Celebrating a Galaxy of Music by the Asheville Symphony Orchestra. There are also dozens of geek-inspired artists and vendors onsite, making this convention the ultimate weekend for comic book enthusiasts. » Harrah’s Cherokee Center, 87 Haywood St.; Friday 3 p.m.-6:30 p.m., Saturday 11 a.m.-6 p.m., Sunday noon-6 p.m.; $25-$72; info@beercitycomiccon.com; www.beercitycomiccon.com

Welcome the cooler temps of fall with a run. “Grab your lederhosen and lace up your running shoes! We are excited for the 3rd running of the Oktoberfest Half Marathon & 5k and a return to the Hi-Wire River Arts District Beer Garden,” says Leslie Grotenhuis, with Kick It Event Management. This race runs through the River Arts District, the historic Montford neighborhood, and West Asheville, while being partially flanked by Asheville’s French Broad River Greenways. Prizes will be awarded to not only the fastest runners but also the Middle of the Pack in addition to costume awards. Kick It is also working with several WNC nonprofits, such as Brother Wolf Animal Shelter, The Kiwanis Club of Asheville, Consider Haiti, the Mills River Partnership and more. Participants over 21 will have a beer from the Hi-Wire Brewing included in their registration fee so they can toast their achievement at the finish line party. »  River Arts District, downtown Asheville; Saturday, half 7:30 a.m., 5k 7:45 a.m.; $85 half, $55 5k;  www.kickitevents.com

A full-day festival at Western Carolina University focuses on old-time fun, including wagon rides, sack races, and clogging. There are heritage craft demonstrations, from wood carving to Cherokee basket-making. On the main stage and in tents, gospel, old time, bluegrass and acoustic musicians entertain, along with cloggers. There’s a classic car show and chainsaw competition. The highlight is the Cherokee stickball demonstration and match, keeping alive a sport that’s been played in the mountains for hundreds of years.  » Western Carolina University, 1 University Way; Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; www.wcu.edu

The largest Pride celebration in the region kicks off with a family-friendly procession to Pack Square that all are welcome to join (procession begins at 10 a.m.). Speakers and performers take to the stage, while close to 150 vendors and local organizations are on hand with food, arts, and merch for sale. Entertainment includes karaoke, sing-alongs, musical, and drag performances. » Pack Square Park, 80 Court Plaza; Saturday, 11 a.m.-7 p.m.; free; (828) 423-0655; www.blueridgepride.org

Join Organic Growers School in celebrating 30 years of community education with a family-friendly day of fun. The nonprofit organization, “inspires, educates, and supports people to farm, garden, and live organically.” At the festival, enjoy live music, catered food and beverages, and a seed and plant share from some of our region’s local farmers. » Smoky Park Supper Club, 350 Riverside Dr.; Saturday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.; free; (828) 214-7833; www.organicgrowersschool.org

For over 100 years, the Cherokee Indian Fair has been a premier annual event in the Cherokee community. A combination of a classic country fair—with carnival rides, games, and food—and a cultural celebration featuring traditional Cherokee arts and crafts, the Miss Cherokee competition, and stickball matches, the fair spans a week, with themed days including Elders Day, Parade Day, and Children’s Day. Try Cherokee fry bread and traditional weaving or pottery during craft demonstrations. » Cherokee Fairgrounds, 545 Tsali Blvd.; Tuesday-Saturday, ;$10; (800) 438-1601; www.visitcherokeenc.com

This is the 14th year for this popular event, which “celebrates the fall season with thousands of “leaf peepers” who travel through the Cashiers area to enjoy the wonderful hues of red, orange, and yellow that signify the beginning of this highly anticipated season,” says Shelby Batchelor, community event and volunteer coordinator. More than 90 regional artisan vendors will be displaying their wares. Visitors will find unique handcrafted wood, pottery, jewelry and much more on display and for purchase throughout the weekend. Food, drink, and live music add to the festive spirit of this event. » The Village Green of Cashiers, 160 Frank Allen Rd.; Friday & Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Sunday, 10 a.m-3 p.m.; free; (828) 743-3434; www.villagegreencashiersnc.com.

Darnell Farms, a second-generation agri-tourism farm, hosts several bluegrass and folk bands throughout the day, so grabbing a rockin’ chair and settling in for the sounds of the South is highly recommended. Local vendors will also be onsite for shopping, and, for the family, enjoy hayrides, a pumpkin patch, and caramel apples. Don’t forget to grab the farm’s signature frozen treat—DreamWhip—in its signature flavors (pineapple, peach, and more). » Darnell Farms, 2300 Governors Island Rd.; Saturday, 10 a.m.; free; (828) 488-2376; www.darnellfarms.com

Celebrating eight years, this festival always boasts a good crowd. The 2023 event benefits Friendly Fields Farm, a nonprofit animal rescue and sanctuary in Waynesville that’s home to more than 100 rescued animals. The farm’s mission is to rescue farm animals from situations of abandonment, neglect, slaughter and abuse and provide a safe forever home for them. There will be plenty of vegan food, clothes, and artisan booths available, in addition to live music and a family fun zone with free face painting. Plus, a raffle will provide lucky winners with great swag and VIP packages can be purchased. Additionally, a live vendor map will show attendees which vendors are on board and where their booths will be located. » Pack Square Park, 80 Court Plaza; Sunday, 11 a.m.-6 p.m.; free but $5 donation appreciated; www.ashevilleveganfest.com.

This annual fall festival is the main fundraiser for the WNC Cheese Trail, a cooperative effort that promotes the artisan cheese makers of Western North Carolina. The nonprofit facilitates education and tourism, spreading the word about the region’s talented artisan cheesemakers and their products. The Carolina Mountain Cheese Fest features cheese-friendly businesses that you might find on or near a pairing board. This year’s festival is set to be even bigger, with more choice in ticket levels, booths, educational activities and fun! Beyond the plethora of delicious and unique cheeses that will be at CMCF ’23, attendees will also have the chance to sample and purchase products from the supporting WNC Cheese Trail community which includes winemakers, cideries, gourmet food producers, and more.  » Oak and Grist, 1556 Grovestone Rd.; Sunday, 11:30 a.m.-5 p.m.; ticket prices vary; www.wnccheesetrail.org

Bluegrass and clogging meet the bagpipes at this local festival that celebrates the music and dance traditions of the mountains. Local food and beverages and arts and crafts vendors round out the celebration. This small local event is the perfect opportunity to enjoy entertainment during peak fall color. Performances are held on an outdoor stage, so bring your own picnic blanket or camp chairs. » Kelsey-Hutchinson Founders Park, 411 Pine St.; Saturday, 3 p.m.-7 p.m.; director@highlandschamber.org; www.highlandschamber.org

Get a head start on your holiday shopping at this biannual event presented by the Southern Highlands Craft Guild. More than 100 creators and makers gather to exhibit their wares, including works in glass, fiber, wood, metal, clay, leather, and mixed media. Browse crafts and also take in live artist demonstrations. » Harrah’s Cherokee Center, 87 Haywood St.; Thursday-Sunday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; $9; (828) 523-4110; www.southernhighlandguild.org

Culture, food, and music—including headliners Choctaw folk/blues singer Martha Redbone and Halluci Nation, a three-piece outfit that blends electronica, hip-hop, and reggae—converge at the LEAF festival on Lake Eden. The focus for this year’s global gathering is to, “exalt and pay homage to First Nations, Indigenous, and LatinX communities as we journey through the captivating theme of the Legends of The Americas.” Proceeds enable LEAF Global Arts to provide arts education in WNC and in 10 countries worldwide. »  Lake Eden, Lake Eden Rd.; Thursday-Sunday; $215-$254 weekend with overnights, $180-$228 youth, $145 weekend, $125 youth, $67 Friday, $57 youth, $79 Saturday, $71 youth, $67 Sunday, $55 youth; (828) 686-8742; www.theleaf.org

An event quite like no other, the annual Woolly Worm Festival takes place every year on the third weekend of October, and this festival marks the 46th year of the very popular event. The festival features crafts, food vendors, live entertainment, and much more. Past festivals have attracted an estimated 20,000 fans, 170 vendors and around 1,000 race entrants.That would be race entrants for the highly competitive (and occasionally scandalous!) Woolly Worm Races, perhaps the highlight of the entire weekend. First, though, the worms are thoroughly examined to ensure they ARE woolly worms. And they get named, if they don’t already have one. One official whispered: “We get some ringers sometimes!” After several “heats”, a winner is declared, taking home bragging rights and having the honor of predicting the High Country’s weather for the 13 weeks of winter. Each woolly has 13 segments, corresponding to each week. Sunday marks the Corporate Woolly Worm Race, wherein the winning woolly nabs bragging rights for its business sponsor.  »  Historic Banner Elk Elementary School, 185 Azalea Circle; Saturday 9 a.m.-5 p.m. & Sunday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; ticket prices vary; (828) 898-5605; www.woollyworm.com

This annual street festival in charming downtown Waynesville is a delicious way to enjoy the tastes of the fall season. Sponsored in part by the Haywood Chamber of Commerce, this premier arts and crafts event celebrates all things apple—including bags of fresh apples, caramel and candy apples, pastries with apple fillings, and so much more. All of this, while basking in the stunning beauty of the Great Smoky Mountains. Savor food from two food courts and stroll the historic Main Street filled with vendors, as well as a big variety of shops and restaurants. Enjoy live music from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. on the stage in the United Community Bank parking lot and a smaller location on Depot Street. » Downtown, 9 South Main St.; Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; free; (828) 456-3021; www.haywoodchamber.com

Celebrate autumn and absolutely everything pumpkin at the 27th annual Pumpkinfest. People of all ages are sure to delight in this street festival, pegged as Franklin’s largest.  Children and adults alike will have a blast taking part in traditional and some very non-traditional fall festivities including the “World Famous Pumpkin Roll” contest—seeing who can roll a pumpkin the greatest distance down Phillips Street, nabbing bragging rights and a $100 grand prize in the process. Free pony rides, a large kids zone area for games, a parade and costume contest at 1 p.m. and so much more will be on tap. » Downtown; Saturday, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.; free to attend (pumpkin roll entry is $1; pumpkins for purchase are $5 each); (828) 524-2516; www.franklinnc.com 

It’s a bird, it’s a plane—no, it’s a pumpkin soaring through the sky during this annual event that involves homemade catapults, slingshots, and air cannons built to chuck pumpkins the farthest possible distance. It’s not only the pumpkins that will be gliding in the wind; airplane rides can take you to new heights (and for those that prefer to stay on land, enjoy a hayride). This event is all about the quintessential fall gourd with an anything-pumpkin chili cookoff and a pumpkin pie-eating contest. » 811 Settawig Rd.; Saturday & Sunday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; $5 parking, $5 admission; (828) 389-3704; www.claychambernc.com

The White Zombie 5k celebrates Catawba Brewing’s very popular White Zombie White Ale. Escape a zombie apocalypse in the most fun way. Runners will make their way through three  “zombie outbreak zones.” Don't worry, these zombies aren't out for blood, more like roaming around the neighborhood. Toast your escape at the end of the race with a White Zombie Ale or one of Catawba’s other flagship beers (beer is included in registration fee). All runners receive a race t-shirt and a professionally chip timed 5k. Awards for the fastest runner as well as costume awards for the best zombie runners. » South Slope Taproom, 32 Banks Ave.; Saturday, 9 a.m.; $45; www.kickitevents.com

Now in its 12th year, the annual celebration brings brews, food, and fun to the small town of Tryon. Nearly two dozen breweries from across the Carolinas will be pouring their finest craft brews, and there will be plenty of food (including local food truck favorites), fun, and games, according to Michelle Newman, director of development for the town. Music will be provided by the Rich Nelson Band and Suburban Angst throughout the event. VIP ticket holders get a private indoor suite with food and special swag, she says.  » Tryon Depot Plaza, 22 Depot St.; Saturday, noon-6 p.m.; $50 General Admission, $100 VIP; www.tryonbeerfest.com

Pottery aficionados know this long-running show is the place to go for new pieces by some of the country’s best artists working in clay. This year, the festival was voted one of the top 20 arts events for November by the Southeast Tourism Society. Catch firing demos throughout the day (every 30 minutes), and on the Friday before the exhibition, check out the “Clay Olympics,” a contest amongst the artists to see who can “throw down” the hardest. »  Sylva Park Bridge, Railroad Ave.; Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; $5; wncpotteryfest@gmail.com; www.wncpotteryfestival.com

Jus’ Running presents the 23rd Annual Asheville Turkey Trot 5K and Gobble Wobble 1 Mile Fun Run on Thanksgiving day, with a portion of the proceeds benefiting MANNA Food Bank. Race day packet pickup will be at Pack Square Park from 7 a.m. until 8:30 a.m.The race starts on Woodfin Street in front of the Downtown YMCA and finishes at Pack Square Park. » Woodfin YMCA, 30 Woodfin St.; Thursday, 8:30 a.m. (Gobble Wobble), 9:15 a.m. (Turkey Trot); $45+ fee, race day;  www.ashevilleturkeytrot.com 

As the weather begins to chill, Banner Elk brings out the holiday cheer with a weekend full of Christmas magic. On Friday, kick off the celebration with a tree lighting downtown followed by a musical variety show. Saturday’s schedule is packed from start to finish; race through Tate Evans Park in the annual Reindeer Run 5K, decorate ornaments and Christmas cookies, sing carols, and much more during the family-friendly weekend. » Multiple venues; Friday-Sunday, times vary; free-prices vary; (828) 898-8395; www.bannerelk.org