Waynesville holds its annual Apple Harvest Festival this weekend. In between fruits and other fall treats, one booth is really hoping to "Wow" attendees.
Katie Higgs is one of the founding members of Women of Waynesville(WOW), a nonprofit that raises money for organizations that support women and children in Haywood County. Their booth at the festival gets a lot of stares and raised eyebrows but isn’t selling anything dirty. Just calendars of women posing mostly nude in thematic outfits - but that hasn’t stopped the reactions, says Higgs.
“One year I saw this family coming with like little kids and when they realized what we were she literally put her hands over her children's eyes and shuffled them along,” says Higgs. “And I was like we were born naked what’s so bad?”
Board member Jessi Stone says this is the 8th year they’ll sell the calendars, featuring women from 30 to 80-years-old. Think the iconic rom-com film “Calendar Girls.”
“We’re showing real women - in all their glory - tastefully - we want to expand the narrow view of beauty that our society has,” says Stone, who is the editor of the Smoky Mountain News.
Michelle Jacobs is WOW’s Vice President. She recently turned 50.
“So the very first one I was full butt naked and the only thing I was wearing was gardening boots and I had a gardening hoe,” says Jacobs, painting a picture of her June look where she faced away from the camera.
This year’s theme is “shattering the glass ceiling” so the almost 30 women dressed up for traditionally male jobs - such as lumberjacks - which they call lumberjills.
Most of the group is from outside of North Carolina. President Tatia Childers is a mother to five children. She remembers moving here from San Diego in 2015:
“It’s weird moving somewhere where you don’t know any body as an older woman and being like ‘will you be my friend,” Childer explains. “And then they all said, ‘yeah!’ so I’m like ‘right on!’ ”
Last year the calendars made about $8,000 for the organization. Overall the group has helped donate about $100,000 to women and children in the county. Beyond traditional donations WOW also gives money directly to women who need security deposits or emergency funds in the community. During the holidays they also pay off layover gifts at the local Walmart.