Travel

Easy Escapes | Wild West awaits in Love Valley

A covered wagon comes through Love Valley, N.C.
A covered wagon comes through Love Valley, N.C. Courtesy photo

Growing up as a kid watching cowboys become heroes on television, we’ve all had imaginings of what it would be like to ride into town from the trail, hitch our horse to the post, saunter through the swinging doors of the saloon and commune with other characters of the Wild West.

If it’s on your bucket list — or you’re just looking for a very cool way to spend time with the family — you’re in luck. And best yet, you don’t have to go to Wyoming or Montana to find it.

Located in a remote valley of North Carolina’s Brushy Mountains, just north of Statesville, sits Love Valley, an authentic western town replete with dirt streets, old western buildings, hitching posts, saloon, general store, blacksmith’s shop and the like. There are no reenactments, no plays. People here (population hovers around 100) are living the western lifestyle. You’ll see a lot of blue jeans, chaps, western hats and horses. You’ll experience a lot of riding and roping and corralling.

No cars are allowed on the town’s streets, but you will see the occasional wagon, buggy or stagecoach. Four-legged transportation rules, but there is parking for wheeled vehicles.

Riding trails that are open all year spread out over thousands of acres of land and are accessible free of charge.

In town, you can also shop at the gift shop and tack shop and hardware store. There are a few restaurants and drinking establishments. You can hang your hat for the night at Miss Kitty’s Room & Board or Hitchin’ Rail Rooms. Cabins are in abundance in the area surrounding the town and, of course, you can sleep under the stars at one of the many campsites or RV parks.

Film crews discovered this unique spot for the movies “Vengeance Without Mercy,” “Confederate Zombie” and “Devil’s Crossing.”

Visitors will be thoroughly entertained as the town comes alive with numerous events. The Love Valley Arena offers horse shows, rodeos and parades while events in the town provide family fun, concerts, poker rides, chili cook-offs, food and festivities. Events are common around Easter, Labor Day, Fourth of July, Memorial Day and Veterans Day.

Love Valley was established in 1954. Always dreaming of being a cowboy, Andy Barker left his successful Charlotte, N.C.-based contracting firm behind and moved onto the land that was to become Love Valley. The town was built, starting with a church, and grew to include the arena, stores and a post office. Barker was the town’s second mayor; his father was the first, a title he held until his death in 2011. The town was chartered in 1963, the same year it was moved to overlook the arena.

In 1970, Love Valley was the site of the Love Valley Rock Festival, which presented the Allman Brothers as headliners. More than 100,000 people descended on the town to participate in the festival. For more information on Love Valley, visit www.townoflovevalley.com.

Upcoming events

▪ MALV Annual Fun Show, Love Valley Arena, 10 a.m., June 6 | This is a daylong event for children packed full of horse games and events. Concessions will be available. For more information, call or email Donna at 336-250-0465, donna.lynn.lovevalley@gmail.com.

▪ Love Valley Founder Recognition Day (Andy Barker, 7/4/1924-8/11/2011), Main Street, 4:30 p.m., July 4 | “Fun in the Sun” with kids’ games will begin at 4:30 p.m.; Founders Day Parade will begin at 7:30 p.m. Watch as the horses ride by on main street in honor of Barker. For more information, call Kathy at 704-904-7278.

▪ 20th annual Chili Cook-off, Jolly’s Event Field, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Oct. 10 | Join in a day of karaoke, crafts, yard sales, chili, Mule Bingo and more. For more information, call or email Donna at 336-250-0465, donna.lynn.lovevalley@gmail.com.

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