By Britney Grover
Madelon Wallace doesn’t just live in the Carolina Foothills; she protects them. “Horses brought me here,” she said. “I wanted a college where I could ride, and Betty Oare was the one who told me about Converse College in Spartanburg, South Carolina. That led to me spending a lot of time in the Tryon area, as it was where we went to foxhunt and horse show.”
With a background in hunters and riding with Frank Gombolay, Howard Lewis and Don Snellings, Madelon took a job breaking yearlings and galloping racehorses at Fairview Farms after college in 1971. “Tony Wallace was the farm manager and trainer. I didn’t plan for it to be a career, but married the boss and never left.”
Tony and Madelon raised their daughter, Megan, on Fairview Farms. “Now I have a 2 1/2-year-old granddaughter, Scarlet, who lives with her mom and dad in San Francisco, so I see a pony in my future for her!” Madelon shared. She stopped riding when responsibilities became too much as a realtor — which soon included conservation projects. To date, Madelon has helped to protect over 2,000 acres in the Carolina Foothills from development and was a key player in a community-wide effort that persuaded a large power company to abandon plans for a major transmission line through the area.
“Our area, now known as the Carolina Foothills, is four towns in three counties and two states, but we’re one economic and cultural area, and the heart of the Foothills Horse Country.” Madelon’s passion for the unique community makes her the perfect candidate to share a few of the wonders to be found in Tryon, Columbus and Saluda, North Carolina, and Landrum, South Carolina.
“The cool thing about the Carolina Foothills is having four very different towns just about 10–15 minutes apart,” Madelon said. “I cross the state line numerous times a day just in my daily work. My office is in Landrum and I live just outside Landrum, so my basic grocery shopping is just minutes from my house. But with so many cool local shops, I can fill in with the fresh vegetables and locally made foods and special ingredients that are abundant.”
For some of those specialty ingredients, Landrum’s Stone Soup is Madelon’s top choice — as well as for take-out, lunch, dinner and even cocktails. “Stone Soup is full of the ‘horsy’ feel of the area, with the walls full of horses and people you know, some of whom you’ll meet.” The whole family can enjoy Stone Soup — including canine members. “It’s owned by a good friend, Suzanne, who just put in a local dog park in the extensive backyard so there’s activity there all the time.” Eat out back with your favorite pup, or grab a frozen dinner and accompanying fresh-baked goods and take it home. If you’re staying for dinner, Madelon loves the Southwestern Salad with Blackened Shrimp, as well as the new favorite, Arugula and Pear Salad with Caramelized Walnuts. Another Landrum favorite is Southern Delights & More, an ice cream and sandwich shop. “I love their corn and shrimp chowder,” Madelon shared.
“If I’m in Tryon, I go to 10 North Trade,” she continued. “They only serve breakfast and lunch but the food is always fresh and the service is good. In Saluda, the Purple Onion is always my first choice. Their custom pizzas are my favorites, especially the Gluten Free Mushroom and Caramelized Onion. I love the patio and usually take a quick look in the shops if I have time, as they’re filled with locally made crafts and really interesting gifts made by area artists.”
If it’s shopping you’re after, the Carolina Foothills have something for every taste — equestrian or otherwise. Family owned and managed for over 30 years, The Farm House is known around the nation as a quality tack store with top-notch service. For horsy gifts or state-of-the-art tack, visit The Farm House in Landrum, or shop online from wherever you are at farmhousetack.com. “We have so many stores that you can pop into and always find something when you need a quick fix for an outfit, like a new top or a scarf or some other accessory,” said Madelon. “The Heartwood Gallery in Saluda is my first stop when I need a special wedding present or that unusual gift for someone. Tryon has some wonderful new shops in the newly renovated old Missildines Building, retail with condos above. Very cool. My favorite is Carolina Confections; Julia has amazing chocolates. She has also brought back the historic Tryon Toymakers line made by local craftsmen. I love Sissy’s in Landrum when looking for a new affordable outfit, and Fashion 200 always has a great find when I go by there.”
When it comes to great finds, the Carolina Foothills towns are attractions in themselves. For tourists, Madelon recommends “just visiting the towns and wandering around the shops. All four towns are uniquely different, with lots of local craft artists and antiques.” For entertainment, the Tryon Fine Arts Center has a full schedule of events, and the local Tryon Little Theatre does four shows a year. During the summer, both Tryon and Landrum have free music-in-the-park events. “There’s zip lining and river rafting for those looking for thrills,” said Madelon, “and hiking in any number of parks in both North and South Carolina.”
Of course, one of many area crowning jewels is the horse shows. “This area is full of equestrian tradition,” Madelon shared. “We have two local and area show venues, Harmon Field and FENCE, and now the new Tryon International Equestrian Center. Whether you’re just starting a young horse or a young child or are a regular A-circuit competitor, there’s something here for you. The two local venues have that local flavor that so many big shows just no longer have. However, when you can and want to compete at the highest level, we now have that, too, with the new equestrian center. Saturday Night Lights at Tryon International is a big thing locally and is usually packed with families both local and from neighboring cities.” Tryon International Equestrian Center will be home to the 2018 World Equestrian Games, attracting the top equestrian athletes from around the world.
No matter your plans for exploring the area, the history and beauty is sure to come to life as soon as you make yourself at home. “My first choice would be the Red Horse Inn in Landrum, voted one of the most romantic inns in the country,” said Madelon. “The Pine Crest Inn in Tryon has a long history, and Saluda has the Orchard Inn and numerous B&Bs.”
Though the equestrian center and the events held there are of international caliber, the Carolina Foothills welcome visitors with the area’s rural history, culture and charm — and people like Madelon who are passionate about keeping it that way. “Our area has been lucky that we’ve been able to preserve the small-town feel surrounded by a rural atmosphere,” she summarized. “You can grab a quick coffee at one of our specialty coffee shops featuring home baked goods, enjoy an interesting array of pizza opportunities, locally made foods to go and fine dining for that special evening. The numerous wineries offer tasting evenings and music on the weekends. Every time I leave the area, I realize just how lucky I am to live in such a beautiful place with people who are passionate about the area, too.”
For more information and to plan your trip, visit ourcarolinafoothills.com.