Or rather, hot beans, at the Greensboro Farmers Curb Market (501 Yanceyville Street), which presents the sixth annual Chili Challenge on January 28th. From 8 a.m. to noon, teams of local chefs and market vendors square off with their combinations of beans and sauces, ranging from mild to fire-breathing hot. Their mission? To use a variety of local produce and pasture-raised meats (vegetarian entries excepted) that win your vote. What’s in it for you? Takeout, along with the recipes . . . and a full belly. Info: (336) 373-2402 or greensborofarmersmarket.org.
And where there’s smoke there’s fire — as in, the fires of love, passion and jealousy of the ill-fated love triangle in Georges Bizet’s Carmen. On January 13th and 15th, Greensboro Opera presents the ever-popular opus at UNCG Auditorium (408 Tate Street). Its wide appeal is one reason the company is staging the work, says Artistic Director David Holley. “Also, we want to vary our repertoire,” he adds, especially after presenting lighter fare —Daughter of the Regiment and Cinderella — in previous seasons. Heading up the cast is Metropolitan Opera’s mezzo-soprano Sandra Piques Eddy in the title role of the gypsy seductress and baritone David Pershall as the bullfighter, Escamillo. Tenor Dinyar Vania (known to local audiences as Cavaradossi in Piedmont Opera’s recent staging of Tosca) assumes the role of the long-suffering Don José. Varied casting is also part of Holley’s mission; “I like to bring the best vocal talent to Greensboro and combine it with the best North Carolina has to offer.” So come, all you would-be toreadors and gypsies: Love awaits! Tickets: (336) 272-0160 or greensboroopera.org.
Three Outta Four
Most Piedmont gardeners would agree: We’ve literally struck pay dirt, living in an area that has three growing seasons out of four. But how do you get the most out of the temperate conditions that Nature has so generously bestowed? Answer: Have a plan and consider succession planting. With the help of the Guilford County chapter of the N.C. Cooperative Extension (3309 Burlington Road) and Master Gardener Jeanne Aller, you can plot your plots at the January 19 seminar, “Planning the 3-Season Vegetable Garden.” Bring a pencil and paper and plenty of imagination to assure the bounty that will flourish on your own South Forty. To register: go.ncsu.edu/2017demogardeneducation.
Visual arts, dance, music, theater and comedy — on one stage? Nope, it’s not a three-ring circus, but Artrageous. The touring show, which comes to the High Point Theatre on January 14th (220 East Commerce Avenue) defies categorization with its melding of media. While singers perform, say, a Broadway tune, or a classic rock or Top 40 song, hoofers give a physical interpretation to it, as a painter creates a masterpiece to the beat; another number might incorporate a light show or standup comedy. Whatever the outcome, expect color, pizzazz, lights, cameras and lots of action. Tickets: (336) 887-3001 or highpointtheatre.com.
Happy Trails to You
The holidays may be over, but walking in a winter wonderland is just getting underway, thanks to the Greensboro Parks and Recreation department’s Winter Hike Series. If you missed the December 3rd trek along Reedy Fork Creek on the Laurel Bluff Trail, no worries. You can ring in the New Year on January 1 at 11 a.m. by intersecting the abandoned Atlantic & Yadkin Railroad bed hiking along the Nat Green Trail that offers unobscured views of Lake Brandt this time of year. On February 4, begin your hike near Strawberry Road and cross Lake Brandt via tressel on Piedmont Trail, which ends at Bur-Mil Park. Finally on March 4, loop the loop at Lake Brandt via the Palmetto and Nat Green Trail, with unusual geological features and a variety of plants and critters. Be sure to dress warmly, pack a lunch and plenty of H2O. Participation is limited, so call (336) 373-3741 for tickets or visit www.greensboro-nc.gov/lakes.
Catch the Drifts
There’s still time to appreciate the stillness and beauty and the winter season — inside. Two months into its run, In Falling Snow: Japanese Prints from the Lenoir C. Wright Collection will continue to light up Gallery 6 at Weatherspoon Art Museum (500 Tate Street) through February 26. The exhibition draws from the museum’s holdings of woodblock prints reflecting the vibrant life of 18th-century Edo (modern-day Tokyo) and consists of colorful, linear images that capture the quiet of a snowfall, the sting of cold air and the icy brilliance of starry winter nights. Info: (336) 334-5770 or weatherspoon.uncg.edu.
Maybe they read too much Hans Christian Andersen as children, or saw the 1984 flick Splash one time too many; or perhaps they have an addiction to Chicken of the Sea tuna, or maybe they, er, harbor, a Neptune complex. Whatever the reasons, for the second year, would-be mermaids, mermen and mer-children from around the world answer the siren call of N.C. Mermania on January 20 and 21 at Greensboro Aquatic Center (1921 West Gate City Boulevard). Like the performers at Weeki Watchee Springs, Florida, these enthusiasts dressed as half-humans, half-fish — some very elaborately — convene for water safety programs, kids’ story times, underwater photo ops and more. Most come for the sheer fun of playing out a fantasy, others to hone their skills as potential performers or to call attention to the ecology of the world’s oceans. So check out the spectacle where reality meets make-believe, and if you’re brave enough, don a fin and get your Esther Williams on. Tickets: ncmermania.com.
Pine Women and Song
And art, film and just about anything that sprouted from the imaginations of “women creatives,” as Anna Cone describes the muses for the inaugural issue of her and cousin Laurie Cone’s art magazine, Pine. Based in New York, the Greensboro natives launched the hefty, 144-page, ad-free tome last month at Scuppernong. With the subtitle “Brazen,” the publication salutes daring female artists including filmmaker Chantal Akerman, rock ’n’ roll pioneer Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Turkish artist Burçak Bingöl and a dozen more trailblazers. Expect more of the unexpected from subsequent issues of Pine, whose ethos, explains Laurie in the editor’s note, holds that “unabashed is beautiful, unretouched is brave, facades are cowardly, a printed piece beats an online piece, and talent shines.” Hear! Hear! Info: pine-mag.com.
Generally the best antidote for the post-holiday blahs is a healthy dose of live music among friends. But this January, I’ve still got a case of the post-election blues, so I think I’ll make mine a double. Bottoms up.
• January 5, O.Henry Hotel: The Thursday jazz series gets 2017 off to a rousing start with the enchanting Carrie Marshall. The Raleigh chanteuse will raise the already high bar even higher. It’s her first time in but I promise you it won’t be her last.
• January 6, Haw River Ballroom: If Donna the Buffalo can’t pull you out of your funk, there’s a chance you should seek professional help. As the organizers of Shakori Hills, clearly this merry band knows how to throw a party.
• January 12, Cone Denim Entertainment Center: You may know Aaron Lewis as the frontman for post-grunge rockers Staind. But after seven albums and five chart-topping singles, Lewis has morphed into a bona fide country singer. He’s probably not mainstream Nashville, but that is actually to his credit.
• January 14, Carolina Theatre: Time to get “In The Mood,” boys and girls. Big band swing is now into its third generation of aficionados, and the biggest of the big bands, the Glenn Miller Orchestra, is still leading the way. A fourth generation awaits.
• January 21, High Point Theatre: The group that is synonymous with ’60s folk music is Peter, Paul and Mary. While Mary Travers died in 2009, Peter Yarrow is carrying on the tradition. A master storyteller as well as vocalist and guitarist, Yarrow is the folkie we all wish we could be.