Fort Definance Oyster Roast – A Celebration of Pioneer Life

oyster roast

The picturesque mountain towns in North Carolina visible, nestled in their magnificent natural surroundings, offer a wealth of resources for not just the outdoor enthusiast but anyone with an interest in local and national history.

And one area attraction not to be missed is Fort Defiance, the 18th century home of General William Lenoir.  Considered one of the country’s most remarkable restorations, it features more than three hundred original furnishings and artifacts used by six generations of the Lenoir family. 

William Lenoir was a surveyor who went on to serve in the state legislature and then as president of the Council of State and president of the first Board of Trustees of the University of North Carolina. The City of Lenoir and Lenoir County bear his name. But he first came to prominence as a Major General in the North Carolina militia with his written account of the Battle of Kings Mountain, a turning point in the American colonies’ fight for independence.  

Before the war, General Lenoir had constructed a fort on the banks of the Yadkin River to protect the settlers from attacks by Native American tribes.  He began building his house on the same site in 1788, overseeing every detail of the process himself.  Upon completion four years later, Lenoir named it Fort Defiance in tribute to the earlier structure. 

Visitors to NC mountain communities love to include a trip to Fort Defiance, where they enjoy a costumed guided tour that evokes an authentic feel of frontier life during the period of our country’s war for independence.  Wandering the vast property, they come upon remnants of an English boxwood garden that dates back more than two centuries, a smokehouse and a reconstructed kitchen. There’s plant life that’s found nowhere else:  a 200-year-old hybrid chestnut tree, a bald cypress and the largest American Beech tree in North Carolina.  The graves in the Lenoir family cemetery, including that of daughter Elizabeth, vividly illustrate the struggles and hardships endured by our forefathers. 

The second Saturday of each October offers a really special treat –  the Fort Defiance Oyster Roast.  This annual celebration draws more than three hundred hungry seafood lovers from mountain towns in North Carolina to its mouth-watering array of steamed oysters, fried flounder and Brunswick stew – plus a fine selection of beers and wines.  The Oyster Roast is one of the biggest fund-raising events supporting the continued preservation of historic Fort Defiance, and people mark their calendars every year to enjoy a day of live music, a silent auction and of course all that great food.  The address is 1792 Fort Defiance Drive in Lenoir.  That’s on Highway 268, about 5.5 miles northeast of Highway 321.   

People considering the more obvious advantages of living in NC mountain communities such as Lenoir are surprised and delighted to learn how many cultural treasures there are to enjoy within such a short driving distance. Being free of the stress of city living doesn’t mean giving up access to the things that interest you. Settle into a beautiful mountain home on riverfront property at the Coves Mountain River Club, for example, and you can take advantage of all that 3600 acre gated community has to offer while still being just minutes away from the countless adventures and experiences that are unique to your Western North Carolina surroundings.

The Coves Mountain River Club is situated between the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Brushy Mountains, surrounded by tall hardwood forests. You’ll find prime fishing and boating on the Catawba River, Lake Rhodiss, Lake Hickory and Wilson Creek.  And of course there are plenty of hiking and biking trails. 

One of the most appealing things about living in this area is the changing of the seasons, when you’re in the prime spot to watch the leaves change from rich green to a unique palette of red, yellow and orange.  Because of the varying elevations and diverse foliage, you can enjoy one of the longest viewing periods in the country for this annual display of spectacular natural beauty. And the best part, living in the foothills, you’ll rarely experience snow.

If you’re planning a visit to Lenoir, set aside some time to come by and see us. Let’s share a glass of wine, take a tour and be awed by an unforgettable mountain sunset. 

Call us directly at 828.754.0700 to schedule a tour.

If you’re exploring the area for the first time, ask for our 84-page complimentary Western North Carolina Visitor’s Guide, which gives you more information about living in the foothills of North Carolina.

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