Community invited to Wilma Dykeman’s 101st birthday anniversary as part of River Arts District celebration

Wilma Dykeman
Author and environmentalist Wilma Dykeman grew up in the Beaverdam community. Her first book, "The French Broad," published in 1955, was the first winner of the Thomas Wolfe Literary Award.



Hey Asheville! Bring your friends to 8 River Arts Place at 3 pm Thursday (May 20) and help the community honor author Wilma Dykeman. 

Dykeman, who has meant so much to the development of the French Broad Riverfront that the community named the new greenway after her, would have been 101 years old on this date! Here is a list of events to commemorate her birthday:


  • 3 pm play reading: Actress Lauren Fortuna will read from an in-progress work: a  one-woman play about Wilma Dykeman.    
  • 3:30 pm discussion: Jim Stokely from the Wilma Dykeman Legacy and Lauren Fortuna will take your Wilma-related questions on writing, the arts, environmental justice, the French Broad river and the region.  
  • 4-6 pm cupcakes and flowers: Wilma’s favorite color was a deep shade of purple, so we’ll be giving friends in all shades of violet a celebratory cupcake between 4-6 pm (until they last) on May 20, her birthday, Purple hair = 2 cupcakes. Seeds and flowers available as an alternative! (and if you aren’t wearing purple, we will probably let it slide and give you something to celebrate!) 


This event is sponsored by Wilma Dykeman Legacy and the City of Asheville as part of the month-long celebration of the completion of the River Arts District Transportation Improvement Project. The celebration ends Saturday May 22. 

Find remaining events, including the RAD Relay and Rec and Roll, at


The RADTIP project was made possible due to our visionary and diligent community members, staff and elected officials from the City of Asheville, and a host of other government agencies; and with the help of the following funders: United States Department of Transportation, Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority, North Carolina Stormwater Management Trust Fund, and the North Carolina Parks and Recreation Trust Fund.