Carolina Mountain Life - Summer 2023

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Carolina Mountain Life

read us online at


Lovin’ Summer . . . . . . a wonderful read for 26 years!










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Caddyshack Café • Luna Thai • Mountain Grounds Coffee & Tea Reid’s Café • Bella’s Italian • Fred and Larry’s Coffee China House • Subway • McDonald’s • Sugar Cream Ice Cream Shop


Resort Real Estate & Rentals • Vacasa Rentals • Sugar Mountain Lodging Highlands at Sugar • Sugar Ski & Country Club


Attractions: Sugar Mountain Public Golf • Sugar Mountain Public Tennis Sugar Mtn Resort Bike Park & Lift Rides • Sugar Creek Gem Mine Wilderness Run Alpine Coaster & Adventure Course • High Country Expeditions Shop: Provisions on Sugar • Abode Home • Erick’s Cheese & Wine Headquarters Bike + Outdoor • Ski Country Sports • The Marketplace at Curiosity Those Were the Days Antiques • ABC Store • Food Lion • Lowe’s Foods Discounted Name Brands • Blue Flowers CBD • Sugar Vapor Co. • Russell Cellular for Verizon Pamper: Battle Born Beauty • Root Down Hair Studio • Rachel’s Reflections Organic Hair Design • Hollywood Nails • Blossom Nails


June 9–Aug 30 Wednesdays: Grillin & Chillin Concerts July 4 : Summit Crawl & Fireworks July 14–16 & August 11–13: Fine Art & Master Crafts Festival

Go to to plan your visit!

The Perfect Weather for a Great Adventure—Guaranteed!

Inside A Mountain Constant 52O year-round • Guided tours • Explore our Gift Shop Visit our website for hours and recommended safety precautions

Linville Caverns

19929 US 221 North, Marion, NC 28752 Between Linville & Marion, just 4 Miles South of the Blue Ridge Parkway 800-419-0540


Adjust Your Altitude. Change Your View. A Four-Season Private Community With World-Class Amenities Available Homes | Custom Homes & Homesites | The Meadows


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Schedule your Discovery Tour to begin a life well-lived. CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE| Summer 23 — 7 | 828.352.8235

Obtain the Property Report required by Federal law and read it before signing anything. No Federal agency has judged the merits or value, if any, of this property. This information shall not constitute a valid offer in any state where prior registration is required. © 2023 Blowing Rock Resort V


“Mountain golf at its finest”

–David H. - ” “Best in the mountains

–Gary G.

“I adore this golf ” course!

–Roger Y.

The beauty the Blue Ridge Mountains is the fitting of backdrop to a unique and storied layout. Dramatic challenging still but and accessible to all players.

Linville Land Harbor Golf Club is a true hidden gem that’s about to become your new favorite mountain golf course. 733-8325 ­ ­ (828) ­ ­

What’s Inside: Page 20...... Regional Happenings & Featured Events CML Staff

Page 25...... 67th Grandfather Mountain Highland Games By Steve York

COVER IMAGE BY BRIANNE HARRIS Brianne is manager of Apple Hill Farm, LLC and owner of Positive Partners Dog Training, LLC in Boone, NC. She is a graduate of Appalachian State University and photography is one of her many passions. The twin Angora goats, Mork and Mindy, live at Apple Hill Farm in Banner Elk, NC. Angora goats are fiber goats and are sheared twice a year for their fiber, Mohair. Angora goats can grow up to one inch of luscious curly fiber per month which is spun into yarn or used by crafters for felting. Apple Hill Farm is open all year offering tours of the farm and shopping in their store.

Page 34...... Broadway Star – Lea Salonga By Keith Martin

Page 35...... Sneak Peek Behind the Scenes By Keith Martin

Page 45...... Where the Music Is! By CML Staff

Page 59...... Historic Houses of Worship with Artist David Haynes Special to CML

Page 77...... Backyard Champion By Jim Hamilton

Page 80...... Growing and Using a Summer Culinary Garden By Diana Donovan

Page 85...... Behind the Garden Gate By Julie Farthing

Page 91...... Valle Crucis Community Park Celebrates 40 Years By Paul Laurent

Page 96...... Hi-Lo Adventure Trail By Karen Rieley

Page 105.... Global Fashions at BJ’s Resort Wear By Emily Webb

Page 107.... Mayor Charlie Sellers By Steve York

Page 118.... Linville Central Rescue Squad By Graham Binder

Page 126.... Feeding Avery Families By Tamara S. Randolph

Page 128.... Agritourism: Apple Hill Farm By Jane Lee Rankin

Page 132.... Best of the Best! By Kim S. Davis

Page 134.... Who’s Your Farmer? By Gail Greco

Cultural Calendar with Keith Martin . . . 29 Wisdom and Ways with Jim Casada . . . 51 Book Nook by CML Staff . . . 64 Movie Review with Elizabeth Baird Hardy . . . 65 Notes from Grandfather Mountain . . . 68 Blue Ridge Explorers with Tamara S. Randolph . . . 71 Birding with Curtis Smalling . . . 74 Resource Circle with Tamara S. Randolph . . . 82 Blue Ridge Parkway News . . . 89 Trail Reports by CML Staff . . . 94 Golf Guide with Tom McAuliffe . . . 98 Hardy on History with Michael C. Hardy . . . 101 Local Tidbits . . . 109 Community and Local Business News . . . 112 Be Well with Samantha Steele . . . 123 Recipes from the CML Kitchen with Meagan Goheen . . . 142





BOONE • 139 S. Depot St, Boone, NC • 828.355.9984 BLOWING ROCK • 921 Main St., Blowing Rock, NC • 828.295.4453 WEST JEFFERSON • 08 A South Jefferson Ave., West Jefferson, NC 28694 • 336.846.5888


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Growing up with nature’s playground, my kids loved finding a mud puddle after a rainstorm.


Carolina Mountain Life TM

A publication of Carolina Mountain Life, Inc. ©2023 by Carolina Mountain Life Magazine, Inc. All rights reserved. Contents may not be reproduced in whole or in part without written permission from the Publisher. Babette McAuliffe, Publisher & Editor in Chief Deborah Mayhall-Bradshaw, Design Director Kathy Griewisch, Account Manager Meagan Goheen, Marketing Manager Tamara S. Randolph, Editor Keith Martin, Cultural Arts Editor Contributors: Graham Binder, Estelle Brewer, Rebecca Cairns Jim Casada, Kim S. Davis, Diana Donovan, Julie Farthing Brennan Ford, Morgan Ford, Gail Greco, Jim Hamilton Elizabeth Baird Hardy, Michael C. Hardy, David Haynes Annie Hoskins, Rita Larkin, Amanda Laurent, Paul Laurent Tom McAuliffe, Lee Rankin, Karen Rieley, Landis Taylor Curtis Smalling, Samantha Steele, Emily Webb Doug Winbon, and Steve York.

Share us with a friend! CML is published 4 times a year and is available by subscription for $35.00 a year (continental US) Send check or money order to: Carolina Mountain Life, PO Box 976, Linville, NC 28646

What are some of the first images or thoughts that come to your mind when you think of Summer? I remember back to making mud pies with the water hose and dirt pile in the backyard—yes, indeed—and boy did they sell well at the corner. Seriously, our local schools in Wyoming (where I grew up) gave out movie tickets to all the grade-school kids leaving for summer vacation and those were treasured little pieces of paper. Going to the local pool or watering hole, doing crafts, hiking in the mountains, and then having a campfire for s’mores. It was a real treat to visit with our cousins and go to the local hamburger spot for takeout. We were about 10 to 12 kids packed into our aunt’s land yacht—their special wood-paneled station wagon—complete with no seatbelts, and the kids in the back could sit free to look at where we had traveled. Sometimes Tippy, their dog, would tag along. Getting a bright red sunburn while waiting for the ice cream truck to jingle its way down our street was also a thrill. Neighboring kids asking if we wanted to run and fly kites down the middle of the road as the wind blew an average of 40 knots each day (well close—actually 12.9 on average). The dinner bell rang around six and our parents were not even worried about us; we always came running to that ring. Now, I am an “OMA” and get to see what thrills my grandchildren during their summer days. I, like their parents, am now armed with sunscreen, and have all safety measures in place—like no running down the middle of the street—as we head to one of many green spaces. While folks might think offerings up here, tucked away in the Blue Ridge Mountains, would be sparse, nothing could be further from the truth. As far as cultural options go, both kids and adults have so much to choose from, that there are days when you could attend multiple cultural activities and still feel like you’re missing out on something. Food? Well check out the amazing restaurants within our pages for options that will fit any palate— picky kid diet to lavish adult fare. Hiking, you ask? Well, you could probably pick a trail for each day of the summer and still have dozens to save for the fall and years to come. I have ordered my tickets for An Appalachian Summer Festival, Lees-McRae Summer Theatre, Ensemble Stage, Barter, and BeanStalk, and am still figuring out which music events and venues I can mark on my calendar. And, of course, there’s my grandchildren’s home puppet show! Whew—I am exhausted just thinking about all my options. And don’t forget summer reading—so many books to choose from at our libraries, and the Banner Elk Book Exchange—and summer day camps, from the YMCA to local parks and recreation; the opportunities are countless. We would love to hear from you about your treasured memories, and how taking along your copy of CML helped you find a world of fun this summer. Be sure to reach out to us. You never know… what you might suggest, or reveal, could end up on a future page.

summer! 828-737-0771



D I S C O V E R E XC E L LE N C E ELEVATED. Nothing compares to the majestic Jack Nicklaus golf course, private airport, fly fishing, equestrian center, tennis and social events. But what makes Elk River truly special is the camaraderie the members enjoy with each other every day. Call 828.898.9773 | Visit | Located in Banner Elk, N.C. As a 501(c)(7) private, member-owned club, Elk River Club membership is limited and by invitation only.

Relax. Recharge. Reconnect.

Hiking, biking, fishing, kayaking or absolutely nothing.


Sugar Mountain Resort 2023 Summer Schedule May 26-29 Memorial Day Weekend Food Truck Festival (May 27) Bike Park and Scenic Chairlift Rides

Get to Know Our Contributors:

June 30 through October 1 Fridays through Sundays Bike Park and Scenic Chairlift Rides

July 4

Summit Crawl Fireworks on Top of Sugar Mountain

July 14-16 & August 4-6 Tween & Teen Gravity Mountain Bike Camp

July 14-16 & August 11-13 Avery County Fine Art & Master Crafts Festival

July 22

Ladies Gravity Mountain Bike Clinic

October 7-8 Oktoberfest

Rita Larkin

Karen J. Rieley

Dr. Jim Hamilton

Rita Larkin Rita first discovered the wonders of Western North Carolina in college when she spent summer breaks as a raft guide on the Nantahala River. After a career in journalism as a photographer, editor, and designer, including stints at the Asheville Citizen-Times and WNC Magazine, she joined the team of the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation to help advance the nonprofit’s mission to protect and enhance the national park. She feels extremely fortunate to make her home in the Blue Ridge Mountains, and loves exploring the vibrant communities that are instrumental in making the Parkway a rich and fascinating journey. She is married to an ever-so-rare native of Asheville, and loves spending time with her two dogs, Garth and Daphne. Karen J. Rieley Karen has been a resident of Beech Mountain for the past 24 years, as well as living in Jacksonville, Florida, since 1978. Having grown up in southwest Virginia, the mountains always call her back. With a master’s degree in English, writing has been integral to her career. As a grant writer, she has successfully garnered funding for nonprofits for four decades. In addition to Carolina Mountain Life, she writes for The Resident News in Jacksonville. When she’s not reading, writing or meandering on mountain trails, Karen spends precious time with her precocious and highly curious granddaughter, known affectionately as “The Bug” by her parents and “Butterbean” by her grandfather. Dr. Jim Hamilton Jim has been the Watauga County Director for Cooperative Extension since 2010. He holds a PhD in Forestry from N.C. State and is an adjunct professor of soils and agroforestry at Appalachian State. Jim’s areas of expertise include the Christmas trees industry and agritourism, medicinal herbs and forest farming, and grant-writing to support the county’s farmers and agricultural economy. In 2019 he published his first fiction novel, The Last Entry, a coming-of-age story set under the backdrop of the ginseng trade. CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Summer 23 —




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215 Boone Heights Dr., Boone • 960 Main Street, Blowing Rock CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Summer 23 — 27 • • 828.386.6212

Banner Elk Animal Hospital

“Your Partner in Pet Care Since 2002”

Teresa Pietsch

J. Bradley Knowles, DVM Small Animal Medicine and Surgery

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Open 9 AM - 5 PM Weekdays Thursday 9 AM - 1 PM 56 High Country Square – Hwy 184 – Banner Elk, NC 28604

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Mon-Sat 10:30am - 9pm, Sun 11pm - 6pm 828-737-0700 Catering for 50 - 1200 people!

In Downtown Newland



Tennis players trash 300 million tennis balls annually. Recycleballs is a non-profit initiative driven by tennis players with a mission to recycle and reuse all tennis balls. Have some balls to toss out? Individuals or organizations with 100 tennis balls or more can immediately ship those balls, and Recycleballs will repurpose them for you. Tennis facility? You can sponsor recycling options at your courts and also take part in the Recycleballs’ QUICKSHIP program. Play your favorite sport this season while also considering the future of our planet. When Earth wins, everyone wins.

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July 14-16 & August 11-13 Sugar Mountain Resort Village of Sugar Mountain, NC

Arts, crafts, food & entertainment for the whole family! Platinum Partners

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Photo by Lonnie Webster

Summer ‘23 is here! Enjoy countless activities related to art, food, music, nature, history, outdoor sports, and so much more. Following is just a small sampling of exciting events and opportunities for residents and visitors to our area.


Christmas in July | June 30-July 1 West Jefferson, NC The Christmas in July Festival celebrates the Christmas tree industry and mountain heritage with arts, crafts, food, and local entertainment representative of the region. This year the event kicks off on June 30, marking the 35th year for Ashe County’s longestrunning festival. A large stage in the middle of downtown West Jefferson will be the hub for several excellent bands. Festival craft vendors and local non-profits will open along Jefferson Avenue, leaving sidewalks clear for walking and browsing the shops. Ashe County Arts Council will host children’s activities, performers will roam the streets showcasing their magical talents, and Santa and Mrs. Claus will arrive straight from the North Pole. Facebook: Christmas In July Festival or visit Art on the Greene | July 1-2, August 5-6, September 2-3 | Banner Elk, NC This series of fine art shows takes place on the grounds of the Historic Banner Elk School in downtown Banner Elk. Art on the Greene highlights works from local and regional artists representing a variety of media, such as ceramics, glass, metal, wood, watercolor, acrylics and oil. Enjoy the many shops and restaurants within walking distance of the festival. And if you’re in town for a long weekend, don’t miss the Thursday evening concerts in Tate-Evans Park, every Thursday, June 29 through August 24, at 6:30 p.m., sponsored by the Banner Elk Chamber of Commerce. www.,,


Earth to Sky Park’s Outdoor Movie Series July 1, July 29 and August 26 Burnsville, NC Bring your family and friends to the Mayland Earth to Sky Park for their Summer Outdoor Movie Series, held on the lower lawn at the Park. A Bug’s Life will show on July 1 at 8:45 p.m., Light Year will show on July 29 at 8:30 p.m., and The Lorax will show on August 26 at 8 p.m. Bring your own chairs and blankets and set up in front of the big screen. Cost is $5 per car and concessions including popcorn, candy, and drinks are all $1.00. All proceeds support the Earth to Sky Park. In the event of rain, the scheduled movie will be postponed to another date. Learn more about the Park, confirm movie times, and check weather announcements at the Earth to Sky Park Facebook and Instagram pages. Independence Day Celebrations | July 1-4 Throughout the High Country It’s hard to choose just one 4th of July celebration in the High Country—you’ll find parades, fireworks, kids’ activities, fun runs, food, beverages, live music and more at multiple spots, including downtown Banner Elk, Beech Mountain, Sugar Mountain, downtown Boone, downtown Blowing Rock, Tweetsie Railroad, Newland, Crossnore, North Wilkesboro, and many other locales throughout our region. Festivities occur July 1, 2, 3 and 4, depending on where you decide to celebrate. Check out:,,,,,, facebook. com/thetownofnewland. Additional links to our area’s Chambers of Commerce and Tourism Development Authorities can be found on our website at chambers-of-commerce/.

7th Annual Summit Crawl | July 4 Sugar Mountain, NC Sugar Mountain Resort comes alive with festivities all day long on Tuesday, July 4, including the seventh annual Summit Crawl competition beginning at 9 a.m. This adventurous one-and-one-half mile hike to Sugar Mountain’s 5,300-ft peak covers 1,200 feet of vertical via the wide open ski slopes of Easy Street, Gunther’s Way, and Northridge. Competitors ride the Summit Express chairlift back to the base of the ski resort where classic country and rock & roll music will be performed by The Rockabilly’s, and later, Classic Highway will bring a mix of classic rock, soul, ‘60s-‘70s-‘80s, and blues music to the stage. Food and beverages will be available at the mountain’s base and summit. A mountain-top firework show, sponsored by the Village of Sugar Mountain TDA, will light the High Country sky. For times and details, visit Grandfather Mountain Highland Games July 6-9 | Linville, NC Thousands of kilt-clad Scots make their way to MacRae Meadows for their annual gathering and games. You and your family can sample Scottish music, dancing, foods, costumes, field games and much more. See CML’s article on the Highland Games in this issue, and visit for a complete list of happenings taking place during the four-day event. Avery Fine Art and Master Crafts Festival July 14-16 and August 11-13 Sugar Mountain, NC Mingle with a diverse group of fine artists and master crafters during this popular annual festival being held on two summer weekends, including July 14-16 and August 11-13,

ART IN THE PARK Blowing Rock





HAPPENINGS | REGIONAL HAPPENINGS in the Village of Sugar Mountain. These juried festivals will feature an eclectic gathering of unique, hand-crafted wares and is sponsored by the Avery County Chamber of Commerce. Festival hours are Friday, 1-5 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; and Sunday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Art in the Park | July 15 through October 7 Blowing Rock, NC Find gifts and works for personal collections, functional beauties like furniture and cutlery, and wearable art like handcrafted jewelry and textiles. Enjoy mingling with awardwinning and acclaimed artisans at these juried shows, curated to present a wide variety of mediums. Artists’ tents line Park Avenue right in downtown Blowing Rock so attendees can enjoy proximity to other shopping, as well as dining options and local parks. Saturday dates include July 15, August 12, September 9, and October 7, with hours of 10 a.m.-5 p.m. rain or shine. Make a weekend of it, and stay for the outdoor Concert in the Park that follows each Art in the Park on Sundays. artinthepark/ Symphony by the Lake at Chetola | July 21 Blowing Rock, NC The Symphony by the Lake at Chetola has long been considered the “centerpiece” of the summer season in Blowing Rock. Each year, over 4,000 attendees assemble on the surrounding lawn to enjoy music, food and drink under the open sky. This year’s event will be held July 21, and the theme will be “From the Alps to the Appalachians.” Returning this year is The Symphony of the Mountains, joined by special guest musicians, The Kruger Brothers. Beth Snapp opens the evening. Learn more and purchase tickets at symphonybythelake. com.

Artists in Residence | June through midSeptember | Blowing Rock, NC Presented by The Blowing Rock Historical Society, this year’s Artists in Residence series at Edgewood Cottage runs every week through September 10. During the program the cottage becomes home to 31 artists representing a variety of outstanding, original two and three-dimensional pieces. Visit Edgewood Cottage Monday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., with different artists each week. and Mountain Biking Opportunities Late June through early October Sugar Mountain, NC Attention mountain bikers: the bike park and the Summit Express and Easy Street chairlifts will operate Fridays through Sundays from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m., June 30 through October 1. In addition, scenic chairlift rides aboard the Summit Express and the bike park will be open Monday and Tuesday, July 3 and 4, and Labor Day Monday. Additional summer mountain biking events include Sugar’s gravity mountain bike camps for tweens & teens July 14-16 and August 4-6. A ladies clinic will be hosted on July 22. The Downhill Southeast Series and the Go Nuts North Carolina regional downhill & enduro mountain bike competitions will heat up the mountain July 29 - 30 and August 26 - 27 when racers from around the U.S. do battle on Sugar’s popular downhill tracks. Wildcat Lake | June through early October Banner Elk, NC Since Lees-McRae acquired the former Grandfather Home for Children campus, Wild-

cat Lake has become an invaluable part of research, recreation, and experiential learning at the college. This summer, community members will also be able to take full advantage of the lake’s resources. Now through Sunday, August 6, the lake will be open to the public Monday−Saturday, 11 a.m.−6 p.m., and Sunday, 1−6 p.m. From Monday, Aug. 7 through Sunday, Oct. 1, the lake will be open to the public on Fridays and Saturdays, 11 a.m.−6 p.m., and Sundays, 1−6 p.m. The lake will also be open on Labor Day, Monday, Sept. 4, 11 a.m.−6 p.m. Lifeguards will be on duty and outdoor equipment will be available for rent. Banner House Museum Tours and Walking Tours | Late June through mid-September Banner Elk, NC The Greater Banner Elk Heritage Foundation and the Banner House Museum (c. 1870) invite you to explore Banner Elk history through guided museum tours and walking tours of Historic Downtown Banner Elk, weekly on Wednesdays through Saturdays, June 28 through September 9. These fun and informative tours offer a leisurely stroll through town, as well a peek into the little-known past lives of many familiar buildings and other sights. All tours begin at 11 a.m. at the Banner House Museum, the former home of Samuel Henry Banner and his family. Guided walking tours are $10 per person, museum tours are $5 per person. More information on these tours and other opportunities, including Porch Talks and an August bus tour, can be found at

Continued on next page CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Summer 23 —




AUTUMN AT OZ Beech Mountain, NC LONG JOURNEY HOME Mountain City, TN

ON THE SAME PAGE West Jefferson, NC



39th Annual Crafts on the Green | August 5 Beech Mountain, NC Held each year on the first Saturday in August, the festival features the work of local artists and artisans from the mountain region including fine jewelry, wood turnings, photography, paintings, pottery and more. Crafts on the Green is held at Gazebo Park next to Fred’s General Mercantile from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Enjoy food, musical entertainment and a magic show for children. Additional local goods can be found throughout Fred’s General Mercantile, including fresh produce, jams and jellies, clothing, outdoor gear, and more. Fred’s Backside deli offers a great variety of lunch options and beverages. For more information, visit or call 828-387-4838. New River Conservancy Paddle Day with Zaloos | August 20 Jefferson, NC Seize this opportunity to paddle a beautiful section of the New River with New River Conservancy (NRC) staff. During the Sunday float, friends have the opportunity to see upclose some of NRC’s restoration projects along the river banks, and also have a scenic view from the river looking up at the mountain that NRC helped purchase last year—now public lands within the state park. NRC staff will paddle along, providing information to those interested in hearing the unique features. Zaloos provides back to the NRC a percentage of all floats that day to help raise funds.,



Long Journey Home | September 1-3 Mountain City, TN Each year in Mountain City, TN, a celebration takes place honoring the iconic Old Time mountain music style that shaped country music as we know it. This year’s Long Journey Home festival events include Buskin’ on Main, a showcase of local and regional acoustic talent playing up and down Main Street on the evening of Friday, September 1; the unveiling of Acres of Stories and Songs, a new mural honoring Clint Howard on Saturday, September 2; the Musical Heritage Homecoming Tour showcasing authentic Old-Time music played on the front porches of the iconic musicians who shaped early country music by musicians who still carry on the legacy of true mountain music, also on September 2; and a traditional Sunday Singin’ at Heritage Hall Theater featuring authentic old time gospel music on September 3. There’s much more in store during this Labor Day weekend event, including an Art Show and Quilt Show at Johnson County Center for the Arts, and the Mountain City Fiddler’s Convention at Heritage Hall. The Mile High Kite Festival | September 2-3 Beech Mountain, NC The popular, fun-for-all-ages Mile High Kite Festival, located at the Kite Field near Beech Mountain Town Hall (and directly behind the Brick Oven Pizzeria), will be held September 2-3 from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. There will be food, crafts and kite vendors, along with kite flying demonstrations, kite clinics, and kite

building. Free kites will be given to the first 150 children under the age of 13. This free event is sponsored by the Beech Mountain Chamber of Commerce. or 828-387-9283 Carolina Mountains Literary Festival Sept 7- 9 | Burnsville, NC This literary event kicks off with Keynote Speaker and Author Jason Mott, NY Times and USA Today Bestselling author. Numerous authors will be present in genres to include fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, and Children’s/Young Adult. Workshops will also be held in poetry, playwriting, fiction, nonfiction and memoir. Workshop registration begins July 1. The Festival’s mission is to bring together, in small, intimate settings, authors, readers of all ages, novice writers, listeners, and learners. “We are a festival of readers who appreciate discussing the ideas in literature.” Events are spread out around town—in galleries, small stores, the Town Center, the library, nearby churches, and other various venues. Autumn at Oz September 8-10, 15-17, and 22-24 Beech Mountain, NC The Autumn at Oz Festival is known to be the largest Oz festival in the world! Don’t miss this family-fun event with arts and crafts, handmade trinkets, memorabilia, and food vendors. You’ll also enjoy a completely immersive theatrical experience where guests are engulfed into the classic story as you travel into the Gale family’s Kansas Farm, through the tornado experience, and down the yellow brick road to the Emerald City. Along the way, meet all of your favorite characters for photo



KITE FESTIVAL Beech Mountain, NC

HAPPENINGS | REGIONAL HAPPENINGS opportunities, see many live performances, and shop for your favorite Wizard of Oz memorabilia. Learn more and purchase tickets at On the Same Page: Ashe County’s Literary Festival September 12-16 | West Jefferson, NC Authors will read from recent works and answer your questions about books and writing, and attendees can participate in a lively discussion of the “Festival Read” selection. Meet fellow readers and talk about your favorite books and authors, hone your creative writing skills in author-led workshops, and much more. All Festival events are open to the public; most are free, although some require reservations and/or tickets due to limited seating. Most festival events take place in the Community Room on the lower level of the Ashe County Public Library, 148 Library Road in West Jefferson. on-the-same-page-literary-festival/ Liberty Mountain September 15 through October 8 Kings Mountain, NC Liberty Mountain, by Playwright Robert Inman, depicts the dramatic events leading to the October 7, 1780 Battle of Kings Mountain. The hardy pioneers who tamed and settled this area fought and won this crucial battle that turned the tide of the Revolution and led directly to the British surrender at Yorktown a year later. The story of these pioneer Patriots is told in dramatic fashion in the stage play “Liberty Mountain,” on tap for its seventh season this summer in Kings Mountain, NC. Performances are presented on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays including September 15, DOWNTOWN BLOWING ROCK MURAL

16, 17, 22, 23, 24, 29 and 30, and October 1, 6, 8. Performance times are Friday at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday at 3 and 7:30 p.m.; and Sunday at 3 p.m. Tickets—including group discounts—are available through the Liberty Mountain website, or by calling the Kings Mountain Little Theatre at 704-730-9408. Carolina in the Fall Music and Food Festival – September 22 -23 Wilkesboro, NC Carolina in the Fall, presented by Window World® and hosted by the Krüger Brothers, returns on September 22 and 23, beginning at 5 p.m. on Friday, and running from noon-11 p.m. on Saturday. The festival features bands from NC, in celebration of the state’s musical roots. Famous for an amazing selection of food trucks, Carolina in the Fall will have some of western NC’s best trucks to feed the audiences. This free festival takes place at the Carolina West Wireless Community Commons in Historic Downtown Wilkesboro, 100 East Main St, Wilkesboro, NC 28697. Art on the Mountain | September 23 West Jefferson, NC Ashe County Arts Council sponsors Art on the Mountain on Saturday, September 23, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Over twenty-five artists and craft persons will set up their creative wares on the grounds of the Ashe Arts Center in West Jefferson. Holiday gift ideas, fall theme items, unique art pieces, crafts and more will be for sale. Several artists will be demonstrating their artwork including basket weaving, quilting and wood-working. The event will also include live music!


– Save the Date!

Brushy Mountain Apple Festival October 7, North Wilkesboro, NC Pay tribute to the apples that are grown and harvested each fall by orchardists from northwestern NC at the Brushy Mountain Apple Festival, one of the largest one-day arts and crafts festivals in the region. applefestival. net

Oktoberfest | October 7 – 8, Sugar Mountain, NC Plan to head to Sugar Mountain Resort for their 33rd annual Oktoberfest celebration. Lodging specials are available Oktoberfest weekend. Call 828-898-4521 or visit skisugar. com/oktoberfest for details. 40th Mountain Glory Festival October 14, Marion, NC Celebrate the arrival of autumn in the Blue Ridge in beautiful downtown Marion. For festival information call 828-652-2215 or visit Admission is free. Valle Country Fair | October 21, Valle Crucis, NC The 45th Valle Country Fair, a celebration of mountain heritage, will be held on Saturday, October 21, just up and over the mountain from the Woolly Worm Festival. 46th Annual Woolly Worm Festival October 21-22, Banner Elk, NC Make plans now to attend this wildly popular annual event in downtown Banner Elk, NC. It’s the only festival where you can race caterpillars for cash prizes. CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Summer 23 —


Practice Resurrection by David Walter Banks



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…from within the trees

Photo Courtesy GMHG

The 67th Grandfather Mountain Highland Games






f you’re smart and booked your reservation months ahead, you are one of the lucky ones to awake with the first gentle rays of sunlight breaking through tall trees, as the toasty smoldering smells of wood campfires left over from the night before linger still, in the damp early morning air hanging low just above the grassy earth which spreads out across the meadow of Grandfather Mountain, North Carolina. The first sounds of campers stirring and rustling within their campsites throughout rows of neighboring travel trailers, tents and clan banners herald the dawn of another day of laughter, camaraderie, music, athletic competition, Scottish pageantry, and jubilant celebration. And, just beyond those trees lies the sun-bathed MacRae Meadows upon which are held the legendary Grandfather Mountain Highland Games and Gathering of Scottish Clans each second weekend of July, and now celebrating its 67th year. Those hardy and dedicated campers, however, typically arrive the weekend before the Thursday-to-Sunday Games to choose their site, set up their temporary quarters, get acquainted with their neighbors and rendezvous with old friends from previous years. It’s always a “family affair” and friends made one year often carry over year after year. These

Photo by Steve York

By Steve York

gatherings are enthusiastically anticipated as festive annual family reunions. Throughout the day and into the night, those campers who inhabit their own special world within the trees gather ‘round campfires, tell stories, share experiences and…ALWAYS…make music. There are frequently professional Games musicians who may join in…as this is a uniquely strong community of kindred souls. It’s a continuous and spontaneous Ceilidh of dance, music, and spirited toasting. And this is, indeed, a world unto itself—a tribe, so to speak—of folks who come for the experience of community camping and immersing themselves within the almost ethereal spirit of the Games. Of course, during the actual Games events, it’s time to mosey across the meadow and join in with the thousands of other visitors cheering on competing athletes, shopping at the Scottish apparel and collectibles tents, tasting the flavors set out by various food vendors, watching the Scottish Highland Dance competitions, visiting their own clan tents, enjoying those amazing sheep-herding border collies, thrilling at marching Pipe and Drum bands, attending cultural presentations, witnessing the traditional Parade of Tartans, honoring clan heritage during the hallowed opening night Torchlight Ceremony, and dancing to

live musicians performing in the Groves during the day and on stage in the meadow at night. All across MacRae Meadows, it’s a non-stop party all day and well into the evening. And that party extends far beyond the meadow into local communities with the return performance of the acclaimed international Highland Echoes Music & Dance Company, appearing July 5 through 9 at the Appalachian Theatre of the High Country in Boone. Plus, new this year is the Hebridean Baker Ceilidh, featuring Scotland’s best-selling cookbook author, Coinneach MacLeod. MacLeod serves up the best of the Hebrides topped off with a Ceilidh held in the Flora MacDonald Gammon Memorial Platform at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. And, of course, there’s the ever-popular GMHG Whisky Tasting featuring Glenmorangie and Ardbeg Single Malt Scotch Whiskies and held at the Best Western Mountain Lodge in Banner Elk on Thursday, July 6, and on the field Friday and Saturday, July 7 and 8. The live music lineup this year brings back Games’ favorite Seven Nations for the Friday night Celtic Rock Concert. They will be followed by the return of the famous Glasgow tribal drum and pipe band, Albannach, who will also perContinued on next page



loved and devoted teacher of many piping students there, served as pipe major for the U.S. Air Force Pipe Band and the Citadel Pipe Band, and was known as representing the heart and soul of the Grandfather Games and Scottish music culture everywhere. A memorial service for family and close friends was held at the Valle Crucis Conference Center in the Apple Barn on Sunday afternoon, May 28—fitting, being Memorial Day weekend. And now, with this memorial stone set by the esteemed Cairn edifice overlooking the meadow, Sandy Jones will be brought to mind whenever anyone passes by his marker. In tribute, Steve Quillin, Board President of GMHG, offered, “The Grandfather Mountain Highland Games Board of Trustees will miss Sandy mightily. The Board is very pleased, however, to have him memorialized on MacRae Meadows through the naming of a stone in his honor.” With all the excitement, revelry and grand pageantry packed into our annual Grandfather Mountain Highland Games, it’s good to remember the underlying heritage and spirit that first

inspired and has helped grow this celebration during its 67-year legacy. That heritage and spirit is visible and audible everywhere on MacRae Meadows and throughout the four-day weekend festivities. And nowhere is the essence of that more personified than among those devoted folks who haul their campers and tents every July from across the land to inhabit that world within the trees adjacent to MacRae Meadows. If you aren’t one of those campers, and if you’ve never ventured into that world, you should. A warm welcome awaits you, along with some great music, fascinating stories, colorful characters and, possibly, some new and enduring friendships. Events, ticket and parking information is available at


HIGHLAND GAMES & Gathering of the Scottish Clans

JULY 6 - 9, 2023 AT MACRAE MEADOWS, LINVILLE NC Come join the fun and excitement of the Games. There will be dance competition, athletic competition, piping and drumming, sheep herding, music in the Groves on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, concerts Friday and Saturday nights, Worship Service and Parade of Tartans on Sunday, and children’s activities each day.


Photo by Steve York

form each day in Grove 2. New this year are North of Argyll and Scottish-born singer/guitarist Mike Ogletree. And, returning, are Will MacMorran, the Sean Heely Band, Hannah Seng, StrathSpan and the world-renowned musician and singer, Ed Miller. Of unique importance to all pipers, Games musicians and Scottish music lovers far and wide is a very special memorial ceremony honoring the late Sandy Jones slated for 1:30 p.m. Sunday afternoon, July 9, at the site of the honored Cairn Stone at MacRae Meadows. As reported in our spring issue of CML, Jones passed away on March 5 of this year. He was first recruited by Games co-founder Mrs. Agnes Morton to showcase Scottish piping as a key element of the annual event. He became Director of Piping for the Games, was a long-time member of the GMHG Board, was the Games’ 10th President and a Trustee. Beyond that, Jones was revered worldwide as Highland piper extraordinaire. He helped found the North American Academy of Piping and Drumming in Valle Crucis, was a be-

Sandy Jones


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While the temperate weather and gorgeous scenery are the primary reason that seasonal residents and summer visitors flock to the High Country, a growing number of “cultural tourists” head to the mountains for an entirely different purpose: the arts. From mid-June through mid-September, there are hundreds of performances, exhibits, and events on local stages, at museums, and in galleries—so many, in fact, that you have multiple choices each and every day. The following listings in this Cultural Calendar, and in the accompanying article on An Appalachian Summer Festival, provide an overview for your consideration along with websites for additional information. Be sure to tell them that CML sent you… and enjoy! The APPALACHIAN THEATRE OF THE HIGH COUNTRY in the heart of downtown Boone has programmed far too many events to list in a single column, but here are some highlights. Their Summer Blockbuster Film Series on Tuesday evenings in July and August is a chance for cinema fans to enjoy their favorite flicks in a venue where most of them were originally screened. From July 5 through 9, Highland Echoes invites you “to experience the magical journey of our Scottish heritage in an unforgettable journey through music and dance.” Scotland’s vibrant culture and history in the Americas is celebrated during a show filled with Scottish Highland dancers, musicians from all over the world, captivating choruses, blazing bagpipes and tartan dress. The popular monthly Cabaret Nights continue on July 29 hosted by karaoke aficionado J.V. Williams. Transformed into an elevated karaoke venue, the Community Room of the App Theatre features the High Country’s most extensive collection of over 60,000 karaoke tracks. Simply come and enjoy or sign up to perform your favorite song. Performers will be

featured on a first come, first served, basis and sign-ups will be accepted on the evening of the event. August 19 marks the return of Doc Watson Day at the theatre and showcases “the next bluegrass supergroup,” An Appalachian Roadshow featuring Bryan Sutton. The group dresses in attire common in the early 20th century, and plays traditional mountain music, contemporary bluegrass, and everything in between. Sutton is a Grammy Award winner and a nine-time International Bluegrass Music Association Guitar Player of the Year, hailed as “the most accomplished and awarded acoustic guitarist of his generation.” On August 25, the App Theatre begins a commemoration of its 1938 opening with an 85th Anniversary Gatsby Gala, a full evening of entertainment and celebration. It will be followed on September 1 by the muchanticipated Napoleon Dynamite, LIVE!, the beloved indie classic that was made almost 20 years ago. This evening includes a full screening of the film followed by a lively, freewheeling, moderated discussion with fan-favorite cast members: Jon Heder (Napoleon), Efren Ramirez (Pedro), and Jon Gries (Uncle Rico). September 17 brings Larry & Joe to the High Country from the Triangle area. These versatile multi-instrumentalists and singer-songwriters are on a mission to show that music has no borders, and features a distinct blend of their musical inheritances and traditions as well as storytelling about the ways that music and social movements coalesce. For a complete schedule of concerts, film screenings, and performances, go to Over in West Jefferson at the intimate Ashe Civic Center, the ASHE COUNTY ARTS COUNCIL has programmed several events worthy of consideration. Celtic Music is on the schedule with “an unlikely but dynamic trio

By Keith Martin

of musicians” including Edinburgh native and Texas resident Ed Miller performing with Jil Chambless and Scooter Muse on July 5. They are followed on July 15 by the Ken Kolodner Quartet with a repertoire that fuses old time, Bluegrass, and American Roots music. They are renowned for their mastery of the hammered dulcimer, dulcimer, and clawhammer banjo, with which they sculpt an innovative rhythmic sound that transcends generations. Mount Airy-based “sacred steel ambassadors” The Allen Boys perform on August 12 with their foot-stomping mix of gospel, blues, rock and country that they promise will “take you to church.” The annual Ashe County Bluegrass and Old Time Fiddlers Convention returns to Ashe County Park in Jefferson on July 28 and 29 “to honor the music of the mountains and the musicians who make it.” Now in its 52nd year, the event kicks off on Friday night with two concerts performed by Crooked Road Ramblers and Kelley and the Cowboys. On Saturday the convention offers both adult and youth competitions showcasing the best talent on instruments such as fiddle, guitar, banjo, dobro, and bass fiddle, with over $4,000 in prize money being awarded by judges Randy Greer, Trevor McKenzie, and Kyle Dean Smith, with Dale Morris serving as emcee. For tickets and information, visit BARTER THEATRE, “The State Theatre of Virginia,” continues their 90th anniversary season with their summer repertory programming of four productions on two different stages in Abingdon, VA. First up is Kate Hamill’s comic take on Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility, running through August 19, while Stephen Brown’s clever, offbeat comedy Country Girls carries the tagline “revenge Continued on next page CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Summer 23 —



A Jam-Packed Season on Our Local Stages




ain’t all it’s cracked up to be” and is being performed through August 12. Stephen King’s novel about fan obsession, Misery, is adapted for the stage by author William Goldman and will have audience members on the edge of their seats beginning August 24. From the looks of the production in rehearsal (visit their website for a sneak peek), the musical Footloose appears to be the “don’t miss” Barter Theatre show of the summer season. Based on the 1984 film starring Kevin Bacon, Lori Singer, and John Lithgow, this stage adaptation by Dean Pitchford and Walter Bobbie, with music by Tom Snow and lyrics by Pitchford, translates beautifully to live theatre. This high-energy show tells the story of Ren, a city teenager who moves to a small town where rock music and dancing have been banned, and his rebellious spirit shakes up the populace. Show runs through August 20. In addition, Christopher Sergel’s adaptation of Harper Lee’s novel To Kill a Mockingbird will explore prejudice, compassion, and the courage to do what is right from September 2 through November 4. Finally, beginning September 15, the classic boardgame Clue comes to life onstage in the Sandy Rustin play based on the movie screenplay by Jonathan Lynn with additional material from Hunter Foster and Eric Price and original music by Michael Holland. For more info, visit Barter’s website at Having shattered attendance records last summer with their production of Shrek: The Musical, BEANSTALK COMMUNITY THEATRE is “off to see the Wizard” this season when they return to the Appalachian Theatre from July 20 through 22 for the beloved family classic, The Wizard of Oz. This beloved tale, in which a Kansas farm girl travels over the rainbow to discover the magical power of home, has entertained audiences for generations. Based on


the classic motion picture with music and lyrics by Harold Arlen and E. Y. (Yip) Harburg, this musical is a must-see event for family audiences from a theatre that knows them all too well. For more info, visit, and for tickets go to ENSEMBLE STAGE in the Historic Banner Elk School has a summer slate of four productions, plus a family offering and a full range of education and outreach programs. Their children’s show (always heavy on audience participation) is Puss and Boots: The Beginning with remaining performances at 11 a.m. on the Saturday mornings of July 8 and 29, and August 12. In addition, a Theatre Adventure Camp for Kids will take place from June 26 though 30. Their 2023 mainstage production season began with a successful run of a comedy version of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde, which closed on June 25. Next up from July 21 through 30 is Don Nigro’s City of Dreadful Night, a mystery steeped in the rich, strange atmosphere of black and white film noir New York movies from 1946-49 combined with the paintings of Edward Hopper. Mysterious and funny, this play is not a parody of those movies but rather a deep immersion in the feel of them, as crystallized by Hopper’s late night in the city paintings. A Texas Romance by Ellsworth Schave takes the stage from August 18 through 27. Set in a small Texas town, the plot follows Daisy, a widow whose philandering husband was shot by his mistress—an action with which the widow has some sympathy. It’s 1928, and romance reenters her life when she finds a gentleman in her front yard awaiting permission to call on her, despite her older sister’s chagrin. What follows is the inquisition, the courtship, and the pecan pie as Daisy must balance her anger and fear with her

need for intimacy and her determination to have a second chance. Caroline Smith’s comedy-thriller To Die For closes out the summer season from September 15 through 24. Best-selling historical romance writer Carla Woods lives in a Gothic mansion and enjoys playing dangerous mind games with her secretaries. One dark and stormy night, a mysterious, dark, and handsome man shows up at her door. Could this simply be payback from a disgruntled employee, or could it be…love’s destiny? For production information and tickets, visit or call 828-414-1844. LEES-McRAE FORUM continues programming throughout the summer months with Symphony on the Mountains on June 26 followed by a series of tribute concerts including Forever Simon & Garfunkel on July 3, Sail On, The Beach Boys Tribute on July 10, Chris Ruggerio recounting the golden age of rock ‘n roll on July 17, How Sweet It Is! starring Steve Leslie and celebrating the music of James Taylor on July 24, A Band Called Honalee singing about the legacy of Peter, Paul, and Mary on July 31, and Orlando Transit Authority honoring the Chicago “Blood, Sweat, and Tears” songbook on August 7. Our publisher and editors often tell me that CML writers are not supposed to have favorites on their beats, but LEES-McRAE SUMMER THEATRE is always at the top of my list because of their perfect blend of classics, contemporary works, and original musicals written and produced in-house. This year is no exception as they follow the theme, “A love letter to North Carolina,” with Red, White and Blue Ridge Variety Show, a combination of music, dancing, comedy, and patriotic songs. There are only two performances: June 30, and July 2. It is followed by the charming



HORN IN THE WEST, the nation’s third oldest outdoor drama, opens their 71st season on June 27 under the direction of a new artistic director, Darrell King. Audience members will recognize King from his portrayal of the indefatigable Preacher Sims for over a quarter century. This Revolutionary War drama brings to life the famous frontiersman Daniel Boone and the hardy mountain settlers of this region in their struggle to preserve their freedom during the turbulent years before and during the war for independence. While there, be sure to allow time to visit the Hickory Ridge History Museum. Info at 828-264-2120 or at

The Daniel Boone Amphitheatre will also be the location of the theatre-for-youth production of MUTZ-MAG, an original play by Boone native Clarinda Ross. Based on the Appalachian folktale as told by her mother, noted storyteller Charlotte Ross, and Dr. Cratis Williams, Mutz-Mag is a funny tale of a plucky girl who uses her smarts and her trusty Case Knife to keep one step ahead of a Witch, a Giant, and her ne’er-do-well stepsisters. This kind and smart youngster makes her own happy ending with nary a prince in sight. The show is cleverly directed by the alwaysreliable Julie A. Richardson with performances on select Wednesdays and Saturdays from July 19 through August 9. More info is available at

behind the curtain. They have a year-round season, but their next offering is Jeremy Desmon’s cleverly titled Cyrano de Burger Shack: A Pop Musical. In this updated, modern-day version of Edmond Rostand’s Cyrano de Bergerac, Cyrano is king of the local Burger Shack, but he can’t seem to win the love of his best friend, Roxanne. When Roxanne confesses her crush on the new burger-flipper, Christian, Cyrano decides that playing Cupid is better than sitting out of the game. Performances take place September 8, 9, 10 and 15, 16 and 17. Ticket information for both is available at Their box office phone number is 336-838-PLAY (7529).

2023-24 marks the 40th anniversary of the JOHN A. WALKER CENTER at Wilkes Community College in Wilkesboro, a vibrant civic treasure that we will profile in the Autumn issue of CML. Their first event takes place on September 8 when Dailey & Vincent open their season. Grand Ole Opry Members, five-time GRAMMY® Award winners individually, three-time GRAMMY® Award nominees collectively, four-time DOVE Award winners, and winners of 35 IBMA Awards altogether (including three-time IBMA Entertainer of the Year Award winners and three-time Vocal Group of the Year Award winners), Jamie Dailey and Darrin Vincent and their worldclass band offer a unique and modernized spin on ‘American music’—“the best of country, bluegrass and gospel this side of heaven” (USA Today). Tickets and information are available online at The Benton Hall Community Arts Center in North Wilkesboro is home to the dynamic WILKES PLAYMAKERS, an avocational theatre that welcomes everyone in front of or





musical Bright Star from July 6 through 12. Inspired by a true story and featuring the Tony®-nominated score by Steve Martin and Edie Brickell, it is a sweeping tale of love and redemption set against the rich backdrop of the North Carolina mountains in the 1920s and ‘40s with an uplifting theatrical journey that holds you tightly in its grasp. Undoubtedly, the highlight of their season is the world premiere musical The [W]right Sister from July 23 through 29. It is written and directed by Dr. Janet Speer with music and lyrics by John Thomas and Tommy Oaks; this creative trio has collaborated on numerous projects, including America’s Artist: The Norman Rockwell Story, From the Mountaintop: The Edgar Tufts Story, and The Denim King: The Moses Cone Story. For their newest musical, they found the life of Katharine Wright to be a compelling subject with a captivating story. The [W]right Sister proves how strong a sister’s love and sacrifices can be, even during the most difficult of times. Always a stickler for authenticity, Speer has enlisted the talents of four local woodworkers to build an exact replica of one of the original Wright Flyers for the show. For tickets or information, visit lmc. edu/summertheatre or call 828-898-8709.





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An Appalachian Summer Festival 2023 Expanded 39th Season Offers 25 Events from June 24 to July 29 By Keith Martin Presents Series, and the APPlause! K-12 Performing Arts Series. Although she will quickly give credit for these successful events to the members of her team, Ringler’s unwavering leadership has made it all possible, and CML wishes her well on the occasion of her welldeserved retirement. The AASF Popular Music Series opened on June 24 with An Evening with Leslie Odom, Jr., the Tony and Grammy Award-winning star of Hamilton (the stage musical and HBO+ movie in the role of Aaron Burr). That concert will be followed on July 8 by another Tony Award-winning star, the incomparable Lea Salonga. Please read the sidebar to this article about her concert. Other artists on the series include John Oates on July 14, Keb’ Mo’ with special guest Allison Russell on July 22, and Darius Rucker on July 29. The Broyhill Chamber Series will include Apollo’s Fire: The Road to Dublin on June 28, the Calidore String Quartet on July 5, Strings for Peace on July 12, and Garrick Ohlsson on July 26. Classical programming is highlighted on July 1, with the Rosen-Schaffel Competition for Young and Emerging Artists, and on July 9 when the Eastern Music Festival performs with violinist Gil Shaham. The Reduced Shakespeare Company returns to AASF with two performances of their side-splitting production of The Complete History of Comedy (Abridged) on July 16, and the remarkable Dance Theatre of Harlem graces the stage of the Schaefer Center on July 20. This year, AASF will showcase international films by female directors on June 27 and July 11, 18 and 25.

In addition, the Nancy Tafeen Global Film Series will screen four critically acclaimed international films, all directed by women, telling unique yet all-inclusive stories about love, survival, family, and friendship. The series begins with The Blue Caftan on June 27, and continues with Aurora’s Sunrise on July 11, Alcarràs on July 18, and Girl Picture on July 25. Visual arts programming includes the Turchin Summer Exhibition Celebration on July 7, and the 37th Annual Rosen Outdoor Sculpture Walk on July 15. Education programming on the Artist Spotlight Series begins on June 29 with Behind the Curtain at the Rosen-Schaffel Competition, followed by a Turchin Center Exhibition Profile Passage/Time Pieces on July 6, Meet the Juror: Jennifer Hecker on July 13, Dance Theatre of Harlem: A Conversation with Robert Garland on July 20, and concludes with Celebrating Twenty Years of Turchin Center Exhibition Programs on July 27. Finally, the literary (and culinary) arts are celebrated during the Belk Distinguished Lecture featuring Vivian Howard on July 14. Howard is an American chef, restaurateur, author and former television host of the PBS television series “A Chef’s Life” focusing on the ingredients and cooking traditions of eastern North Carolina. For additional details, visit




An Appalachian Summer Festival (AASF), a monthlong whirlwind of music, dance, theatre, visual arts, and film programming, is one of the region’s leading arts festivals, bringing more than 27,000 visitors to the High Country each summer. Presented by Appalachian State University’s Office of Arts & Cultural Programs, this annual celebration of the performing and visual arts is held every July in venues across the university campus, and features an eclectic, diverse mix of music, dance, theatre, visual arts and film programming. The festival began in 1984 as a chamber music series, and retains strong roots in classical music, combined with a variety of other programming geared to almost every artistic taste and preference. The festival has been named one of the “Top Twenty Events in the Southeast” by the Southeast Tourism Society. With ticket prices ranging from $10-$95, as well as several free events and discounts for both children, students, and App State faculty/staff, the festival offers unique opportunities for residents and visitors to create arts experiences suited to their individual artistic tastes and budgets. Purchase in person at the Schaefer Center for the Performing Arts box office (733 Rivers St), online at AppSummer. org, or by phone at 828-262-4046. The 2023 season marks the end of a remarkable 28-plus-year tenure by a quiet but powerful force of nature at work behind the scenes, Denise Ringler, Director of Arts & Cultural Programs and Director of Arts Engagement. She has presented well over 1,000 events as part of AASF, the Schaefer Center

Lea Salonga:

Direct from Broadway … literally. C U LT U R A L C A L E N D A R

By Keith Martin

When An Appalachian Summer Festival says “direct from Broadway,” they really mean it. On July 8, Filipina singer, actress, recording artist, and television performer Lea Salonga will take the night off from Broadway where, on July 11, she begins appearing in the musical Here Lies Love, a new show for which she is also one of the producers. Lea will bring her powerful voice and perfect pitch to Boone, NC, as part of An Appalachian Summer Festival for a must-see performance by a legendary artist in the prime of her 40-year career. Her official bio in the Broadway playbill for that production lists her credits as follows: Miss Saigon (Tony, Olivier, Drama Desk, and OCC Awards), Flower Drum Song, Allegiance, Once on This Island (Grammy nomination). Select TV: “Pretty Little Liars” (HBO Max); “Centaurworld” (Netflix); “Little Demon” (FX); “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” (CW); Les Misérables 10th and 25th anniversary concerts, and “Lea Salonga: Live from Sydney Opera House” (PBS). Film: the singing voices of Jasmine in Aladdin and the title role in Mulan, Yellow Rose. Honored as a Disney Legend, Lea has toured all over the world, performing sold-out concerts at some of the world’s most iconic venues including Carnegie Hall, Sydney Opera House, London’s 02 Arena, and Royal Albert Hall. But that bio only scratches the surface of her accomplishments. At age 18, Lea rose to international recognition originating the lead role of Kim in the musical Miss Saigon in the West End and won the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actress in a Musical. She then reprised the role on Broadway, winning the Drama Desk Award, Outer Critics Circle Award, and Theatre World Awards before making history as the first Asian actress to win a Tony Award.


She was also the first Asian to play Éponine in the musical Les Misérables on Broadway and returned to the beloved show as Fantine in the 2006 revival. A child star in the Philippines, Lea made her professional debut at the age of seven in the musical The King and I, and has starred in productions of Annie, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Fiddler on the Roof, The Rose Tattoo, The Sound of Music, The Goodbye Girl, Paper Moon, The Fantasticks and Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Flower Drum Song on Broadway. Memorably, Lea appeared as Kei Kimura in the critically acclaimed Broadway production of Allegiance. The musical, inspired and developed by legendary actor George Takei, tells the story of a Japanese American family forced into an internment camp during World War II. After Here Lies Love on Broadway, Lea will headline Old Friends alongside Bernadette Peters on London’s West End. She most recently starred as Erzulie, the “Goddess of Love,” in the Broadway revival of Once on This Island, which won a Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical. Ever gracious, she spoke with Appalachian State University students and faculty after a performance of that production. Honored with an appointment as a United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Goodwill Ambassador in October of 2010, Lea vowed to act as an advocate for the Youth and United Nations Global Alliance initiative led by the FAO. The same year, she also joined forces with Avon as a celebrity judge for Avon Voices, alongside such artists as Fergie, Natasha Beddingfield and Diane Warren, in the first ever global, online singing talent search for women and songwriting competition for men and women. She has been

honored by Time Magazine as a Time100 Impact Award Recipient and received the Gold House 2023 Gold Legend Award. Just how beloved is Lea Salonga in the theatre community? Here’s but one firsthand example: The energy of a supportive and loving community filled Broadway’s New Amsterdam Theatre on March 13, 2023, as distinguished and emerging stars from the worlds of stage and screen came together in celebration of LGBTQ+ stories and musical theater at Broadway Backwards. The show raised a record $765,069 to benefit Broadway Cares, producer of this one-night-only, annual event. A cast of 67 performers, a 13-piece orchestra, and a standing-room-only audience gave those of us in attendance a performance that few will forget. In theatre, the “11 o’clock number” is a term for a big, show-stopping song that occurs late in the second act of a two-act musical, in which a major character, often the protagonist, comes to an important realization. Only one person could close out Broadway Backwards in that coveted slot, and the producers chose Salonga. Lea provided a stirring version of “Love Who You Love” from A Man of No Importance, with what Broadway Cares described as “a tender performance with the Broadway Backwards ensemble that made the heartfelt lyric ‘everyone’s heart does exactly the same’ ring true.” High Country audiences can expect the same show-stopping performance on July 8. For tickets—if any are left—go to

A Sneak Peek Behind the Scenes… How Our Beloved Producing Theatres Create Their Onstage Magic By Keith Martin


BARTER THEATRE, the State Theatre of Virginia, is the largest, oldest, and most venerable in our region. A fully-professional company operating on a pre-pandemic $7.5 million budget, and quickly working their way back to

that level, they are members of the prestigious League of Resident Theatres (LORT) and have collective bargaining agreements with every major union, including Actors Equity Association. Founded in 1933, the Barter currently produces 12 to 16 shows each season, including five touring shows through their Barter Players, a group of professional artists who perform for young people, and who believe in theatre that awakens the imaginations of the most exciting, most participatory audience in the world: kids. Cindi A. Raebel is in her 18th season as Production Stage Manager, while Director of Production Camille Davis is in her 12th, tenures that illustrate how little turnover there is in the Barter family. They are part of a 62-person team that includes eight administrative staff, 22 production crew (plus guest designers), and as many as 32 actors in the resident company and Barter Players troupe combined. One of the few true repertory theatres left in America, “you can view five different shows on a single weekend,” said Davis, enumerating two different productions on two separate stages, plus a Barter Players show.” Raebel is the genius tasked with creating the “Rubic’s Cube” of a schedule that includes “concurrent rehearsals six days a week in three different spaces for anywhere from two to eight weeks per show with as many as four productions in rehearsal and four in production, all at once.” She tries to give each play 80 hours of rehearsal time (125 hours for each musical) before tech week prior to opening night, plus costume fittings; there are over 350 distinct costume “looks” in Footloose, their current musical.

“Techtember” is the word Barter has coined to indicate the organized chaos of a four-week period of time when they switch over from four summer offerings to four different fall productions… all at the same time. Their state-of-the-art facilities include “The Hill,” a complex of historic buildings which include their scene, paint, prop, electronics, and costume shops, plus “The Barter Inn,” which provides housing for up to 50 non-local actors, outside directors, production assistants, guest designers, members of the Barter Players, and technical crew members. Then there is the Trigg building, the former headquarters of Food City, a massive complex with ample room for concurrent rehearsal space and where the administrative staff has their offices. BEANSTALK COMMUNITY THEATRE is an all-volunteer group located in Boone, one of over 6,000 community theatres in the United States, according to the American Association of Community Theatre (AACT), who believes that, “It’s reasonable to assume that the number of performances by community theatres far exceeds the number of those by professional theatre, dance, and concert organizations... combined.” AACT says that the phrase “community theatre” refers to shows primarily produced by and for residents of a local or regional geographical area. Artistic, technical, and administrative staff members, including musicians, may be volunteer or paid with auditions for productions typically open to the general public. The primary distinctive characteristic of community theatre is that auditions are Continued on next page CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Summer 23 —



Seeing a live performance on our local stages is akin to Hemingway’s observation of an iceberg… it’s seven-eighths submerged. This means that your show is a “peak” experience that belies the time and effort that you don’t see. CML has taken a sneak “peek” behind the scenes of a half dozen companies here in the High Country to give our readers an idea of how resourceful our practitioners are in milking every hard-earned dollar so hard it moos to create the magic that you see on stage. Here are just a few examples, but first let me offer a couple of basic definitions. For the most part, presenting organizations, such as An Appalachian Summer Festival or The Appalachian Theatre or Boonerang, book outside artists, concerts, films, and programs that provide their lucky audience members with regional and national events not likely to be otherwise seen in this market, and we are grateful to them for their mission and purpose. Producing companies, on the other hand, are those that create their own unique art, which includes everything from picking which plays and musicals they produce to hiring directors, designers, cast and crew, then providing them with the necessary resources and guiding them through the creative process in rehearsal, tech, and performance. These brave, intrepid, and vital companies have my deepest admiration and are as follows, in alphabetical order:



announced and open to members of the community. Originally an offshoot of Blue Ridge Community Theatre, BeanStalk was founded in 2012 by Creative Director Amy Beane and Executive Director Andrea McDonough (whose curtain speeches are legendary and the reason everyone arrives on time); they crafted the following mission statement: “At BeanStalk we know the positive effects of participating in the performing arts. We offer a diverse range of programs to meet the interests of the residents in Watauga County and surrounding areas. Whether you are looking to meet new friends, test out your acting chops, or explore the world of backstage, BeanStalk Community Theatre has a place for you!” BeanStalk produces two plays and one musical each season between August and the following July. “One is an all-youth production, another for adult performers, and a large cast musical that utilizes both groups,” said McDonough. Their all-volunteer staff of five (bless their hearts) and core group of 40 volunteers do more with less than any theatre in the region, rehearsing three times a week for two months. Operating without costly infrastructure on a $30K annual budget, McDonough says they “rely on the kindness of strangers,” using donated spaces such as the parish hall of a church and a large barn which is rented “at a very modest rate” where they rehearse, build sets, sew costumes, and store their inventory from past productions. Their offices are at McDonough’s State Farm Insurance Agency, and they are proud to be a user group at the Appalachian Theatre. ENSEMBLE STAGE is a professional theatre in Banner Elk led by co-founders Artistic Director Gary Smith and his wife, Managing



Director Lisa Lamont. Founded in October 2009 in Blowing Rock, they relocated to an 8,000 square foot space in the Historic Banner Elk Cultural Arts Center in February 2017. They operate under a special appearance contract with Actors Equity Association and affiliated with the Department of Theatre and Dance at Appalachian State University. Ensemble’s year-round staff of two expands to four during their summer season to include Education and Outreach Director Natasha Braswell, who joins Smith and Lamont as instructors for their summer camps and master classes. Remarkably, Smith said he auditioned over 2000 actors for only 16 available roles this season, noting that he got all of his first choices for every show this season. Having directed 100 of the company’s 109 productions since 2009, Smith said “It’s like real estate… location, location, location. Who doesn’t want to be in beautiful Banner Elk in the summertime? Actors return year after year and the audience looks forward to seeing their favorite performers.” Designers for sets, lighting, and costumes are primarily faculty members from App State and Lees-McRae College. Ensemble spends between $10 and $20K per show for four summer productions, plus a kids show, a benefit cabaret performance, and their beloved A Banner Elk Christmas. The company is slowly working their way back to their pre-pandemic budget of $175K per season. Ensemble performs in the 99-seat Hahn Auditorium, a 32-by-32-foot proscenium theatre with a thrust stage that provides an intimate theatrical experience for audience members. Their rehearsal space, scene shop, green room, dressing room, box office/concessions, and offices are also located in the former Banner Elk Elementary School, making them one of the few theatres housed under one roof,


with accommodations for out-of-town artists in nearby Beech Mountain. They perform on a summer stock basis with one show followed immediately by the next with very little to no overlap on the schedule. HORN IN THE WEST in Boone is one of 246 outdoor theatres in the United States, as listed on the website of the Institute of Outdoor Theatre, a service organization based in Greensboro at the Southeastern Theatre Conference. It is one of ten that have been produced in North Carolina and the third oldest outdoor drama in the nation, having opened on June 27, 1952, and is now celebrating its 71st season, making it the longest running show in the High Country. It operates under the organizational umbrella of the Southern Appalachian Historical Association (SAHA) whose Executive Director, Marrena Greer, also oversees the expansive Hickory Ridge History Museum. SAHA’s annual budget is $322K with approximately $100,000 earmarked for Horn, which will stage 35 performances between June 27 and August 12, 2023. According to Greer, the current company includes 36 actors, ten technicians, and another dozen box office and concession personnel, all of whom are paid, plus as many as 100 dedicated volunteers who fill in the gaps as ushers and front of house personnel. That number does not include the choreographer, fight director, and musical director who come to Boone only for the rehearsal and tech week period. Concurrent rehearsals take place with actors onstage, choreography taught in a nearby dance studio, and music learned in the choir room of a local church. The Daniel Boone Amphitheatre complex also houses administrative offices,


LEES-McRAE SUMMER THEATRE (LMST) was founded in 1985 by regional theatre legend Janet Barton Speer, who solidified their reputation for high-quality summer musicals on the idyllic campus of Lees-McRae College in Banner Elk, NC. Their 38th season – profiled in the Cultural Calendar of this issue – is a perfect combination of a world-premiere musical, a recent Broadway tuner, and an original revue that showcases music along their summer theme of “A Love Letter to North Carolina.” Gabriel (Gabe) Vanover is in his sixth year as managing director of LMST, having directed and performed in recent seasons. He and Speer have hired over 75 artists for the current season, including 48 actors and 28 production team members with roughly half from outside the High Country region. They, too, perform on a summer stock schedule with only one show onstage at a time, but with all three shows rehearsing concurrently six times a week for a three-to-four-week period. They set their season over a year in advance so that Gabe can secure the best possible talent for each production, which is backed up by a budget of $265,000. With technical work taking place onstage

in the 750-seat Hayes Auditorium, rehearsals are held elsewhere on the LMC campus in several studios and practice rooms in the Theatre Arts building. “In the last five years, we have employed company members from all 50 states and drawn audience members from 700 different zip codes from over half of the country,” Vanover proudly proclaims. He also takes pride in the LMST’s well-received internship and apprentice program which identifies 18 emerging professionals in performance, technical theatre and production, plus arts management, providing invaluable practical experience to college and university student at a critical time in their promising careers. lmc. edu/summertheatre TWEETSIE RAILROAD is in the midst of its 66th season and is North Carolina’s oldest theme park, having opened on the Fourth of July in 1957. Known primarily as a Wild West adventure park with amusement rides and a petting zoo, Tweetsie features a stunning three-mile-long train rides aboard a historic, coal-fired, narrow gauge steam locomotive. Tweetsie is a major employer of professional stage talent with a nine-month season and expansive performance schedule. Entertainment Director John Setzer said, “We have three options available: some people are able to work the entire length of the season, some can only work during the summer months when they are not in school, while others are hired for the last half of the season and work with us during the fall to fill in any gaps left by those who have left to go back to school. We have one stage show for our Tweetsie Christmas event with a cast of six performers from existing entertainment employees. During

the summer we hire about 32 performers with a broad spectrum of talents: actor combatants, dancers, equestrians, and magicians. Our technical crew members consist of five to six people with skills in costuming, stage management, lighting, and sound design. During Ghost Train we hire an additional 20 to 30 “scare actors” for a total of about 70 performers annually.” Marketing Director Meghan Minton said that their artists perform up to 1200 shows in a single season for 250,000 annual park visitors on four different stages: the Palace Theatre, Miners Mountain Theatre, Frontier Outpost, and Fort Boone. “Our shows are very interactive and our staff spend just as much time, if not more, speaking and personally engaging with guests of all ages.” Meghan added that, “staffing for Ghost Train requires makeup artists; it takes four artists three hours each night to transform 75 performers. Our team is comprised of locals as well as performers from all over the Southeast.”





a box office, costume shop, scene deck, and properties tent. “Our actors range from two years of age to 69 years old, a span of almost seven decades,” Greer proudly proclaims to laughter in the background from Jenny Cole, who has portrayed the role of Widow Howard for 43 of the drama’s 71 seasons. “90 percent of our talent is local who come back to Horn year after year after year,” says Greer, a fact that demonstrates their commitment to the High Country community.


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Music at Grandfather Vineyard

Music is made in our area all year long by skilled and talented musicians. They’re picking and jamming on the stages, in the meadows and on front porches. Here are some of our favorite places…

Shane Chalke at Chef’s Table

Where the Music Is . . .

By CML Staff


Linville Falls Winery – Located near Linville Falls and the spectacular Linville Gorge, the steepest gorge east of the Mississippi River, Linville Falls Winery hosts music every Friday, Saturday and Sunday afternoons from 2-5 p.m. | 9557 Linville Falls Hwy (Hwy 221), Linville Falls, NC Blue Ridge Parkway Mile 317, 828-765-1400, Banner Elk Winery – The High Country’s original winery is just minutes from downtown Banner Elk and hosts music on Fridays 1-5 p.m., Saturdays starting at noon, and Sundays 1-5 p.m. | 60 Deer Run Lane, Banner Elk, NC, 828-898-9090,

Grandfather Vineyard and Winery – Music in the vineyard hosts a season full of live music Wednesday through Saturday starting at 2 p.m., and Sunday afternoons starting at 1 p.m. Food truck available each day. 225 Vineyard Lane, off NC 105 between Boone and Banner Elk, 828-963-2400, Watauga Lake Winery – Johnson County, Tennessee’s first winery will host musical lineups on Saturdays starting at 5 p.m. 6952 Big Dry Run Rd., Butler, TN, 423-768-0345, Villa Nove Vineyard – Nestled in the Appalachian High Country with vineyard-laced hills giving way to breathtaking 360-degree views. Enjoy live music Sundays 2-5 p.m. | 1877 Dry Hill Rd, Butler, TN, 423-768-0345, Old Barn Winery – Enjoy live music at this family-owned winery located in the beautiful mountains of West Jefferson, NC, Fridays 3-6 p.m., Saturdays 1-7 p.m. (usually two bands), and Sundays 2-5 p.m. 2152 Beaver Creek School Rd, West Jefferson, 336-846-6060, n AT RESTAURANTS AND BARS Old Hampton Barbecue and The Tavern at the Old Hampton Store Live outdoor music on select Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at noon and 6 p.m. Go to Old Hampton Store Facebook page for the latest updates, additions, and changes. | 77 Ruffin Street, Linville, 828-733-5213 Banner Elk Café – Live bands on Fridays and Saturdays throughout the year, 6 -10 p.m. | 324 Shawneehaw Ave. S, Banner Elk, 828-898-4040, Lost Province Brewery – Live music every Friday and Saturday evening starting at 7 p.m. | 130 N. Depot Street, Boone, 828-265-3506, Chef’s Table – Live Wednesday night jazz with Shane Chalke at 7 p.m. Additional live music on Friday and Saturday nights starting at 7 p.m. and karaoke at 10 p.m. | 140 Azalea Circle, Banner Elk, 828-898-5214,

The Village of Banner Elk – Live music on the courtyard’s outdoor stage in the heart of Banner Elk Friday and Saturday nights starting at 7 p.m. 140 Azalea Circle, Banner Elk, 828-898-5214, Famous Brick Oven Pizzeria – Live music every Friday 5:30-8:45 p.m. and family friendly pianist Andrew Cotts Thursdays and Sundays 5:30-9 p.m. | 402 Beech Mountain Parkway, Beech Mountain, 828-387-4000, Booneshine Brewing Company Summer in the Garden – Live music on select Thursday evenings at 6:30 p.m. and Sundays at noon at Booneshine Brewing Company in East Boone. Check their Facebook and Instagram pages for updated times and dates. | 465 Industrial Park Drive, Boone, 828-278-8006, Highlanders Grill & Tavern – Live music on the patio, Saturdays from 3-6 p.m,. and karaoke on Friday nights at 8 p.m. Check out the lineup on their Facebook page at 4527 Tynecastle Hwy., Banner Elk, 828-898-9613 Summer Music Series at the Table at Crestwood – Every Thursday night through August at 5:30 p.m. at The Inn at Crestwood, Blowing Rock. Reservations advised. | 3236 Shulls Mill Rd., Boone, 828-963-6646, Timberlake’s Restaurant – at the Chetola Resort features live music in the Pub, on the Patio or by the Bonfire, depending on weather and special events, Wednesday through Saturday 6-9 p.m. | 185 Chetola Lake Dr., Blowing Rock, 828-295-5505, Casa Rustica – Live music on Thursday evenings with Todd Wright and Andy Page | 1348 Hwy. 150 South, Boone, 828-262-5128, Uncatchable Concert Series – at the Call Family Distiller’s The Mash House at 6 p.m. on July 22 and August 29 | 1611 Industrial Dr, Wilkesboro, 336-990-0708, Blowing Rock Brewing – Enjoy great food and beer with live music on Sundays from 2-5 p.m. | 152 Sunset Dr, Blowing Rock, 828-414-9600, Blind Elk Tap Room – Live music and food trucks on various nights and trivia on Mondays at 6:30 p.m. There’s a lot to choose from for your summertime pleasure. Please check their Facebook page for up-to-date information. | 397 Shawneehaw Ave., Banner Elk, 828-898-2420,

Continued on next page CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Summer 23 —


The Village of Banner Elk Courtyard Music

Beech Mountain Summer Concert Series

n AT A CHURCH St. John’s Summer Sunday Concerts – The St. John’s Summer Concerts are held the first Sunday of each summer month. Concerts begin at 5 p.m. with a suggested donation of $5 per person. Child admission is free. | 554 Herb Thomas Rd, Sugar Grove, 828-963-609,

available online at | 1007 Beech Mountain Parkway, Beech Mountain, 828-387-2011, The Pineola Live Music Weekends – Live music Friday and Saturday nights from 7-10 p.m. | 3085 Linville Falls Hwy., Pineola, 828-733-4979,



5506’ Skybar at Beech Mountain Ski Resort – Take the ski lift to the top—the Skybar at the peak of the mountain offers live music on Saturdays from 2:30-5:30 p.m. | 1007 Beech Mountain Parkway, Beech Mountain, 800-438-2093,

Concerts in the Park, Banner Elk – Every Thursday through August 31, 6:30 p.m., Tate Evans Town Park next to Town Hall on Hwy 194. 210 Park Ave., Banner Elk, 828-898-8395,

Music on the Lawn at The Inn at Ragged Gardens – Friday evenings May through October, 5:30-8:30 p.m., weather permitting. Bring your own seating; outdoor bar and lawn menu available. Sorry, no coolers, pets, or outside food or beverages. | 203 Sunset Dr., Blowing Rock, 828-295-9703, Symphony by the Lake – One night only, Friday July 21. Dinner, fireworks, and the Symphony of the Mountains. Chetola Resort, Blowing Rock. $65 advance tickets only. Gates open at 5:30 p.m., opening music begins at 5:30 p.m. and featured music at 7 p.m. Go to for info and tickets, 828-295-7851 Grillin’ & Chillin’ Concert and Dinner Series at Sugar Mountain – Wednesdays through August and on Labor Day, 5:30-9 p.m. on the Golf and Tennis Clubhouse Deck, with weekly food specials. | 1054 Sugar Mountain Dr., Banner Elk, 828-898-1025, Music on the Veranda and the Lobby at Green Park Inn – Music on the Veranda Sundays, 5-8 p.m. Bring your own chairs. Music in the lobby with Charlie Ellis on piano Friday and Saturday nights 6-9 p.m. 9239 Valley Blvd., Blowing Rock, 828-414-9230, High Country Jazz Society Concerts – Take place on the 2nd Sunday of each month from 5-7 p.m. at the Appalachian Theatre of the High Country in Boone from 5-6:30 p.m. Please call for reservations one week prior to the concert. | 559 W King St., Boone, 828-865-6860, highcountryjazzsociety., Summer Concert Series at the Beech Mountain Resort – July 15, Amos Lee with Langhorne Slim; July 28, Sheryl Crow with Southern Avenue; July 29, JJ Grey & Mofro/Dawes; July 30, My Morning Jacket with Katie Pruitt; August 12, Grace Potter with Morgan Wade. All shows 7-11 p.m. Tickets


Concerts in the Park, Blowing Rock – Six Sundays, May through October, 1-3 p.m. following Art in The Park. | Memorial Park, 1036 Main Street, Blowing Rock, NC, 828-295-7851, Music in the Valle –Valle Crucis Community Park, on Fridays 6 p.m. through September 1, bring your own chair or blanket. | 2892 Broadstone Rd., Banner Elk, 828-963-9239, Blowing Rock Town Concert Series – A variety of free music concerts at the gazebo in Broyhill Park (rain location - The Blowing Rock American Legion Hall), on Monday nights through July at 7 p.m. Bring a chair or blanket. | 173 Lakeside Dr., Blowing Rock, 828-295-5222, Backstreet Park Summer Concerts – 5:30-7 p.m. on most Fridays in July and August, downtown West Jefferson at Backstreet Park, 2nd Ave. Bring your own seating. | 888-343-2743, Concerts in the Commons – The second Saturday of the month at 6 p.m., now through September at Carolina West Wireless Community Commons. | 102 West Main St., Wilkesboro, 336-838-3951, concerts-in-the-commons Todd Summer Concert Series – Free live concerts will be held outdoors at Cook Memorial Park in downtown Todd on June 24, July 4, July 15, July 29, and August 12, 6-8 p.m. Bring a chair or blanket | 3977 Todd Railroad Grade Rd, Todd, Seven Devils Music on the Lawn Concerts – Live music on the 2nd and 4th Fridays through August 11 at the Park at Seven Devils starting at 6 p.m. | Grandfather Circle off Skyland Dr., Seven Devils, 828-963-5343, n AT A STORE Live Music at the Original Mast Store – Gather around the pot-bellied stove or on the back porch for some toe tapping music on Tuesday, July 4,

Music in the Valle

Blowing Rock Monday Night Concerts

Sunday, July 16, and Saturdays, July 22 and 29, from around noon until 2 p.m. | 3565 NC Hwy. 194, Sugar Grove (Valle Crucis). 828-963-6511, n AT FESTIVALS An Appalachian Summer Festival – Annual summer arts attraction from June through July. This month-long cultural event includes live music concerts in Boone, NC. For information and tickets: 800-841-2787, FloydFest’23 “Forever” – July 26-30 in Floyd, VA. For complete information, Virginia Highlands Festival – July 21-July 30. Annual events include live music concerts. | Abingdon, VA, Bristol Rhythm and Roots Reunion – September 8-10 in downtown Bristol, VA/TN | State Street. For tickets and more information: 423-5731927, Doc Watson Day – Celebrate the memory and influence of local legend and 7-time Grammy musician Doc Watson at the Jones House Cultural Center on Friday, August 18 at 5:30 p.m. (free event) and at The Appalachian Theatre on August 19 at 7:30 p.m. (ticketed event) | 604 West King St., Boone, 828-268-6280, and 559 West King St., Boone, 828-865-3000, The Doc and Rosa Lee Watson MusicFest in Sugar Grove – is held at the Historic Cove Creek School on July 15, 9:30 a.m. The festival hosts local, regional, and nationally renowned musicians all on stage to honor Doc Watson, who got his start busking in Boone. Reserve your tickets today. 207 Dale Adams Road, Sugar Grove, 828-297-2200, Ashe County Bluegrass & Old-Time Fiddlers Convention – is held at Ashe Park on July 28 – 29. The music is focused on honoring the Old Time and Bluegrass music of the mountains—and the musicians who make it. | 527 Ashe Park Road, Jefferson, 336-846-2787, Long Journey Home Musical Heritage Homecoming Tour – A showcase of local and regional acoustic talent playing up and down Main St. in Mountain City, Tennessee, September 2-4, 423-4603313, n AND EVERYWHERE ELSE Appalachian Theatre of the High Country – This restored theatre has too many dates and acts to count so please check out their events page

for tickets and information at | 559 W King St, Boone, 828-865-3000 FORUM at Lees-McRae College – The 44th season of FORUM, offering two performances on Mondays, 5 and 7:30 p.m., through August 7 at Hayes Auditorium on the campus of Lees-McRae College. | 191 Main St., Banner Elk; information and tickets: 828-898-8748, Joe Shannon’s Mountain Home Music – Live music events at the Ashe Civic Center in West Jefferson. Check their website for upcoming concert dates. 962 Mt Jefferson Rd, West Jefferson, Concerts on the Deck – Bring a chair and your dancing shoes to the Yadkin Valley Marketplace the third Saturday of each month, now through October, starting at 7 p.m. | 842 CBD Loop, North Wilkesboro, 336-667-7129, The Orchard at Altapass – Free live music in the outdoor pavilion from May through September on Saturdays and Sundays, 10 a.m. to noon | 1025 Orchard Rd., Spruce Pine, 828-765-9531, Crossnore Jam – Free live jam sessions. Bring an instrument if you would like to join in! Town Meeting House on the first Friday of the month at 10:30 a.m. and every Tuesday at 1 p.m. | Crossnore Drive, Crossnore, 828-733-0360. Bluegrass Country Music Jam – This is a community event at the Historic Banner Elk School in the Book Exchange on the 3rd Mondays of the month at 6 p.m. | 185 Azalea Way, Banner Elk, Summer Concerts at the Jones House – Concerts on the lawn of the Jones House in downtown Boone on Fridays at 5:30 p.m., June through August. | 604 West King St., Boone, 828-268-6280, Old-Time Acoustic Jams at the Jones House – Join local and visiting musicians every Thursday at 7 p.m. for an old-time jam. Bring an instrument and join in or just enjoy the music. | 604 West King St., Boone, 828-268-6280, Red, White, and Bluegrass Jams – at the American Legion in Blowing Rock on the first and third Tuesday of the month from April to November. Come to listen or bring your instrument and join right in. | 333 Wallingford St, Blowing Rock, 828-295-5222, Saloon Studios Live – This all-inclusive musical venue is the ultimate music lover’s retreat, set in the Blue Ridge Mountain community of West Jefferson. | 313 Old West Rd., West Jefferson, 336-877-2374, Before you head out, be sure to check with each venue or search online for any changes to dates, times, locations, and restrictions. CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Summer 23 —


June 28, 29, 30 Claire & Jennifer Tyler With sweaters for every occasion July 6 ,7, 8 Zonnie Sheik 36 years with BJ’s Magnificent Jewelry July 13, 14, 15 ALGO of Switzerland Nicholas will be here with fall merchandise July 20, 21, 22 Jodi Rose Beautiful Scarves August 9, 10, 11, 12 Daniella Ortiz Exquisite handbags in every color


2023 Trunk Shows August 24, 25, 26 Ed-it NY Edward Guski 5th trunk show with BJ’s A little bit of everything August 31, Sept. 1 & 2 Zonnie Sheik will return if you missed July September 21, 22, 23 ALGO of Switzerland He is bringing Spring clothing this time September 27, 28, 29, 30 Claire & Jennifer Tyler Knitwear

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Wisdom and Ways

The Enduring Pleasures of Pickin’ and Grinnin’ By Jim Casada Mountain Music Festival of Yesteryear (photos from the Lomax Collection, Library of Congress)

Continued on next page CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Summer 23 —



comes to participation in impromptu music sessions. Far from it. I grew up in an environment where music—mostly gospel, bluegrass, and classic country, but with some other genres figuring in the mix periodically—was an integral part of life. Enjoying the grand old radio programs mentioned above afforded an ample measure of listening pleasure, but that paled in comparison with the real McCoy. All it took for an impromptu session of pickin’ and grinnin’ to break out was a few folks who could play and sing, and there were always eager listeners such as this humble soul to offer grins big enough to do a mule eating saw briars proud. Such gatherings could happen pretty much any time of the year, but their setting varied according to the season. During what is sometimes described as the “porch season,” that time of year from late spring until early fall when you can sit in the open air comfortably in the evening, they were often held in that setting. An alternative might be someone’s lawn or, if there was a bit of nip in the air, folks circled around an open fire. Otherwise, joyful musical gatherings occurred in someone’s living room or perhaps a community building. I know of one local library that hosts such events in the evening, free to the public, from time to time. Those sessions, at least as I have known them, were pretty much impromptu; just “string pullings” as they were sometimes described, where anywhere from one or two musicians to possibly as many as a dozen would be involved. Many of those pulling or sawing on strings also sang, and the choice of songs ranged widely. There were always Gospel classics in the mix such as “Life’s Railway


sociated with stomping grounds (settings for square dances); gatherings and sometimes competitions of the sort popularized by the rightly revered minstrel of the Carolina hills, Bascom Lamar Lunsford; and most of all, local pickin’ and grinnin’ sessions. The latter have been a bright and tuneful thread running through the entire fabric of my life, although thanks to having been well hidden beneath the proverbial bushel basket when musical talents were passed around, my personal involvement has always been limited to frontrow grinning. As early as the 4th grade a music teacher, after a couple of weeks of growing despair connected with my efforts on a cheap plastic flute known as a Tonette, quietly and diplomatically told my parents that I was pretty much a hopeless case. He suggested maybe a small boy who obviously was tonedeaf could study maps or read books, both things I loved, while my classmates tooted away on their flutes. That was satisfactory for all concerned, never mind that such a common sense approach would, in today’s world, quite possibly stir up a firestorm of accusations about discrimination. Another reminder of the fact it was my lot in life to be a grinner came in adulthood. On that occasion a cherished friend who is musically gifted, lives in Nashville, knows the Music City scene intimately, and was for decades the fellow who wrote and researched the background information for Bob Kingsley’s “American Country Music Countdown,” told me I “sang like a bird.” Alas, he immediately followed that up by commenting, “Unfortunately that bird is a vulture.” That’s enough to provide an all too clear personal picture, but don’t think for a moment mine has been a life of deprivation when it


Mountain folks have always been keenly aware that music is a balm that soothes the soul and brings welcome seasoning to life’s journey. Traditional High Country musical offerings come in many forms—old-time shape note singing in small country churches, the glad chorus of praise or supplication filling the air at a brush arbor or tent revival, or maybe the simplicity and satisfaction a staunch country woman finds by dignifying the drudgery of her daily chores with singing along with the radio. Speaking of radio offerings, chances are many older readers of these words will recall, with considerable fondness, happy hours in yesteryear (especially the 1950s) spent listening to country music such as the Louisiana Hayride on KWKH out of Shreveport, the Wheeling Jamboree on WWVA, the Wayne Raney Show on Cincinnati’s WCKY, or the granddaddy of them all, the Grand Ole Opry on Nashville’s WSM. All these stations were, to borrow from the words Wayne Raney always used, “50,000 watts of pure power.” Through them one gained exposure to the classic country music and a bevy of household names such as Hank Williams, Lefty Frizzell, Roy Acuff, Jimmie Rodgers, Patsy Cline, Jim Reeves, Johnny Cash, Hank Snow, Johnny Horton, and a veritable host of other voices. Then there were the family groups and the special harmony that somehow emerges from kinship—the Carter Family, the Stanley Brothers, the Louvin Brothers, the Browns, and others. It was a glorious way to enjoy vicariously the rising popularity and spread of country and bluegrass music or, to use the description I’ve always preferred, “mountain music.” Yet for all the undeniable glories associated with these types of music and famous singers, for me true mountain music is the kind as-

PICKIN’ : Continued from page 51

Part of the Mystery Hill Family of Attractions




to Heaven,” “I Saw the Light,” “Amazing Grace,” and “Will the Circle Be Unbroken.” The latter, or perhaps “Goodnight, Irene,” often signaled an end to the gathering. Prior to that parting though, there would have been multiple requests from the audience and a sort of progression around a semi-circle of musicians, all seated so they could face the grinners (their audience) as each one in turn chose a song to pick and perhaps sing while others joined in. Along with predictably tried-and-true Gospel favorites there would be selections from country and bluegrass music greats from times gone by as well as contemporaries. Songs and singers who come instantly to mind in that regard are the likes of Mother Maybelle Carter and “Wildwood Flower” (although never once was I privileged to listen to someone play her favorite instrument, the autoharp), a number of Hank Williams, Sr. offerings such as “Jambalaya,” “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry,” and “Kaw-Liga”; bluegrass classics such as “Rocky Top,” “Uncle Pen,” “Ruby,” and “Knoxville Girl”; and favorites topping the country charts at the time. Another fairly common aspect of such gatherings was sometimes described as buck dancing or clogging. Terminology didn’t


matter, but when a lively tune stirred someone to the point where mere toe tapping or toothy grins that would have matched Theodore Roosevelt’s chompers simply didn’t suffice, it was time to shake a leg. Such spontaneous outbreaks of sheer delight could happen at any time, and I must confess that in younger, spryer days this was my one contribution beyond enthusiastic grinning. I look back on these gatherings with an enduring sense of winsome wonder. They epitomize so much that is good and gracious about mountain life—sheer joy in living, togetherness, celebration of music, and finding ready entertainment no matter how hardscrabble one’s existence might be. Such sessions of pickin’ and grinnin’ are, in so many ways, a testament to the resilience of High Country folks and the manner in which they have, in yesteryear as today, found ready avenues for fun and maybe even a bit of a frolic. Jim Casada is a widely published author who claims he can grin with the best of them. To learn more about his most recent book, Celebrating Southern Appalachian Food: Recipes & Tales from the Mountains, or any of the many other works, visit his website at www.

John Ray and Farmer John’s all natural heirloom apples; yes, you’ve seen me at the Banner Elk Farmers’ Market. Private apple tours in season of family orchard. By appointment only.

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Jean W. McLaughlin

Vicki Essig Joy Tanner Teresa Pietsch

Summer is a Time for Gardens and Things that Grow M

ica Gallery’s artists have summer gardens in mind as they create their work. Sage Morgan has elaborate drawings of mushrooms covering the surfaces of her pottery, and on occasion you will find images of the snails that keep her gardens healthy. For potter Joy Tanner, gardening is a form of self-taught experimentation. “Working in the garden and making pots are similarly intuitive processes,” she says, “I like to grow herbs, perennials, a variety of leafy greens, tomatoes, beans, squash and cucumbers that I usually start in early May.” Her vases are perfect for the flowers that bloom throughout the summer. You may not be as adventuresome a gardener as Joy Tanner, but you like to put on a beautiful spread like Robbie Bell. Mica now has charcuterie boards by Gary Jobe and wooden cheese boards by Half Feral Studio, serving dishes by Robbie Bell and David Ross, and vases for your flowers by Teresa Pietsch and Gay Smith. Judson Gerard finds that gourds can be the basis of his glass ornaments. And, Jean McLaughlin is inspired by flowers and vegetables for her printmaking and notecards.

Uniquely among the artists, however, is Vicki Essig, who grows silkworms to produce silk, to understand their process, and see how the material she uses in her weavings is created. “Every spring for the past 15 or so years, when the mulberry trees start to show leaf buds, I prepare for the caring of about 500 silkworms,” says Essig. The process begins when the silkworms hatch from their eggs and are ready to eat the pounds and pounds of mulberry leaves that Essig gathers for them. By summer, the silkworms are ready to spin their silk to weave a cocoon. Essig’s manipulation of the silkworm process, and the cooperation of the silkworms, enables her to harvest silk and understand the intricacy of its production. Visitors will find stories like these behind each work of art presented at Mica Gallery. Learn about these artists who live in western North Carolina and how they contribute to life in this mountain region. Mark your calendars for Mica’s special summer event, “Muffins and Mimosas,” on Sunday, August 27 from 9 a.m. until noon.

Sage Morgan

Special to CML

Mica is an artist-run gallery of fine art and contemporary craft. Established in Bakersville, NC, in 2012, Mica aspires to contribute to the cultural, educational, and economic development of our community. At Mica, you will discover distinctive objects of fine art and craft to fulfill a love of the handmade and artful living. The gallery is located at 37 Mitchell Avenue in Bakersville and open every day April 1-December 31 with hours on Mondays-Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays from noon-5 p.m. While in town, also visit In Tandem Gallery, Bowditch Antiques, Sweetgrass, and Just Local. Follow the gallery on its website, on Facebook at Mica Gallery NC or on Instagram at

Robbie Bell CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Summer 23 —



Be immersed in the american revolution! don’t miss the incredible stage show guaranteed to entertain the entire family.

THIS FALL IN KINGS MOUNTAIN, NC performances at a higher level

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The Wildbird Supply Co. & Fred’s Backside Deli

Evergreen • Leanin’ Tree Two’s Company • Nature Planet Locally crafted houses & feeders and so much more! – Celebrating our 44th Year! – July 5-9 - HIGHLAND ECHOES Aug 19 - APPALACHIAN ROAD SHOW Sept 1 - NAPOLEON DYNAMITE, LIVE!

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Free Weekly Art Shows in Historic Edgewood Cottage Purchase quality original art for every interest and budget. Meet different jury-selected artists each week throughout the summer. Corner of Main Street & Ginny Stevens Lane (next to BRAHM) Blowing Rock, NC

Coming to Blowing Rock?

Visit Edgewood Cottage


harming Edgewood Cottage, the restored original home and studio of renowned American artist Elliott Daingerfield, opens its doors every summer to welcome local juried artists. Each artist shows, tells and sells their art to visitors from near and far. In the last years, visitors have come from three different countries and over 30 states to enjoy local outstanding art. What makes this experience so different? When you come to Edgewood, you’ll see many of the artists creating their art, either on the porch or inside of this intimate Cottage. They look forward to meeting you, talking with you about their processes and art, and answering any questions you might have. This year, 31 different artists will share the Cottage—two a week, every week—from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Their work includes, but is not limited to, photography, ceramics, watercolor, acrylics, wood working, folk art, oil painting, fiber art, drawing, leather goods, and porcelain. Art lovers of all interests and budgets are welcome to these free open studio events. For a detailed schedule and sample artwork, go to Mark your calendar for May 28 through September 10 to enjoy the original artwork of these outstanding local artists.

This Artist-in-Residence program is sponsored by the Blowing Rock Historical Society. For more information or to join the Society, go to CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Summer 23 —




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Amy Brown, CPA Certified Public Accountant 828.898.7607 Avery County Chamber of Commerce “New Location” 828.898.5605 / Creative Interiors by Darlene Parker 828.898.9636 Encore Travel 828.719.6955 Hero’s Axe House 828-898-4376 / Highlanders Grill & Tavern Open 7 Days a Week 828.898.9613 Peak Real Estate “New Location” 828.898.1880 Salon Suites at Tynecastle • SALON M 828.260.3791 Shooz & Shiraz A Shoe & Wine Salon at The Dande Lion Sky Mountain Nail Bar 828.783.9393 The Dande Lion Ladies Apparel, Shoes, & Accessories 866.222.2050 and 828.898.3566 Truist Financial 828-292-9219 / Valle de Bravo Mexican Grill 828.898.4949 Walgreens Pharmacy 828.898.8971

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SHOPPING • DINING • BUSINESS • At the Corner of Hwy 105 & 184 Tynecastle Hwy. • Banner Elk CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Summer 23 —


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Left to right: St. John’s Episcopal Church, Valle Crucis / Church of the Holy Trinity, Glendale Springs Banner Elk United Methodist Church. Inset: All Saints Episcopal Mission, Linville.

Artist David Haynes:

Honoring Historic “Houses of Worship” Special to CML


avid Haynes attended a pet portrait beginner class at Creative Aging Network in Greensboro, NC, in the fall of 2019. At that class, he wanted to attempt to paint his cats as a surprise for his wife, Amy’s, birthday. “I never drew or painted until then. I enjoyed the class and the encouragement from the resident artist,” says Haynes. “After looking back on that moment, I realized she believed in me and my new talent.” She encouraged this budding artist to purchase a few brushes, paints and canvasses. Three years later and over 300 paintings to his credit, Haynes, a Long Term Care Insurance Specialist turned his love for painting into a fulfilling hobby. Haynes painted a variety of images and scenes, mostly in acrylics, as his hobby expanded. Mountains, birds, landscapes, covered bridges and pictures from his international travels decorate his walls. Over the last several months Haynes has taken an interest in painting churches. “I love the architecture and quaint styles of churches, especially those in rural and mountain communities,” Haynes explains. “I feel a closer presence to God while I paint. I’ve found that so many have a connection with a church or place of worship and my paintings help create a sense of balance in what’s really important in life.”

In all, Haynes has painted over 30 churches in the Carolinas with more in the queue. In each painting, he includes a unique signature trademark—he cleverly hides three tiny crosses for the viewer to locate. “The crosses remind me of ‘God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit’—it is only fitting that I honor Him, who has blessed me with a new talent.” After previously living in the High Country, Haynes decided to visit local churches and paint them. In Crossnore, Haynes captured on canvas the Sloop Chapel and the Follow the Dream statue, and later, Crossnore Presbyterian Church. Banner Elk churches include Banner Elk United Methodist Church, the Banner Elk Christian Fellowship, and Banner Elk Presbyterian Church. His painting of Linville’s All Saints Episcopal Church was a Christmas gift to a dear, legally blind friend, Cindie Brown of Greensboro. Haynes uniquely used toothpicks, straws, assorted wires, and wood chips so his friend could feel the painting “come to life.” He even used kitty litter for the pathway. “This was a highlight of my short painting journey,” Haynes notes. It confirmed for him that the hobby he had developed could be a type of ministry. Other North Carolina High Country churches he has painted include the

Blowing Rock Methodist Church, St. Mary’s Church in West Jefferson, and Holy Trinity Church in Glendale Springs, which features frescoes by Ben Long IV and other fresco artists. A trip to Biltmore Village in Asheville inspired his painting of the Cathedral of All Souls. His most recent works depict Church of the Holy Cross and St. John’s Episcopal Church in Valle Crucis. You can learn more about the artist and his work at, or contact him at

Haynes painting the E.H. Sloop Chapel on the campus of Crossnore Communities for Children. The chapel was built in 1956 from the proceeds of the book, “Miracle in the Hills,” written by Mary Martin Sloop. It houses the fresco, “Suffer the Little Children,” painted by Ben Long IV. CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Summer 23 —


Banner Elk Presbyterian Church—the historic stone building dates back to 1893. / Painting by David Haynes

Banner Elk Presbyterian:

Celebrating 130 Years of Ministry and Service By Elizabeth Baird Hardy


he town of Banner Elk has experienced a host of transformations since the day in 1893 when a small group of believers and a visiting evangelist founded Banner Elk Presbyterian Church. Over the next one hundred and thirty years, the church continued to grow, and, in the process, became an integral part of the community and its heritage. As Banner Elk Presbyterian commemorates its one hundred and thirtieth birthday this year, a host of opportunities will allow members, the community, and visitors to celebrate the church, its past, and its future, a story interwoven with the stories of the community, the region, and the world. “The history of the church is amazing,” says member Mark File, who is coordinating the anniversary events committee. “So much of Banner Elk is connected to early leaders and members of the church,” from the origins of Lees-McRae College to the development of the area’s first hospitals. Even the construction of the hydroelectric dam that brought electricity to Banner Elk in 1912 was spearheaded by Reverend Edgar Tufts and supported by church members. The current church building was also begun in 1912, as members worked together to use native stone to create the beautiful structure that still welcomes worshippers. There will be many opportunities this summer for members and guests to celebrate the important anniversary of the church’s founding.


Each Sunday service in July will focus on a different theme connected to the church’s heritage and its role in inspiring members to Believe, Heal, Care, and Teach. Rev. and Mrs. Tufts, Dr. and Mrs. Tate, Grandfather Home for Children, and Lees-McRae College will each illustrate one of these core themes with special speakers and music. The month will conclude with a call to Rejoice and a hymnsing service featuring the beautiful traditional music that is so central to Banner Elk Presbyterian. Guests are always welcome at either the 9 or 11 a.m. Sunday service, and Sundays are a wonderful time to visit the church’s History Hall, an exhibit behind the Sanctuary that features photos and tells the story of the church’s remarkable past. A free booklet available at the church also details its remarkable history. As Mark File stresses, the church is also looking forward to the future: “While we are celebrating our 130th, we are also looking ahead to see how we can serve the community during the next 130 years.” The church seeks to reach the town, the county, and the world with service opportunities. Children from the church will be helping with cleaning up the park to serve the local community. A hygiene products collection drive for Feeding Avery Families helps provide needed items for clients, and a July 26 service day at the organization’s new facility will allow volunteers to organize resources for those throughout our region

who need them. Banner Elk Presbyterian also looks far beyond the High Country with ongoing missions projects, particularly the Cookstoves for Guatemala program that currently seeks to provide twenty-five cookstoves to those who have been limited to often-dangerous open-fire cooking methods. Church members are very excited about this project, as it includes partnering with Guatemalan churches to help match these life-changing tools with those in need. Like church founder Tufts, who saw needs and strove to meet them, current church members continue to seek ways to serve and help others. Visitors to the church are always welcome, but this July will provide some unique opportunities to those who wish to know more about the church’s history and its on-going projects. A special history walking tour will be offered in conjunction with the Banner House Museum on July 7, and there will be other events including picnics, concerts, and a “church night” attending the Lees-McRae world premiere of new musical The Wright Sister, directed by Dr. Janet Barton Speer. To learn more about the 130th-anniversary events, visit For contact information or more on Banner Elk Presbyterian and its history, go to For details on the Cookstoves for Guatemala project, go to

Crossnore Presbyterian Church, called “The Miracle in the Hills Church,” celebrates its 105th anniversary this summer. The rocks for the walls were brought up from the Linville River in the mid-1920s. / Painting by David Haynes

Crossnore Presbyterian Church:

Celebrating and Preserving a Landmark By Elizabeth Baird Hardy


n the early twentieth century, a small home fellowship group in Crossnore evolved into an established congregation that became Crossnore Presbyterian Church in 1918. By 1926, the church had built the beautiful, towered, stone building that today continues to stand like a sentinel over the small town that was so central to the lives of pivotal early church members like Doctors Eustace and Mary Martin Sloop. The church is both a place that reaches out to support and help others and a place that preserves the stories of the past. Both of those purposes present special opportunities this summer and beyond. In order to fulfill Christ’s call to reach out in love to both the local community and the world, Crossnore Presbyterian Church is actively involved in a number of ministries, including partnerships with organizations like Volunteer Avery, Reaching Avery Ministry, New Opportunity School for Women, WAMY, Mountain Alliance, OASIS, and the nearby Crossnore Elementary and Crossnore School. The church partners with Habitat for Humanity and, this summer, will be constructing a third Habitat for Humanity house in Avery County. In addition to local ministry projects, like collecting funds to cover heating costs for the elderly and providing Thanksgiving meal baskets and regular food donations for needy people and their

pets, Crossnore Presbyterian is connected with other churches to provide help to those in need across the state, from Charlotte to Wilmington. In addition, as part of a partnership with Libano Presbyterian Church in Guatemala, Crossnore Presbyterian also provides practical support for the global community far from Crossnore by providing educational scholarships for 30 students in the village of Los Cerros along with emergency food donations. Every Sunday, the beautiful rock church welcomes both members and visitors and encourages visitors to enjoy coffee and fellowship after the 11 a.m. service. Those who cannot attend in person are encouraged to sign up for virtual services, but there is something special about gathering in the historic sanctuary with the rockwork laid in the 1920s and the distinctive stained-glass windows. Nestled among rhododendrons just above the community of Crossnore, the church is a popular setting for special events like weddings, and it also makes an ideal environment for regular programs on history, such as June’s lecture by Appalachian State University professor Dr. Karl Campbell. However, after nearly a century of service to members, the community, and the world, the charming Crossnore Presbyterian Church structure needs some attention. The building, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, has

a roof that is currently in serious need of replacement and structural repairs. The “Raising the Roof ” campaign is well underway, seeking to generate the $500,000 needed to protect this beautiful building for another century. Dedicated church members have diligently pledged the majority of the needed funds and are currently striving to collect the final $70,000 that remains before the construction gets started next spring. Repairing the roof of Crossnore Presbyterian Church will allow this remarkable historic building to withstand the travails of time and weather for decades to come. As a historic landmark, the church can continue teaching about the past of the congregation and the community. Worshippers will be able to gather in a building that will be protected and protecting. But the new roof will also help the committed membership of the church to continue meeting the needs of those far and near, from local residents to those far from the beautiful mountains where this charming church peeps out from its hillside, looking to the past and gazing to the future. To learn more about Crossnore Presbyterian Church, including details on donating to the church’s ministries and the Raise the Roof Campaign, as well as links to church history and current events, go to crossnore. Better yet, stop by some Sunday for worship, coffee, and history.



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Book Nook


Three Librarians Share Ideas for Summer Reading The Banner Elk Book Exchange, located in the Historic Banner Elk School, operates on the simple idea of sharing books with other people in our community. Unlike a Public Library, there is no check-out counter and no due dates—simply bring a book, take a book. Here you can choose from adult fiction; a wide variety of non-fiction, including cookbooks, gardening, and history; books by local authors and of local interest; young adult books; children’s books; and a selection of current magazines. The Book Exchange’s organizers—all volunteers—include both former and current librarians. Carolina Mountain Life reached out to these career librarians and asked them to share a glimpse inside their “life with books” and to offer some of their favorite reads for the summer season. DONNA DICKS: As a child, I always loved reading and talking about books with friends, often saving my monthly allowance of $1.00 to purchase the latest “Nancy Drew mystery,” which I could read in one afternoon. I received my Master of Library Science (MLS) degree from Appalachian State in 1987, and worked full-time at Banner Elk School [now the Historic Banner Elk School] beginning in 1989. From then on, I loved my time with children, showing them how to appreciate books, the exquisite artwork in children’s picture books, as well as encouraging them to read for pleasure and to appreciate new ideas. My goal was always to put the right book in the right hands at the right time. Because I’ve always loved mysteries, I want to suggest two wonderful ones written by local authors: Dixie Autumn, a murder mystery set in upstate South Carolina in the 1950s, by Jerry Shinn, and The Code of the Forest, a great read about environmentalists, politicians, and lawyers in the low country of South Carolina with a BIG surprise ending, by Jon Buchan.


Another book I found fascinating is Belonging by Nora Krug; it is the true story of what the author learns about the truth of her family’s involvement in World War II, the Nazi party and the Holocaust. This one MUST be read in print so that you can refer to her elaborate family trees and charts as you go along. Set with some photographs, copies of documents and original drawings, this book makes you wonder about your own family histories and secrets. SUSAN STATON: My career began before I was out of college, but I knew I wanted to be a librarian when I was in elementary school. I worked in elementary schools, middle schools, high schools, and university and public libraries in several towns and cities in South Carolina. I even worked in a law office for a couple of months as a fill-in; that was very different! Middle school was my favorite—what crazy, funny students they are. Right now I am reading different things for my two book groups and for myself. Adriana Trigiani’s new book, The Good Left Undone, is a multi-generational novel set in Italy and Ireland, an interesting historical novel. Lessons in Chemistry, by Bonnie Garmus, is a humorous, satirical novel set in the 1950s about women who were considered inferior in the workplace. Joyful, by Ingrid F. Lee, is a non-fiction book about finding joy in everyday life. DUSTY ROSS: I’m currently a professor at App State and serve as the Information Literacy Librarian for the Social Sciences that supports undergraduate and graduate students, in addition to working with other faculty with course and assignment design and their own research endeavors. Previously, I was a full-time lecturer of English and Rhetoric and Composition at both App State and UNCG. And, I juggle all the

scheduling needs of the Banner Elk Book Exchange with the help of our amazing volunteers. I’ve actually had the chance to read some books for fun (which with an almost 4-year-old does not happen often). The most recent book I read that actually made me cry was Before We Were Yours, by Lisa Wingate, which tells the imagined stories of the five Foss siblings who are kidnapped and put in the historically real Tennessee Children’s Home Society orphanage in the 1930s. There is also a parallel current day storyline that shows just how complicated adoption can be long-term; there is lots of love but also lots of trauma. My other recommendations would be for kids’ books. My son is currently obsessed with the Mercer Mayer classic, Liza Lou and the Yeller Belly Swamp. He often recites entire sections of the book. Another favorite of his is John Patrick Green’s Kitten Construction Company: Meet the House Kittens graphic novel. He’s super into all things construction and kittens, so this is a win-win for him. Also, the art and storyline are wonderful. In addition to a vast selection of books and magazines to read (and puzzles to construct), the Banner Elk Book Exchange offers community programming, including an adult book discussion group; a children’s book discussion group (BE Readers); a kids’ science/ nature program; monthly Bluegrass jams; summer lectures; and academic tutoring and summer art, music, and drama programs for students at Banner Elk Elementary School. For a complete listing of events and programs, stop by the Banner Elk Book Exchange, or visit The Banner Elk Book Exchange “librarians” wish you a season filled with great reading!

The Big Picture Show

Revisit a Past Blockbuster with Men in Black By Elizabeth Baird Hardy

As the subject matter demands, Men in Black is a special-effects extravaganza. Surprisingly, most of the practical and digital effects hold up well, even 25 years after the original release. Excellent makeup garnered the film an Academy Award, and the creature effects range from the humorous to the nauseating, as a large percentage of the film’s aliens are slimy ones. Despite the dangers posed by the giant bug alien that takes on the identity (and the skin) of a thoroughly unpleasant knucklehead named Edgar (Vincent D’Onofrio), Men in Black is undoubtedly a comedy, from K’s deadpan observation that Elvis “did not die…he just went home,” to J’s hilarious first- day experience of delivering an alien baby on the side of the New Jersey Turnpike. Those who have seen the film before are still unlikely to avoid chuckling, even when the humor is somewhat dark, like the bug’s methods of killing those who would exterminate insects. Yet, there is more to this film than just a shiny shoot-em-up with snazzy effects. There are some truly profound moments in the midst of the chaos and the comedy: at the beginning of the film, when K’s aging partner is getting ready to retire, he looks up at the night sky, observing, “They’re beautiful, aren’t they? The stars? I never look at them anymore.” His wistful insight, so ironic for a man who works with aliens, sets the sometimes bittersweet undertone for this film. Later, when J claims that people are smart and can handle the truth about aliens, K counters with the thought-provoking reminder that while individual people may be

smart, “people are dumb, panicky, dangerous animals.” The fun package of this film nicely conceals a number of meaningful ideas, just like the spaceships, secret agencies, and aliens that are hidden in plain sight around New York City. Anyone who somehow managed to miss this classic 1990s film, or anyone who might have had a memory wipe courtesy of the MIB neuralyzer, should take this opportunity to laugh, gasp, and maybe even think a bit, courtesy of some snappy dressers with shiny tech. It is also a film that stands up well to repeat viewings. Of course, like any film, there are a few flaws, like one edit that has caused fans and cat lovers to wonder about the fate of Orion the cat for decades. However, it continues to be a movie that appeals to a wide audience with its offbeat charm. While Men in Black is also available via DVD or streaming, this is a great time to take advantage of the chance to see the film as it was originally shown, on a big screen, in a dark theater, on a summer evening. Men in Black is part of The Appalachian Theatre’s July Blockbuster series, which also features favorites like The Goonies, Jaws, and Iron Man. The Theatre offers many of these themed series, with May Mobster Movies and June Musicals. To learn more about the films showing at The Appalachian Theatre, as well as to find out about the many other events hosted in the beautifully restored building, visit




Even with our current ability to stream nearly any movie we like, in nearly any place we want, on devices from our phones to huge television screens, there is something about watching a summer blockbuster on a big screen in a popcorn-scented theater that harks back to the days when going to the movies was its own kind of adventure. This summer, Boone’s Appalachian Theatre of the High Country is offering that unique film-going experience to those who have never had the joy of escaping a hot summer day to dive into the magic of a movie in a classic theater. Those of us who enjoyed those days can revisit them as the theater’s July summer film series takes us back to Hollywood favorites of decades past. On July 25, the Appalachian Theatre will feature Men in Black, the 1997 comedy-action-science fiction-adventure starring Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith. Summer is a great time to enjoy space movies, comedies, and adventure movies. Plus, Spruce Pine’s S.P.A.C.E. (Spruce Pine Alien Conference and Expo) has returned this summer, so it’s a perfect time to revisit Mr. Jones, Mr. Smith, and some unforgettable aliens on the big screen. Based rather loosely on the Marvel Comic of the same name, Men in Black follows a secret government organization tasked with keeping tabs on earth’s refugees from other planets while keeping humans completely in the dark about the fact that there are aliens among us. Seasoned agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) and wise-cracking rookie J (Will Smith) team up to protect the earth and to protect some very strange secrets when a serious threat arrives.



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Summer Notes...


Keeper Talk Daily Program

Peaks and Profiles Daily Program


This summer make the most of your visit to Grandfather Mountain by tapping into the park’s robust schedule of daily programs and special events! ADD VALUE TO YOUR GRANDFATHER MOUNTAIN VISIT Daily programs led by park educators are included in park admission.

Pro tip for making the most out of a Grandfather Mountain experience: Make sure you plan ahead, check the schedule and fit some of the mountain’s Daily Programs into your visit. These interpretive programs, presented by park animal habitat curators and educators, occur daily through October and are included in park admission. During Keeper Talks, guests can talk with park educators about the habitat animals—black bears, cougars, river otters, bald eagles and elk—and watch them receive an enrichment. Enrichments are special treats, new toys or unfamiliar scents designed to break up the animals’ routines and help keep them active and intellectually stimulated. Keeper Talks run between 10 and 15 minutes and are held daily, every half hour from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., April through October, in the environmental wildlife habitats area. The Community Science Weather program spotlights Grandfather Mountain’s weather, known as some of the most extreme in the Southeast. Through this program, guests can help staff record data that is then passed on to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). This 10-minute program is held daily at 11 a.m. at Grandfather’s Pollinator Garden, behind the Wilson Center for Nature Discovery.


During Grandfather’s Junior Naturalist program, park educators help younger guests (ages 5 to 10) use scientific tools to make observations about natural phenomena. These 30-minute programs take place at the Pollinator Garden and are held at 11:30 a.m. daily through Aug. 20, and on weekends Aug. 26 to Oct. 29. Animal Encounters invite guests to come face-to-face with some of the mountain’s off-display educational animal ambassadors, such as opossums and snakes, while a park educator answers questions about that particular animal. Encounters last about 30 minutes and are held weekends at 2 p.m. near the main entrance of the Wilson Center. To learn more about these Grandfather Mountain daily programs and others, visit SUMMER SPECIAL EVENTS Now is a great time to take a deeper, more interactive dive into Grandfather’s natural world via the park’s schedule of special events, many included in park admission. Grandfather by Night | July 14, 21 and 28 Explore Grandfather Mountain after the park closes. Staff educators lead participants on a brief, guided night hike after taking in a sunset at the Mile High Swinging Bridge. Additional cost. Animal Enrichment Day | Aug. 2 See how Grandfather Mountain cares for its resident animals. Watch enrichment demonstrations, talk with keepers and participate in family-oriented games and crafts. Included with park admission. Grandfather by Night | Aug. 4, 11 and 18 Explore Grandfather Mountain after the park closes. Staff educators lead participants on a brief, guided night hike after taking in a sunset at the Mile High Swinging Bridge. Additional cost.

...notes from the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation The nonprofit Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation strives to inspire conservation of the natural world by helping guests explore, understand and value the wonders of Grandfather Mountain. For more information, visit

2022 Grandfather Presents Event

Bear En

Junior Naturalist at Grandfather Mountain Photo by Monty Combs, Courtesy of GMSF


t during


Birthda y Party


Grandfather Presents: David Sibley | Aug. 31 This program is part of the Grandfather Presents speaker series in 2023. Sibley is the author and illustrator of the series of successful guides to nature that bear his name, including the New York Times bestseller “The Sibley Guide to Birds.” Additional cost. Grandfather Presents: Dr. Baker Perry | Sept. 7 Perry is a National Geographic Explorer and a professor at Appalachian State University. Perry has led or co-led 23 research expeditions and – along with local collaborators – has installed and maintained 11 weather stations above an elevation of 5,000 meters. Additional cost. Junior Naturalist Day | Sept. 9 Junior Naturalist activities are offered throughout the day, specifically for children ages 5-12, but all ages are welcome. Included with park admission. Grandfather Presents: Brad Panovich | Sept. 21 WCNC-TV Meteorologist Brad Panovich will present “How the Mountains of North Carolina Affect our Weather in Every Season of the Year.” Additional cost. 52nd Annual Girl Scout Day | Sept. 23 Girl Scouts are invited to join the park’s naturalists for a funfilled learning adventure on Grandfather Mountain. All Girl Scouts and troop leaders are admitted free with proof of membership. Advance registration for many of the day’s programs is required. Learn more about these special events and many others by visiting

Girl Scouts at Grandfather Mountain Courtesy of Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation



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Our Summer Rhodo By Tamara S. Randolph

Rhododendron maximum—popular for pollinators, poisonous to humans

First Came Spring When spring arrives in the High Country, the forest margins come alive with numerous shades of pink—the showy clusters of blooms that appear on two of our three native broadleaved evergreen rhododendrons, including the “Carolina rhododendron” (Rhododendron minus; also, Rhododendron carolinianum) and the “Catawba rhododendron” (Rhododendron catawbiense). In mountain communities, the Carolina rhodo has several common names, including “punctatum” and “deer tongue laurel.” It is the first of our native rhodos to bloom, and also has the smallest leaves and flowers, which are typically a light pink. Next up is the Catawba rhododendron, a.k.a. the “purple rhododendron,” which takes both size and color up a notch. These larger rhodos are well known for their raspberry pink flowers and tend to thrive at higher elevations. Large native populations of these beauties can be found atop Grandfather Mountain, Roan Mountain, and all along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Catawba blooms are most spectacular from mid-May through early June. Then Comes Summer By late June, the blooms of both the Carolina rhodo and the Catawba rhodo have faded out. But there’s one more resident rhodo waiting to blossom, and arguably the grandest of them all: the Rhododendron maximum. Also known as “Rosebay,” “Rhodo Max,” or “Great Laurel,” among other common names, Rhododendron maximum is the largest native

evergreen rhodo in the region, with dark green leaves as long as ten inches and plants that can reach heights of 20 feet or more. The flowers are almost always white, sometimes with thin, pale pink margins. Rhodo max begins to flower shortly after Catawba rhodo blossoms are gone, and continues blooming through August. This hardy summer shrub typically grows along streams and in cool forests, and like other rhodos, attracts a variety of pollinators, including beetles, butterflies, bees and hummingbirds. It is thought that the unique patterns and colors that stand out on the white blooms make the plant easily recognizable to its favorite pollinators. Some scientists even liken the series of yellow/green dots to “runways for insects,” who are known to perceive colors much different than humans. While the nectar is an important food source for pollinators, the plant possesses toxic chemicals that are deadly to humans if ingested. Observe closely, but avoid getting any part of the plant near your mouth. Rhodo max shrubs can form dense thickets, and therefore are often used in landscaping to create natural fencing and borders. For wildlife, these thickets provide coverage and protection from extreme weather. Rhodo max, like our other native rhodos, has an internal thermometer and moisture meter. When it experiences extreme heat, extreme cold, or drought, its leaves will curl and droop—this natural response helps the plant prevent water loss and reduce stress. Almost anywhere you go in the High Country, you’re sure to see our summer rhodo. Once you’ve found one in bloom, be sure to stop and look closely at the flower clusters to catch a glimpse of a variety of pollinators hard at work. Enjoy exploring! Tamara S. Randolph, CML’s editor, is a N.C. Certified Environmental Educator and Blue Ridge Naturalist. You can reach Tamara at

This summer, kids can participate in a FREE science-based summer environmental education program at the Banner Elk Book Exchange for ages 8-12. Adventures in Nature is a fun hands-on program at the Banner Elk Book Exchange, located in the Historic Banner Elk School. Join us on select Saturdays as we learn about plants, animals, fungi, rocks, weather and other cool things in nature that make this area such an amazing place to explore!

2023 Program Dates & Times Saturday, July 15 1-4 pm

Saturday, August 19 1-4 pm

Saturday, September 16 1-4 pm

Saturday, October 28 1-4 pm

For more info, visit or email Space is limited. We thank the High Country Charitable Foundation and the Town of Banner Elk for their ongoing support of ‘Adventures in Nature.‘




The woody shrubs known as “rhododendrons” are members of the Ericaceae (blueberry, or heath) family and are native to North America, with a concentration of several species in the southern Appalachian Mountains. In Greek, rhodo means “rose,” and dendron means “tree.” We’re fortunate to have three types of these lovely “rose trees” right here in the High Country region.

sidebar Adventures in Nature!

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Apple Hill Farm in Banner Elk is offering a variety of classes and events this season. Knitting with the Alpacas takes place on July 1, 8 and 22; Barn Quilt Painting classes take place on July 29 and August 26; and Goat Yoga returns on Fridays at 5 p.m. through August 4. Reserve your spot on October 7 and get a front row view of Apple Hill Farm’s twice-a-year Angora goat shearing event. Learn more and register at


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“Personal relationships have been the biggest blessing, like my time spent with Juanita Roushdie, who for more than a decade provided support for our work in Nicaragua and traveled with me to meet our partners there.”

Keep Looking Up! By Curtis Smalling


“If there is one bird that I have spent my entire professional ornithological career on, it would have to be the Golden-winged Warbler. My first job with Audubon was as a surveyor for this species in western NC. I have since chased them in Nicaragua, put first generation geolocators and nanotags on them to track migration, and been a co-author on more than a dozen papers detailing their life history. It is still a thrill to see them every spring. This one photographed in Nicaragua by Don Mullaney.”

My passion for and interest in birds began with my grandfather, Denny Smalling, in Kingsport, Tennessee, when I was a young child. He was very interested in Purple Martins and had always put up dozens of gourds in his yard; he kept meticulous records of arrival dates and which gourds were used, and he experimented with gourd direction, heights, etc. His library was filled with books about birds and his feeders were always stocked and teeming with birds. As an only child until I was 12 years old, I had plenty of time growing up in Boone to wander, ride my bike to the river, or spend time outside working on the farm. My interest grew to include knowing what kinds of birds I was seeing, but I also made a promise to myself that if the bird made a noise, I should know what kind of bird it was. I never birded with anyone until my later college years, but instead spent hours tracking down songs, squeaks, and chips to see which bird was making those sounds. I remember vividly most of those early life birds and the excitement that came with seeing my first Magnolia Warbler, or finding a window-killed Brewster’s Warbler, a hybrid that did not even appear in my little Golden Guide of birds.


Getting my driver’s license opened up a whole new world. I could visit several spots in one day to maximize those early checklists. I remember walking the closed portion of the Blue Ridge Parkway from Holloway Mountain Rd. to the Rough Ridge Overlook and back on one very long hike and counted 79 species of birds on a beautiful spring day. Mrs. Lera Randall, librarian at Watauga High School, took an interest when she saw me checking out every bird and nature book and introduced me to her husband, Dr. Frank Randall, who taught ornithology at Appalachian State University. He encouraged me to continue and gave me some old ornithology texts to keep. He was one of the main reasons I chose App State for my schooling and he became one of my greatest mentors, along with Dr. Matthew Rowe. My wife, Mary, who I met while working for the Youth Conservation Corps on the Blue Ridge Parkway during high school, indulged my bird habit, even as we had children and took on our careers. She was very supportive when the chance came for me to leave Horn in the West (where I had been for twenty years) and join Audubon North Carolina. My passion and birding skills took me to places I had never even thought about as a

kid growing up in Boone. Special places across North Carolina like our coastal island sanctuaries, Wilson Creek, Roan Mountain, Warwick Mill Bay (Robeson County), and countless others. Then I was fortunate to travel with amazing folks to Nicaragua, where I met a dear Nicaraguan family in Georges, and Lili Duriaux at El Jaguar, people who I now consider my own family. Trips to Spain and Argentina with EcoQuest travel and Audubon friends will forever be some of my fondest memories. But my greatest pleasure was sharing that wonder and joy of birds with our regular troop of folks at Valle Crucis Community Park for almost 20 years. Wednesday walks are still going on, with great birds and great folks, so join if you can. I miss everyone there so much, but life has taken me closer to grandkids and children down in the Piedmont. I am often asked why birds matter, and the answers are varied, but ultimately personal for most folks. For many, birds are the most obvious connection to the natural world. Colorful jewels flitting through our yards and gardens, living their lives, raising their young, preparing for amazing journeys across the globe. Often birds are the spark for folks to tune in to the world around them. Opening our eyes

“I owe my interest in birds to my grandfather, Denny Smalling, and his passion for Purple Martins, but also his interest in how they lived their lives, and how we can help them thrive.”

“I enjoy the time spent with kids in the outdoors, and a morning spent with these preschoolers at Valle Crucis was a special treat.”

the wonder of birds with CML readers. I know others just as passionate and dedicated will pick up the mantle and run with it. Don’t forget to open your ears, and eyes, and heart to the birds and the rest of the natural world. You will be rewarded more than you can imagine. A Note from the CML team: We will forever be grateful to Curtis Smalling, our Birding columnist since 2017, for sharing with our readers his wisdom and expertise on all-things-avian. He will be greatly missed in the High Country, but we look forward to following his many achievements as he continues his nearly-lifelong mission of studying and helping birds.

“Birding has provided me with a great excuse to travel (pictured here in Switzerland), and also humbled me, as each new place puts you back to beginner status, where most everything you see is brand new!”

Banding birds at Finca Esperanza Verde, with Guilford College student.




and ears to the wonder that is all around us, despite our sometimes crazy existence with pandemics, politics, unrest, climate change, and all of the other ills and distractions of our time. Learning just a little more about how birds live their lives leads to more questions, and I count myself as one of the lucky ones who got to unlock some of those mysteries as a bird researcher. My work for bird conservation continues and is different than it used to be. As the Director of Conservation and Acting Interim State Director for Audubon NC, I spend more time on policy, fundraising, and supporting an amazing staff who are just as passionate and dedicated to birds and to sharing that love with people. I do miss the days of looking for Golden-winged Warblers in Nicaragua, or chasing Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers through their nesting cycle, and handling birds for banding and telemetry work. But the work now is even more important for me as the challenges birds face continue to increase and worsen for some species. I appreciate all that everyone does for birds in their yards, gardens, churches, and communities. I also appreciate Carolina Mountain Life Magazine for giving me the opportunity for all these years to share in the work and

“Valle Crucis is an amazing birding spot. My fondest memories are from this park and with these people.”



A Backyard Champion By Jim Hamilton

1919 was a pivotal year in American history: the end of World War I and the signing of the Treaty of Versailles heralded the return home of over a million American troops from across the Atlantic, Congress finally passed the 19th amendment giving women the right to vote, and Prohibition went into effect. That same year, second grader Willard Yates planted a single seed behind his family’s homeplace, not too far from the outhouse that was there at the time. He was gifted the seed, a single, oblong-shaped butternut, along with a box of pencils for his fundraising efforts for the Cool Springs School in the little hamlet— now known as Matney—that sits between Valle Crucis and Banner Elk, NC. Continuously watered from the springfed stream that flows alongside it, the tree that grew from that seed over the last 100 years has become Willard’s living legacy to the many members of the Yates family and the Matney community. Today, it is safeguarded by his youngest brother, David, now passing 80 years himself, who lives on the same property where he and his fifteen siblings were raised.

In 2011, the Yates butternut (Juglans cinerea) gained formal recognition upon being nominated and crowned as a ‘state champion’—the largest of its kind in North Carolina. Since the 1970s, The North Carolina Forest Service has maintained a registry of the state’s biggest trees. With close to 200 species eligible for this designation, winners are chosen based on a formula of measurements including circumference, height, and crown spread. The certificate David received from the Forest Service and a picture of the champ hang in the family room. It’s difficult for a photograph to capture the grandeur of this specimen. Rivaling the size of the greatest live oaks in historic Savannah and Charleston, measuring the circumference of the butternut’s massive trunk takes at least two people and a surveyor’s reel worth of tape to encircle its over 22 feet of girth. From the tips of its widest branches to the others, the canopy stretches across 110 linear feet—think of a wing of a 747… it throws a LOT of shade. It’s no easy feat for a tree to reach this stature—especially a butternut. Also

known as “white walnut,” this species faces a couple of serious threats from diseases for which there are no cures. Thousand cankers disease (which also affects butternut’s close cousin, black walnut) was first reported on our side of the Mississippi in 2010. It turns out that the tiny walnut twig beetle, which has long been a pest in commercial and ornamental walnut plantations out west, happens to carry a particular fungus. When these twig beetles tunnel into a tree to lay eggs, they emit pheromones that trigger the arrival of hordes of others. Their fungal hitchhikers then create literally thousands of small lesions which become dead-zones just under the bark—the part of the tree that carries water and nutrients from root to leaf. Over a period of a just a few years, this one-two punch of pest and disease leaves the trees standing dead. Then there’s butternut canker, an imported affliction only affecting this species. First confirmed in eastern Canada in the 1990s, this one has infected or eliminated around 90 percent of butternut trees in the Continued on next page CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Summer 23 —


CHAMPION: Continued from previous page

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U.S. The spores of Ophiognomonia clavigignenti-juglandacearum—a fungus as nasty as it is to pronounce—are carried by the wind, rain, or insects. So if one member of a grove becomes infected, it spreads easily to the next. For this tree, isolation has been its salvation—at least when it comes to contagion. There’s not another butternut around for miles. Over the decades, its ever-expanding buttresses have steadied it from the regular winds of winter and the straight-line gales brought on by a myriad of named storms like Hazel, Hugo, Frances, and Ivan, which turned lesser angels into kindling. A local craftsman once jokingly told David that he could fill a small warehouse with turned bowls, ornate tables, and live edge lumber if something ever brought it down. David wasn’t amused. For now, a spider web of steel support cables attached to thousandpound concrete anchors buried in the hillside keeps the heavier branches from kissing the rooftop of the homeplace that it’s now growing over. This year, the Yates butternut will be nominated for the ultimate accolade for a tree—placement on the Official Register of the National Champion Tree Program through American Forests, the oldest national nonprofit conservation organization in the United States. While this program began 100 years ago as a competition to discover the largest living tree species, its goal today is to recognize and celebrate outstanding specimens and foster interest in our forests and the important role that these largest of organisms have in our ecosystem. David might receive yet another plaque and some local fame that comes with having a national champion in his backyard. However, he cherishes this tree beyond just simple bragging rights. He views it as a testament and metaphor to the strength of his parents and siblings and as a reflection of the generations of memories held beneath its branches. To learn more about the National Champion Tree Program, visit Dr. Jim Hamilton is the Watauga County Extension Director and author of The Last Entry, a coming of age novel set under the backdrop of the ginseng trade.

8/14/12 10:56 AM


Actual Size: ~1”

Egg Mass (Sept.-May)

Egg Mass (Sept.-May) Egg Mass (Sept.-May)

Spotted Lanternfly Life Stages Spotted Lanternfly Life Stages Actual Size: ½” Actual Size: ~1” Spotted Lanternfly Life Actual Size: ½” Stages Actual Size: ~1”

Actual Size: ¼” Actual Size: ¼”

SLF photos by Lawrence Barringer,

Actual Size: ~1” Actual Size: ~1”

SLF photos by Lawrence Barringer, SLF photos by Lawrence Barringer,

Spotted lanternfly(SLF) (SLF)isisan aninvasive invasiveplanthopper planthopper that that was was first Spotted lanternfly first detected detected in in North North Spotted lanternfly (SLF) isanuisance an invasive planthopper was first detected North Carolina 2022.SLF SLFis isa nuisance pest and threat threat that to agriculture. agriculture. SLF the Carolina in in2022. pest and to SLF feeds feedsinon on the sap of over 100 plant species with tree-of-heaven as its preferred host. The stickyCarolina in 2022. SLF is a nuisance pest and threat to agriculture. SLF feeds on the sap of over 100 plant species with tree-of-heaven as its preferred host. The stickysweet honeydew theyspecies produce causes sooty mold mold to to grow on people’s and sap of honeydew over 100 plant with tree-of-heaven asgrow its preferred The stickysweet they produce causes sooty on people’s homes and attracts stinging insects. This pest threatens multi-billion dollar industries including sweet honeydew they produce causes sooty mold to grow on people’s homes and attracts stinging insects. This pest threatens multi-billion dollar industries including grapes,stinging hops and even tourism. Spotted lanternfly is a hitchhiker and can easily be attracts This pest threatens multi-billion dollar industries grapes, hops andinsects. even tourism. Spotted lanternfly is a hitchhiker and can including easily be movedhops longand distances through human assisted movement. Early detection North grapes, eventhrough tourism. Spotted lanternfly is a hitchhiker and can by easily be moved long distances human assisted movement. Early detection by North Carolinians like you can help us battle this bug! If you see a suspected SLF, please moved longlike distances through detection byplease North Carolinians you can help ushuman battle assisted this bug!movement. If you see Early a suspected SLF, take a photo and visit to report this pest! Carolinians like you can help us battle this to bug! If you a suspected SLF, please take a photo and visit report thissee pest! take a photo and visit to report this pest!

Actual Size: ¼”

Early Nymph (Mar-June)

Actual Size: ½”

Late Nymph (May-July)

Actual Size: ~1”

Adult (July-December)

Early Nymph (Mar-June)

Late Nymph (May-July)

Adult (July-December)

Early Nymph (Mar-June)

Late Nymph (May-July)

Adult (July-December)

See It Snap It Report It See It Snap It Report It See It Snap It Report It If you think you have seen Spotted Lanternfly please contact the North Carolina

Department of Agriculture & Consumer Servicesthe at:North Carolina If you think you have seen Spotted Lanternfly please contact  1-800-206-9333 If you think youDepartment have seen of Spotted Lanternfly please contact Agriculture & Consumer Servicesthe at:North Carolina Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services at: 1-800-206-9333 Steve Troxler, Commissioner of Agriculture  1-800-206-9333 Steve Troxler, Commissioner of Agriculture Steve Troxler, Commissioner of Agriculture CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Summer 23 —


Growing and Using a Summer Culinary Garden Story and Photos by Diana Donovan


ulinary plants are used in cooking and healing on every continent. They grow well in the heat and sunshine of summer. They contain volatile oils (strong smells), so they aren’t usually troubled by pests. No need to use herbicides or pesticides on them! They attract many beneficial pollinators to your yard, like bees, butterflies and hummingbirds, and the insects they attract also bring the migratory songbirds to our High Country. Establishing permanent beds for culinary plants is good stewardship of the land, using sustainable practices. You can even grow them in large pots on a sunny porch. All of the plants listed here have strong antimicrobial and antiviral actions. Any one of these plants, when used in cooking, will be full of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, digestive bitters, aroma, and pungent flavor. Use them daily, in large amounts, for vibrant health and great nutrition. What a win/win for humans AND the environment! I plant my culinary favorites in front of a south facing rock, in compost, with a lot of wood mulch around each plant. The mulch protects the roots from drying out in the hot summer sun. The rock and the mulch hold the heat in the ground so my perennials can survive our snowy High Country winters.


Perennial Healing Plant Superstars Once planted and nurtured, the following perennials will return every year. Oregano: If I had only one plant to use in cooking, it would be this one. Amazing taste, with antiviral and anti-bacterial action against colds and flu; what a rock star! Thyme: Specific for sore throats and any respiratory congestion; infuse in honey as a cough syrup. Rosemary: Great for brain function, depression, and healing digestive issues. Sage: Helps ease sore throats, dries phlegm. Wonderful with fatty meats and in stuffing. Garlic/Chives: Snip green leafy parts, add to anything; harvest garlic bulbs in fall, use like garlic from the grocery store. Lavender: Soothing to the nerves, cooling to fevers and hot conditions. Use as a tea and splash on skin. Lemon Balm and Mint: These two will spread throughout the garden, so give them their own spaces to spread and thrive. Both are rock stars for cooling, calming, and refreshing the body. Children especially love their tastes. Strong antiviral action. Great in teas, chopped in fruit, added to water.

Annual Favorites The following flavor-packed annual herbs should be replanted each year. Basil (Ocimum basilicum): Basil grows bigger when you snip it, so snip it often! Add fresh leaves to pesto, pizza, sliced tomatoes, pasta sauces. Make basil-infused oil and pour it on everything! Yum! Basil is an antioxidant, antidepressant, digestive aid, and respiratory aid. Parsley: Snip green leafy parts. Parsley is full of vitamins; it makes a good pesto. It’s a rock star for healing the urinary and digestive tract. It is best used fresh; dried parsley is kind of blah. Chop it finely and add to salads and cooked potatoes. I blend it with orange juice and a carrot in a smoothie when I want to feel energized. Holy Basil (tulsi): This plant enlivens the senses, uplifts depression, soothes digestion and calms the nerves. Just the smell lifts the spirit. I use it mostly as a tea and an infused oil. Dill: Snip green leafy parts, add to potatoes, cucumber; use seeds in pickles. A great digestive aid. Cilantro: Another great digestive aid. Snip green leafy parts, add to tacos, salads, rice; the seeds are coriander. Coriander: Crush fresh seed and add to beans, salsa, and rice.

Harvesting & Recipe Ideas I only harvest a little of the plant at one time, leaving half of the patch to go to flower and feed the pollinators. Before I harvest, I calm myself, breathe with the plant, ask it what it needs from me (More water? Compost? Where to snip and prune today?), and then I begin to snip with gratitude for this gift from the Earth. After harvesting, I’ll use them fresh in teas, or whatever I’m cooking. Freshly snipped herbs in scrambled eggs, with cream cheese on toast, with pasta, or infused in oil or vinegar taste divine! Infused Herbal Oil Recipe: Pick the fresh plant leaves, crush them with a mortar and pestle, or finely chop with a knife. Put the chopped pieces into a small glass jar and cover completely with olive oil. I use cold pressed Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Put a lid on the jar and shake well. Let it steep for at least an hour, or throughout the day. Infused Herbal Vinegar Recipe: Same process as the oil. Put fresh chopped plant parts in apple cider vinegar or balsamic vinegar in a small glass container with a plastic lid; shake often. Use within two days. This vinegar is very mineral-rich and delicious.

Use the infused oil/vinegar to sauté or roast vegetables and meat, as a marinade, as a crusty bread dip (with sea salt—yum!), as salad dressing, or in sauces and gravies. My favorite combination is a mixture of basil, oregano and chives put on fresh mozzarella balls and served on toast! IMPORTANT: Use dried herbs instead of fresh if you want to infuse the plants for longer than a day or so. Fresh plants contain a lot of water so a product made from fresh plants will spoil quickly if not used up right away. To dry harvested plants for long-term storage, spread them out on a cotton kitchen towel in a basket and leave them for several days to several weeks. Once they are fully dry, strip the leaves off the stems and store them in glass jars. Dried herbs make wonderful tea: steep the herb in hot water (covered) for 10 minutes, strain and drink. Holy basil, mint, lavender, lemon balm, and sage are great dried herbs to use as tea. You can also use the dried herbs throughout the winter in cooking.

Diana Donovan is an herbalist, Montessori teacher and Appalachian granny, who has been working with the healing plants for 40+ years. She is dedicated to remembering, preserving and passing on the knowledge of healing with local plants. Herbal recommendations are not meant to replace advice and recommendations from your regular physician or trained health care practitioner. Herbs are often used traditionally to assist in health care, but are not intended as medical advice.

Happy gardening, cooking, and nourishing yourself in the High Country!



Trunk full of donations

Brent Atwater doing Happy Work

Flowers for Friends:


A Gift that Keeps on Growing It’s the green season in the High Country, a hotspot for lush summer gardens and landscapes. We are fortunate to be able to grow an almost unlimited variety of annuals and perennials, both native and cultivated. Verdant and colorful, our window boxes, flower beds, porch planters and potted plants flourish with beautiful blooms that supply a daily dose of smiles to the beholder. Plant lover Brent Atwater is a long-time seasonal resident of the High Country. For years, she watched as thousands of lovely potted plants were discarded at the end of the summer once part-time residents began leaving the mountains. “It killed me to see them thrown away,” recalls Atwater. She knew that these plants had been nurtured by many hands, from seed to maturity, for many months; and that the resources that went into growing and maintaining those plants—soil, water, nutrients and love—would provide for a much longer lifespan. Then Brent thought: why not repurpose these plants for others to enjoy? “I started dumpster diving, saving those perfectly good potted plants from a landfill,” Atwater reveals. She risked this dirty task, and possibly some embarrassment, because she knew there were hundreds of people out there who would enjoy receiving the gift of a live plant. “Years ago I was visiting a friend in a nursing home,” says Atwater. “That visit really inspired me.” She observed the positive effects that flowers and plants had on a population of people who were confined indoors or who had limited mobility. She saw how a pop of color brightened their surroundings. Most notably, she witnessed how the simple gift of a plant profoundly touched the recipient.


By Tamara S. Randolph

For Atwater, the demand was evident, and she knew the supply was abundant. All she needed to do was pair the two together. So she began Flowers for Friends, a grassroots effort to salvage potted plants, give them a new home, and spread a little love. “It caught on quickly,” she explains. “People would call me and say, ‘We’d like to help!’” What began as her pet project had turned into a community-wide effort in a short period of time. Her neighbors at Elk River offered their plants for the cause. And they helped spread the word so that Flowers for Friends gained traction in other seasonal communities. Atwater handed out flyers at Garden Clubs and members began happily pitching in. Volunteers of all ages and abilities stepped up to gather donated plants, prepare them for an extended life, and relocate them to new homes. “The Lees-McRae Lacrosse team has helped. The Little Switzerland Ladies Club. . . and lots of friends and generous individuals have gotten involved.” In addition, she has reached out to local garden centers, including Mountaineer Garden, Secret Garden, and Lowes Home Improvement, all in Banner Elk, to see if they might have extra pots. “Some have given us leftover flowers at the end of the season. They have been so kind, and have helped so much.” She adds that some of these garden centers and other businesses have also volunteered to become “drop-off” points where residents from all over the High Country can bring their donated plants at the end of the season. Dropoff locations help significantly in streamlining the process for Atwater and team. “From mid-September until the weather no longer permits us to recycle plants, this is all I do. But it’s happy work.” She says the first

step is to pick up the donations. “We mapped out ‘pick-up’ routes”—routes that extended all over the High Country, from Mountain City to Boone to Banner Elk to Beech Mountain to Linville to Little Switzerland and beyond. “In the past, it was easy to put in 100 miles a day. Changing our process to having designated collection points will allow us to be more productive. The ideal potted plant is healthy, portable and can fit inside a home or healthcare room.” Once the plants are retrieved, Atwater brings them to a holding area where she has set up an efficient system for “processing” the plants: soaking each plant in water, pruning and deadheading the spent growth, fertilizing every plant to enrich the soil, then moving them to the “outgoing” area for volunteers to collect and distribute. “It’s a process that requires three to four days for each plant,” she says. This year, Atwater estimates that she’ll rescue as many as 700 plants! As the number of donated plants continues to grow, so does the number of recipients. Assisted living communities, Meals on Wheels, healthcare facilities, and a Food Bank are just some of the channels for getting pretty plants into the hands of people who appreciate them. Larger plants, like the enormous potted ferns that do so well in our moist mountain environment, find new homes in waiting rooms, lobbies or other communal spaces, such as the Williams YMCA pool area. “I’m always on the lookout to find places I can put plants,” says Atwater. She adds, “We try to match the flowers or plants to each recipient, based on their abilities, their space, and their preferences. My heart likes it best when I see their faces when they get to choose which plant they want

For years, she watched as thousands of lovely potted plants were discarded at the end of the summer once part-time residents began leaving the mountains. “It killed me to see them thrown away,” recalls Atwater... Then Brent thought: why not repurpose these plants for others to enjoy? In addition to plant donations, Atwater is looking for volunteers this season to pick up and deliver plants. And if you’re aware of a local High Country organization, facility, group or individuals that would like to receive flowers, please contact her. Know of a business or municipal office that might be willing to operate as a collection point? Atwater would love to hear from you. 2023 designated drop-off locations include: Consignment Cottage (Banner Elk), Secret Garden (Banner Elk), Banner House Museum (Banner Elk), Consignment Cottage Warehouse (Newland), Better Homes and Garden Real Estate (Sugar Mountain). *In order to thank you for making their season a success, please be sure to contact Brent Atwater at 828-898-5557 or before dropping off your plants.


from a cart of plants.” Included with every plant is a card that reads: “YOU are SPECIAL & LOVED! From Flowers for Friends.” “The card’s message inspires a lot of emotions from our recipients.” She shares that hugs are often exchanged, and tears sometimes shed. “Just visiting people and listening to their stories about their lives, or seeing the response of a person who has never been given any flowers . . . it’s not just about the flowers, it’s about the joyful responses we receive—that’s what keeps me doing this.” To help bring that joy full circle, Atwater takes a photograph of each donor with the flowers they give, then a photo of their plant at its destination. She posts those photos on the Flowers for Friends Facebook page. To complete the process, Atwater sends thank you notes to each donor with a link to this Facebook page to enable them to see how their gift of green contributed to the happiness of another. You, too, can be part of this circle of joy and circle of life. Consider donating some of your own plants at the end of the season. Simply call 828-898-5557 or email brent@ and provide the date of your departure from the High Country, plus the number and types of plants you want to donate. Atwater and her team will schedule a pickup time for your plants or give you the collection site for your area. And if you’re having a wedding, party, or other event this season, Flowers for Friends will collect all unwanted flowers at the event site after it’s over. All donated plants will be prepped to enjoy a long and healthy life, and delivered to one or more special recipients—a simple gift that will continue to grow.

A friend receives a fern





In 2021, the state granted AMOREM’s request to build a hospice patient care unit for residents of Ashe, Avery and Watauga counties. Donate today or learn more at 828.754.0101, or scan here!


OUR GIFT IS AN ACT OF LOVE —Family of the late Will Pierce




828.754.0101  1.844.4AMOREM



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Behind the Garden Gate By Julie Farthing, with Photos by Angie Byers


arm weather had finally found its way to the mountains when I entered the little garden tucked behind an iron and stone gate on Sunset Drive in Blowing Rock. A collapsed fence and cracked concrete walkways were evidence that the garden, abandoned for years, needed care. Yet a gorgeous pink dogwood in full bloom and ornamental grasses pushing through their winter skins gave way to new life. Even in its slightly disheveled state there was a peaceful presence to this space. “An abandoned garden is much like our lives—you may find that it’s messy—unrefined,” explains Sheri Furman, owner and gatekeeper of the Garden Sanctuary. “It speaks to us to rise up from the ruins— from unexpected circumstances that have occurred in your life—and find the beauty in the broken and abandoned.” Furman knows a thing or two about rising up from ruins. In 2019 her beloved gift shop, Take Heart, a fixture on Blowing Rock’s Main Street for the last 20-plus years, was destroyed in a fire. Although the store was completely gutted with flames shooting through the roof, the popular “prayer tree” just beyond the store’s walls was spared—along with 15,000 prayer messages, hand-written and lovingly tied to the tree by people all over the world. Amazingly, not one note was consumed in the flames. Word spread quickly of the miraculous prayer tree and soon the prayers grew to over 42,000—so many prayers that the tree appeared laden with white flowers. However, not long afterwards the tree was required to be removed from the town. When residents and visitors returned to see all the prayers removed, many were brought to tears. “Holding people’s prayers and hopes was an ordained stewardship. It was not enough to simply rebuild a building. A sacred space for others needed to once again be created,” says Furman.

It has been said where God closes a window, a door is opened. Furman soon learned that a nearby abandoned garden was going up for sale and spoke of how she had lovingly admired this garden oasis for years. To be able to create a space for those in need of solace and restoration was an answer to her prayers, yet financially she was focused on rebuilding her store. “Being in the process of restoring Take Heart, I was unable to secure the property on my own,” says Furman of her journey from the ashes. After Furman shared her vision with a good friend, her friend and friend’s daughter felt led to give Furman the down payment to secure the loan. “I just felt God moving me in the direction of the garden,” exclaims Furman of the generous gift. “All these beautiful miracles were coming together.” Little did Furman know that another angel was watching over that sacred space. Renee Carter, also a friend of Furman’s, had recently lost her husband, Wes, from a sudden illness. “Wes felt a draw to this land 11 years ago,” says Carter of the property. “He would drive by here and tell me ‘We need to find out what’s going on with that piece of land—there’s something special about it.’” One week after Wes passed, Carter had a dream to create a garden. “It was a very vivid dream that I was to make a garden. Wes and I owned a piece of property in town, and I thought maybe this was the purpose for that land—to make it a garden. So, I sat with that dream because Wes’s voice was also whispering to me ‘Wait.’” Later that summer Furman shared with Carter that she was in the process of purchasing a small piece of land on Sunset Drive as a prayer garden for the community. Carter knew immediately that it was the garden from her dream and the same piece of land that Wes was so fond of. With that realization, Carter provided

the remaining funds to purchase the garden. Carter is also helping to convert a small building on the property into a chapel. The little piece of land is officially named Garden Sanctuary and is a part of the non-profit, Sanctuary Streams, for the small stream and headwaters of the New River that flow through the garden. The vision is to create a sacred garden for the community much like the prayer tree did on Main Street. Most of the prayers removed from the original prayer tree were placed in the foundation of the new store. The rest will be placed in a time capsule in the new garden. But the vision for the garden is more than a place to leave prayers—it is a space to find solace. “Gardens ground us. They heal us. They nurture us even as we nurture them,” says Furman. Restoration is currently in progress. Community members have donated time and materials to return the garden to its former glory. A local church youth group has helped clear and clean the land. A rock mason is repairing the original stonework. A water feature is being donated by a woman in memory of her daughter. People will be able to purchase a memorial stone or bench, or plant a tree in honor, or memory, of a loved one. Soon visitors will be encouraged to share cuttings from the garden to brighten someone’s day. The garden gate at 431 Sunset Drive is now open for those who wish to enter. “Vulnerability and transparency are a sacred invitation and we invite others into the process of restoration of the garden to prepare a place for others to heal,” adds Furman. “We are not different. We are so much the same and within the gates we hope others will find sanctuary.” To make a financial donation to the Garden, write to Sanctuary Streams, PO Box 387, Blowing Rock 28605 On Facebook: The Garden Sanctuary in Blowing Rock On Instagram: @TheGardenSanctuaryBR CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Summer 23 —


Hemlock Inn A Blowing Rock Tradition – Open Year Round – PHOTO BY TODD BUSH

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Walking the Trails of Moses H. Cone Memorial Park By Rita Larkin

At Moses H. Cone Memorial Park, 25 miles of trails connect across the 3,500-acre estate taking hikers to tranquil lakes, up wooded hillsides, through forests and meadows, and past former orchards, an apple barn, and a family cemetery. Even in Moses Cone’s day, the public was welcome to explore the estate. The “trails” were originally roads for horse-drawn carriages, making them extra wide with switchbacks that minimize the steep grades. Dogs are welcome but must stay on leash, especially since horseback riding is allowed on the trails. The main locations to access the trails are at Bass Lake off U.S. 221 and the parking areas at Flat Top Manor and Trout Lake on the Blue Ridge Parkway. You can also start your trek in Blowing Rock, which recently connected downtown to the estate with a new walkway. Here are three of the many routes to choose from for your adventure on foot.

Moses Cone Trail


Flat Top Road Starting point: Flat Top Manor parking area At 5.8 miles roundtrip, Flat Top Road is a strenuous but popular route because of the variety of beautiful landscape seen along the way. The trail passes under the Blue Ridge Parkway via an arched stone tunnel and climbs past a cow pasture. Hikers emerge in a gorgeous meadow with a view of the next stretch of the trail up Flat Top Mountain. Here, you can visit the small cemetery where Moses and Bertha Cone were laid to rest, along with Bertha’s sisters, Sophie and Clementine Lindau. It is one of more than 50 cemeteries found along the Blue Ridge Parkway. The trail leads upward to the mountain pinnacle where hikers can climb the observation tower for 360-degree views of the surrounding peaks. Along the way, be on the lookout for deer and other wildlife. Bass Lake Loop Starting point: Entrance off U.S. 221 At less than a mile, the Bass Lake Loop is ideal for families and people looking for a level path to stretch their legs. The sidewalk from downtown Blowing Rock leads to this scenic location. The trail circles the lake, providing an impressive view of Flat Top Manor sitting high on the hillside. If you feel energized, you can connect to the Maze Carriage Trail to pass a former Apple Barn and add 3.1 miles to your excursion. Rich Mountain Trail Starting point: Trout Lake parking area If you are feeling ambitious, opt for the 8.5-mile Rich Mountain Trail. In this less-traveled northwest corner of the estate, you are much more likely to have the trail to yourself and maybe a few folks on horseback. The path winds to an elevation of 4,370 feet. Though it doesn’t have the view of Flat Top Road, the relative solitude makes it a worthwhile and gorgeous jaunt.

Big on Birds Moses H. Cone Memorial Park is listed on the North Carolina birding trails, so keep an eye for a wide variety of species no matter which trail you choose. Learn more at

A Benefit for Moses H. Cone Memorial Park The Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation is hosting the annual Denim Ball celebration on Thursday, Sept. 7, at the Perry Car Barn. The fundraiser will feature live music, a silent auction, wine provided by Sunset & Vine and delicious fare from The Best Cellar, plus a chance to view the impressive Perry collection of vintage cars. Proceeds support improvements at Moses H. Cone Memorial Park. Learn more at

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A True Community Park

VCCP Naturalist Paul Laurent with families at the VCCP

Valle Crucis Community Park Celebrates 40 Years By By Paul Laurent with Photos by Amanda Laurent


he early morning fog hangs heavy over the fields of Valle Crucis Community Park. Mountains ring the valley floodplain, with Hanging Rock towering in the distance. Soon, hawks and eagles will be soaring over the ridgelines. The gnarled branches of the black willows are barely visible above the pond, and the “wichety wichety wichety” song of the Common Yellowthroats mixes with the “swee swee swee ti ti ti” of the Yellow Warblers to drown out the distant sound of cars on Broadstone Road. Every Wednesday the High Country Audubon Society has a morning bird walk at Valle Crucis Community Park (VCCP) and local birders and visitors begin to trickle into the park via the gravel road. We end up with a group of about twenty five people—half and half locals and visitors—and the walk begins at the wetland pond behind the playground. A pair of Wood Ducks take off as we approach, and a Downy Woodpecker always seems to be on the wrong side of a willow tree, but we eventually get a good look at him. The Yellow Warblers are nesting in these trees as well, and we can see tiny flashes of bright yellow bounce from branch to branch. The nicely paved path continues along the river. A Belted Kingfisher, her crest raised high, swoops past us, her rattling call echoing down the river. A handful of

fishermen stand in the knee deep water casting for trout. One waves hello to us, but the others seem very focused on the trout. Chipping Sparrows, smartly attired with white chests, crisp black and white stripes across their faces, and rufous crowns nibble at dandelion seed heads in the grass, while American Robins search for worms in the mowed fields—a single Robin can eat fourteen linear feet of earthworms every day, so they too are very focused on the task at hand. The paved path curves to the left, but we continue to the wild meadow. A mowed grass path winds through the chest-high goldenrod, with stands of bright purple ironweed rising above the sea of yellow blooms. An Indigo Bunting sings from the highest perch of a small tree, his brilliant blue plumage and musical song are always a highlight of summer bird walks. We finish our walk as dozens of Tree Swallows whirl overhead, and the final tally has us with forty-two species of birds in just two hours. Valle Crucis Community Park is one of the best birding spots in all of the High Country! But Valle Crucis Park isn’t just for the birds and bird watchers. With over a mile of paved walking paths, two covered pavilions, a playground, basketball court, easy access to trout fishing on the Watauga River, and

a spectacular Friday Night Concert Series each Summer—Music in the Valle—VCCP is a fantastic place for family picnics and reunions, outdoor birthday parties, and just getting outside and having fun. The Park also offers a variety of environmental education programs for kids and adults led by seasoned Naturalists. Nestled in the floodplain between the Watauga River and Dutch Creek, this beautiful park was set to be developed into an RV Campground in 1983, but the local community organized to prevent the sale and turned the land into a true Community Park. The Park receives no government funding other than applied-for grants and depends greatly on donations from the public. This is the true magic of Valle Crucis Park. My morning bird walk was wrapping up and there were kids laughing and playing on the playground. A couple were walking their two large, black dogs along the path. Several joggers were making laps around the path. Some teenagers were headed toward the basketball court to start a game of hoops. People were outside, in nature, having fun. At the same time dozens of species of birds were raising their young, and a muskrat was working on its lodge in the pond. On Friday night during Continued on next page



Music in the Valle

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Music in the Valle, a local band will play live for hundreds of people and food trucks will sell out to the crowd. Some folks will bring a checkered picnic blanket and a spread of meats, cheeses and beverages to enjoy the show. On concert nights in late summer, hundreds of Nighthawks will be migrating overhead while the music plays. For 40 years, Valle Crucis Park has worked to create a truly unique balance of spectacular wildlife habitat and fantastic opportunities for human outdoor recreation. I have traveled all over the world, and there are very few places that can boast such a perfect balance between humans and nature. National Parks often end up with over-crowded trails full of visitors and vast expanses of wildlands full of wildlife, but the trails and the wildlife are often far away from each other. VCCP is only 28 acres, and while kids are playing, bands are performing, and dogs are being walked, we have in just the last two years documented 585 species of plants, animals, and fungi thriving in the Park. Humans are a part of Nature, and if we are to continue on this earth we must learn to coexist with the rest of our planet’s inhabitants. While the news is often dark and grim, seeing Valle Crucis Community Park every Wednesday gives me hope that we can find the balance to be good stewards of this amazing land. Paul Laurent is a Valle Crucis Community Park Naturalist. You can email any nature and wildlife questions to him at He and wife Amanda Laurent are also expert birders and naturalists. They offer small group and private guided birding tours in the High Country, Costa Rica, and many other amazing places across the country and around the world through their business Epic Nature Tours. Learn more at or email them at info@

Valle Crucis Park 40 Forward Campaign Forty years ago, a group of local residents had the vision to preserve a 12-acre tract of land along the Watauga River in the heart of Valle Crucis, and Valle Crucis Community Park was born. Since 1983, Valle Crucis Park has continued to grow and thrive, becoming a local treasure. To ensure the beauty and vitality of this beloved park for another 40 years and beyond, the Park has launched the 40 Forward Campaign. “Whether you can afford to contribute $40, $4,000 to support upcoming Park improvements, or $40,000 to grow our endowment for continuing financial sustainability, we are grateful for your help,” say park staff. As a privately-run nonprofit that receives little governmental support, VCCP depends upon donations. to learn more.

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Guided Hikes / Courtesy of the BRC

Trail Reports: Summer 2023 By CML Staff


Does your family enjoy hiking, biking, horseback riding, paddling and exploring our region of the world? Follow our “Trail Reports” in each issue for some of the latest developments on trails and public lands, and to learn about opportunities throughout the area.

The Year of the Trail Continues NC Year of the Trail is the largest statewide celebration of trails and outdoor recreation in North Carolina history; it commemorates the 50th anniversary of the 1973 North Carolina Trails System Act, which instituted a State system of scenic and recreation trails. Summer is a great time to explore our state’s vast trail system, which includes more than just hiking trails—you’ll find biking, horseback riding, paddling, history, driving, wine and food trails—there’s a trail for everyone! Access an online calendar of trail-related events at Here are just a few opportunities in our area this summer… Guided Hikes with Blue Ridge Conservancy (BRC) | July 8 and August 19 You’re invited to join Blue Ridge Conservancy for group hikes across our northwestern North Carolina region. With a variety of outings for all levels, you’ll enjoy reconnecting with nature, learning more about BRC’s ongoing conservation work, and getting to know fellow conservation supporters. Here are two great options, both running from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. July 8: Guided Hike and Blueberry Picking at Old Orchard Creek Farm | Old Orchard Creek is a historic, artisanal Appalachian blueberry and apple farm. This beautiful cove farm is on the National Register of Historic Places and is protected by a conservation easement donated to BRC. The farm is home to a restored 1880s farmhouse and numerous historic farm buildings. Old Orchard Creek was protected in partnership with the Clean Water Management Trust Fund and is a model for agricultural Best Management Practices. In 2010, the farm received an award from Preservation North Carolina for landscape protection. August 19: Guided Hike at Camp Lutherock | Located on the southwestern slope of Sugar Mountain in Avery County, Camp


Blue Ridge Parkway / Photo by NPS/A. Armstrong

Lutherock is now permanently protected after a decade long collaborative effort between BRC, the NC Clean Water Management Trust Fund, and NovusWay Ministries. It is considered a Significant Natural Area by the NC Natural Heritage Program due to its unique ecological character. The camp hosts two endangered ecosystems, three endangered species, and numerous other rare species and high quality forests. It also contains headwater streams for the North Toe River and Sugar Creek, which provide excellent water resources and rich habitats for aquatic life. Signing up ahead of time for either of these guided hikes is encouraged and space is limited for each hike. guided-hikes

August 4: Race 4, Town Hall—this race offers a 1.2-mile and 3.9-mile option; start on the Greenway near the “bus stop”/Wynn Park and finish at Brick Oven and Atlantic Ale House for post-series festivities. Find more info beechrecreation.recdesk. com, and register at beechparks.

Run the Beech | July 14 – August 4 Run the Beech is a new running race series on Beech Mountain that will highlight the beautiful views and terrain that Beech has to offer. This series consists of four races from July 14 - August 4. All take place on Friday nights with the race start time at 6 p.m. Each race will be held at a different location within Beech Mtn. town limits and will offer a short course (1-2 miles) and a long course (3-4 miles). Sign up for just one, or all of them! July 14: Race 1, Lake Coffey—this race offers a 1.5-mile and 3.5-mile option, with rolling hills and flat sections. The race starts at Lake Coffey July 21: Race 2, Buckeye Lake—this scenic race offers a 1.6-mile and 3.3-mile option, with one loop for the short course, and two for the long course. The start/finish line is at Buckeye’s playground. July 28: Race 3, Emerald Outback—this race with scenic overlooks offers a 1.5-mile and 4-mile option on the Emerald Outback (EMO) public trail system. Park at the EMO Trail Head on Pinnacle Ridge Road.

A New Trail for Old Stories: The Blowing Rock History Walk A new history trail recently opened in Blowing Rock! The History Walk was funded and constructed by a public/private partnership among the Town of Blowing Rock, the Blowing Rock Historical Society, and the Village Foundation of Blowing Rock. The walk, which is handicapped accessible, begins in Mayview Plaza adjacent to Main Street and features 21 History Stations; it is approximately one-quarter-mile in length. “We are excited to open this wonderful new trail during North Carolina’s Year of the Trail,” said Tom O’Brien, President of the Blowing Rock Historical Society. “The History Walk will be a significant venue for folks interested in heritage and culture, and will create a greater connection between Main Street and beautiful Broyhill Park.” The walk follows Laurel Lane into Broyhill Park, and goes around Mayview Lake. The History Stations are prominent bronze plaques featuring relief images and narratives of events, people, and places in Blowing Rock

Adult Field Course: Intro to Grandfather Mountain Backpacking | September 8-9 Get a chance to experience the wonders of Grandfather Mountain during the day and night by backpack camping overnight at one of the primitive campsites on the mountain. Learn more at

The Blowing Rock History Walk / Photo courtesy of the Blowing Rock Historical Society

Blue Ridge Rising Blue Ridge Rising is an initiative of the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation, the nonprofit fundraising partner for the Blue Ridge Parkway (Parkway), to strengthen cross-jurisdictional relationships, foster economic development within the region’s gateway communities, and establish a unified regional voice. The resulting action plan will identify key projects that will advance economic development in multiple communities within the Blue Ridge Parkway corridor. The Parkway is one of the most visited units of the National Park System hosting 15.9 million visitors along its ridges in 2021. The 469mile ribbon of road travels through 12 counties in Virginia and 17 counties in North Carolina, connecting rural mountain communities, towns and cities. The Blue Ridge Rising effort marks the first time in the Parkway’s 87-year history that all 29 Parkway counties will engage together to determine strategies that have wide-ranging benefits for the park’s neighboring communities. “The Blue Ridge Parkway, the gateway communities, and 16 million annual visitors all depend on each other,” said Carolyn Ward, chief executive officer of the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation. “We now have all the pieces in place to move forward together.” The Parkway generates approximately $1.3 billion of positive annual economic impact to the adjacent communities; it is a catalyst for promoting regional tourism and a significant contributor to regional economic vitality.

Blue Ridge Rising will establish a collective regional vision that celebrates our shared culture, protects our unique natural resources, and strengthens the regional economy. The initiative is made possible in part by two grants from the U.S. Economic Development Administration to the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation. To learn about the project, visit Foothills Conservancy of NC and Blue Ridge Conservancy Partner to Protect 1,125-acres in the Brushy Mountains In late April, Foothills Conservancy of North Carolina and Blue Ridge Conservancy completed the permanent protection of a 1,125acre property that spans Wilkes, Alexander and Iredell counties. The property is located in the eastern Brushy Mountains and was purchased jointly by Foothills Conservancy and Blue Ridge Conservancy from private conservationist Tim Sweeney, who donated a significant portion of the land value after holding it for several years with permanent conservation in mind as the ultimate goal. “This project is noteworthy because of the large amount of protected natural land in a single transaction and special because of the partnership Foothills Conservancy and Blue

Ridge Conservancy forged to complete the project,” said Andrew Kota, Executive Director of Foothills Conservancy of NC. “The Brushy Mountains have become a conservation focus area for both of our land trusts, and we’re anticipating other partnership opportunities with Blue Ridge Conservancy in the near future.” He added, “As always, we’re grateful for Mr. Sweeney’s effort to secure the land initially and offer it for permanent conservation at a bargain sale price, and thankful for project funding support from Mr. Fred Stanback, which truly allowed our land trusts to take advantage of the opportunity.” “The opportunity to permanently conserve over 1,000 acres in western North Carolina does not happen often,” said Charlie Brady, Executive Director of Blue Ridge Conservancy. “We are grateful the landowner’s goal was to protect a significant and important tract of land in the Brushy Mountains. I am especially proud of our partnership with Foothills Conservancy of North Carolina in this project. The effort was a unique collaboration of land trusts working together with a common goal of conservation, in partnership with the landowner. Providing public access on a large scale in the Brushy Mountains will be an increasing focus of Blue Ridge Conservancy’s work.”,

Brushy Mountains CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Summer 23 —



history. “Our history can be quite entertaining, and the history walk was carefully designed to tell engaging stories,” Tom added. “Each station will also have a QR code that will direct people to the Blowing Rock Historical Society website for ‘back stories’ that amplify the narratives on the plaques.”

Grandfather Mountain Backpacking

The original Mast Store

Banner Elk Winery / Courtesy of

Mountain City Mural Mile

Brinkley Hardware

High Mountain Expeditions

Hi-Lo Adventure Trail: From Beech Mountain, North Carolina, at 5,506 feet, to Watauga Lake, Tennessee, with its full summertime elevation of 1,959 feet, the Hi-Lo Adventure Trail offers breathtaking scenery, culinary delights and fun adventures in four counties within two states. The trail features three loops appealing to a variety of ages and interests. The Hi-Lo Adventure Trail focuses on the Town of Beech Mountain, the highest incorporated town and snow-ski area in the eastern United States. Beech offers a myriad of warm weather activities as well, such as the Mountaineer Adventure Tower, Beech Mountain Museum, Shane Park Campground, Buckeye Recreation Center, and a wide range of biking adventures and hiking trails for various skill levels. Travelers can enjoy great restaurants, taverns and bars and, for a good night’s rest, choose from several inns, as well as house and condo rentals. Stop in at Fred’s General Mercantile & Backside Deli on Beech to begin and end traveling on each loop. The store offers groceries for picnicking, snacks for the drive, clothes and outdoor equipment for any adventure, and so much more. Loop One: The Mountain 2 Mountain Loop The Mountain 2 Mountain Loop is a scenic 100-mile drive through the bucolic


By Karen Rieley

countryside from Beech Mountain, NC, to Mountain City, TN. Take Buckeye Creek Road out of Beech Mountain, turn right onto Buckeye Road and then left at US321. At the intersection with Hwy-67, take a right toward Mountain City. Along the road to Mountain City, visit Butler, TN, where history buffs will enjoy exploring the Butler Museum. Grab a bite at the Butler Trading Post, with pizzas, subs, burgers and a salad bar, or at Captain Jacks Butler Beverage & JJ’s Café. Antique lovers can rummage through a variety of antique shops along the drive on Hwy67W. Further on, Doe Mountain Recreation Area features 8,600 acres of protected mountain terrain and trails for off-roading or hiking. Mountain City is full of small-town charm with antique shops, trails, lakes and the historic downtown featuring Musical Mural Mile, a series of murals that tell the story of Johnson County’s rich musical heritage. Stop in at the Johnson County Center for the Arts and peruse a fine sampling of local art and traditional Appalachian crafts. Head next to Elk Park, NC. At the intersection of US-19E and NC-194, turn left to take a seven-mile drive to NC184N/Beech Mountain Parkway up the front side of Beech Mountain.

Loop Two: The Tasters Loop The 85-mile Tasters Loop begins at the Beech Mountain Brewery with a sampling of craft beers (for everyone but the driver). Nearby, the Famous Brick Oven Pizzeria will provide the fuel you need for a full day of adventure. Leave Beech Mountain on Buckeye Creek Road, turn right onto Buckeye Road and then left onto US-321 to Watauga Lake in Tennessee. Travel across Watauga Lake on the Buntontown Bridge, turn left onto Dry Hill Road and follow the signs to Watauga Lake Winery for wine tastings, food, live music and monthly events. Nearby Villa Nove Farm & Vineyard offers spectacular views of the vineyards and mountains. Find everything from bait and tackle to hot meals and souvenirs at the Watauga Lake Mercantile in Butler. Continue on to Mountain City, TN. In Mountain City, check out the School House Commons of Neva with a CrossFit gym, coffee shop and Saturday farmers’ market. Walk through the beautiful historic downtown, and follow the aforementioned Mural Mile. Visit 421 Creamery for a cool dessert on a warm summer day. Next, travel to Valle Crucis, North Carolina’s first rural historic district. Wander the aisles of the original Mast General Store, in operation since 1883. The Mast General Store Annex is located just two-

Johnson County Center for the Arts

Fred’s General Mercantile Fred’s Backside Deli

Mast Store Annex Candy Barrels

Over Beech Mountain and Through the Woods to the Tennessee Valley tenths of a mile down the road. Known for its vast candy collection, you can fill a basket with your favorites, or stop by the ice cream shop located in the back left corner of the lot. From Valle Crucis, continue up Broadstone Rd. to the original Jerky Outpost. The store features all kinds of jerky and a huge selection of award-winning hot sauces. (This store has been so popular that the owners recently opened a second store on Main Street in Blowing Rock.) Backtrack to NC-194N and take the winding road to Deer Run Lane and the Banner Elk Winery & Villa, the High Country’s original winery. Continue on to downtown Banner Elk to discover Kettell Beerworks where all beer is brewed on site. Just around the corner, the Blind Elk Tap Room offers an impressive menu of rotational craft beers on tap, Prosecco on tap, and wine by the glass. From Banner Elk, turn right on NC-184/Beech Mountain Parkway to return to Beech Mountain. Loop Three: The Lakeside Loop The Lakeside Loop is a 105-mile drive that starts at Lake Coffey and Buckeye Lake on Beech Mountain and offers numerous options for boating, kayaking, fishing and hikes with waterfalls. From Beech Mountain, take a right on Buckeye Road and a left onto US-321

to Watauga Lake to enjoy marinas, restaurants and recreational areas in Carter County, TN. With 6,400 acres, Watauga is the highest reservoir in Tennessee. Along the drive to Watauga Lake, expert level white water rafters may check out the Watauga Gorge put-in off Guy Ford Road. The Guy Ford Road Bridge near Bethel, NC, is a very popular access point to the Watauga River, with plenty of parking and a small beach. American Whitewater, a national non-profit river conservation organization, manages the AW Sherwood Horine Take-out on Tester Road. Watauga Point Recreation Area is located on the lake’s southern shore and is part of Cherokee National Forest. In addition to picnic facilities, there is a lake for boating and fishing. A gravel trail loops through the nearby forest. You’ll find a great hike at Laurel Falls, near Hampton, TN. Continue through Hampton to the town of Roan Mountain, TN. Drive up the mountain to enjoy breathtaking long views and the world’s largest natural rhododendron gardens. Hike along the Doe River or hike up Roan Mountain to the Appalachian Trail. Visit the Town of Elk Park in North Carolina to explore an antique shop and the iconic Brinkley Hardware Store. Take a left off US-19E onto Old Mill Road for

a short hike to Elk River Falls. Enjoy quality country cooking at the Elk River Depot Family Restaurant, at the intersection of US-19E and NC-194. Turn left on NC-194 to take a seven-mile drive to NC-184N/Beech Mountain Parkway up the front side of Beech Mountain. Until recently, residents and visitors mainly traversed the front side of Beech Mountain on Beech Mountain Parkway. This road meanders for four miles, in and out of Avery and Watauga counties, from the intersection of NC Hwy 184 and NC Hwy 194, located just outside the Town of Banner Elk at the foot of the mountain, up to the Town of Beech Mountain. With the paving of Buckeye Road on the backside of Beech Mountain, residents and visitors now have the opportunity to easily explore over the mountain and through the woods of Johnson and Carter counties in Tennessee. For more information about the Hi-Lo Adventure Trail, visit



“A Hole-in-One” at Sugar Mountain! Can you believe it?”

Linville Land Harbor


Golf in the Post-Pandemic High Country


s our world re-opens following three years of quarantine and restricted travel, the industry that prospered like no other as golfers old and new flocked to the fairway, faces a gentle return to earth. And as the mountain winter begrudgingly gave way to spring, a familiar calm replaced the frenetic rush to the Blue Ridge that marked an unparalleled time. The inhospitable weather of May added to the slow arrival of visitors, while others returned to cruise ships and airlines to once again travel the planet. Lodging levels were down, and the month of June experienced two hard frosts, the last one arriving ridiculously late the ninth of June. The mountain golf industry has seen belligerent weather before, but truth be told, turf conditions across the board have never been as good as this season. Fifty years ago the traditional mountain summer kicked off on the fourth of July. 2023 will wear a similar mantle. It was around 1983 one golf journalist described the town of Banner Elk as home to one stoplight and four championship golf courses, adding that it might be the “greatest concentration of championship golf in America.”

Overlooking hyperbole, there remains merit in the sentiment. While the litany of private enclaves bring prestige, tax dollars, and spending to the region, a legion of public golfers want in on the action, too. That sector, though often overshadowed by the gated communities, is poised to deliver a memorable experience. Buoyed by the surge in play during the pandemic, High Country public golf is in the best shape ever. You just have to know where to look. From Mountain Aire in West Jefferson, to a newly revitalized Grassy Creek in Spruce Pine, public venues have upped their game. Of course, anchor attractions like the Boone Golf Club and Mountain Glen in Newland (where new superintendent Tim Rominger is in charge), enjoy armies of loyal followers. Linville Land Harbor, once exclusive to its POA, now welcomes outside play. General Manager Mike Hayes oversees the course his father Ernie built and boasts putting surfaces equal to the best of the private resort sector. Nearby Sugar Mountain with its unique par 64 layout enjoys growing popularity delivering a verdant playing ground, gorgeous mowing patterns, not to mention stunning views from the clubhouse deck

By Tom McAuliffe

and the Caddyshack Café. Superintendent Bill Daniels has refined Sugar for over two decades. The storied Mount Mitchell Golf Club near Burnsville remains a great option for a day visit or a week in the valley of the South Toe River. Take the Blue Ridge Parkway to Hwy. 80 to experience a beautiful property. And there’s Willow Creek, near Boone in the Willow Valley Resort. This ninehole par three was designed in the ‘70s by hall-of-fame architect Tom Jackson. Jackson designed the front nine at Land Harbor, and directed revision work at Hound Ears, Blowing Rock, Oakwoods in North Wilkesboro, and Charlotte’s Quail Hollow in his career. While no one will confuse turf conditions at “the little green monster” with the Jack Nicklaus design at the Elk River Club, Willow Creek has great lines and is a good stretch of the legs from its back tee. And you can walk for $12. In spite of the late arrival of warm weather mirroring the late arrival of mountain visitors, 2023 just might showcase perhaps the greatest concentration of happy public golfers in America.

Not even the inhospitable chill of May could dampen the annual bloom of the rhododendron as course conditions throughout the High Country promise the best look ever.

Sugar Mounntain Golf Course / Photo by Todd Bush


Linville Land Harbor

Golf Guide

By Tom McAuliffe

Public Courses Linville Land Harbor—Linville Michael Hayes, Operations manager The BooneTom GolfJackson Club / (A-9 Kyle Ernie GroveHayes) Photography Architects Long-time private enclave between Linville and Pineola open to public. Fabulous putting surfaces. 828-733-8325 Boone Golf Club—Boone, NC Tom Adams, PGA Architect Ellis Maples / Revision Rick Robbins ‘Must play’ Mountain Standard in 64th season. A mountain classic by Ross protégé Ellis Maples. Opened 1959, the Boone Golf Club proved a primary driver to growth of summer tourism in the High Country. 828-264-8760 Mountain Glen—Newland, NC David Burleson, Golf Director Architect George Cobb Burleson keeping things familiar in Newland following Sam Foster’s retirement. Play volume at historic highs at a layout you could play everyday and be glad of it. 828-733-5804 Sugar Mountain Golf Club—Sugar Mountain, NC Tom McAuliffe, Golf Director Architect Frank Duane Dynamite par 64. Everyman’s golf club in a land of giants. Shoot par here and chances are you can shoot par anywhere, but still a place for all skill levels. A little bit better every year and that says a lot. 828-898-6464 Mt. Mitchell Golf Club—Burnsville, NC Jim Floyd, Golf Director Architect Fred Hawtree Spectacular property just off the Blue Ridge Parkway at milepost 344 at Hwy. 80 to Burnsville. Group getaway lodging specialists. For the day or the week. Toe River trout fishing, food and beverage excellent. Since 1975. 828-675-5454 /

Willow Valley—Boone, NC Architect Tom Jackson (nine holes) One of Jackson’s earlier creations, he’s now a member of the Carolinas Golf Hall of Fame. The Little Green Monster is an exceptional par three course. 828-963-6865 Mountain Aire Golf Club—West Jefferson, NC Architect/Committee, Revisions Dennis Lehmann Popular Ashe County stop, driving range, good course, good folks in the pro shop. Philip Shepherd carrying bright torch in Hagel family tradition enters his 12th season at the helm. 336-877-4716 Grassy Creek Golf Club—Spruce Pine, NC Bruce Leverette, PGA New Ownership in place. Visit the Mitchell County mainstay and find out what all the locals love about Grassy Creek. What golf is all about. Pro Bruce Leaverette and Supt. Howard McKeithen over 45 years keeping golf real in Spruce Pine. 828-765-7436

Resort Clubs with Lodging Access to Golf Hound Ears Club—Blowing Rock, NC Peter Rucker, PGA, App State alum begins 41st year at fabled club. Architect George Cobb / Revisions Tom Jackson Private club with golf available for guests lodging in Clubhouse accommodations and via Qualified Member Home Rentals. A very special and playable golf course. 828-963-4321 / Jefferson Landing Country Club & Resort— Jefferson, NC Dan Stepnicka, PGA Architect Larry Nelson/Dennis Lehmann Course access for members and on-site lodgers—great golf getaway for your group. Outside play welcome per space available. Call for tee times. Beautiful Ashe County classic. Clubhouse dining. 1-800-292-6274 /

Beech Mountain Club—Beech Mountain, NC Loren White, PGA / Architect Willard Byrd Eastern America’s Highest Town at 5,506’. Ridge Top layout with views of five states, including Kentucky when the Blue Moon is full. Pro Loren White calls the mountain home from storied Kingsmill Resort of Williamsburg, VA. Private access accompanied by member. Temporary membership transfer in qualified housing only. 828-387-4208 ext. 201 /

Private Clubs/Members & Guests Only

Some clubs below may offer short-term rental membership privileges with club or member sponsorship. Grandfather Golf & Country Club—Linville, NC Chip King, PGA–Golf Director Emeritus Jonah Cox, PGA Architect Ellis Maples 828-898-4531 Blowing Rock Country Club—Blowing Rock, NC Andrew Glover, PGA Architect Donald Ross, Seth Raynor Revisions Tom Jackson and more recently BRCC revisions by Ross specialist Kris Spence a big hit. 828-295-3171 Elk River Club—Banner Elk, NC Dave Ambrose, PGA Architect Jack Nicklaus/Bob Cupp 828-898-9773 Linville Ridge Club—Linville, NC Brent Allen, PGA Architect George Cobb / Revisions Bobby Weed “Eastern America’s Highest Golf Course” 828-898-5151 Diamond Creek—Banner Elk, NC Joe Humston, PGA Architect Tom Fazio 828-898-1800 Linville Golf Club—Linville, NC Bill Stines, PGA Architect Donald Ross Revisions Robert Trent Jones, Sr., Bobby Weed. Longtime public access to historic Eseeola Lodge now member and guests only. 828-733-4311 / CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Summer 23 —



Healthy turf and excited staffs and crews await you at High Country golf facilities. Here’s a quick guide to the neighborhood offerings.

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Looking for Daniel Boone By Michael C. Hardy veryone who studies Western North Carolina history, or the history of the American Revolution, owes a debt to Lyman C. Draper. Born in western New York in 1815, Draper grew up in Lockport, on the Erie Canal. While young Draper was in school, the Marquis de Lafayette visited his town, and Draper wrote a paper on Lafayette, a demonstration that history had already grabbed his interest. His first published article was on Charles Carroll, the last living signer of the Declaration of Independence. Draper traveled extensively and developed a keen interest in Western pioneers who settled the Revolutionary War frontier. Not only did Draper comb archives and newspapers, but he also sent numerous letters to veterans, their children, and their grandchildren, asking them to share their stories. Along the way, he became the Corresponding Secretary and editor for the State Historical Society of Wisconsin. He was also awarded an honorary master’s degree and doctorate. Despite never finishing his planned volume on Western pioneers, Draper did take on a couple of other projects. One was on the Overmountain Men, published in 1881. When Draper died in 1891, he was working on a book on the life of Daniel Boone. As with his work on the Overmountain Men, Draper contacted many people across various states, people whose fathers and grandfathers had known, or maybe even hunted and traveled with, the famous frontiersman. Western North Carolina has a strong connection with Daniel Boone. His family arrived in the western piedmont of the colony in the fall of 1751, living for a time in what is now known as Boone’s Cave in present-day Davidson County. Daniel was around seventeen

years old and had already spent time exploring the Yadkin River Valley. While he helped on his father’s farm, he spent a considerable amount of time hunting, often a profitable venture. Beaver, deer, and mink pelts could be sold for a good profit in town. These hunts often lasted for weeks or months. After serving in the French and Indian War, Boone returned to the Yadkin Valley. He married Rebecca Bryan in 1756. A decade later, they left the Forks of the Yadkin and settled on the upper Yadkin Valley, near Goshen in present-day Wilkes County. The High Country was just a short tramp from the Boone farm. When Lyman Draper started to query local people in the 1880s, he was asking about Boone and his many hunting trips in the area. While these letters were written just over one hundred years after Boone had slipped through the gap that bears his name, they were records of oral history passed down through the leading families of the area, families who had been in the region for almost as long as the Boones. George N. Folk, a lawyer who had married Jordan Councill’s daughter, Elizabeth, wrote in 1887 that the county “is full of traditions about Boone.” When Folk moved to Boone prior to the Civil War, he could see the pile of rocks that once made the fireplace of the cabin used by Daniel Boone, along with the rocks that made up the foundation. They were reportedly a foot high off the ground. He had talked to an old man who informed Folk that at one time, Daniel Boone’s name was carved on a nearby cliff where the rocks originated. State legislator W.W. Lenoir, grandson of Gen. William Lenoir, also wrote Draper in 1887, mentioning Boone having a hunt-

ing camp “at the site of the village of Boone.” John R. Hodges in 1883 wrote that the town of Boone was named for Daniel Boone, who had a camp in that area. Other camps that Daniel Boone used in Wilkes, Watauga, and Caldwell counties frequently appeared in letters throughout the 1880s. One contributor to the Lenoir Topic in 1885 wrote of a camp on “Boone’s Branch” in Wilkes County, a rock house with a waterfall that covered the entrance. Then there was Meat Camp, a place where Boone and others stored their meat and hides as they roamed the countryside looking for more game. The Meat Camp location was well known to some of the older people in the community. Jonathan Horton wrote Draper that one day he saddled his horse and rode to the camp’s location to “see what mountains rose in sight.” He clearly saw Snake Mountain and Rich Mountain. Daniel B. Dougherty, the father of the brothers who founded what is now Appalachian State University, wrote to Draper in May 1883. Dougherty had “no doubt” that Boone had a camp in the town of Boone. He actually owned the property where the cabin once stood. The cabin was situated on a “beautiful little stream . . . the old chimney ruins still mark the place where the camp or cabin stood.” There was a meadow nearby, with plenty of other springs. Dougherty was told that this area was once a “beautiful forest of fine trees of oak, cherry, maple, etc., with very little undergrowth.” Dr. W.B. Councill’s father owned much of the property in the area. Passed down through the family was a description of the Continued on next page CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Summer 23 —




DANIEL BOONE: Continued from previous page cabin. The log structure was 16 feet square with a rock chimney. After Boone left, his brother occupied the structure. It was not only Draper with whom the locals were sharing this information. At the same time, local stories about Daniel Boone were being passed on to visitors. One visitor in 1880 was shown a pile of rocks where the cabin that Boone occupied once stood. An article in the January 18, 1882, edition of The Lenoir Topic states that the “county seat was called Boone, for Daniel Boone, the distinguished pioneer of Kentucky.” An 1885 article in the same publication mentioned “Daniel Boone’s old trace,” leading from a gap in the crest of the Blue Ridge, along the Three Forks of the New River, through where the town is now located, and on to Valle Crucis. Eventually, William Lewis Bryan and then John Preston Arthur told the story of Daniel Boone and his time in the High Country. Arthur devoted a chapter in his 1914 History of Western North Carolina to Boone. In print, he explored Boone’s trail from Wilkes County into Watauga, and then further east. In his 1915 history of Watauga County, Arthur states he is unsure about who built the cabin: Boone or Benjamin Howard. It is interesting to note that the writers a generation earlier never really mention Howard. William Lewis Bryan labored to not only tell the story of Daniel Boone in the area, but also built a monument to Boone using some of the stones from the old chimney. The old monument was dedicated in 1912, and in 2005 was deconstructed and rebuilt in a different location. Actual hard evidence of the numerous camps that Daniel Boone had in the area is sparse. But the oral history, passed down through various early families who settled along the Watauga River abounds with numerous details of one of America’s first folk heroes. While our accounts really begin in the 1880s, they stretch back at least a generation before, when the post office at Councill’s Store was changed to Boone. The year? 1850.

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IT TAKES A Many Blue Ridge Energy employees work behind the scenes to provide safe, continuous electricity. Each person and department brings their A-game.


From system operators, who monitor and control the flow of electricity, to an IT team that secures the power delivery and communication systems, to customer service representatives who assist members online or by phone, every team member plays a vital role in keeping you safely and reliably energized.



Celebrating Sisterhood. Blowing Rock’s premier shopping destination at the south end of Main Street MONKEE’S

The ultimate in ladies shoes, apparel, and accessories. Featuring designers Tory Burch, Sam Edelman, Johnny Was, P448, Hammitt, Lilla P, Philippe Model, Vilagallo, Vintage Chanel and Louis Vuitton, and Mignonne Gavigan.


Fine clothing and sportswear for gentlemen.


Outfitter boutique featuring local Blowing Rock and High Country merchandise, signs, home décor, Aftco outer wear, gifts and accessories.


Free-standing Buck Stoves and fireplaces, Bob Timberlake outdoor furniture, Amish-made foods, arts and crafts and home accessories and new coffee bar.



The area’s largest selection of children’s, family and adult puzzles, games, novelties and toys for children of all ages. A grandparents paradise and a parent’s go-to for rewards and bribery!

Plus... Seasonal Pavilions Open May - October

Featuring specialty merchandise and concepts that complement our year-round stores: Flavia’s, European Sweets, Beaver Fine Art from Charleston, Grounded Works, The Blue Ridge Apothecary & Say Cheese, our gourmet sandwich outdoor café

Imagination and Play, the old fashioned way...with a 2023 spin. The mountain’s largest playground for children and grownups (tall children). Fun gifts from cool parents and grandparents and an “allowance buster” department for kids! We specialize in bribery, guilt, love and rewards.

Cute-tique! Don’t forget we are famous for our outrageous cards & beverage napkins, plus our beautiful paper goods, games & puzzles for grownups.

Our 31st Year! Celebrating our 31st year in Blowng Rock!

1179 Main Street • 828-265-7065


SouthMarke, 1179 Main Street Blowing Rock, NC 828.295.4438 (Across from Town Tavern)

BJ’s Resort Wear Clothing the High Country in Global Fashions for Nearly 45 Years By Emily Webb

Paris. Milan. New York City. Banner Elk.


estern North Carolina is not the first place that comes to mind when discussing high-end fashion, but those who make the trek up the mountain year after year know that no trip to the High Country is complete without a stop at BJ’s Resort Wear. For more than 40 years, Sally Breslauer has owned and operated the luxury clothing store in downtown Banner Elk. While she demurs if you suggest that she’s a local—“I’m from London, England!” she protests—after four decades in the heart of town, it’s undeniable that Breslauer and BJ’s are intrinsically linked to the fabric of Banner Elk. Breslauer first discovered Banner Elk when she and her family were living in Montgomery, Alabama. The family had recently spent four years in Germany and had fallen in love with skiing. One day, Breslauer was discussing how she missed the mountains with a friend, and her friend shared that she and her husband were building a home on the ski slopes near Banner Elk, North Carolina. “Ski slopes” and “North Carolina” seemed paradoxical to Breslauer, but she agreed to accompany her friend on a weekend trip to Beech Mountain. Although it was early January, it was pouring rain during that first trip to the High Country. Breslauer was again invited to Beech later that month, and this time was greeted by several feet of snow. It didn’t take long for Breslauer to fall in love with the beautiful mountain region. Several years—and ski vacations—later, Breslauer was newly divorced, living in Atlanta and working for the clothing store Jaeger International. Her three children were grown and gone, two to college and

Sally Breslauer, Owner one to the Navy. She had recently begun seeing a lawyer from Montgomery, Robert “BJ” Russell, but was otherwise feeling adrift. It was during one of her routine trips to Beech Mountain that a good friend asked the fateful question: if Breslauer was unhappy in Atlanta, why not relocate to Banner Elk and help the friend reopen her clothing boutique? It was a wild, impossible idea—Breslauer was a world traveler, constantly on the go. She told some other friends about the proposal, and they were quick to dismiss it. “They said ‘Sally, we know you, we know your background. You do not belong in Banner Elk.’ And they tried to talk me out of it,” she said. “The next day I was driving back to Atlanta, and the wheels started turning. I don’t know. Sometimes you get focused and your brain says, ‘that’s it,’ and you go for it.” By the time she returned home, Breslauer had made up her mind. She would move to Banner Elk. A week later, Russell came to visit. Breslauer told him her plan. “He said, ‘you’re moving to Banner Elk?’ and I said, ‘yes.’ And he got up and left. Took his suitcase and just left,” Breslauer recalled. She assumed that was the end of that relationship, but a few hours later Russell called her. “He said, ‘Sally, I have been thinking about this and thinking about this and we have not been going together very long, and you have not been divorced very long,’ and he said ‘maybe you need to fly a little bit.’ And I said, ‘well, looks like I’m flying to Banner Elk.’” Things moved quickly: Breslauer moved her merchandise up the mountain and found a place to rent. Three months later, she and Russell offered to buy out the friend and take over the business. With

Breslauer’s retail experience and Russell’s legal expertise, they were well-matched to run a store of their own. When Russell asked her what they should name their new venture, she knew immediately. It had to be BJ’s. Russell objected—it was Breslauer’s store. But Breslauer wanted to honor the one who had made it happen. “‘You are the one who gave me the confidence to do this,’” she told him. Although Breslauer was a veteran of the fashion industry, the idea of managing her own books was overwhelming. Still, Russell encouraged her to learn. For a year she kept the books, learning the financial side of running a business. She even signed up for a program at Auburn University designed to support female entrepreneurs. After a wonderful three days of classes, Breslauer felt confident enough in her own abilities to make a decision: she would hire a bookkeeper. “That is not my forte,” Breslauer said. “I belong on the floor.” Over the next several decades, Breslauer and Russell worked together to expand the business. The building that houses BJ’s was once three individual stores, but as the other businesses moved out Breslauer and Russell were able to move in. Eventually, they bought the entire building. At this point, Breslauer owned a home in Tynecastle, but chose to sell it and live in an apartment above her store instead. BJ’s Resort Wear has been Breslauer’s life and love for nearly 45 years. Prior to the pandemic, she would visit New York City every February to source new styles that you can only purchase directly from the designer. “They do not go to provincial markets like out west or Atlanta or Charlotte. You want what they have, you have to go to New York to get it,” Breslauer said. Continued on next page



BJ’s...continued from previous page For Breslauer’s customers, who can shop all over the world, it takes something truly special to catch their attention. And that is what BJ’s Resort Wear offers through its hand-picked merchandise and frequent trunk shows that showcase various designers. According to Breslauer, visitors to Banner Elk are sometimes shocked to find this level of couture in a small mountain town that boasts only one traffic light. But her long-term customers know where she is, and have helped her store thrive. “I have exceptional customers who travel all over the world,” Breslauer said. “I know who my customer is, and that’s what makes it fun.” During the summer, when the majority of Breslauer’s customers return to Banner Elk and the surrounding areas, she is on the floor from 10 to 5 every day. In the evening, she retreats to her deck to relax and enjoy the beautiful views. During the off-season, Breslauer closes up her store and takes off on adventures of her own, accompanied by her sister-in-law and fellow business owner, Betsy Murrelle. Earlier this year, the two traveled to Norway. Previously they visited China so Breslauer could see the Terracotta Army—a trip she described as “just perfect.” Moving to Banner Elk may have been out of character for the Sally Breslauer of the 1970s, but she has since become a fixture of the town. After Russell passed away in 2016, Breslauer considered closing the store. She drove around the region, trying to figure out what she wanted to do, but in the end she knew she had to stay. “When I came home, I would walk into my apartment and say ‘this is home. This is where I belong.’” Although changes have come to Banner Elk over the years—when Breslauer first arrived, for example, there were no sidewalks in the town, and she participated in a committee to get them installed—it has remained a peaceful oasis in a world that can be overpowering. Running the store gives Breslauer the freedom to travel wherever she wants, knowing BJ’s will always be waiting. “I love it here. If we go on a trip, I can’t wait to come up the mountains. I’m always so happy to get back home,” she said. Meet Sally Breslauer and get to know BJ’s Resort Wear at one of their Summer ‘23 Trunk Shows—see the BJ’s ad in this issue for a list of upcoming show dates.


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Protecng Your Mountain Home

“Preserve the past. Plan for the future.” …The family legacy of Blowing Rock Mayor, Charlie Sellers By Steve York


hat’s the most “magically charming” small town or village in North Carolina? Well, that may be an unfair question and a pretty subjective matter. There are surely many throughout our mountain-tosea state that could qualify. But, by any interpretation of the words “magically charming,” Blowing Rock would have to rank mighty high in that category. In fact, at 3,566 feet above sea level, it is measurably one of the “highest” of those magical villages in this state. It is culturally overflowing, historically rich, economically strong, forward thinking, artistically stimulating, and picture postcard perfect. The village of Blowing Rock is best known as the home to what is widely considered to be North Carolina’s oldest scenic tourist attraction and the town’s namesake, The Blowing Rock. It’s a 4,000-foot elevation, billion-plus-year-old rugged outcropping that overlooks the John’s River Gorge. But, besides its amazing scenic vistas, what has made that attraction so popular is the nearly 150-year-old Chickasaw maiden and Cherokee brave love affair legend that surrounds it. The legend’s full story is available at Or you can just ask Blowing Rock’s mayor, Charlie Sellers. Sellers is not only mayor, he also owns The Blowing Rock attraction and is kin to one of the town’s most visionary families. So, he knows pretty much everything there is to know about the rock formation, the legend, and the community’s rich history. In 1933, Seller’s grandfather, Grover C. Robbins, Sr., helped convince the original property owners to lease the land and its distinctive outcropping to the state to be transformed into a tourist attraction.

The Robbins’ next generation—including brothers Grover Jr., Harry and Spencer Robbins—went on to develop nearby Tweetsie Railroad, Hound Ears Club, Beech Mountain’s ski facility and the Land of Oz attraction, plus much more throughout the High Country. Grover C. Robbins, Sr., was also elected Blowing Rock’s mayor from 1928 to 1934, from 1939 to 1944, and again from 1947 to1948. So, that legacy of community leadership and service runs deep into Charlie Sellers’ soul. “Growing up, I had read about the positive changes that he (Robbins, Sr.) had made in our community, focusing on children, promoting tourism and enforcing positive changes in Blowing Rock. I knew I couldn’t fill his shoes, but I could attempt to follow in his footsteps,” noted Sellers. Young Charlie Sellers moved to Blowing Rock with his family as a child and settled into his grandparents’ home place, which is now the Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce building. He attended Blowing Rock Elementary School, Riverside Military Academy, Watauga High and then Appalachian State. Growing up he enjoyed going to Blowing Rock’s old Stories soda shop and Sonny’s Grill, walking to Craig’s Grocery, having dinner at the Sunshine Inn, playing with his friends at Chetola Estate and the Roanhorse Theater and visiting his uncle’s new Tweetsie Railroad attraction. “Back then we all looked forward to the biggest event of the year, the Blowing Rock Horse Show in August,” recalled Sellers. “During summer vacation, I worked for my family at The Blowing Rock, Hound Ears and Tweetsie Railroad. And I will always remember the hard work that my friends and family did over the

years. When October came, we rolled up the sidewalks and the town slowed for the winter,” added Sellers. Throughout his career and community service life, Sellers has managed to chalk up 24 years as Regional Manager for Rochester Midland Corporation, 12 years as President of Cape Fear Consulting, ten years as proprietor of the Blowing Rock attraction, and the past six years as Blowing Rock’s mayor. Add to that list his serving on the Board of Directors of the Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce, the Blowing Rock Historical Society, the Village Foundation Board, plus receiving the Blowing Rock Rotary Citizen of the Year for 20162017 and the Jerry Burns Ambassador Award in 2018. Sellers was first elected mayor in 2017, has served continuously since, and plans to run again this year. His days are spent balancing the duties of mayor with those of overseeing The Blowing Rock attraction. “I have been very blessed to have good staff at the attraction which allows me to handle day-to-day mayoral functions for the town of Blowing Rock. And with many years in business, I’m able to prioritize and keep pressing issues on the front burner,” Sellers noted. Mayor Sellers and his wife, Deatra, have a blended family of four children and eight grandchildren. And it’s common to see the couple participating together in many of the town’s special events, festivities and seasonal celebrations. Plus, when traveling and meeting various visitors to Blowing Rock, they love hearing all the compliments they receive about the town’s people, businesses, and unique quaintness. Continued on next page CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Summer 23 —


MAYOR...continued from previous page “During my years of service to Blowing Rock and as a citizen, I’ve found that our citizens want to be heard. As mayor I try to solve their problems. If I can’t, I let them know and attempt to find additional avenues to achieve positive results. And I am always impressed with attendance at council meetings. This tells me that our citizens love our town,” he continued. One recent source of fulfillment for Mayor Sellers includes seeing the Blowing Rock Historical Society and Village Foundation complete the Blowing Rock History Walk with 20 information plaques at stations throughout a route from Mayview Plaza, down to Laurel Lane and around Broyhill Lake. Then there are the combined efforts of the Watauga EDC and Blowing Rock officials for the town’s recently approved affordable childcare program and facility, which will serve up to 20 Blowing Rock town employees’ children. And, looking forward, Sellers is enthusiastic for celebrating the 100th anniversary the Blowing Rock Horse Show, continued improve-

ments to Memorial Park, achieving 24/7 transport for Blowing Rock’s citizens and working toward the completion of several town water, sewer and paving improvements. So, is there anything else that might qualify Blowing Rock as one of the most “magically charming” small towns? Oh yeah…Southern Living Magazine just named Blowing Rock as one of “The 50 Best Small Towns In The South 2023”! Not too shabby! While honoring the heritage and culture of our wondrous North Carolina mountain communities, the Robbins’ family legacy has helped shape many of our major scenic and recreational attractions, not to mention birthing many of our grandest residential communities. And Mayor Charlie Sellers falls right into his family mold of always preserving the past while planning for the future.


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Our farm store also offers other local goods! 828-756-8166 Fri-Sat, 10am-6pm, year-round 19456 US 221 North (.5 miles south of Linville Caverns) Marion, NC 28752

NC Stars Shine Brightly at 2023 Tony Awards

The Turchin Center Turns 20!

Crossnore: Then & Now

Come and hear stories recalled by Dr. Mary Martin Sloop in Miracle in the Hills, learn about the buildings and campus grounds of Crossnore Communities for Children, and find out how the organization continues to serve children today. This hour-long program runs July 14 & 28; August 11 & 25; September 8 & 22; and October 13. All programs begin at 1 p.m. at the Sloop Chapel on the campus of Crossnore Communities for Children, 100 DAR Dr., Newland, NC 28657.

Come out and celebrate two decades of excellence in exhibition, education, and outreach programming in the visual arts on July 7 as a part of An Appalachian Summer Festival. Regular hours at the The Turchin Center galleries are Tuesday – Thursday and Saturday from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. and Fridays from noon – 8 p.m. Closed Sunday and Monday. Admission is free.

App State in the News

At the May ’23 graduation, the official App State regalia worn by the University’s graduates was made of fabric produced from 100% post-consumer recycled plastic bottles and made in the USA. An estimated 73,000 plastic bottles were diverted from the landfill! In other news, App State recently earned designation as a Top 10 Military Friendly School for 2023–24 and was ranked for its efforts to help military-affiliated students thrive on campus and in the surrounding community.

Who would have predicted that NC native, WCU grad, and 2022 Oscar-winner (for West Side Story) Ariana DeBose would wordlessly dance the opening number at the 76th Tony Awards, but the Writer’s Guild of America strike had DeBose, as Emcee, flipping blank pages of an empty script before opening the show without a single scripted word? It was brilliant. “I’m live and unscripted,” she said and had the best ad lib of the night when she couldn’t read the name she had scribbled on her hand and simply said, “Please welcome whoever walks out on stage next!” Charming.

Fayetteville, NC, has bragging rights in the Tar Heel State with J. Harrison Ghee winning Best Actor in a Musical for a magnificent performance as Jerry/Daphne in Some Like It Hot, with Cape Fear native and castmate NaTasha Yvette Williams nominated for her featured role as Sweet Sue in the same production (Ghee and Williams pictured below). Fat Ham, a 2023 Pulitzer Prize-winning play by Bessemer City’s James Ijames received five nominations including Best Play, only to lose in that category to 85-year-old Tom Stoppard for his brilliant, semi-autobiographical drama Leopoldstadt, where App State alum Rian Buksbazen is on the backstage production team. –contributed by Keith Martin

Explore Blue Ridge Craft Trails

If arts and crafts are a big interest this summer, you are undeniably in a region rich in craft traditions and brimming with craft artists. Travel along the Blue Ridge Craft Trails to visit with artists in their studios, shop galleries full of local, handmade artwork, and discover scenic treasures and cultural gems along the way. The Blue Ridge Craft Trails organizers welcome new Trail sites regularly. There are dozens in the CML region! (Pictured above: Doe Ridge Pottery in Boone)

Jump in and Learn to Swim!

Children ages three to five can participate in group swim lessons this summer at Watauga County Parks and Rec (pictured above). Find a session that works for your family at their Facebook page @ wataugacountyparksandrecreation. Over in Avery County, check out the aquatics programs and summer camps at the Williams YMCA—there’s something for everyone!

Continued... CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Summer 23 —


with safe and healthy access to the natural world while protecting the environment and strengthening our local economy. Although the trail continues to be a work in progress, several sections have been completed. Along those sections, some new interpretive signage provides information on the nature and history of the area. You can now explore the following segments of the Middle Fork Greenway: Blowing Rock Trailhead, 321 Trailhead, Sterling Creek Park, Payne Branch Park, and Goldmine Branch Park. Visit for directions to each of these areas and for more information.

groundwork for BRWIA’s future—as a hub for community, education, connection and greater access to local food. Learn about these remarkable women at

Being Me Is the Best Thing to Be

Big Changes, Same Mission: The Incredible Toy Company

In January, the Incredible Toy Company changed ownership, and in May, they relocated to The Shoppes on the Parkway, Suite #20, in Blowing Rock. “We are so very excited to welcome the young and the young at heart to our new space!” share the new owners. They also want patrons to know that they’re committed to maintaining the same tradition of high-quality playthings with a special focus on the educational, “with much more space and plenty more to play with!” They now feature two large demo tables, a massively expanded book section, and a Multicade video arcade machine. See the new face of fun for yourself this summer.

Blue Ridge Brutal

The Blue Ridge Brutal Bike Ride in Ashe County, NC, is scheduled for Saturday, August 19, so don’t miss your chance to register for this popular ride. Because of construction on the Blue Ridge Parkway, the routes have changed this year—but with new routes come new views! All of the rides—25, 50, 70 and 100 miles— have steep elevation gains and can be considered challenging to strenuous. However, you can mix the pain with the joy of riding through some of the most beautiful scenery in North Carolina.

Local author Judy Erb recently released her first children’s book, Being Me is the Best Thing to Be, about a turtle named Honey who discovers that she’s unique— and that there’s nothing wrong with that! A retired elementary school educator, Erb has always enjoyed reading to children and discussing books with them. This colorful paperback book is illustrated by App State student Emily Allen. Learn more at and purchase the book online at Bookbaby, Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Birthday Merriment at Mystery Hill Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture (BRWIA) Founding Mothers’ Day See What’s New on the Middle Fork Greenway The Middle Fork Greenway, a Blue Ridge Conservancy Project, is a multi-use recreational trail being developed to connect Blowing Rock to Boone, providing residents and visitors of all ages


Over twenty years ago, a group of High Country women began gathering at one another’s farms, in fields, and in classrooms. They shared meals, knowledge and resources to create a network of support as they grew their small farm businesses. They are known as BRWIA’s “Founding Mothers,” and were recently honored at a Mothers’ Day Tea for their vision and perseverance that laid the

Celebrating a birthday this season? Make your next birthday party EPIC at Mystery Hill. Defy gravity, throw tomahawks, encase your friends in bubbles, and ride a bull! Whether you’re looking for a venue for a super fun kids birthday party or a place to celebrate with adults, Mystery Hill is a great choice for your next birthday event. Stop by this summer to see all of the new family fun features! Visit for a list of all Mystery Hill attractions and for directions and other information.

Students Awarded Scholarships from Blue Ridge Energy

Find Your Favorite Swimming Hole this Summer

Planning to hit your favorite streamside beaches and swimming holes this season? The Watauga Riverkeeper monitors E.coli levels in popular swimming sites in the High Country as part of MountainTrue’s Swim Guide program. Our mountain community is one of many contributing to an international effort to monitor bacteria levels at local “beaches,” or, in our case, rivers, lakes, and streams.

Blue Ridge Energy recently awarded $36,000 in college scholarships to nine students across its service area seeking to further their academic goals. The scholarships are part of the Blue Ridge Energy Leadership Track program designed to help high school students better prepare for acceptance into the college of their dreams. Awards were given to students from Watauga, Ashe, Alleghany and Caldwell counties. This year marks the 64th year Blue Ridge has awarded college scholarships. To date, more than 510 area students and citizens have received over $610,000 to help them attend the college of their choice. (Pictured below: Ashe County students)

Before you go, be sure to check the Swim Guide to ensure your High Country swimming hole is safe to recreate in— weekly results are posted on Fridays.

Outlander Inspired, History Focused!

In its fifth year, Fraser’s Ridge Homecoming is a unique three-day, immersive event held in North Carolina’s backcountry wilderness. With historically accurate workshops, presentations, encampments, music, dancing and much more, Homecoming attendees will be taken back in time to Jamie & Claire’s “home” on The Ridge. Learn and experience 18th-century NC history, form lifelong friendships with other Outlander fans, plus you may even choose to meet a special guest from the TV series! The event will be held October 12-14 at Leatherwood Mountains Resort in historic Ferguson, NC. Learn more and begin your journey to the past at

Webb’s Rock Shop: A Hidden Treasure

Celebrate at The Blowing Rock!

This year, The Blowing Rock, North Carolina’s oldest travel attraction, celebrates its 90th year! The Blowing Rock is an immense cliff 4,000 feet above sea level, overhanging Johns River Gorge 3,000 feet below. For nine decades, it has wowed visitors, young and old alike. And the attraction is known as a great place for couples to celebrate their own special occasion. Whether you’re wanting to host an intimate bridal luncheon for 25 people or an extravagant wedding ceremony and reception for over fifty people, The Blowing Rock offers a property and experience unlike any other in the NC High Country.

Do you happen to be a collector of local folk pottery? How about minerals and gemstones? Any meteorite collectors out there? Maybe vintage golf clubs and tennis racquets are your thing. Webb’s Rock Shop is unlike any store you’ve ever visited. And it’s not open to just anyone, anytime. So if you’re an intrigued, serious treasure hunter, give Mr. Webb a call at 828-733-4680. Located in Linville, NC

John Ray Heirloom Apples: Flavor in the Fall When his father died, John Ray inherited his house and heirloom orchard near Newland. The house had been empty five years, the orchard untended for 10. The first year he rehabbed the house, pruned the orchard, and wore out a lawnmower. John also sold his apples at the Banner Elk Farmers’ Market, gave tours at Altapass Orchard—where his grandfather and great grandfather had been owners—and finally began giving tours to friends at his own orchard. He had so much fun he decided to offer a limited number of tours to the public as well. For details text 248-798-6223. Pictured above: A healthy, well configured tree that should bear excellent apples come mid-September.








Community & Local Business News Appalachian Regional Healthcare Needs Your Support

Mast General Store Celebrates 35 Years in Downtown Boone In 1988, the Mast General Store Old Boone Mercantile opened its doors in the old Hunt’s Department Store. This year, the Mast Store in Downtown Boone celebrates its 35th anniversary! Downtown Boone was in a state of decline in the late 1980s. John Cooper, Mast General Store’s owner, remembered, “I was getting a lot of calls about coming to Boone and reopening the Hunt’s Department Store. I knew we needed another location in the area, but I didn’t think I wanted to go downtown.” After much thought and input from community friends and local business owners, John and Faye Cooper ultimately decided to make the purchase. Once the closing went through, it took six months to make needed repairs, bring it up to code, set the floor, and fill it with merchandise. The advertising for the grand opening touted the store as being locally owned and operated and featured cast iron skillets, picnic baskets, “sweaters and more sweaters,” graphic t-shirts, and backpacks by Lowe, JanSport, and Gregory. On grand opening day, it also included the Candy Barrel, which was operated by friends of the Coopers as a separate business until 1997, and Rebecca Boone’s Perfume and Fragrance Shop. The section that is now the Candy Barrel was divided into two businesses. A wall was later removed to expand the Candy Barrel. It took a lot of hard work, creativity, and cooperation with other businesses and agencies to make the Old Boone Mercantile AND Downtown Boone successful. “Going to Downtown Boone was the second smartest business move (buying and reopening the Original Store in Valle Crucis is first) Faye and I have made. It created a pattern that has proved successful in expanding our business over the following 35 years,” shared John. Happy Birthday Mast Store Boone and many happy returns!


The Appalachian Regional Healthcare Foundation launched a $20 million capital campaign called “Higher Elevation” in 2022 to supplement the $160 million investment that ARHS is making in facilities, equipment, technology and infrastructure. Prior to launching the campaign ARHS developed a campaign anthem, which describes why this campaign is so important. Higher Elevation Campaign Anthem It’s one thing to live in the mountains. It’s something else when the mountains live in you. Maybe you were born here, or maybe you moved here, or maybe you come as often as you can when you need what’s here— the green valleys and steep ridges and majestic peaks. Southern friends and slower days. Whether it’s home sweet home or home away from home, we all have our own stories and situations, but one truth is shared among us all: we feel something special here that feels different from anywhere else. This is the guiding vision of Appalachian Regional Healthcare System. Our commitment to provide you the highest quality healthcare is born from a deep-rooted belief that to live here is a privilege, and with privilege comes responsibility. Our responsibility is to deliver premier healthcare— which means having the best doctors and nurses, the most innovative healing technologies, the most modern, coordinated spaces and systems for family and patient-centered care. Because nobody living in the High Country should settle for lower standards of anything, especially health and wellness. Yes, we know the gift of these mountains is timelessness —the enduring landscapes and cultures and rhythms of rural Appalachia— but we’re also adamant that access to 21st century medicine is a fundamental right, wherever you live on the map. Our map happens to cover some of the highest and most stunning territory in North Carolina, so the people we serve live in an awesome natural world that shapes what they value: strength, dependability, and excellence. That’s exactly why we are investing today in critical upgrades for tomorrow— improving and enhancing our entire operations from the inside out. Because this is what you expect and deserve; it’s what you’ve come to trust from us after 60 years of dedication to this community. Just like the mountains all around, we stand ready to deliver more than seems possible, and precisely what you need. If you would like to learn more about the priorities of the Higher Elevation campaign or simply want to make a donation, please visit or contact the ARHS Foundation at 828-262-4391.

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Each year, SCORE counselors touch thousands of lives, generously sharing their knowledge and experience so that entrepreneurs can realize their dreams of business success. If you want to share your business expertise and give back to your community, consider volunteering with SCORE. Nationwide 10,000 men and women, retired and working, donate their time and talents to assist America’s entrepreneurs. Volunteers provide confidential one-to-one and team business counseling and low-cost entrepreneurial training workshops and seminars. In addition, many counselors are virtual volunteers, providing email counseling directly from their homes or offices. If you have a professional management background and would like to share your experience with small business entrepreneurs, consider becoming a volunteer. There is a growing need for experienced professional counselors in the High Country. Contact Herman Metzler to learn about SCORE’s services, goals and leadership opportunities at 919-2806123 or


High Country SCORE Is Looking for Volunteers

Andees Petite Desserts, LLC launched in the spring of 2022 at the Blowing Rock Farmers’ Market on Park Avenue. Owner and dessertier Andee Baur bakes her unique desserts in a commercial kitchen located in—where else— Sugar Mountain, NC. The idea of a dessert business grew out of the many years Andee worked and entertained in the San Francisco Bay Area. Andee hosted hundreds of Oscar parties for family, friends and customers with her exquisite desserts. Her dessert bar was expected to take center stage at every event and earned her high accolades. Now, the High Country enjoys these Oscarworthy desserts! Andees takes popular desserts from full size to petite—it’s truly an art. And her artworks are both pretty and pretty delicious, as well as unique and satisfying. “We offer carefully curated dessert boxes for both the refrigerator and the freezer,” Andee explains. “We use locally sourced and premium ingredients along with specialty ingredients from family-owned businesses.” Andees Petite Desserts include jam-filled Rugalach, Baklava, Double-dipped Biscotti, Brookie Cookies (half brownie half gourmet cookie), Classic Vanilla Cheesecake and many more handcrafted creations. Like other entrepreneurs, Andee encountered some common business challenges. So she reached out to SCORE for some accounting basics and pricing assistance. “I do not know how I’d be this far without my mentor, Herman Metzler,” says Andee. “He seems to know how to motivate me to learn what I’m less than comfortable with (due to lack of knowledge) and to encourage me to keep a healthy balance while following my dream. My mentor reminds me there are not mistakes; only opportunities to improve.” Continued on next page


For decades, women in Avery County and the surrounding area have trusted the Imaging Department of Cannon Memorial Hospital (CMH) for their screening and diagnostic mammograms. Now, in addition to knowing there is an experienced and compassionate care team, women can benefit from state-ofthe art 3D mammography equipment that produces more precise imaging and more accurately detects cancer earlier while pinpointing its exact location. “With the new 3D technology, rather than a flat image it will take a stack of images—and you may see something you can’t see with a 2D image,” said Martha Daniels of the Imaging team. “This is particularly good for dense breasts.” In fact, the technology can detect up to 40 percent more cancers than the previous 2D mammography. Daniels, who has worked as a mammographer in Avery County for 28 years, is excited that CMH now has this type of technology available to the women in her community. “I care about women’s health. I feel like women in this county deserve the best of care. One in eight will end up with breast cancer in their life. I want to do what I can to slow that down,” she said. Now with sharper images, more accurate detail and detection, “the machine” can detect true positives in earlier, more treatable stages of cancer. If something is found, mammographers can fast track care for additional imaging if needed so patients aren’t anxiously waiting longer than necessary.

Petite Desserts SCORE Big


Cannon Memorial Hospital Now Offers 3D Mammography

“The investment in this technology for Avery County is a direct investment in the wellbeing of the patients we serve,” said Stephanie Greer, Avery Health Market President for Charles A. Cannon Jr. Memorial Hospital and Appalachian Regional Behavioral Health Hospital. “The opportunity to provide the highest quality diagnostic service means that we are protecting our mothers, daughters, sisters, neighbors, and friends. It is exciting that our community will no longer have to travel out of town to access this state-of-the-art service.” To schedule your mammogram at Cannon Memorial Hospital, call 828-268-9037. For more information, visit

She adds, “If you think about mentorship, most of us want and need help in certain areas of business. However, I want more. I want someone who is a proven success and who wants me to experience the same.” SCORE has a number of tools and templates designed to help individuals start small businesses, grow their businesses, and stay in business. SCORE’s mentoring and other services are provided free of charge to companies throughout the High Country. Visit for a list of retail locations. Orders and inquiries can be made by phone, email and webmail: 919-3497667 or

& CO M M U N I T Y

problems, or small wounds, the clinic welcomes walk-ins. For appointments, please call 828-898-5120. The Banner Elk Animal Hospital is located at 56 High Country Square, Banner Elk, NC 28604.

custom-built golf cars, so you can personalize your ride and stand out from the crowd. Our friendly, professional team will help you find the best golf car for your needs and make this a seamless and easy process for you.” Golf Cars of Hickory is located at 6576N NC Hwy 16 Conover, NC 28613. Call 828-855-1291 or visit

Golf Cars of Hickory: On the Move




Community & Local Business News

Banner Elk Animal Hospital: Your Partners in Pet Care The caring, compassionate and knowledgeable staff at Banner Elk Animal Hospital in Banner Elk, NC, have been serving the people and pets of the area with top-notch veterinary medical care and exceptional client service since 1989. Under the direction of Dr. Brad Knowles since 2002, Banner Elk Animal Hospital, formerly known as High Country Animal Clinic, is a full-service animal health care facility offering a broad range of veterinary services, including wellness and preventative care, advanced diagnostics, dentistry, surgery and more. “At Banner Elk Animal Hospital, we understand how special your dog or cat is to your family, and we strive to treat each patient with the same care and attention we would our very own pets.” Along with a new name, the facility has been updated with new flooring and cabinetry and has added a new member to their trusted team. For minor pet health issues, such as skin and ear conditions, digestive


Are you looking to invest in a golf car to get around your property or neighborhood easily? How about to maneuver around a large campground or RV park, or to provide accessible, efficient and safe transportation for an elderly or physically disabled friend of family member? A new golf car may be an excellent choice. Golf Cars of Hickory has been in the golf car business since 1990 and is family-owned. Keith Bowman started the business, and wife Tammy and their sons, Adam and Hunter, and daughter-in-law Destiny, have all joined the team. “We are an authorized Club Car dealer, and we do sales, service, repair, pick up, delivery, and custom builds,” say the Bowmans. “We take pride in selling quality products and we strive to treat each customer with respect.” They add that they enjoy working with each customer and their specific needs, whether it be golfing, cruising the neighborhood, camping, businesses, mobility, personal transportation, etc. Golf Cars of Hickory offers a large and high quality selection of new golf cars with an inventory that changes regularly. “We offer EZ-GO, Club Car, and Yamaha golf cars, which are all reliable, visually appealing, and durable choices.” New golf cars are known to be a sustainable form of transportation around a home, campground, business, or campus, and they’re a budget-friendly alternative to a fullsize automobile. Their experienced team will support you from purchase through any repairs and maintenance you might need. “We also offer

A New Jerky Outpost on Main Street in Blowing Rock On May 4, 2023, The Jerky Outpost Blowing Rock was full of excitement with their official Grand Opening Ribbon Cutting Ceremony. The event celebrated a relocation of their store from the Shoppes on the Parkway, formerly known as the Tanger Outlets Blowing Rock. “We have always wanted to find the perfect spot in Blowing Rock on Main Street,” noted Suzanne Stevens, co-owner of Jerky Outpost with husband Damon. “The atmosphere of this new location is so inviting.” Jerky Outpost customers can now select their perfect jerky or snack from two locations, including the original Jerky Outpost in Valle Crucis. Both stores offer a unique experience and provide the largest selection of jerky in the High Country, including numerous craft jerky options. With 150+ varieties ranging from beef, turkey, chicken, game, exotics, bacon, biltong and vegan, Jerky Outpost has it all. And don’t overlook their offerings of delicious gourmet nuts, Popcorn, hot sauces, barbecue sauces, salsas, and unique treats. Daily samples of beef jerky are available, so store visitors can find the perfect texture and flavor. “The Local Jerky Outpost Brand is something you do not want to miss. It is a soft, tender textured beef jerky that leaves your mouth watering. Ask any of our expert sales associates and we are happy to point you in the right direction.”

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“It sounds cliche, but it is the truth: The mountains of Western North Carolina called and I listened!” says Shannon Nacy-Seiz, owner of the Consignment Cottage Warehouse in Newland, NC. “Living in Avery County, raising my family, building my business, and serving my community continue to be my greatest joys.” Shannon began the business in 2011


Find Quality Furnishings at Consignment Cottage Warehouse


When Bobby Loven, owner of Loven Ready Mix, created “Lock Rocks” over 20 years ago, the quality, aesthetics, and functionality became a staple in the High Country when a retaining wall system was needed for residential or commercial use. Aaron Autrey and his wife, Ella, jumped at the opportunity to acquire Lock Rocks and continue the Loven Casting Company in 2023. The Loven Family had a years-long reputation in the High Country for providing quality building products. And Aaron and Ella knew this business venture would be a good opportunity to grow their existing business by building on what the Lovens had created. Ella was quick to note she didn’t understand exactly how the blocks worked when her husband mentioned acquiring the business. She agreed to the idea when she saw the beauty of the rock-faced block and knew they would integrate seamlessly into many projects throughout the area. As a contractor and landscape designer himself, Aaron knew immediately the value Lock Rocks would bring to a variety of projects. Lock Rocks are valuable both to landscapers integrating them into a high-end land-

with the urging of fellow business woman and friend Susan Brown, the owner of Banner Elk Consignment Cottage, when Shannon’s youngest child was settled in school and her entrepreneurial spirit “was, once again, awakened.” Shannon moved to the High Country from Delray Beach, Florida, in 1997 after selling Shining Through, her beachside neighborhood bookstore. “I have always loved interior design and have over the years developed, through good research and other education, an eye for quality furniture.” She says that Avery County is unique in that in addition to having generational homesteads, it also enjoys a robust seasonal population. “Consignment is based on relationships and good relations are built on time, trust, knowledge, and, in my case, presentation.” She adds that her customers, both local and statewide, come to her with their family treasures and in turn she is able to sell those treasures to “grace new families,” and to give the sellers a fair price in exchange. The Consignment Cottage Warehouse is a 5,000 square-ft. warehouse where Shannon has created elegant living room, dining room, and bedroom vignettes, featuring high quality, gently used furniture, lighting, art, and home accessories. “I receive top-of-the-line furniture from customers who are redecorating or have just purchased a furnished home. Additionally, I receive furniture from families who want their heirlooms to live on in others’ homes. Both are uniquely satisfying.” The Consignment Cottage Warehouse also serves the community by regularly donating furniture to local charities. “Good furniture should not only be functional and pleasing to the eye, but also reflect what is valued in the home. When we donate furniture to local charities, we hope that the pieces will provide the creature comforts we all deserve.” Shannon’s inventory includes fine art as well as local folk art. “I am a diligent, meticulous researcher of current appraisals and origins to ensure a good return on investment for my sellers.” Shannon adds, “I am happy that, years ago, I listened to the call of the High Country. I am proud to call Avery County my home and am grateful to the community that has loved and held me, my family, and my business in esteem for 26 years.”


The Loven Casting Company: A New Chapter

scape design but also to contractors needing a structurally sound retaining wall. The design of the block is unique in size and styling, and blocks are poured with a fieldstone template based on native field stone found at Grandfather Mountain. The casting process guarantees durability without sacrificing the natural aesthetic and blends in with the local mountain vegetation. The best selling point for Lock Rocks (besides shopping locally), is the time-saving nature of the block in the construction schedule. Lock Rocks can be set in less time than a traditional poured-in-place or stacked rock wall. The combination of the structural strength and the rock face make it a powerful product that is beautiful, user friendly, and long lasting. Today, Loven Casting Company manufactures Lock Rock designs and custom transformer pads and cast concrete products with the same quality that is to be expected with the Loven name. Being a native of Avery County, Ella felt it would be important to continue to make the product locally, and this desire came full circle when they were able to move operations to a facility on Three Mile Highway just a few minutes from where she grew up. The Autreys are eager to continue the legacy Lock Rocks have created over twenty years and look forward to serving the High Country area for years to come.


Damon and Suzanne Stevens, along with their 13-year-old son, Dylan, love being part of the High Country community. They have been local residents for 20 years and have owned and managed the Jerky Outpost Stores for the past ten years. Jerky Outpost Blowing Rock is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sunday through Thursday, and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday (1132 Main St, Blowing Rock, NC). Jerky Outpost Valle Crucis is open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (2107 Broadstone Rd, Valle Crucis, NC). 828773-0898,,, and on Facebook and Instagram


The Party Barn's mission is to provide an outstanding culinary and service experience in upscale mountain surroundings while benefiting the High Country Charitable Foundation through patron donations.

— Summer 23 CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE 116Banner 610 Elk Highway Banner Elk, NC 28604

(828) 737-2700

Hunter Hallmark, and Lisa Gould, Party Barn manager

The 610 Party Barn Management is Pleased to Announce Hunter Hallmark as New Executive Chef By Steve York A familiar name around the High Country, Hunter Hallmark is also a much-admired and much-in-demand chef with sterling credentials and a flare for decadently delicious dinners. And that’s exactly the quality of dining experience that Jim Ward’s The 610 Party Barn always promises their guests. The 610 Party Barn first opened its doors in May of last year adjacent to the Engel & Völkers/ High Country Charitable Foundation offices just across from Elk River Club in Banner Elk as an expression of local real estate developer Jim Ward’s continuing inspiration to give back to the most needy within Avery County. Ward founded the High Country Charitable Foundation (HCCF) specifically for that purpose and as an organization that could effectively raise and distribute funds to various charitable organizations and causes throughout the county. And, true to its mission, all Party Barn profits go directly to the HCCF. Prior to the completion of the Party Barn’s rustic yet grand facility, Ward was holding annual fund-raising dinners at Elk River Club, plus hosting private dinner gatherings periodically in his home—all to raise charitable funds. But, of course, his home could accommodate only small groups at a time. So, the obvious choice for Ward was to build a facility that could provide a warm and gracious setting for hosting more guests, more often, and providing exceptional dinners from its own complete and professional kitchen. Thus was born The 610 Party Barn. Hallmark joined the team as Chef in April of this year and will be preparing those “decadently delicious” dinners throughout the Party Barn’s May to October season. “Hunter will be focusing on bringing in new members, supporting the High Country Charitable Foundation, hosting dinner events for our Real Estate Company, Engel & Völkers, and creating an amazing Chefinteractive environment for our guests,” noted Party Barn Manager Lisa Gould. “At the moment, we are focusing on 18 guests per night, Thursdays to Mondays, making it a more intimate dining experience and showcasing different table-scaping each week. And we are truly excited to be working alongside an amazing Chef like Hunter who will be bringing in a local flare by supporting local farms within our area,” she added. Hallmark is a native of the area, studied Business Management at the University of North Carolina in Wilmington and went on to earn an International Culinary Arts degree from the Art Institute of Charlotte in 2006. His culinary career spans much of the High Country, including The Gideon Ridge Inn, Chetola Resort at Blowing Rock, and Grandfather Mountain Golf & Country Club. And he’s spent the past ten years working up and down the east coast, from Maine to the Caribbean, both as a Private and Personal Chef. After some 20 years as a traveling chef, joining the Party Barn team brings Hallmark back home to his roots. “I am originally from Boone, so being able to be close to home combined with the uniqueness of the venue at the Party Barn made it an easy choice for me,” offered Hallmark. “We have a strong team and all work together to throw a grand dining experience. And it’s very rewarding to be able to showcase an array of southeastern U.S. cuisine in this one-of-kind dining room setting while helping bring awareness to the High Country Charitable Foundation.” Hallmark’s inspiration for being a chef comes from his Southern upbringing, as well as his studies of both European and Japanese cuisines. So, his personal cooking style has evolved to be a rich blend of all three influences. And, when not in the kitchen, he enjoys playing guitar, building furniture and leading an active High Country lifestyle. You can learn more about becoming a member of The 610 Party Barn, the High Country Charitable Foundation’s mission, the seasonal schedule of events, and Hunter Hallmark’s special summer menu plans at

Giving Back to the Community According to HCCF Office Manager Whitney Styles, the High Country Charitable Foundation donated over $500,000 to Avery County Charities in 2022. Those charities include the following: n AMOREM n Avery Associationfor Exceptional Citizens, ”Yellow Mountain” n Avery County DARE Program n Avery County Habitat for Humanity n Avery Humane Society n Banner Elk Book Exchange n Banner Elk Fire & Rescue Foundation n Blue Ridge Partnership for Children n Community Care Clinic n Ensemble Stage n Feeding Avery Families n Grandfather Mtn. Stewardship Foundation n High Country Caregivers n Hill Learning Center n Holston Center n Hospitality House of Northwest NC n Hunger & Health Coalition n Kiwanis Club of Banner Elk Foundation n Lees-McRae College n LIFE Village n Linville Volunteer Fire Dept n Mediation & Restorative Justice Center n Mountain Alliance for Teens n NC Rush Mountain - Soccer Club n OASIS, Inc. n Parent to Parent Family Support Network n Pisgah Legal Services n Reaching Avery Ministry (RAM) n Spirit Ride Therapeutic Riding Center n The Jason Project, Inc. /”The Grandfather Project” n Volunteer Avery County n WAMY Community Action n Western Youth Network Avery Mentoring Program n Williams YMCA of Avery County CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Summer 23 —


Linville Central Rescue Squad By Graham Binder


hether it’s a motorcycle wreck on the Blue Ridge Parkway, an Alzheimer’s patient wandering away from home, a person with chest pain needing to get to the hospital, or a hiker struck by lightning along the Appalachian Trail, members of the Linville-Central Rescue Squad in Avery County never know when or where they will go following a 911 call. Few people, other than their families, have any idea of the tremendous amount of time they spend, often at odd hours and under trying circumstances. For every hour spent helping injured people, they may spend ten times as many preparing for the moment of need. The squad consists of numerous volunteers who are certified in many ways, including first responders, rescue technicians, emergency medical technicians, and paramedics. They are often the first to show up at the scene and provide emergency services. They assist county EMS and fire departments by driving vehicles and providing standby services at school sports events, marathons, and large public gatherings. Their services are provided without charge, and their cooperation with other local emergency teams benefits residents of our entire region. Avery County is the home of worldfamous recreational areas, including the most beautiful sections of the Blue Ridge Parkway, Grandfather Mountain and the surrounding state park, Beech and Sugar Mountain ski slopes, portions of the Appalachian Trail corridor, portions of the Linville Gorge Wilderness Area, the Wilson Creek Wild and Scenic River Area, and the Pisgah National Forest. Visitors


from across the globe come to engage in the many recreational activities the area offers, but they are often unfamiliar with the steep and rocky terrain, the dense rhododendron thickets and woodlands, and the many streams and waterfalls. Those beautiful features become dangerous after heavy rainstorms and snowstorms, as well as after dark. Since rescues from such areas require specialized expertise, the squad has established three search and rescue teams: Mountain Search and Technical Rescue team. This team is trained to perform technical mountain and rope rescues in all types of weather. With miles of mountain trails, waterfalls, and rock climbing and wilderness areas, it is common that falls and injuries occur. The teams go through extensive training in locating, accessing, stabilizing, and transporting injured parties from difficult and life-endangering situations. Team members have national certifications in technical rope rescue, search procedures, snow/ice rescues, and in providing immediate emergency medical care. K-9 Search and Recovery team. This team has search dogs and handlers who are trained in search, rescue, and the provision of medical services to lost or missing persons. Members are qualified in K-9 tracking, search area delineations, and human remains detection. They work night and day through all weather conditions in wilderness, rural, and residential environments. Typical searches have included lost or injured hikers or hunters, persons with dementia, and lost children. The squad has ten operational dog teams for these purposes. They train dogs

by sending a volunteer out to hide far into a remote area after leaving behind an article of clothing that provides the dogs with a scent to follow. Two professional veterinarians volunteer their time to help. A key has been the long-term commitment of volunteers, such as Richard and Avery Schaffer who have found time away from running their successful company, DeWoolfson, to train dog teams for over 20 years. “We’ve now worked several hundred lost and missing person searches for law enforcement and emergency agencies in 41 counties over five states and have trained dozens of search dog-handler teams,” says Richard Schaffer. Swiftwater and Flood Rescue Team. The county’s high peaks and steep terrain, from the Yellow Mountains along the Tennessee line to Grandfather Mountain, can quickly cause rivers and lakes below to flood during heavy mountain rains. Newland is the highest county seat in the eastern United States, and many areas in the county are along the Eastern Continental Divide. Rivers originating from high portions of the county descend into the French Broad, Catawba, and Tennessee River watersheds, as well as into the Wilson Creek Wild and Scenic River Area and the Linville Gorge Wilderness. Heavy rainfall from strong and extended summer thunderstorms and from the remnants of hurricanes can threaten life and property in lower lying areas. The team is trained to perform high water evacuations, flood rescues, searches for missing persons and ice rescues. Sometimes recovery duties are required.

K-9 Search and Recovery Team

Area residents should feel comforted to know how seriously the members take their jobs and how frequently they train. Just to become a member, an applicant has to spend six months in rigorous EMT training. Members meet once a week, yearround, for training to maintain a high state of readiness. Members of the Mountain Search and Technical Rescue Team recently drove 14 hours to Vermont and spent three days in instruction and mock rescues supervised by accreditors for the Mountain Rescue Association. Since there had been less snow than normal in Avery County, members hoped for snow cover, and fortunately the largest snows of the year had left a deep snowpack. During the mock rescue, it snowed almost another foot, and there were avalanche warnings nearby. Members had to make a steep climb with an elevation change of about 1,000 feet through snow drifts that were at times waist deep. They selected routes up the mountain that would best enable a safe descent when carrying “injured” volunteers down the mountain. Accreditors closely observed and timed every step and made detailed evaluation notes. At the end of the day, the accreditors profusely praised the Avery County volunteers. It takes a true volunteer spirit to receive an unexpected call in the middle of a cold and rainy night and spend long hours in bad weather helping strangers without compensation or recognition. The work can be stressful. Yet it can also be very rewarding. As squad Chief Rob Calloway notes, “Working with the squad will help you expand your comfort zone. And most

Mountain Search and Technical Rescue Team training in Vermont

importantly, serving others in need can be the most satisfying job ever known.” The teams must learn the composure and leadership skills required of the first person on the scene of an incident. They must rely on training to quickly assess the situation and then take over the scene. Squad President Jim Taylor explains that the first member to arrive “must tick off the actions they have learned and have been trained to do.” He says they must first think to themselves: “Is the scene safe? Have I donned my own personal protective equipment? What caused the injuries? Are there potentially dangerous circumstances that could make matters worse? How many injured people are there? What additional resources do I need and how fast?” Based on that quick assessment, the member calls county dispatch and requests resources. While waiting for others, the member must exercise leadership by establishing command of the situation, securing safety, and making triage decisions. As Taylor says, “You’ve been there less than a minute, but it feels like an eternity. Afterwards, you realize that all the hours of training paid off.”

However, having state-of-the-art lifesaving equipment requires substantial community support from both individuals and businesses. Some donors contribute annually to the squad. Some have the wherewithal to contribute very large amounts, often without recognition, to help buy and maintain the expensive equipment needed. All donors, both big and small, find that donating to a cause so close to home is very rewarding. The Linville-Central Rescue Squad has meetings open to the public on the first Monday of every month at its facility located at 1940 Linville Falls Highway, just north of the Land Harbor lake. Donations of any size can be made to Linville-Central Rescue Squad, P.O. Box 716, Newland, NC 28657. The office telephone number is 828-733-2346 |

Donations and volunteers are essential. Unlike persons who perform rescue squad services in most urban areas, squad members are not compensated. Sometimes, they have to pay for equipment and training out of their own pockets. For example, to defer expenses for the special Vermont trip, squad members held out their hats at stoplights in Newland and Linville, and local motorists contributed.

Swiftwater and Flood Rescue Team



Progress Being Made to Address Impacts of the Opioid Epidemic North Carolina is part of a historic $26 billion agreement that will help bring desperately needed relief to communities impacted by opioids. Nearly nine North Carolinians die every day from opioid overdose. “The opioid epidemic has torn families apart and killed thousands of North Carolinians,” said N.C. Attorney General Josh Stein. “While no amount of money will ever be enough, these settle-

ments will bring much-needed programs and services to North Carolina.” Every county in N.C. will receive some portion of the settlement, and over the next 15 years, Avery County is expected to receive around $3 million that will be used to support treatment options, recovery solutions, harm reduction practices, and other strategies that address the impacts of the opioid epidemic locally, as well as prevent future damages. Recent public hearings were held to receive community input on how these funds should be used. Avery County Government is committed to helping those who want to fight addic-

tion (of any kind). The County has recently reopened the Avery Cares building at 636 Cranberry Street as a meeting place for organizations to utilize. Round table discussions are held the third Monday of each month at 11 a.m. in the Commissioners Boardroom at 175 Linville Street, Second Floor, and are open to anyone who would like to attend. Learn more about the N.C. Opioid Settlement at Find out how the opioid crisis has affected your specific county at And learn more about Avery County’s efforts at




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PLEASE HOLD* By Estelle Brewer

How many of us have heard these statements when trying to get information? No matter the company, the business, the service, everyone has experienced the frustration that accompanies these words. It’s just a sign of the times in which we live. As a woman of a certain age (ahem), I understand that. But let’s start using this new protocol to our advantage. I think the ordinary phone user should install a similar system on our new smart phones. It would work something like this: “Hello. You have reached Estelle Brewer. Your call is important to her and will probably be answered in the order in which it is received. Please press 1 if you are a grandchild. Please press 2 if you are a child. Please press 3 if you are a spouse or good friend. Please press 4 if you are a club member or work associate. Please press 5 if you are soliciting funds. For all other calls press N (for not going to happen) or stay on the line for further lack of assistance. Thank you for your patience.” The accompanying waiting music might be so difficult to listen to that an unwanted caller chooses to hang up. For example, something similar to the weather alert siren, or a baby crying, or a horn honking at varying intervals—not the pleasant “easy listening”

music that many of us endure for hours while hoping for a live voice to answer. If we install this system, we could enjoy a feeling of empowerment rather than victimization. And empowerment is important at any age. And speaking of empowerment, another area in need of improvement is the doctor’s office. In this era of “business-driven medicine,” we have been advised that we have a 15-minute grace period to show up for a scheduled appointment or our appointment will be cancelled and/or we will be billed for the doctor’s time. A case in point: recently a friend of mine was informed that she was two minutes over her 15-minute grace period for her healthcare appointment. A stroke was narrowly averted right there at the check-in window! She explained that she was not notified of the practice’s move to a new location and had first gone to the previous site. “Established patients were informed through social media,” came the reply from behind the clear safety guard. (She made a mental note to check with her tech-savvy granddaughter to help locate her next appointment before getting in the car!) Sure, everyone understands how important a doctor’s time is, or even the time of his/ her multiple levels of assistants. But have you waited more than fifteen minutes past your

assigned appointment time? What if you are tied up in traffic due to an accident? What if your car won’t start? What if it is the rare occasion that you get an actual phone call from your teenage grandchild? What is good for the goose is good for the gander, as my grandmother would say. While it is reasonable to know that a doctor cannot schedule his emergencies, and while most of us are compassionate enough to want him to spend time where he is the most needed, we patients also need to feel a bit of control over our own situations. Perhaps the medical profession could learn from other industries that use a wait time information system: “The doctor is now in Exam Room 3. Your wait time is approximately 20 minutes.” Or... “The doctor is being served lunch by a pharmaceutical salesperson. Your wait time is approximately 30 minutes.” Empowerment. Use today’s advancements to your advantage. Embrace “progress”! *This text was created by Artificial Intelligence. If you can’t lick ’em, join ‘em! Estelle Brewer writes from her home in the High Country. She is always very excited to hear from her grandchildren, and does not actually use an AI Chabot to write her articles for her.

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Each office is independently owned and operated.

Locally owned and operated for over 35 years in the High Country | | 202 Southgate Dr. Suite 19 | Boone, NC | 828-264-9111 CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Summer 23 —



“Please hold. Your call is important to us.”

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Saturday, August 19 West Jefferson, NC 25, 50, 70, or 100 Miles plus The Assault on Mt. Jefferson (optional)


Be Well with a Media Fast! By Samantha Steele

n Manage email for quick processing; for example, create an automatic response to all emails. n Make your phone work for you, not the other way around! Use your “Do Not Disturb” feature and adjust your “Focus” setting. n Delete Social media for a while; when (and if) you are ready to re-engage with these platforms, it’s very easy to re-install and access previous account data. n Remove or organize other apps that you look at daily. n Buy a printed daily planner. n Consolidate your media devices. n Meditate often. n Choose refreshing activities such as reading a book or hiking. n Embrace boredom. n Assemble a “Media Fast Kit” to include: • Printed daily planner/calendar • Clock with an alarm • Disposable or small camera • Notebook with a pen • Binoculars • Media basket to hold phone, power cords, earphones so they are out of sight

Are you struggling with the thought of just sitting quietly rather than scrolling through Facebook? You’re not alone. For most people, being left alone with our own thoughts can be quite uncomfortable, so escaping that discomfort is the driver of the need for distraction. Instead of a moment of meditation, we turn to a phone, for no other reason than it’s always within reach. In one literally “shocking” study, it was discovered that some people would rather electrocute themselves than sit quietly in a room for more than a few minutes! When we as individuals, as a community, and the Health Care System as a whole, resist fully exploring the costs associated with constant technological interaction, those who struggle with compulsive or potentially harmful use of their devices have few places to turn. Technology infiltrates our relationships, both personal and professional, and may stunt our growth and ability to interact with the natural world. We need human interaction face-to-face. Many of us are in an age group that remembers exactly what it was like to live without the current forms of media and smartphones. We know that it is very possible to survive, and, as I am arguing here, actually thrive with less technology. Are you ready to give it a try? References: Samantha Steele has a degree in Food Science and Nutrition and is passionate about promoting the treatment and prevention of disease through diet, lifestyle and supplementation. With a perspective of mind, body, soul and spirit combined, she advocates supporting each person as a whole being, created in the image of God. She can be reached at or her website,




Technology now reaches deep into our psyches and our lives. Our constant interaction with the digital domain shapes the way we learn, the way we form relationships with others and ourselves, the way in which we offload our own bodily “message indicators” onto things such as fitness trackers, and the way in which we are rewarded for focus and regulation, or lack thereof. Our attention spans are very short, our ability to focus on one task at a time is severely impaired, and our boredom tolerance is nonexistent. In 2008, adults averaged 18 minutes on their phones every day; by 2015, the number climbed to almost three hours daily. This year, the prediction is that we’ll top five hours per day, with Millennials slurping up at least six hours per day! So are you ready for a break yet? How about a fast from your phone and/or your computer? Consider how that might be done with the following ten steps. For a more detailed description of these steps, see


Surely we have all heard of fasting, but usually in the context of fasting from food. We can, however, fast from activities as well. Just as food is good for us and necessary for our growth and well-being, taking a break from food allows our bodies to reset and spend energy repairing internal processes and materials. Fasting from an activity will also allow for a reset and offers potential for a new perspective on life in general. What types of activities would be beneficial to fast from? How about media? Or more specifically, your smartphone. Sounds preposterous? Unheard of? Impossible in today’s world? Then maybe you need this more than you think! All day long, from the moment we wake until our heads hit the pillow at night, we are constantly enslaved to these little devices in our hands and pockets. We open them first thing in the morning to check the weather, or to see if a friend texted us back, view who liked our image on Instagram, take a peek at Twitter, and so on. Then all day long with “bling” and “cricket” sounds, we just check again to see what’s new, resulting in us gazing at our phones upwards of 20 to 30 times per hour while at work, in school, at restaurants, even while driving! These “just checks” are harmful to your brain, mood and overall well-being. They reduce your ability to concentrate and work most efficiently. While technology can do incredible things for us in nearly every area of life, it is neither all good nor benign. Both a correlational and causal relationship between tech use and various mental health conditions has been established. Research from the University of Pittsburgh found higher rates of depression and anxiety among young adults who engage in many social media platforms. Due to the rising draw of tech engagement, psychologists have found that the psychological development of adolescents is slowing down dramatically and depression, anxiety and loneliness are on the rise. And for the older generations who may already struggle with a decline in mental acuity, the reliance on, and dare I say addiction to, our smartphones can potentially cause a much more rapid decline in cognitive function. Many of us have noticed that with age comes a slowing down of brain function, and evidence is showing that technology further attributes to this decline. Additionally, multitasking, a behavior that our smart phones encourage and reinforce, is consistently correlated with poor cognitive and mental health outcomes for all age groups.

Your Destination for Great Food and Fun! At Shoppes of Tynecastle in Banner Elk, NC


t n e m n i a t r e t n s&E t r o p S , d o o F ning

OPEN 7 DAYS A WEEK Outdoor Seating Available

Visit our Facebook page to view daily specials and LIVE MUSIC listings: Facebook @ Highlandersbannerelk


• Daily Lunch and Dinner Specials • Karaoke, Bands, Open Mic Night • Comedy Acts Coming this Summer • Trivia, Texas Hold ‘Em, Paint & Sip • Full Bar and Daily Drink Specials • Book Your Special Events • Take-out Available

4527 Tynecastle Hwy, at the Corner of Hwy 105 and 184 Tynecastle Hwy 828.898.9613

Banner Elk: 4235 Hwy 105 South Banner Elk, NC 28604 828.898.7500

Boone: 2968-A Hwy 105 Boone, NC 28607 828.355.9559

Blowing Rock: 8304 Valley Blvd. Blowing Rock, NC 28605 828.295.3651

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Fresh Produce, Raw Honey, Jams and jellies, and much more.

OPEN 7 DAYS A WEEK May-November 3979 Mitchell Ave, Linville NC CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Summer 23 —


Volunteers Lollie Carter and Mickie Matthews

Feeding Avery Families:

So Much More than a Food Pantry By Tamara S. Randolph


s I approached the parking lot, I was greeted by a helpful volunteer who guided me to a convenient parking spot. This initial interaction let me know that I would be in good hands during my first visit to the brand new Feeding Avery Families (FAF) Distribution Center in Newland, NC. I entered through the front door where I was greeted by two more smiling faces. While I was here to tour the new Center as a CML writer, I wanted my experience to mimic that of a “neighbor’s” experience— neighbors are members of the community who rely on Feeding Avery Families for food assistance. For readers not familiar with the organization, Feeding Avery Families is a non-profit Christian organization in Avery County, NC, “dedicated to eliminating hunger by any means possible.” It provides 60 percent of the food assistance in Avery County, which includes the towns of Newland, Banner Elk, Beech Mountain, Sugar Mountain, Crossnore, Linville and Elk Park. In 2022, FAF provided food to our neighbors that equated to more than 400,000 meals. The new 10,000 sq.-ft. Distribution Center, completed only months ago, is set up like a small grocery store. The two volunteers I encountered at the front of the “store” talked me through the checkin process. To qualify, they told me, a neighbor needs to meet only two requirements: reside in North Carolina, and live


at or below 185% of the Federal Poverty Level. That said, FAF works on the honor system—no proof is required, and no appointment is needed for the first visit. Once checked in, an empty box is placed on a sturdy cart (multiple boxes are provided for larger families). Next, the neighbor-shopper is paired with a volunteer “guide” who provides navigational assistance and information on the products available. Volunteer guides are a unique aspect of the FAF experience. “It’s all about relationships,” says Dr. Dick Larson, Executive Director of Feeding Avery Families. Larson happened to be my volunteer guide during this visit, and he explained that guides help neighbors get comfortable with the FAF team, and “let them know that nobody is judging anyone here—we are all just friends.” Before Larson accompanied me down the food aisles, he led me over to a spacious, modern kitchen, which also serves as a classroom and meeting space. “Later this summer, we’ll have food tastings, demonstrations led by an experienced nutritionist, and cooking lessons,” Larson explains. What’s more, this new Demo Kitchen contains a library of free, easy-to-follow recipe cards that showcase quick and healthy dishes, available in both English and Spanish. It was here in the Demo Kitchen that I learned about one of the most important initiatives of FAF: “To build outreach to our Hispanic families,” Larson asserts. “We

have around 350 seasonal workers and 250 full-time Hispanic families here. Our goal by the end of this year is to assist up to half of these families.” Larson then introduced me to Vanessa Benavides Phillips, FAF’s recently hired Community Outreach Coordinator. She has been making connections with our local school system to target all the children and families in need, and has also been spearheading the effort to help Hispanic families. According to Larson, Benavides Phillips has been reaching out to the Hispanic community and getting to know them; she’s also taking a role in identifying culturally specific foods that this population wants and needs. “Vanessa is a great help in creating connections to Hispanic families. We now have an advocate from within.” He adds that building this kind of trust takes time. “The need is there. And we have an abundance of food. The question is, what can we do to make it easier and more acceptable for them?” Larson and I moved on from the kitchen to begin my “shopping” experience. We perused racks of non-perishable foods provided by a number of partners, including FAF’s regional partner, MANNA FoodBank. MANNA, based in Asheville, provides some food at no cost to the 16 most western counties in N.C. (while charging for other food), and operates under “Feeding America,” the U.S.-based non-profit with a nationwide network of 200-plus food banks.

Jo-Ann McMurray, Dr. Dick Larson and Vanessa Benavides Phillips

Avery High School Students Volunteering

Volunteer Guide Shelly Kosaka with a Neighbor-Shopper

FAF’s new Demo Kitchen

Next, we went through the meat section, where neighbors can choose from a selection of chicken, beef and pork (when available). According to Larson, there are some foods that are harder to get than others, such as certain meats and dairy products—eggs, milk and cheese. “There’s never enough of these.” FAF is always working to increase the supply and freshness of certain foods by partnering locally as much as possible. This means nurturing and building partnerships with local supermarkets, and also securing food directly from local farmers and the High Country Food Hub. While FAF must purchase much of the local food they receive, a portion may be donated, discounted, or obtained through food drives. Midway down another aisle near the fresh produce, we ran into Jo-Ann McMurray, Co-Director of FAF, who introduced me to a neighbor-shopper and her volunteer guide. “For our neighbors, ‘shopping’ is a happy time,” says McMurray. “It’s a time when people talk about their families, their kids, their homes… this becomes a really good experience, especially for those who aren’t socializing much.” McMurray shared that the needs of our community extend beyond food, and therefore additional racks are being added at the new Center to stock more personal hygiene products, infant formula and diapers. She also drafted a “wish list” that includes the following items: shampoo and soap; brushes and combs; sanitary napkins

and tampons; razors and shaving cream; toothpaste, tooth brushes and mouth wash; deodorant; and toilet paper. Pet food is also a growing demand, adds McMurray. Donations of these wish list goods are always appreciated, as are monetary donations. According to Larson, their established partnerships with food providers mean that FAF can buy food cheaper than individual donors, so a donor’s dollar goes a lot further when FAF acts as the food buyer. As my tour of the new facility came to a close, I got to check out FAF’s spacious coolers and freezers, all connected to a new high-tech generator. The Center also houses bathroom facilities with showers, and a laundry area. “We designed the new facility so that it could be a Disaster Relief Shelter in the event that families have to stay here during a disaster.” At the other end of the building, a covered drive-thru allows for easier loading and unloading, and provides an option for mothers with small children, or people with mobility issues, to pick up their boxes of food. Larson shares that a new Community Health Initiative is in the works, hopefully launching later this year, with the goal of improving health and lifestyle by emphasizing nutritional education counseling and medically appropriate food to those with specific health needs. In addition, FAF continues to look for opportunities to expand their assistance through targeted distributions, direct deliveries to neighbors,

and an enhanced presence in Avery County Schools. “We currently serve around 500 neighbors,” says Larson. “By the end of this year we hope to increase that number by 50 percent, to serve 750.” So far, 2023 has been a big year for Feeding Avery Families, and you can contribute to their progress. Drop off donations of personal hygiene items to the Center on Wednesday and Thursday mornings. FAF also welcomes volunteers, both individuals and community groups, to help stock shelves, pack boxes and backpacks with food, and distribute food. If you’d like to make a financial donation, visit the Feeding Avery Families website: The Feeding Avery Families Distribution Center is located at 189 Old Vale Road in Newland, NC. Weekly distributions of food take place on Wednesdays, 9-11:30 a.m. and 1-3 p.m.; and Friday afternoons, the second and fourth of each month, from 3-6 p.m.



Apple Hill Farm On the Agritourism Tour By Jane Lee Rankin



n 2000, I was living in Louisville, Kentucky with my one-year-old son, Will. We went to the Kentucky State Fair and as Will dozed in his stroller, I came face to face with my first alpaca. The noise around me, animal smells and all sense of time disappeared while I looked into the eye of a fawn-colored alpaca. It changed my life and was the moment that planted a seed. In the months that followed, it grew into a dream of wanting to raise alpacas. I was a solo mom, I was a breast cancer survivor, and I knew nothing about farming. And yet with brave certainty, less than a year later I found a piece of property on top of Valle Mountain, between Banner Elk and Valle Crucis. My goal was a safe place to raise my son, and a farm with alpacas. Our property was the site of an abandoned apple orchard and Christmas tree farm. We cleared the Fraser fir trees to create our first field. With the help of a local timber frame company, we built a barn. By the fall of 2003, it was time to learn more about alpacas. I didn’t need to look far—


there was an alpaca breeder living only a mile away as the crow flies. Teri Phipps of Fireweed Ranch had 70 or more alpacas and was an excellent teacher. She invited me to come over during vet visits and on days they performed herd health. She became ‘Aunt T’ to Will, age four, and generously included him in most visits. As it turned out, Teri was in the process of moving to Virginia to be with her husband who had been transferred for work. Her plan was to move before winter, so things happened quickly. By December, we were the proud owners of four female alpacas, Celeste and her cria (baby), Wild Card, Frosty and Millie. Our aim was to breed, sell and show alpacas. Millie was a four-month-old fawn alpaca that followed us everywhere and fit in the back of our Subaru! That first Christmas eve, we hung a matching red stocking for each alpaca inscribed with their names. Starting a farm wasn’t easy, the learning curve never ended and the lessons learned were painful. The work was relentless and mountain weather posed its own challenge.

Early in the spring of 2004 we added a male alpaca, Mojo, so that Millie wasn’t alone when we traveled with the others to Alpaca Shows. We also bought a trailer to pull behind our truck. In April, we sheered the alpacas to harvest the valuable fiber off their bodies. They looked so little and alien afterwards. That May, after a trip to town, I came home to find their fence destroyed and their bodies scattered over the farm. Only two lived through the attack and were trailered to the University of Tennessee for veterinarian care. Ultimately, only Mojo survived. We were devastated. We concluded it was a mountain lion that had attacked our alpacas. Determined to continue we added llamas on the inside and donkeys on the outside of their field for protection and we bought more alpacas. Our commitment grew as did the numbers of animals that inhabited the farm and we celebrated the purchase, rescue or birth of each one. While we were busy trying to manage the day to day with new animals, feed routines and medical needs, we became a story. As people heard about us,

Farm Family, A Solo Mom’s Memoir:


By Jane Lee Rankin

Fred and Ginger Barn Quilt painting at a summer workshop

Yarn is a best-seller at Apple Hill Farm

Apple Hill Farm is open all year long for shopping, tours and special events. Hours of operation, required tour booking, and an events calendar can be found at Jane Lee Rankin is the founder and owner of Apple Hill Farm. She is also the author of Cookin Up A Storm, The Life and Recipes of Annie Johnson. Her first memoir, Farm Family, A Solo Mom’s Memoir of Finding Home, Happiness and Alpacas is due to be released in January of 2024. Photo by Cindy McEnery

they came, driving up our driveway curious about Apple Hill Farm. In response to their visits, we offered guided walking tours of the farm and the word spread. Our journey as a farm open for agritourism activities had begun. Each year we hosted an increasing number of tours and special events, becoming a destination. During Covid, we closed like everyone else; when we reopened, we saw record growth. Since 2010 we have done more than 8,500 tours and hosted more than 87,000 people on the farm. In addition, we offer special events like goat yoga and barn quilt painting, and teach agritourism to other farms wanting to do the same. A farm is more than land and animals, it’s a community. Our fellow farmers who share equipment, hay suppliers, vets, farriers, feed stores, and jokes on a tough day support us in doing what we do. At the core is the web of team members who care for the animals and welcome the public to the farm. Included in our community are the visitors who come to shop and tour.

Lee Rankin

Often on a farm tour, there was a moment, as we left the alpacas and climbed the hill to see the goats. I stopped to show the ever-changing view of the Blue Ridge Mountains, and an awkwardly worded question would come my way. What-howwhy did you create this? As their words fell to the grass covering the ground between us, I would try to fill the empty space with some aspect of why or how or what. Inside though, I didn’t know the answer, not really. The question stayed with me. The what, the why, and the how of my creating Apple Hill Farm is the inquiry that inspired and compelled me to write this memoir. Farm Family is my (s)hero’s journey, from losing and leaving my family through finding my strength and calling as an alpaca farmer, to creating a new kind of family: a farm. You will meet Millie, a four-month-old alpaca who I held on my lap to bottle feed, and Hannah, the horse Will rode at age five, who became my teacher and strongest ally. You will sit on the cold stall floor of the barn in the middle of the night while I use my will to save a Great Pyrenees named Zeus. Farm Family is an inspiring story, as equally filled with hope and triumph as loss and challenge. A journey of learning to embrace both life and death. A mirror of our current time of pandemic, natural disaster, and uncertainty. As the people, social norms, and world around us change, Farm Family offers grounding in real life with a new possibility. No matter who or what we have lost in our lives, we can create a family. To have a dream is a blessing. Living a life that is the result of the courage and tenacity to turn a dream into a reality is a sojourn. This is a book about the adventure that created Apple Hill Farm. How a solo mom with a broken heart and no farming or livestock experience, created a renowned agritourism destination and a thriving mountaintop farm that offers tours, merchandise, and educational events, in the mountains of North Carolina. A place that is larger than the land it inhabits, the animals—including alpacas, llamas, angora goats, and rescue dogs —who live here, the folks who offer the needed daily care, and the people who come to visit. CAROLINAMOUNTAIN MOUNTAIN LIFE LIFESummer Summer23 23 — — CAROLINA


...showcasing Chef’s Table, “Banner Elk’s little hidden gem of fine dining.” Our Chef’s Table features gourmet fine dining with new tapas, sushi, cocktail menus, private dining, veranda, and VIP seating. Visit our website for our live entertainment schedules!

The Village of Banner elk in the heart of Downtown Banner Elk, NC 140 Azalea Circle, Banner Elk, NC

Sorrento’s Bistro | Chef ’s Table | Primo |


The Village of Banner Elk has something for everyone’s tastes—traditional Italian, gourmet fine dining, and international cuisine. And don’t miss our famous Sunday Brunch at Sorrento’s Bistro! We have indoor and outdoor entertainment, stocked bars, a wine room, private dining, art galleries, and a family-friendly arcade! Call 828.898.5214 for reservations.

Special Events & Catering: Corporate Events, Weddings, VIP Dining Parties LIFEE 130 — Summer 23 CAROLINA MOUNTAIN Call 828.898.5214 | Email



Gideon Ridge Inn Lunch: 11 AM to 3 PM. | Dinner: 5 PM to 10 PM. Sunday Brunch: 11 AM to 3 PM.

10 wonderfully comfortable bedrooms with evening turndown service Serving Dinner Tuesday - Saturday from 5:30pm - 8pm Reservations Required Dining & Cocktails Alfresco and the view...

143 Wonderland Trail, Blowing Rock, NC 28605

202 Gideon Ridge Road, Blowing Rock, NC, 28605 / 828-295-4008

a l a e

d o m / 828-295-3644

Gk's famous bread pudding with vanilla gelato






The Best Of The Best In The World Is Right Here In The High Country By Kim S. Davis

Gideon Ridge

Left: Cobb and Cindy Milner at a recent Denim Ball, the annual fundraiser for the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation. Photo by Jan Todd of Deep Creek Photography


esidents and guests to the High Country know there are many fine options for dining and lodging in the region. However, the Milner family (GR Hospitality) has aspired to provide the best of the best for those living near and visiting Blowing Rock, and they have succeeded in offering exceptional and highly acclaimed properties, surpassing expectations of patrons from all walks of life. This success story began in 1941 when a family from Boston built a private mountain retreat on a ridge at the edge of Blowing Rock overlooking the scenic Blue Ridge Mountains. It remained a private home until 1984 when the Milner family purchased what is now Gideon Ridge Inn, and it has been a part of the family business ever since. In the late 1990s, Cobb Milner and his wife, Cindy, took the helm and began to implement their vision of creating a welcoming, comfortable space that is both cozy and elegant. They wanted to keep an eclectic, local, rustic flair that would both serve the already loyal guests and attract a wider audience. If you have had the pleasure of visiting Gideon Ridge Inn, you know that they have achieved that goal. The Milners incorporated furniture from the original home, as well as pieces that have been in their own family for generations; upscale


appointments were added to elevate the level of luxury and comfort. Because the Inn is a non-conforming entity in a residential district, the Milners were not able to expand, so they have maintained the original ten-room lodge, updating the rooms several times over the decades. The Milner family did expand the food service experience in 2000 by adding an onsite fine dining establishment serving dinner several nights a week. With the creativity and culinary talents of Executive Chef Hunter Womble, Gideon Ridge’s seasonal menu featuring local farmers has not only thrived, but has become one of the best in the world. (More about that later.) The success of the dining room at Gideon Ridge and the Milners’ desire to expand their hospitality business further led them to another historic property in Blowing Rock. The building, in considerable disrepair, was constructed in the 1930s. Cobb said that during his first visit to the property, he envisioned what it could become, so the Milners purchased that property, extensively renovated it, and opened Bistro Roca in 2005, incorporating the historic Antlers Bar and making it the longest continuously serving bar in the state. With both Gideon Ridge Inn and Bistro Roca enhancing the dining options in

Blowing Rock and running smoothly, the Milners enjoyed their enterprises for several years before the opportunity to purchase a former downtown Blowing Rock inn came about. Not deterred by the challenge of a worldwide pandemic, the Milner family, with creative input from their youngest son, Sam, and his friends, opened Hellbender Bed and Beverage in October 2020 in what was formerly Crippen’s Country Inn and Restaurant, and the New Public House. So-named to bring attention to the endangered native Hellbender salamander, the newest venture for GR Hospitality is a more casual and laid back establishment catering to younger adventurers and outdoorsy types. As Cobb explains, “It presents a younger vibe but with the same quality as Gideon Ridge Inn. It is geared more towards our (adult) kids.” After waking up in one of eight comfortably refined rooms, guests can enjoy a unique smoothie in the morning before heading out to hike or mountain bike. Hellbender Bed and Beverage is also open for lunch, dinner and cocktails Tuesday through Saturday. Because the restaurant industry is very challenging, with 60 percent of new restaurants failing after the first year and 80 percent closing down before the fifth year,

Bistro Roca

the Milners have demonstrated that what they are doing works. Even after COVID dealt such a blow to staffing in the hospitality industry, the Milners have not only kept going, they have achieved extraordinary acclaim. Cobb attributes the success to the great teams of employees at each establishment. When asked how they are able to maintain such dynamic personnel, Milner explains that they know most of their employees are using their employment within GR Hospitality as a stepping stone to further their careers. Therefore, in addition to truly caring about the interests and ambitions of their employees, the Milners understand the worth of hiring ambitious people. “The work here provides them with life skills to prepare them for their future endeavors.” The Milners also keep in touch with their alumni, many of whom have gone on to management level positions at large hospitality properties across the country. One benefit of being a family-owned business is being able to treat employees as an extension of the family. Another is that they have control over their goals and decisions. Their primary adage is “good enough is NOT good enough.” And they consistently demonstrate this priority through-

Gideon Ridge

out all of their properties. Additionally, Cobb notes, “Tourism is the gravy, but the meat of our business is the local population and we live by that with our pricing structure. People have suggested that we should raise our prices but we are priced fairly for our market and our customers and that is who we want to please.” The Milners and GR Hospitality also believe that in the hospitality industry, word of mouth and personal experiences are most valuable, so they limit their advertising. They do not hire PR or advertising firms to get their name out, instead relying on personal recommendations; and the high praise for Gideon Ridge Inn has paid off. The accolades keep coming, and increasing in significance. Beginning in 2016 when Open Table recognized Gideon Ridge Inn as one of the 100 Most Scenic Restaurants in America, the dining room shifted from being almost full to becoming a hard-to-get reservation. And most recently, Trip Advisor named Gideon Ridge Inn as the Best of the Best Restaurants for 2022 based on diner recommendations. They were awarded #1 Best Date Night Spot in the World and #2 for Best Fine Dining Spots. When you consider what that means, the High Country is host to the best fine dining restaurant in the world.


That is high praise, indeed, and very fortunate for locals and visitors who are able to get that much-coveted reservation. As Cobb reflects, “It took 20 years to do, but Cindy and I had the idea that we would make it the best we could and accolades would come.” He observes that those recognitions came about because of the dedication of the entire team. As Executive Chef Hunter Womble found the creative niche and quality ingredients from local farmers, the honors multiplied. Furthermore, understanding the competition in other markets and providing their customer base with exceptional service and comfortable luxury to rival anything available garnered considerable customer praise. Finally, Cobb shares, “The accolades are very nice but that is not the focus. We want to continue to do the best we can to keep everything fresh, maintain excellence and cutting-edge high quality, and understand the needs and wants of our guests.” Learn more at,, and



Who’s Your Farmer? From A to Z—just-picked asparagus to Zinfandel—you can eat fresh in the High Country all day, every day!


urple juice tips my fingers as I pluck blueberries off vines on a hillside at Old Orchard Creek Farm in Lansing, NC. It’s a first look at how eating almost exclusively local foods is the daily diet at our house, a home we moved into purposely because the High Country offers more fresh food than just about anywhere else, so we are healthier and happier—and you can be, too, so here is hopefully inspiration from my mountain kitchen! Breakfast: “Click! Pop! Toast!” A slice of crusty multigrain bread from Between the Trees, a Boone micro-bakery, is ready for a smothering of apple butter, churned by Trosly Farm (Elk Park), and at the High Country Food Hub (FH). Another slice takes sourwood honey from Carringer Farms (Newland, FH). A sack of Hatchet Coffee, a longstanding Boone bean roastery and coffee shop, is in my pantry, and today I’m drinking a coco/walnut java from Know Better Coffee (Mountain City, TN and FH) in a cozy local pottery mug I got at My Mountain Home, a shop in a former Blowing Rock church on the highway. I swirl the coffee with sweet cream-top milk from longtime family dairy Cheek Farmstead Creamery (Fleetwood, and in Boone at Be Natural Market, Wildwood Community Market, FH). It’s the rare opportunity to have a local milk, and this one is pasteurized but not homogenized so it retains nutrients. I also serve it by the glass for dunking big chocolate chip/cranberry cookies from Cove


Creek Bakery (Sugar Grove, J&M Produce). Breakfast is fresh-picked plump blackberries that J&M Produce (Blowing Rock) brings in from Lincolnton. Aunt Bessie’s Natural Farm eggs (Deep Gap, Stick Boy Bread Company in Boone) crackle softly atop melting Cheddar from English Farmstead Creamery’s cows (just south of Linville Falls and north of Marion). I’m sprinkling Jalapeno Spice from Hedge Family Farm (Happy Valley) that I found at the High Country Food Hub (FH), a jaw-dropping, almost-one-stop, local-products-only shopping mecca, run by the Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture (BRWIA). Bacon is oven-sizzling, from Mountain Memories Farm (Elk Creek, farmers’ markets) and so breakfast is served. Lunch Time Today... … is medallions of pork tenderloin from Healing Springs Farm (Crumpler, FH), sandwiched between Trosly Farms’ whole-wheat sourdough bread and handcrafted probiotic-rich apple/carrot kraut by Fermenti (FH, farmers’ markets). I’m enjoying it with a can of effervescent Boone Booch (Wildwood Market, FH), a healthy and delicious fermented kombucha tea! When entertaining friends for lunch, I also serve a local craft beer as we have so many popular breweries including Boondocks Brewing (West Jefferson), Blowing Rock Brewing (Blowing Rock), Kettell Beerworks (Banner Elk), Beech Mountain Brewing (Beech Mountain) and Lost Province Brewing (Boone).

I am constantly discovering new foods as part of the lure and the fun of leaning local, and with many markets (FH even has satellite pickups) it’s easy. You don’t have to lift a shovel, coax a seed, pull on a cow’s teat, or even pick blueberries. “Who’s your farmer?” is a rhetorical question meaning, Do you know where your food comes from? And the High Country answers it with not just what is grown, but also with thoughtfully produced small-batch packaged foods. Local sourcing can even be an item at a grocery chain. Earth Fare in Boone, for example, sells mushrooms raised by High Country Fungi (Plumtree in Avery County, Be Natural, farmers’ markets). Harris Teeter brings in seasonal regional produce as available. Publix has ‘Slimcados’ (6-inch long avocados) grown by the Brooks family of Boone, at their orchard in Homestead, Florida. Dinner, and Fungi’s Chestnut ‘Shrooms I’m placing them and the avocados on a charcuterie board with crackers from The Extraordinary Snack Company (WinstonSalem, FH); slices of unique dried-lamb salami from Sun-Raised Foods (Cornelius, FH); San Giuseppe Salami (Elon, Blowing Rock Market convenience store); and red bell peppers from Tumbling Shoals Farm (Millers Creek, farmers’ markets) that I roasted and marinated to go with a Ricotta cheese from Heritage Homestead Goat Dairy (Crumpler, Wildwood Market).

Dinner on the way at Springhouse Farm

Story and Photos by Gail Greco

I pour myself a glass of red Zinfandel, cured/aged by Grandfather Vineyard & Winery (between Banner Elk and Foscoe) and start dinner prep, sizzling some onions from Fishel Organics Farm (Grassy Creek, farmers’ markets) in butter made by Ashe County Cheese (West Jefferson), along with garlic from Against the Grain (Zionville, farmers’ markets) and fresh basil by Mountain Roots (Lansing, farmers’ markets). This gentle sauce will top fresh-made fettuccine slow-cooking in my pot from Mystic Pasta, a Blue Ridge family-owned company (at farmers’ markets). Other fresh-made pasta by the pound is sold at Basil’s restaurant in Boone. I’m adding asparagus from Fire from the Mountain (Zionville) that I froze in spring, and Italian sausage from artisan butcher Ramblin’ Poppy (West Jefferson). A little soil is still clinging to lettuce from Mountainwise Farm (Zionville, FH) and after another sip of Zinfandel, I’ll wash it up and turn it into a side salad!

“We have early June tomatoes because they were grown in greenhouses down mountain, and kale nearly year-round because of our cool mountain summers,” she observes. “Sometimes we extend our radius, like selling heirloom Carolina Gold Rice from Tidewater Grain Company (in Oriental) since we can’t grow rice in this region. Items such as this adds to a Food Hub customer’s ability to get as much weekly groceries in one place. “Eating locally year-round is totally doable in the High Country,” she agrees. “It’s a myth that vegetables can’t be grown here in winter. We even have a winter farmers’ market and year-round storage crops—potatoes, squash, apples, onions— that are always available.” BRWIA’s Food Hub is a main source of these foods, meats, poultry, and dairy all year, a click away on their website at www.highcountryfoodhub. org. (BTW, if you don’t cook from scratch, FH also sells prepared meals and so does the F.A.R.M. Cafe in Boone.)

Eat the Season: Being a true localvore...

Dessert and the Farm-to-Fork-in-the-Road

… I waste nothing so at week’s end, uneaten food and Sheraton Park Farms chicken (McGrady, FH), ends up in my Use-It-Up Soup. The gold standard of what is local is basically anything produced within 100 miles. “This range allows taking in the unique geography of our region,” Liz Whiteman, Executive Director of BRWIA, notes of the Food Hub’s thoughtful and diverse casting net.

A hot cup of tea from The Lavender House’s (Valle Crucis) own grown teas, awaits a dunking of cocoa marshmallows that the Land of Milk and Honey Farm (Deep Gap, FH) crafts and they are the best marshmallows I’ve ever eaten. A dollop of hazelnut chip gelato from Fading D Farm (Salisbury, FH) and a candied-ginger macaron from Sweet Dreams Patisserie (Lenoir, farmers’ markets) round out the dessert.

Thanks to the work of many, I can cook local almost entirely and it takes me only two trips to town for all I need! (Note that not all items I mentioned here are available all the time, and these items may also be at other locations too long to mention in this article.) Some foods cost more, but their freshness is worth all that I put into my body and that’s priceless. So, consider adding at least some locally produced foods to your diet—and for culinary ideas, try a Farm-to-Table dinner, such as one at Springhouse Farm in Vilas, held during the summer months. I rejoice eating the riches of our Appalachian soil and praise those—just a few I have mentioned here—who provide it. We can hope for us all that the land continues to be available to grow our food—a fork in the road we might all be smart in taking.

Hand-crafted cocoa marshmallows



Summer Beverage Guide C E L E B R A T E


T I M E S !

n Watauga Lake Winery 423.768.0345 6952 Big Dry Run Rd., Butler, TN 37640

n Linville Falls Winery 828.765.1400 9557 Linville Falls Hwy., Newland, NC 28657

Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, the Watauga Lake Winery revives a ‘40s-era schoolhouse rich in lore against a stunning mountain backdrop. Enjoy great wine and a wonderful time at the Watauga Lake Winery or on a summertime picnic.

Experience this award-winning Appalachian High Country wine from Linville Falls Winery in their Tuscan-style tasting room, or outside in the fresh mountain air. Rosé on over and enjoy this favorite summertime sipper.

n Lost Province Brewing Co. 828.265.3506 130 N Depot St., Boone, NC 28607

n Bayou General Store 828.898.8953 130 East Main St. Village Shops Banner Elk, NC 28604

Lost Province Brewing Co. is a destination restaurant and microbrewery located in historic downtown Boone, NC, and check out their newest location: Lost Province at Hardin Creek. Meet their latest hazy... Grateful Grapefruit, a delicious juicy grapefruit IPA!


Bayou General Store is located in the heart of Banner Elk attached to the Bayou Smokehouse and Grill. They have merchandise to suit everyone’s needs. Their wine selection is great, and they have one of the best selections of local and NC brews you’ll find.

n Beech Mountain Brewing 828.387.2011 1007 Beech Mountain Pkwy. Beech Mountain, NC 28604 Beech Mountain Brewing is nestled in the village of Beech Mountain Resort. Relax after a long day of mountain biking, hiking, disc golfing, or touring. Enjoy the atmosphere any time of year, and take a growler to go.

n Booneshine Brewing Company 828.278.8006 465 Industrial Park Dr., Boone, NC 28607 Booneshine Brewing Company is passionate about brewing high quality craft beer and equally focused on what makes the Boone area shine. Enjoy their full-service tasting room/restaurant, their beer garden, or take some home. Their newest concoction is an easy drinking Hazy Pale brewed with loads of American Wheat and co-fermented with a 100 lbs. of sweet peaches.

n Villa Nove Vineyards 424.768.0345 1877 Dry Hill Rd, Butler, TN 37640 Enjoy the tastes of Tuscany in Tennessee. Their Italian style white blend, Bonita, is summer in a glass. Aromatic and viscous with pleasant acidity that finishes with a refreshing, clean flavor.

n Peabody’s Wine and Beer 828.264.9476 1104 NC-105, Boone, NC 28607 Peabody’s is a full-service wine and beer specialty shop. Selections of both beer and wine are produced locally and from around the world. Peabody’s is a comfortable place to shop, sample, and drink.

n Banner Elk Winery 828.898.9090 60 Deer Run, Banner Elk, NC 28604

n Blowing Rock Brewing Co. 828.414.9600 152 Sunset Dr., Blowing Rock, NC 28605

Try Banner Elk Winery’s summer Sangria. Their delicious Sangria is a white wine base with ginger, peach, and mint. A favorite on nice days, right on their front porch.

Blowing Rock Brewing Company produces craft quality artisanal ales and lagers for distribution throughout North Carolina. They are 100% brewed in NC.

n Eagles Nest Winery 828.898.2027

n Grandfather Vineyard 828.963.2400 225 Vineyard Lane, Banner Elk, NC 28604

The Eagles Nest Winery features the finest wines from California, all shipped in first-use barrels and bottled at their new facility. The winery is open to Eagles Nest homeowners and guests, with daily and yearly memberships offered.

n Erick’s Cheese and Wine 828.898.9424 4004 NC-105 #10, Sugar Mountain, NC 28604 Erick’s carries wines from major regions, along with selections from North Carolina vineyards. Stop in for one of their wine tastings on Wednesdays from 3-6 p.m.

Enjoy great locally produced wine, music, and atmosphere at Grandfather Vineyard, and don’t forget to take a bottle or case to go so you can enjoy it anywhere. This buttery, creamy Chardonnay is perfect for a relaxing summer’s day listening to some good tunes.

Sip on these local favorites from our awardwinning wineries and breweries—then stock your bar for the next summer gathering. Continued on next page CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Summer 23 —


Beverage Guide

Gather for a Good Time!

continued from previous page

The Banner Elk Cafe and The Lodge Espresso Bar & Eatery Are Under One Roof!

Located in the Heart of Banner Elk

Open 7 days a week for breakfast, lunch and dinner! Daily Drink & Food Specials Expansive Menu Indoor & Outdoor Dining Large Bar with Comfortable Seating ...and a Warm Fireplace! Trivia | Karaoke | Live Music

n Blind Elk Tap Room 828.898.2420 397 Shawneehaw Ave S, Banner Elk, NC 28604 Enjoy an impressive menu of rotational craft beer on tap, Prosecco on tap, and wine by the glass. They also feature a fridge full of even more beer labels, hard ciders, and hard seltzers.


Schedule & Specials: Facebook, Instagram and at

Fresh Ingredients | Handcrafted Dough

~ #1 Caterer in the High Country ~ n Benchmark Provisions Beer and Wine Market 828.386.1329 122 South Depot Street, Boone, NC 28607 Benchmark Provisions is a locally owned purveyor of craft beer, wine, CBD products, ciders, seltzers and specialty food items. Come relax and enjoy a glass of wine or choose from one of their ciders on tap in their newly renovated tasting room. Call ahead to special order anything that you don’t normally see on their shelves!

138 — Summer 23 CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE . 828-387-4209

Wednesday Wine Tastings 3 -6pm Winemakers, importers, representatives $10 tasting ($5 for Humane society) Still visit our Saturday Tastings from 1-5!

SUSHI BISTRO AND BAR Tuesday-Saturday Dine-In: 4pm - Close | TOGO: 4pm - 8pm

161 Howard Street, Boone 828-386-1201 |

Stop by for great allergy remedies!

107 Estatoa Ave. Newland / 828-733-0061 CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Summer 23 —


The Region’s Largest & Finest Selection of

Tomato Basil Pie Vidalia Onion Chicken Pie


Find us: Maw's Produce- Foscoe Abode Home - Banner Elk

Since 1978

Your Source for Fresh Handcrafted Food To Go!

Boone’s Donate-What-You-Can Community Cafe “Where Everybody Eats” 617 W. King Street Across from Mast Store Lunch Mon-Fri, 11-2

1104 Hwy 105 • Boone, NC 828-264-9476

Spices - Seasonings - Teas - Infused Salts and Sugars - Gourmet Gifts

U LT I M AT E KITCHEN DESIGN We Make Beautiful Kitchens Affordable! 828-260-2592


The Spice and Tea Exchange Downtown Blowing Rock 828-372-7070

Downtown West Jefferson 336-846-8327

Farmers’ Markets Our local Farmers’ Markets are spilling over with fresh vegetables, meats, cheeses, eggs, baked goods, jellies and jams, flowers, native plants, and a huge variety of arts and crafts. Enjoy mingling with neighbors, and a variety of entertainment. And most important, get to know your local farmers!


Abingdon, VA Farmers Market Saturdays 8 a.m. - 1 p.m., April – October Tuesdays 3 – 6 p.m. April - September Corner of Remsburg Dr. and Cummings St. in downtown Abingdon Alleghany, NC Farmers Market Saturdays 9 a.m. - 1 p.m. May – October Crouse Park in downtown Sparta, NC Ashe County Farmers’ Market Saturdays 8 a.m. - 1 p.m. April – October 108 Backstreet, West Jefferson, NC Beech Mountain Farmers’ Market First Fridays 2 - 6 p.m. June through October Public Parking Lot on Beech Mountain Lansing Farmers’ Market Fridays 1 - 5 p.m. through October Lansing Creeper Trail Park, 114 S Big Horse Creek Rd, Lansing, NC

Avery County Farmers’ Market Thursdays 4 - 6:30 p.m. Historic Banner Elk School Parking Lot 185 Azalea Circle, Banner Elk, NC Watauga County Farmers’ Market Saturdays April through Oct, 8 a.m. - 12 p.m. Saturdays November 9 a.m. - 12 p.m. 591 Horn in the West Dr, Boone King Street Farmers’ Market Tuesdays 4 - 7 p.m. May - October 126 Poplar Grove Connector, Boone, NC Blowing Rock Farmers’ Market Thursdays 3 - 6 p.m. May 18 - September 132 Park Ave., Downtown Blowing Rock, NC Johnson County Farmers’ Market Saturdays May through October 9 a.m. to Noon Ralph Stout Park in Mountain City Mountain City, TN

Wilkes County Farmers’ Market Saturdays 7:30 a.m.-Noon Tuesdays 3:30-6:00 p.m. April 22 - September Yadkin Valley Marketplace in downtown N. Wilkesboro Morganton Farmers’ Markets Saturdays 8 a.m.-Noon May-October 300 Beach St., Morganton Wednesday Mini Market, 11 a.m. - 2 p.m. May-October 111 North Green St. Morganton High Country Food Hub Order fresh, local foods online and pick them up at one of six convenient locations throughout Ashe, Avery, and Watauga Counties. Please be sure to confirm dates/times with your markets of choice prior to scheduling a trip. CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Summer 23 —


From CML’s Kitchen R E C I P E S

By Meagan Goheen

LEMON BERRY CREAM TART INGREDIENTS : PASTRY: 1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed in the refrigerator 1 large egg, beaten 2 teaspoons of granulated sugar FILLING: ½ cup heavy cream 4 ounces cream cheese, softened 2/3 cup powdered sugar Zest of one lemon 3 TBSP lemon curd Fresh berries for topping Lemon zest for topping (optional) Powdered sugar for dusting (optional)

Using the tip of a sharp knife, score a one-inch border around the pastry, being careful not to cut all the way through. This outer edge will puff up and hold in your filling and toppings. Brush the border lightly with a beaten egg and sprinkle with granulated sugar. Bake for 13-15 minutes, until golden brown and puffed. Remove puff pastry from the oven and rescore the border of the puff pastry, being careful not to cut all the way through. Very gently press down on the center of the puff pastry to flatten it slightly, allowing the border to remain puffed up. Let cool.




Using a mixer, beat heavy cream until stiff peaks form; set aside.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a separate bowl, beat cream cheese, powdered sugar, lemon zest and lemon curd until smooth. Fold in the whipped cream into the lemon mixture until combined.

made with love!

Cut parchment paper to a standard baking sheet size. Place the parchment paper on a flat surface and dust it very lightly with flour. Roll out pastry to a 9 by 11-inch rectangle.

Carefully lift the parchment paper, with the pastry on it, onto a baking sheet.



Pour the lemon filling into the pastry and smooth. Top the tart with fresh berries, dust with powdered sugar. (Optional: zest more lemon over top.) Serve, or refrigerate until ready.


Serve with

GRILLED MARINATED VEGETABLES 2 zucchini 1 large yellow squash 2 ears of corn 1 red bell pepper




CHICKEN 4 chicken breasts 1 tsp kosher salt ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper ½ tsp garlic powder ½ tsp onion powder

In a small bowl, mix peach salsa ingredients together and set aside.

CHIPOTLE PEACH GLAZE: 3 peaches, pitted and halved 2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce 2 TBSP Honey ¼ cup fresh lime juice

Brush your peach halves with avocado oil and grill flesh side down for about 4-5 minutes; remove.

PEACH SALSA: 1 TBSP avocado oil 1 fresh peach, peeled, pitted and diced 2 green onions, diced 2 TBSP cilantro, chopped Juice of 1 lime ½ tsp kosher salt ¼ tsp freshly cracked black pepper

Season both sides of chicken with salt, pepper, garlic powder and onion powder and set aside. Heat your grill to medium-high heat.

To a blender add your grilled peaches, chipotle peppers, lime juice, and honey and blend until smooth.

Marinade: ¼ cup avocado oil 3 TBSP white balsamic vinegar 2 large cloves of garlic, minced 1 tsp honey 2 TBSP cilantro, chopped ½ tsp kosher salt ¼ tsp fresh cracked pepper DIRECTIONS: To a small bowl mix together marinade ingredients. Slice your zucchini, squash, and bell pepper into long strips to keep from falling through the grates. Keep corn on the ear until grilled. Place vegetables on a large, rimmed baking sheet, and pour the marinade over the vegetables. Toss to coat. Let marinate for at least 30 minutes.

Place the chicken on a pre-heated grill. Close the lid and grill 4-5 minutes on one side; flip and brush with the chipotle peach glaze, then cook for another 4-5 minutes; flip and glaze the other side until cooked through and the glaze is caramelized.

Grill on medium high heat for 4-5 minutes each side until tender and lightly charred.

Serve with fresh peach salsa

Large dice the zucchini, squash and bell pepper and toss to combine with corn to serve.

Once slightly cooled, slice the corn from the cob and add to a serving dish.



Avery County’s Dining


The High Country’s Premier Steak & Seafood Restaurant

The High Country’s Best Choice for Event Catering

• • • • • •

Dinner nightly from 5pm Offering both indoor and outdoor dining Live music Friday & Saturday nights Private room available Locally owned and operated “Avery County Chamber Business of the Year”

• • • •

Creativity, passion and culinary excellence Parties of all sizes In-home catering Fully insured and licensed Largest mobile kitchen in the High Country



344 Shawneehaw Ave. South, Banner Elk


344 Shawneehaw Ave. South, Banner Elk




Event Venue


The High Country’s Best Vacation Rentals • • • • •

One main lodge and three cabins with mountain views 1-4 bedrooms available Event barn, outdoor pavilion, open field, meandering streams, and ponds all onsite Located in the heart of Sugar and Beech Mountains, with proximity to all High Country attractions Pet-friendly

• • • • • • •

Vacations, weddings, family reunions, church events, and business retreats Newly built barn with 1,700 sq. ft., and 18-ft. high ceilings Barn equipped with a complete catering kitchen Climate controlled barn 1,750 sq. ft. outdoor pavilion with fire pit Lodge and cabin rentals Fields, streams, and ponds



64 Cornerstone Cir, Banner Elk

The High Country’s Best Space for Gatherings


64 Cornerstone Cir, Banner Elk


OUR SPONSORS: 42............Abode Home 72............Adventure Damascus 84............Amorem 57............Amy Brown CPA 32............An Appalachian Summer Festival 139..........Andees Petite Desserts 120..........Appalachian Regional Healthcare System 67............Appalachian Apothekary & Tea Room 54............Appalachian Theatre of the High Country 52,73.......Apple Hill Farm 52............Apple Orchard Tours 120..........AppOrtho 55............Artists in Residence 70............Ashe Arts Council 49............Ashe Co Chamber of Commerce 84............Ashe Memorial Hospital 19............Autobell Car Wash 72............Avery Animal Hospital 19,57.......Avery County Chamber of Commerce 102..........Avery Heating & Air Conditioning 18............Banner Elk Animal Hospital 50............Banner Elk Book Exchange 138..........Banner Elk Café, Lodge & Tavern 56............Banner Elk Heating & Air 63............Banner Elk Realty 4..............Banner Elk TDA 78............Banner Elk Winery & Villa 28............Banner House Museum 66............Barter Theatre 63............Bayou General Store 63............Bayou Smokehouse & Grill 44............BE Artists Gallery 66............Beech Mountain Club 14............Beech Mtn TDA 44............Benchmark Provisions Beer and Wine 131..........Bistro Roca 106..........Blink Elk Tap Room 48............BJ’s Resort Wear 122..........Blue Ridge Brutal 103..........Blue Ridge Energy 7..............Blue Ridge Mountain Club 39............Blue Ridge Propane 43............Blue Ridge Realty & Investments 140..........Boone Appetit 70............Brinkley Hardware

40............Carlton Gallery 18............Carolina Barbeque 125..........Casa Rustica Restaurant 121..........Century 21 Mountain Vistas 130..........Chef’s Table 41............Classic Stone Works 139..........COBO Sushi Bistro & Bar 90............Compu-Doc 145..........Cornerstone Cabins 11............Craftsman Cabinets & Furniture 57............Creative Interiors by Darlene Parker 12............Crossnore Communities ...............for Children 2..............Dewoolfson 3..............Dianne Davant Interiors 73............Distinctive Cabinetry of the HC 28............Doe Ridge Pottery 76............Eagles Nest Winery 48............Elevated Metals 14............Elk River Club 58............Elk River Depot 57............Encore Travel 108..........English Farmstead Cheese 40............Ensemble Stage 139..........Erick’s Cheese & Wine 32............Explore Boone 138..........Famous Brick Oven Pizzeria 140..........F.A.R.M. Café 66............Fleming Woodcraft 90............Florence Thomas Art School 10............Footsloggers 43............Forest at Sunalei 100..........Fortner Insurance 44............FORUM at Lees-McRae College 50............Frasers Ridge Homecoming 54............Fred’s General Mercantile 131..........Gamekeeper 131..........Gideon Ridge Inn 100..........Glen Davis Electric 87............Golf Cars of Hickory 147..........Grandfather Mountain 26............Grandfather Mountain Highland Games 38............Grandfather Vineyard 49............Gregory Alan’s 28............Hardin Jewelry 122..........Hawksnest Zipline 139..........Hellbender 86............Hemlock Inn

57............Hero’s Axe House 87............High Country Caregivers 100..........High Country Pain Relief 124..........Highlanders Grill & Tavern 86............Hunter’s Tree Service 72............Incredible Toy Co 70............It’s All About the ART 108..........Jack’s 128 Pecan 63............Jerky Outpost 49............JW Tweeds 70............Lees-McRae Summer Theatre 54............Liberty Mountain -Kings Mountain 120..........Life Care at Banner Elk 106..........Life Store Insurance 6..............Linville Caverns 6..............Linville Falls Winery 8..............Linville Land Harbor 28............Lost Province Brewing 48............Long Journey Home 50............Loven Casting Company 87............Lucky Lily 148..........Mast General Store 108..........Maw’s Produce 16............Mayland Community College 18............Mica Gallery 41............Mountain Community Bank 40............Mountain Jewelers 93............Mustard Seed Home 72............My Best Friend’s Barkery 18,32,38,40,52,108.........Mystery Hill 79............NC Agriculture 52............Pack Rats 140..........Peabody’s Wine & Beer 88,57.......Peak Real Estate 125..........Pedalin’ Pig BBQ 125..........Pixie Produce 139..........Premier Pharmacy 27............Premier Sotheby’s Realty 130..........Primo 72............Ram’s Rack Thrift Shop 106..........Reid’s Cafe 56............Root Down Hair Studio 50............Sally Nooney Artist Studio Gallery 57............Salon Suites at Tynecastle 52............Sassy Curated Consignment & Gifts 88............SCORE 104..........Serves You Right 57............Shooz & Shiraz

thank you!


57............Shoppes of Tynecastle 57............Sky Mountain Nail Bar 88............Skyline/Skybest 130..........Sorrento’s Bistro 104..........South Marke 67............Stick Boy Bread Co 144..........Stonewalls Restaurant 144..........Stonewalls Catering 39............Sugar Mountain Grillin’ & Chillin’ 92............Sugar Mountain Golf & Tennis 90............Sugar Mountain Nursery 15............Sugar Mountain Resort 39............Sugar Ski & Country Club 72............Sundog Outfitter 84............Sunset Tee’s & Hattery 86............Tatum Galleries & Interiors 44............The Art Cellar 145..........The Barn at Cornerstone 17............The Bee & The Boxwood 24............The Blowing Rock 62............The Cabin Store 62............The Cabin Store Outdoor 63............The Consignment Cottage Warehouse 57............The Dande Lion 93............The Inn at Shady Lawn 122..........The Old Store at Grassy Creek 116..........The Party Barn 67............The Shoppes at Farmers 90............The Summit Group 140..........The Spice and Tea Exchange 18............The Twisted Twig 5..............The Village of Sugar Mountain 90............Tom’s Custom Golf 57............Truist Financial 24............Turchin Center for the Visual Arts 140..........Ultimate Kitchen Design 57............Valle de Bravo Mexican Grill 76............Villa Nove Farm & Vineyard 24............Village Jewelers 57............Walgreens Pharmacy 38............Walker Center 76............Watauga Lake Winery 56............Wealth Enhancement Group 93............West Jefferson Olde Time Antiques Fair 125..........Wheelie’s Refresher 88............Whitehead Historic Farmhouse 88............Wildflower Cottage 66............YMCA of Avery County

Come for the fun. Leave

Folks come to Grandfather Mountain for all sorts of reasons — to get close to nature or simply get away from it all. But after a day on the mountain, and in the new interactive Wilson Center For Nature Discovery, everyone leaves inspired.

g ra n d fa t h e r. co m NEW



Wonders Never Cease

Wilson Center for Nature Discovery NOW OPEN