MINIs on the Dragon 2023

We spent most of last week at the annual MINIs On the Dragon event in Fontana Village in western North Carolina right at the Tennessee border. There is too much for one post, so I’ll have more for you later, but for today get a cuppa and settle in for a picture heavy post. I’ve posted about this fun time before, showing the facility, the cabins, and our drives in MINIs on the Dragon 2019, and the socially distant, unofficial MINIs on the Dragon 2021, with a year off during covid. Our trip in 2022 was abbreviated, but we still had some fun with friends in Playing with MINIs on the Dragon. This year was much of the same, seeing friends we only see at this event, and making new friends as well.

When we got to Fontana Village, the first day was spent doing volunteer duties, helping with decorating the dining hall in the morning and working registration all afternoon. I was given the job of assembling the centerpieces. The plan was already worked out, I just needed to put them together. While My Sweet Babboo and another volunteer blew up the balloons using a pump, I assembled them on chargers with the hats and flags, and the main top celebrating 20 years. We had them on the tables for the Welcome Dinner that night.

Lining up for several runs the next morning, lots of MINIs all in a row ready for a run to Highlands. Another group was headed to the Dragon, the twisty road with 318 turns in 11 miles. Still another group was going to Tennessee. More drives left later in the morning. With 600 folks and over 400 MINIs, it takes a lot of planning.

Our group drove to Highlands, North Carolina, along arbored roads with lots of curves. The shades of green in the trees were amazing.

We stopped at Bridal Veil Falls for a photo op. You can walk around behind the falls, but it was too many steps for me to get down and back up. So, My Sweet Babboo took this photo. I could see the falls from an overlook at the top.

We also stopped at Dry Falls. This one was right on the main road, and was also accessible to walk behind the water. I could do this one easily. My Sweet Babboo took this photo as well.

On Saturday afternoon, we went over to the Tapoco Lodge to watch the kayaks coming down the rapids. I found out that I have been pronouncing this wrong for years. The correct way is tah-POH-coh. The weekend we were there was a scheduled release of water on the river sponsored by the Nantahala Outdoor Center partnered with American Whitewater. It is done to preserve places like this in our area for kayak enthusiasts to run the rapids on the Cheoah River. There are 16 scheduled releases this year.

The kayakers seemed to be enjoying this part of the river. Their crafts and paddles are wonderfully colorful.

Most did a great job of running the rapids, without getting turned around or upside down.

One side was a bit more treacherous than the other.

They came past the spot where we were sitting, then then around the bend and under a bridge. We saw a lot of them while we were there, coming in groups of three to five.

Later Saturday afternoon, we had a ‘car show’ where some of us parked and voted on silly categories just for fun. Ours is the red one, and those are chili peppers hanging from the mirror. MINIs have names, and ours is called Caliente.

In the evenings, we had dinners to attend and fun activities to do for socializing, including a ‘cabin crawl’ visiting cabins with snacks and drinks provided by various clubs from all over the region – from Florida to NC to Georgia – on Thursday evening. The last meal on Saturday had these cupcakes arranged in a British flag with the number 20, to celebrate 20 years of MINIs on the Dragon.

Amazingly, we have another car quilt to see. This one was made as a charity raffle, a t-shirt quilt with every t-shirt from each year of the 20 years of the event. It was made by my friend Laura Suich of Meandering Stitches. She did an amazing job, with details you might not notice. First, her husband donated his two shirts from the first two years of the event. Quite a sacrifice as he’d had them for all those years.

She did a great job making them all fit, as the graphics were different sizes.

Fun to see all the different designs over the 20 years of this event.

On the back, she had permission to print the official map of the Dragon on fabric as it was a charity fundraiser. She also designed a dragon scale and had that printed on fabric, too.

The extraordinary thing was in the quilting. Laura’s husband digitized an outline of a MINI so she could import it into her longarm program, and quilt MINIs into the stitching. How fun is that!

This close up shot of the dragon scale print shows the MINI in the quilting too.

The raffle was a huge success, raising over $2000 for the Graham County food bank. The winner was a long time Dragon participant, and she was over the moon excited. She was sitting right next to us when her ticket was called.

We had a great time away from cell phones and internet, just enjoying the roads and socializing with friends. We had more fun on the other days, and I’ll have more for you next time.

21 thoughts on “MINIs on the Dragon 2023

  1. Nancy @ Grace and Peace Quilting

    Wow, a big event! Friends drove the dragon last year on their Harley, so I’ve heard of it. Everything in your area is especially interesting to me, now that our daughter is in college there.

  2. Julie

    Thanks for sharing, and how about that, another quilt! Somebody’s listening & putting two good activities together.

  3. Diann@ Little Penguin Quilts

    Looks like a lot of fun, Carole! Beautiful scenery and lots to do. I would love seeing those waterfalls!

  4. sounds like you had fun – I love watching kayakers but would not get in one for anything – I don’t swim and have a mild fear of water

  5. Oh my! What a weekend! It looks like loads of fun — and I love those balloon/hat pieces and of course that Brit flag, too. I’ve never been rafting. I’m not sure it would end well but it looks fun!

  6. Patty Brenner

    What a fun day – I get a little vertigo thinking about those 318 turns 🙂 The quilt is fabulous, no surprise that the winner would be over the moon. Thanks for taking us along on your adventures!

  7. What a fun time with good friends! We held a family reunion in Fontana Village in 1991 and the kids still talk about it. It is a fabulous venue with so many activities and a great place to really enjoy beautiful country views. I’m envious that you get to spend time there.

  8. Judy Andrew

    So enjoyed this recent trip w/pics, felt like I was right back there w/you! Have been to the Bridal Falls & walked behind it. Ate @ a fancy Italian restaurant in the Highlands & remember being very nauseous on the way back to my daughters. Am not use to drinking alcohol & the wine my daughter had me try @ the restaurant was a bit too much! Still I enjoyed this little trip.

  9. jseccurrtwcnyrrcom

    Love that mini image in the quilting of the mini quilt! Genius!

    Enjoyed the photos especially the kayakers!

  10. lois92346

    Another fun packed event! I think my heart would have been in my mouth watching the kayakers. Hats off to Laura for putting together that wonderful quilt and to the lucky winner!

  11. Such a fun filled “mini” vacay. Thank you for sharing. I enjoyed every picture and comment. The quilt is amazing. So much personalization incorporated into it. The winner must have been over the moon with excitement.

  12. LOVE LOVE LOVE all the photos. Especially the one where you can walk under! I can see a young lady sitting there waiting for her “beau!” The quilt had me gobsmacked. I’ve done these before and NEVER thought they could be this beautiful! She set the bar WAY up there. Thanks for sharing – I feel like I had a day out in the woods.

  13. Jean McKinstry

    What a grand event, and the quilt, lots of planning to fir them in perfectly, and a great result, love all those green shades in the trees and the views.

  14. What a lovely blog post. Brought back memories of when my husband and I had mini cooper’s many years ago. My friend Julie Mackenzie gave me the link to your blog post and it was a lovely read. I am in the U.K. and to see so many mini’s macros the pond was lovely.

  15. Mary

    What a fantastic weekend. What a lot of planning to bring it all together. Lovely meeting up with old friends and making new ones as well.
    Looking forward to further updates. :))

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