Carolinamountainlife spring2017

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There are lots of places you can go in the Blue Ridge Mountains to lift your soul. But few destinations match The Village of Sugar Mountain’s spirit of the outdoors and central location to all that is good in the North Carolina High Country. Home to the South’s pre-eminent winter ski resort, Sugar Mountain glides seamlessly into Spring, Summer, and Fall. Regardless the season, visitors and residents return each year to share a lifestyle they proudly call their own. The municipally-owned golf and tennis complexes belong to everyone, and lend a feeling of belonging that you won’t find just anywhere. The par-64 golf course delivers all the challenge and excitement you expect from a mountain layout, and features magnificently maintained putting surfaces that are the talk of the High Country. Weekly ‘friendlies’ for men, women, and couples are open to everyone who wants to play. Walking is encouraged and every effort is made for boys and girls to experience the game of golf in a nurturing environment. Sugar Mountain’s six Har-Tru clay tennis courts deliver what

every tennis player loves, low impact surfaces which are dutifully groomed morning and night. The racquet community here is close-knit, but always open to newcomers and travelers. RoundRobin events get everyone involved, too. And best of all, both sports provide quality playing fields at affordable rates designed to include everyone. But you’re just getting started. Some of America’s most spectacular hiking, fishing, and white water rafting is only a step away. Iconic attractions like Grandfather Mountain, Linville Gorge, The Blowing Rock, and the Blue Ridge Parkway are in your backyard at Sugar Mountain. And bring your appetite. At the end of each day you’ll find some of the world’s finest dining close at hand—from casual to formal. It’s all here for the taking. The Village of Sugar Mountain offers hundreds of accommodations of all kinds—from condos to chalets. For a day, or a lifetime, isn’t it time for you to experience Sugar Mountain? The only thing missing is you. For more log on



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On the Inside . . . 16.........Doc Watson Day at Jones House in Boone By Mark Freed

18.........The Hills are Alive with Summer Theater By Keith Martin

28.........A New Perspective of The New River By Lynn Rees-Jones

35.........Blue Mountain Metalworks Making Lasting Impressions By LouAnn Morehouse

36 ........Minstrels of The Grandfather Mountain Highland Games By Steve York

40 ........Blue Ridge Explorers and the Black Bear By Tamara Seymour

44.........A New Place to Park at the Profile Trail By Randy Johnson

46.........All Trails Lead to Roan Mountain Special to CML

55.........Dark Sky Observatory

By Elizabeth Baird Hardy

66.........A Walk through Historic West Jefferson By Lynn Rees-Jones

71.........High Country Celebrates New Wine Trail By Steve York

74.........Innovative Solar & Energy Programs By Tamara Seymour

86.........Garden Clubs Start to Grow By Nan K. Chase

95.........American Dream for Roan Leadership Scholar By Tom McAuliffe

98.........Little Linguists Language Academy

spring! By LouAnn Morehouse

103.......JAM Junior Appalachian Musicians Special to CML

Our 20th Anniversary Cover:

Our cover photo is from the archives of the late Hugh Morton. Courtesy of the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation. The Linn Cove Viaduct was the result of Mr. Morton’s insistence for a low impact route to complete the last section of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Rainbow Over Grandfather Mountain

On April 1st, 2017, Grandfather Mountain lost one of its most devoted champions. James McKay Morton, chairman of the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation board of directors, conservationist, trailblazer, photographer and visionary, passed away at the age of 65. Jim was the son of Hugh Morton and captured nature at its best as seen in this photograph of a rainbow over Grandfather Mountain.

113.......Women & Fly Fishing By Julie Farthing

118....... Mountain Roots to Mountain Rooster By Steve York

120.......Mountain Wisdom and Ways By Jim Casada

Cultural Calendar with Keith Martin Be Well with Samantha Stephens Finance with Katherine S. Newton Birding with Edi Crosby Fishing with Andrew Corpening Landscaping with Bob Oelberg Recipes with Karen Sabo & CML Kitchen Wine with Ren Manning



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• Jan Karon's series of "Mitford" books was based on Blowing Rock • Annie Oakley once ran a shooting range at Mayview Manor of Blue Ridge Country and Our State magazine have voted • Readers Blowing Rock their favorite destination • The Green Mile was partially filmed in Blowing Rock "Believe it or not" states: "The Blowing Rock is the only place • Ripley's in the world where it snows upside down." Rock has been nominated to the USA TODAY 10 Best • Blowing Southern Small Town category!






The mountains of Appalachia are some of the oldest on the planet. But our majestic ridges and valleys are at continual risk from environmental impacts that destroy the rich ecosystems and pristine running waters. Find out what YOU can do to help us protect this cherished landscape and the people who call it home.




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Mountain Music • Arts & Crafts • Family Fun • Children’s Activities Dance • Farmers’ Market • Food • Civil War Reenactments

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A publication of Carolina Mountain Life, Inc. Publisher & Editor, Babette McAuliffe ©2017 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.

Share us with a friend! CML is published 4 times a year and is available by subscription for $20.00 a year (continental US) Send check or money order to: Carolina Mountain Life, PO Box 976, Linville, NC 28646 | 828-737-0771 | Contributors: Deborah Mayhall-Bradshaw, Jim Casada, Nan Chase, Andrew Corpening, Edi Crosby, Julie Farthing, Brennan Ford, Morgan Ford, Mark Freed, Jean Gellin, Kathy Griewisch, Elizabeth Baird Hardy, Mike Hill, Terry Jenkins, Randy Johnson, Lynn Rees-Jones, Ren Manning, Keith Martin, Tom McAuliffe, Pan McCaslin, LouAnn Morehouse, Katherine Newton, Robert Oelberg, Amy Renfranz, Jane Richardson, Karen Sabo, Tamara Seymour, Samantha Stephens, Carol Lowe Timblin, and Steve York

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t was 20 years ago this spring when the first publisher’s note for Carolina Mountain Life appeared in print. Our intent was to create a publication that would tell and archive the important stories of the people and places that make our region so vital. Our first issue in 1997 was a whopping 48 pages and featured stories from the Beech Mountain golf professional Dennis Garman, who had survived the most severe burns in service to his country, to gardening and recipe tips. The first ad that Mast General Store placed with us carried the tag line “Some Times Are Just Too Good to Leave Behind.” Speaking of good times, it has been especially fun watching my children grow up over the past 20 years. We still laugh about how many covers they graced. “Really mom, again?” Free models and always accessible! They grew up helping showcase the fun to be had in and around their backyard. They played a huge role in the success of this publication. Some of our most memorable features over the years have focused on days gone by. Tales of the old Tweetsie Railroad chugging back in the 1890s bringing folks from warmer climates to enjoy the cool summers in Linville and Blowing Rock – the true start to our tourist industry. Recognizing the rich agricultural heritage of our region, our earliest issues began profiling local residents and businesses involved in farming, foraging, fishing and food entrepreneurship – the early days of the farm-to-table movement. Over the decade that followed, we’ve chronicled the efforts of groups and individuals who have dedicated their time and energy to conserving the beauty that surrounds us. In 1998, we spoke with international music legend Doc Watson, quick to share his music, but shy when it came to sharing his words. We had a rare peek

Pu blisher’s Note

into the life of the man who inspired a generation of musicians. We were also blessed to meet with celebrated story teller Ray Hicks and his wife Rosa, who spun tales and serenaded us with oldtime ballads on their front porch. In the early fall days of 2001 our cover changed right before press time to honor two local firemen in front of the American Flag in Matney, just days after 9/11. Our first ‘glossy’ cover in 2006 featured Beech Mountain’s Fred and Margie Pfohl standing in front of their iconic store, Fred’s General Mercantile—purveyor of everything from nuts and bolts, to clothing and birding supplies. In 2007, Coach Jerry Moore took ASU to a stunning win at Ann Arbor, Michigan. Three weeks before the ‘Greatest Upset in NCAA Football History,’ Coach Moore posed for our cover, with two national championship trophies in hand. In the victory’s wake, that prophetic issue of CML was going for $20 a copy on E-Bay. CML has become a trusted guide for locals, visitors and second homeowners alike. We will continue to strive to be a respected journal of the people and culture of our mountains. Today CML distributes over 100,000 copies each year

in more than 400 locations and online. Many thanks to our advertisers, CML remains free to our readers. This spring, our 2 ½ year old granddaughter will remember that she just learned how to ski in the last remaining March ski days. She is already chatting about how fun it will be to show her new sister, due in June, the bears and otters on Grandfather. It’s telling that Grandfather Mountain’s first ad with us back in 1997 read, “What if There was a Mountain in your Backyard?” We honor the late Hugh Morton for his tireless work to preserve and protect the legacy of Grandfather Mountain, a gift he has left to all of the world. As one of America’s greatest nature photographers, we felt compelled to display his iconic Blue Ridge Parkway image on our celebratory issue. Hugh Morton was instrumental in making sure the engineering feat of creating this amazing ribbon of road, The Linn Cove Viaduct, would be here for generations to come. Finally, I want to thank you, our readers. You are the heart and soul of this publication. Our best stories come from you, so bring us your ideas. HAPPY SPRING!



“Congratulations on the 20th anniversary of CML! Your magazine is unique for its exceptional writing about the High Country, its legends, culture and people. It truly is a diary of life in our mountain community. Thank you for sharing these great stories with us!” —Richard Schaffer, DEWOOLFSON


carolina mountain life Celebrate With Us All Year Long! Share your favorite mountain memories and story ideas with us on Facebook and CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Spring 2017 —


7th Annual Doc Watson Day Celebration By Mark Freed


t is often said that you cannot throw a stone in the High Country without hitting a musician. Fiddlers, banjo players, and guitarists abound in the region. And the most famous of them all, Doc Watson, has a permanent seat on the streets of downtown Boone, North Carolina. Legendary guitar player and American roots music ambassador, Arthel “Doc” Watson grew up in Watauga County, and some of his first public appearances were on the streets of Boone playing for tips. Despite losing his vision as a young boy, Doc took the advice of his father and persisted and succeeded in many aspects of life, especially his music career. While he was accomplished on the harmonica, banjo, mandolin, and more, it was his guitar playing that especially wowed a generation of pickers and put him on the radar of folk music enthusiasts across the country. Combined with his incredibly rich and diverse repertoire of songs and warm stage presence, Doc became an American legend, inspiring generations of musicians and fans throughout his long career. Over the course of Doc’s career, he was presented with some of the nation’s highest honors, from the National Endowment of the Arts Folk Heritage Award to multiple Grammy Awards to a section of North Carolina highway being named for him and his son, Merle. In 2010, the Town of Boone recognized Doc with a bronzed life-size statue of him playing guitar on a bench. Doc agreed to give his blessing as long as a plaque was installed next to the statue that read, “Doc Watson: Just one of the people.” The Town of Boone also declared the third Friday in June as “Doc Watson Day,” and each year a free celebration of his music takes place on the front lawn of the Jones House Cultural and Community Center. 2017 marks the seventh


year of the Doc Watson celebration, and several of Doc’s friends, performing partners, and disciples will be at the Jones House on June 16 for the celebration. This year’s concert will include Charles Welch, a longtime friend of Doc, and Doc’s son Merle. Welch spent many years traveling and performing with Watson. “Charles always has some stories to share about his many trips and times with Doc,” says concert organizer, Mark Freed. “He helps the audience make a connection to the down-home and personal nature of Doc as a friend.” The next performer, Jack Lawrence, was also a longtime picking and performing collaborator with Doc. Lawrence is known as a flatpicking powerhouse, and he started performing with Watson in the early 1980s. Lawrence travelled with Watson for many years, and cut numerous recordings with him, including the Grammy winning On Praying Ground. Lawrence will perform a duet with notable western North Carolina multiinstrumentalist, Patrick Crouch, from Caldwell County. Crouch is known for his work with Strictly Clean and Decent, as well as a sideman for countless roots music bands from the region. Twelve-year-old guitarist Pressley Barker will follow Lawrence and Crouch, showcasing the rising generation of amazing pickers. Barker has taken the region by storm, winning many of the adult guitar competitions at fiddlers’ conventions, releasing a debut album, and helping lead a band of hot-picking youth musicians from northwest North Carolina. Barker has been cited by the best of the bluegrass guitar players as a leader in the upcoming generation of pickers, and Barker cites Doc Watson as his primary influence. “I think it is really exciting to see, and hear, someone like Pressley, who fully appreciates the tradition and is also

ready to push the boundaries for another generation,” Freed says. “People might think he looks cute when he takes the stage with his big guitar, but when they hear him play they will be blown away.” The concert will conclude with the Jeff Little Trio, featuring three awardwinning musicians, including the Piano Man of the Blue Ridge, Jeff Little. Little grew up in Boone, hanging out at his father’s music store – a place that Doc Watson also frequented. Little got to know Doc and the repertoire that guitarists and fiddlers from the area were playing, but he learned his parts on the piano. “People don’t often think of the piano when they think of the traditional music from this region,” Freed says. “But Jeff makes it sound completely natural in the context of the band… and he plays the pants off those keys! He’s the Jerry Lee Lewis of the Southern mountains!” The Jeff Little Trio is rounded out by national banjo and flatpicking guitar champion, Steve Lewis, and one of the region’s most sought after bass players, Josh Scott. The 2017 Doc Watson Day Celebration will begin at 5:00 p.m. on June 16, 2017. The event is free to the public, who are welcome to bring their own chair or use one of the chairs provided for this concert, on a first-come-first-use basis. The Doc Watson Day Celebration is part of the Summer Concerts at the Jones House series, which features free concerts every Friday from June through August, all starting at 5:00 p.m. The series is sponsored by the Downtown Boone Development Association, Mast General Store, MPrints, Stickboy Bread Co, Melanie’s, and Rosemary Horowitz. For more information about the Doc Watson Day Celebration and the Summer Concerts at the Jones House, please visit or call 828.268.6280. Photo credits: Courtesy of Town of Boone


Jeff Little at Doc Watson Day 2016

Patrick Crouch and Jack Lawrence at Doc Watson Day 2016



Summer Theatre Thrives in the High Country: Local Companies Announce Their 2017 Seasons


By Keith Martin


Now entering its 33rd season, AN APPALACHIAN SUMMER FESTIVAL has quickly emerged as one of the nation’s leading regional arts festivals, featuring the very best in music, dance, theatre, film and the visual arts. Presented during the month of July, the festival has grown from a popular local and regional event to a destination for visitors from around the country, who are attracted by the breadth and quality of its artistic programming, as well as the natural beauty of its High Country setting. Their music programming includes perennial favorites such as the Broyhill Chamber Ensemble, the Eastern Festival Orchestra (with guest violinist Midori), and the RosenSchaffel Competition for Young & Emerging Artists. Dance enthusiasts are looking forward to seeing the dancerillusionists that comprise MOMIX, offering “visual splendor and theatrical magic.” The theatre component consists of The North Carolina Black Repertory Company from Winston Salem and their production of Maid’s Door, a play by Cheryl Davis about the heartbreak of Alzheimer’s disease. Completing the programming mix are the Helene and Stephen Weicholz Global Film Series and its young peoples’ counterpart -- complete with tickets, snacks and drinks for children -- and a strong visual arts component at the Turchin Center for the Visual Arts, including the popular Rosen Sculpture Walk. For a complete list of events, many of which have yet to be announced, visit or call (800) 841-ARTS (2787).


Photo by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders

f you’re a fan of the performing arts, there is no better time of year than summer to take advantage of hundreds of performances by producing and presenting organizations throughout the region. Here is an overview of just a handful of companies with additional contact information for tickets and other details. Enjoy! LEES-McRAE SUMMER THEATRE has brought high caliber productions to the region since 1985, under the direction of Dr. Janet Barton Speer, the matriarch of musical theatre in the High Country. LMC has programmed three tuners this season, beginning with Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat from June 25 – July 2. Speer says, “The biblical story of Joseph is revisited by masters Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber in their first collaboration on a musical. It is pure fun, telling the story in vaudevillian style. Song, dance and color are blended into a musical feast.” Million Dollar Quartet was a sleeper hit on Broadway in 2010, scoring three Tony nominations and an award to Levi Kress for his portrayal of Jerry Lee Lewis. Inspired by an actual but unplanned recording session in December 1956 when Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash and Carl Perkins joined Lewis at Sun Records in Memphis for a private, impromptu jam session, the show recreates classic rock ‘n’ roll hits too numerous to mention. Performances run from July 12 – 16. The season closes with Legally Blonde: The Musical from July 28 – August 4, about which Speer says, “it can be perceived erroneously as ‘fluffy.’ Yes, there is a lot of pink and ‘California girl talk,’ but it morphs into something different. Every moment in this show reminds us that when we try to stereotype people, we usually get it wrong. That theme is then surrounded with great song and dance numbers.” For tickets or information, visit info at or 828-898-8709

MOMIX, performing as part of An Appalachian Summer Festival, Boone, NC.

ENSEMBLE STAGE inaugurates their new home in the historic Banner Elk School with an ambitious summer season of six productions, beginning with Neil Simon’s lighthearted comedy The Star Spangled Girl, from June 16 – 24. It is followed from July 7 – 15 by Catherine Filloux’s historical drama Mary and Myra, about Mary Todd Lincoln’s stay in an insane asylum in 1875 and the efforts of her progressive friend Myra Braswell to win her release. Playwright Joanna Murray-Smith tells the tale of Patricia Highsmith, the grand dame of crime literature whose love of fictional murders becomes a dangerous reality in Switzerland, playing from July 29 – August 8. Comic genius Joe DiPietro’s newest work get its area debut when The Art of Murder takes the stage from August 18 – 26; set in a remote countryside estate, this farce involves an accomplished but eccentric painter, his wife, an art dealer and the maid (“there’s always a maid”) each of whom is being targeted by a murderer (or is it murderers?). Their popular Kids Summer Saturday Theater continues with 11 am performances of Rapunzel on June 24 and July 22, and The Tales of King Arthur on July 9 and 30. Ensemble Stage is the region’s leading advocate of these Italian commedia del arte versions of classic children’s theatre, cultivating future generations of theatre-goers in the process. For ticket information, or call (828) 414-1844.

HORN IN THE WEST has greeted nearly one and a half million audience members since it opened in 1952 as the nation’s third oldest outdoor drama. Now celebrating its 66th season and welcoming new artistic director Chris Bellinger, 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. Info at 828-264-2120 or at Performances run June 23 though August 5 in Boone, NC. TWEETSIE RAILROAD is North Carolina’s first theme park, opening on the Fourth of July in 1957. Known primarily as a Wild West adventure park with amusement rides and a petting zoo, Tweetsie features stunning three-mile long train rides aboard a historic, coal-fired, narrow gauge steam locomotive. From a performing arts perspective, Tweetsie is a major employer of professional talent and produces 21 performances of a half-dozen live entertainment and stage shows each day. A sampling of offerings includes the Can-Can Dancers, Country Clogging Jamboree, and The Sunset Show. The 2017 season runs from April 7 to October 29 with varying dates and schedules; for more information, visit or call 800.526.5740.




One Nibble and You’re Hooked.


he winds are fair, so plot a course for our famous seafood buffet every Thursday evening. If you haven’t made this scrumptious feast one of your weekly traditions, it’s high tide—er, time— you did so. Call for Reservations Seafood Buffet Begins Thursday, June 1



theatre Cultural Calendar Spotlights By Keith Martin

"A Midsummer Night's Dream" at the Barter Theatre, Abingdon, VA.


pring has sprung in the High Country – late season frost and snow notwithstanding – but the performing arts offerings are blooming aplenty. Here, in our opinion, are a handful of the most interesting shows on the horizon opening from now through the early July, listed alphabetically by producing company. PLEASE NOTE that all of the performances, dates and times are subject to change; readers are strongly encouraged to contact the box office for the most current information. See you at the theatre! Over at Appalachian State University, the Department of Theatre and Dance is producing the world premiere of Flight of the Mahabarath, a new work written by octogenarian Muthal Naidoo, a South African playwright of Indian descent. Dr. Ray Miller is directing the play, which is based on one of the two major Sanskrit epics of ancient India. This version looks at “The Mahabharata” from a woman’s point of view and the epic becomes a metaphor for the patriarchal society in which women function mainly as adjuncts. This much-anticipated production will run April 26 – 30 in the Valborg Theatre on the Appalachian campus in Boone. Info at 800-841-ARTS (2787) or

Three shows currently in production at the Barter Theatre, “The State Theatre of Virginia,” make our short list. A Midsummer Night’s Dream (the April 13 - May 13 performance run is timed to coincide with Shakespeare’s birthdate) follows four young lovers “in an enchanted forest where sprites lurk and fairies rule.” A feuding Fairy King and Queen, rustics rehearsing a play, and a mischief-maker Puck are all on-hand to ensure that the course of true love is anything but smooth. Uncanny Valley, by Thomas Gibbons, is a jaunt into the future where a neuroscientist forms a relationship with a non-biological human; the show runs from April 1 – 29. The Savannah Sipping Society is the newest comedy by Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope and Jamie Wooten, authors of two recent Barter Theatre hits, The Dixie Swim Club and The Red Velvet Cake War. Following their tried and true “laugh-a-minute” formula, the playwrights tell a tale about four Southern women, all needing to escape their day-to-day routines, drawn together by fate… and an impromptu happy hour. Performances run from May 12 – August 12. Info at or 276-628-3991. In/Visible Theatre will be anything but this spring and early summer when it produces the regional premiere of The Christians, hailed by the New York

Times as a “terrific new play about the mystery of faith by Lucas Hnath, one of the freshest playwriting voices to emerge in the last five years.” Pastor Paul inspires faith in the members of his growing congregation through his preaching, but when he brings up unexpected questions during a sermon, his changing perspective may ask too much of his followers. Since the show requires live choral music, In/Visible is assembling a church choir consisting of singers from multiple places of worship throughout the region. Even more attractive is the fact that this touring production take place at churches and religious centers throughout the High Country, including performances at The Rock Church in Boone on June 6, Valle Crucis Conference Center on June 8, Boone United Methodist Church on June 10, St. Mary of the Hills Episcopal Church in Blowing Rock on June 11, with other locations to be announced, possibly in Ashe and Caldwell Counties. Tickets will be priced on a sliding scale, and those who cannot pay can volunteer to usher by contacting

More information and schedule updates can be found on their website,




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Your chance to relive history.

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-Performance Dates Weekends beginning June 24 through July 16 Tickets are just $20 Purchase your tickets online today at

LO O K N O F U R T H E R ! 22 — Spring 2017 CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE or call 704-730-9408

Spring Group Exhibition: May 27 - July 15, Opening Reception May 27, 2-5pm Artists’ Spotlight: A Moment in Time - Florals, Still Lifes and Interiors” Mary Dobbin, Connie Winters, Gina Strumpf, Helen Farson Mid-Summer Group Exhibition: July 22 - Sept 15 Carlton Gallery’s 35th Anniversary Celebration: Opening Reception July 22 2-5pm Artists’ Spotlight: “Landscapes, Treescapes & Waterscapes” Andrew Braitman, Kevin Beck, Egi Antonaccio 10 miles south of Boone Grandfather Mtn.Community 10360 Hwy 105 S. Banner Elk, NC 28604 828.963.4288 Tues-Sat 10-5, Sun 11-5

CarltonGallery Celebrating 35 Years! A G A L L E RY F I L L E D W I T H E X Q U I S I T E G I F T S

Sally Nooney ARTIST STUDIO GALLERY Fine Art Paintings Glass Creations and Heirloom Jewelry Scenic Hwy 194 South Midway between Valle Crucis & Banner Elk Tuesday thru Saturday 10-5 828-963-7347 • • Commissions Invited! Frank Nooney Furniture Restoration, and Antiques at the Gallery, next door

Celebrating 29 years in the High Country

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Big City Music Comes to the High Country: FORUM at Lees-McRae Summer Series for 2017


ou don’t always have to visit the Big Apple for big-time live entertainment. FORUM at Lees-McRae College in Banner Elk has been offering outstanding programs for 38 years and the upcoming summer series looks to be another winner. The upcoming schedule includes eight top-notch performances by a variety of artists who have performed at prestigious venues from the Metropolitan Opera House to Carnegie Hall, Broadway, and Las Vegas. Nearly four decades of FORUM success is no accident. A great deal of work precedes the roll-out of every new summer series. The FORUM Program Selection Committee analyzes acts from around the world. Final selection is based on the best available talent for the money with a keen eye to balance a multitude of entertainment genres. Over 50 candidates in the initial round are reviewed before the search is narrowed to 16 acts. The FORUM Board of Directors then meets to review and select the final eight performances. In past years, programs have included jazz bands, orchestras, chamber ensembles, dancers, pianists, and vocalists. The one constant in each summer’s FORUM lineup is its diverse blend of passionate artists. This season, the FORUM curtain rises each Monday from June 19 thru August 7th at the Hayes Auditorium on the campus of Lees-McRae.


FORUM opens with a rousing performance by Three Redneck Tenors, a dynamic and versatile group of professionally trained opera singers who bring a unique blend of humor to the stage. From the Tokyo Opera House to “America’s Got Talent,” these musicians have earned fans from around the globe. Three Redneck Tenors deliver an electric evening of entertainment, as they successfully combine stand-up comedy with wonderfully delivered classical opera arias. For the complete line-up of FORUM shows and their summaries see the next page. The history of the FORUM makes an interesting read. Debuting back in the summer of 1979, early programs included speakers such as General William Westmoreland and Charles Kuralt, the late legendary singer and flat-picker Doc Watson, and Grammy Award-winning composer Patrick Williams. Over the years the FORUM has evolved into a musical venue showcasing performers like Daniel Rodriquez, The Singing Policeman, who studied with Placido Domingo, and the popular Atlantic City Boys, who brought the house down with their presentation of hits by Franki Valli and the Four Seasons. The Western Piedmont Symphony Orchestra has proven a crowd favorite over the past 12 years and continues to please the crowd with rousing patriotic music to celebrate

the Fourth of July. (They return for the July 3rd FORUM). FORUM has forged a unique partnership between Lees-McRae College and the people of Avery and Watauga Counties, both seasonal and year-round. Representatives from the college and the community make up the FORUM Board of Directors, each dedicated to bring cultural enrichment and top quality entertainment to the High Country. The FORUM and its members provide funding for the long running summer series, and has made possible improvements for the Hayes Auditorium that plays host to the many fabulous shows. FORUM driven improvements include a Baldwin Grand Piano, projectors and stage lighting, and just in time for this summer, new theater chairs in the auditorium. The FORUM Summer Series is supported solely by its generous patrons and is a great value. A season ticket for all 8 shows is just $140. Centurion level patrons earn preferred seating and parking for $450. Only 750 season tickets are available and are consistently a sell out each year. To get your FORUM seats contact Sandy Ramsey at 828-898-8748 or e-mail

e r u t a S ign Event s!

Entertaining Music Series

2017 Season

Hayes Auditorium, Broyhill Theatre All performances begin at 7 p.m.

May 11 Avery Chamber Golf Classic Linville Golf Club, Linville Three Redneck Tenors June 19

Double Grandè June 26

Western Piedmont Symphony July 3

Vivace July 10

June 10 Avery County Wine & Beer Festival Blind Squirrel Brewery Campground Plumtree

July 14-16 and August 11-13 Fine Art & Master Crafts Festival Downtown Banner Elk

Scotch, Soul, Rock and Roll July 17

The Joe Gransden Big Band July 24

Barbra and Frank: The Concert That Never Was

October 21-22 40th Annual Woolly Worm Festival Downtown Banner Elk AveryChamberLogo-600x384.jpg (JPEG Image, 600 × 384 pixels)

July 31

The Broadway Boys August 7 Come by or contact our Visitor Center for more information! 4501 Tynecastle Highway, Unit 2, Banner Elk, NC 28604 828-898-5605 |

For season ticket information, call 828.898.8748. Post Office Box 649 | Banner Elk, NC 28604

CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Spring 2017 — 1 of 1

4/1/15, 1:25 AM




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art! The New River, A New Perspective By Lynn Rees-Jones with photographs by Craig Dillenbeck


rt is often beautiful, sometimes controversial and hopefully enlightening. While some would not consider artfully arranged trash to be insightful, the Turchin Center for the Visual Arts at Appalachian State University has an exhibition that will likely surprise you, intrigue you and provide new perspective of the threats to the health and well-being of the water, land and people living along the New River. Before visitors even get inside the front door of the visual arts center on King Street in downtown Boone, they will glimpse a path of river trash flowing down the wall and across the floor of the center’s Mayer Gallery. The origin of the “river” is found at the top of the 29’ gallery wall; then recreates the path of the North Fork and South Forks of the river which then “flow” to a reclaimed millstone on the gallery floor where the forks converge into the New River. This is all part of the exhibition: “Collective Vigilance: Speaking for the New River.” For those familiar with the New River, they know it is a treasure. The 320-mile New River is one of the oldest rivers in the world and certainly the oldest in the United States. The headwaters originate high in the mountains of northwestern North Carolina, deep in the heart of the Southern Appalachian Mountains. The New, as it is affectionately called, actually begins as two rivers, the North Fork in Ashe County and South Fork in Watauga County. The two forks join in Alleghany County and continue in a somewhat unusual northward flow from North Carolina’s Blue Ridge through southwestern Virginia and West Virginia into the Kanawha and Ohio rivers—its waters eventually reaching the Gulf of Mexico by way of the Mississippi River. The mission of Appalachian State University includes a strong commitment to environmental issues and sustainable communities. The vision for this project was a product of Appalachian professor Tom Hansell’s graduate semi-


nar, “Sustainability and the Arts in Appalachia,” which is part of the Center for Appalachian Studies. Tom Hansell and New River Conservancy president, George Santucci met at a conference in 2010. They discovered they had a common bond and hoped that in the future they might find a meaningful project on which to collaborate. They found their match in “Collective Vigilance: Speaking for the New River,” which is inspired by the New River Conservancy’s strategic priorities to share and foster research, educate and inspire people to act, and to protect and restore the river and its tributaries. Linda Slade, New River Conservancy’s development director acknowledges the strong traditions and family roots found along the peaceful banks of the river. “So imagine if you will, more than 40 years ago when a plan was set in motion to place two dams on the New River in southwest Virginia to generate power that would have displaced more than 3,000 residents, flooded thousands of acres of farmland and destroyed the ecology of this historic river. The National Committee for the New River, now New River Conservancy, grew out of the fight to halt construction of the dams. For more than 40 years, New River Conservancy has been a voice for the river. The mission of the NRC is simple – to protect the water, woodlands and wildlife of the New River watershed.” The river of trash is the most visually striking portion of the exhibit and is made up of abandoned trash found and excavated by a team of students, faculty, community partners and Turchin staff. The river clean-up literally fed the exhibit and what is seen in the gallery is just a sampling of 21,185 pounds of trash and 645 tires pulled from the river during fall semester 2016. Tom Hansell recalls the challenges of transporting the trash to his barn to sort through it and select the most interesting objects for the exhibition which then had to be transported to the basement of the Turchin Center for cleaning and preparation prior to being hung in the gallery. The

placement of the trash in the gallery was a very collaborative effort as each individual piece was pondered. Bed springs, a VW car hood, shoes, refrigerator door, rusty metal cans, inner tubes, construction debris, kids toys, handcuffs, dog houses are but a few examples of items in the exhibit. The “river” of trash is likely what will first catch the eye of visitors, however there is much more to see. Numerous regional artists provide a meaningful perspective of the river through their compelling art. A mural by Joni Ray highlights the beauty of the native plants along the river. Ray is committed to community and environmental art in the High Country and has a BA in sustainable development from Appalachian. Her mixed media mural is spray painted using plant materials to create soft textures which contrast with the striking painted and individually hand-cut native plant patterns. This mural symbolizes the more than four miles of riparian buffers, including 13,000 trees and shrubs that were planted in 2016 as part of the New River Conservancy riverbank enhancement projects. Following the exhibition, the murals will be available to travel to area schools and NRC meetings. Also in the gallery are images by Winston-Salem photographer Carl Galie who has been working with the NRC since 1995 to document their activities. After receiving a Sustainability in the Arts grant through the Sustainability Council at Appalachian State University, Boone photographers Joshua White and Maggie Flanigan have spent the past two years interviewing and photographing the people who live, work, and play along the New River. Under-water macro-photographs by documentary film-maker Tom Hansell illuminate the gallery windows and create a stainedglass dappled effect in sunlight. Additional information is found on iPads in the gallery and include class research as well as maps of the headwaters and the ECHO communities which were hand drawn by retired Appalachian

River Of Trash

North & South Forks Converge

Riparian Mural by Joni Ray

River Of Trash (close up) CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Spring 2017 —


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Photography of the New River Studies professor and noted author Patricia Beaver. The New River exhibition flows beyond the Mayer Gallery of the TCVA and will extend to banks of the New River at the 221 Access State Park in Ashe County on May 5-7. Keith Bryant, a Charlotte sculptor, has created, and will install, 365 ceramic globes along the river banks. This weekend event will include the opportunity to camp, attend talks by park rangers and community nonprofit leaders, and to discuss environmental issues currently facing the New River. Additionally, water quality walking tours will take place on the campus of the university on April 8 and 22. The synergy of collaborative artists and partners of this project creates an exhibition that is visually engaging, informative and thought-provoking. According to Hansell, this project has spurred additional faculty research including adjunct professor, Cody Miller, who has continued on with research of nearby historic Winebarger Mill, located on the south fork of the New River. He recently conducted the lecture “A Story of Family, Food and Place” as part of the lecture series hosted by the TCVA.

The Turchin Center lecture series is held during fall and spring semesters and are led by visiting or exhibiting artists, scholars and practitioners. These lectures provide deeper insight into creative practice, context for current exhibitions or contemporary issues shaping the world in which art is created, experienced and interpreted. This exhibition is the most ambitious collaborative partnership ever undertaken at the Turchin, and has provided for the discovery of strong voices for the river and the arts. Other community partners include the Appalachian Regional Commission, Appalachian Teaching Project, Blue Ridge Conservancy, Middle Fork Greenway, New River State Park, Elk Knob State Park, Wine to Water and Plemmons Student Leadership group. Through this exhibition, new voices have been found and lasting friendships formed. According to Turchin Center curator Mary Anne Redding, “We are committed to connecting communities through art. We invite you to come into the galleries then get involved with one or more of our partners in this exhibit and to go back out into the community and onto

the river with more information and a deeper commitment to preserving this important natural and cultural resource that flows through North Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia.” According to Slade, the New River Conservancy discovered an unexpected partner in a university classroom through participation in this project. “We see our work through new eyes and it is beautiful.” The “Collective Vigilance: Speaking for the New River” exhibition will be housed in the Turchin Center’s Mayer Gallery through July 29, 2017. The Turchin Center for the Visual Arts is the largest facility of its kind in the region and fulfills Appalachian State University’s long-held mission of providing a home for world-class visual arts programming. The TCVA is located at 423 West King St., in Boone. Hours are 10 a.m. - 6 p.m., Tuesday - Thursday and Saturday, and Noon - 8 p.m., Friday. The Center is closed Sunday and Monday, and observes all university holidays. Admission is always free, although donations are gratefully accepted. For more information, to become a donor, be added to the mailing list or schedule a tour call 828-262-3017 or visit You can also follow the Turchin Center on Facebook and Twitter @ TurchinCenter.



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The Man Behind Blue Mountain Metalworks By LouAnn Morehouse


irk Brown is a tall man with tousled hair, an open gaze, and an amiable manner. It’s easy to talk to Dirk, and you are pretty much guaranteed an interesting, funny, and worthwhile encounter when you do. He is a person who—as they say—has a lot going on. Perhaps you know him as the man behind Blue Mountain Metalworks, his design and production shop in Banner Elk. In fact, the beautiful and eminently useful gates, tools, hardscape enhancements, and metal furniture built at Blue Mountain Metalworks grace many a spot around here. It’s Dirk’s sinuous fencing that protects the lovely old maple trees at the Jones House in Boone, and his handrail of ornamental metal that mimics rhododendron at the front door of the Lodge Café in Banner Elk. The railings, gates, and fireplace screens and accessories from Blue Mountain Metalworks are everywhere in this area known for beautiful settings. So if you haven’t actually met Dirk, you surely have admired his work at some restaurant, sidewalk, home, or garden hereabouts. And then again, you might have encountered Dirk the cool guy musician, playing percussion in the swing band he gigs with. Or maybe you’re one of those bipeds who cycle; yeah he does a lot of that. It’s fun to watch him in action with his 15-year-old twins, too. Musician, cyclist, or Dad, Dirk pursues all with the same energy, wit, and skill that he puts into his metalwork.

It’s been more than twenty years since Dirk had the good fortune to acquire a couple of mentors who helped turn a bicycling, drum-playing, artistic kid into a full-fledged craftsman and business owner. One was Tom Wooten, the blacksmith, designer, and artist, who Dirk credits with getting him “in the door” of his profession. Tom, then a principal designer for the furniture maker, Charleston Forge, recruited Dirk to be his apprentice. Dirk was recently graduated from Appalachian State with a degree in art, working at Hands Gallery in Boone. The apprenticeship offer was perfectly timed, and became nine years of learning while doing. Dirk describes the environment he and Tom created together as a “comfort bubble” where he was encouraged to experiment and imagine. It turned a creative thinker into a skilled craftsman. And then came his mentorship under Ed Powell, a nationally known ornamental metal craftsman, at Ed’s shop, Powell’s of Banner Elk, in 2001. They forged a relationship that put the finishing touches on Dirk’s education; Dirk says he learned more at the side of Ed Powell than anybody else. In 2006, Dirk bought the shop from Ed, and Blue Mountain Metalworks was formed. Business has been good. With all the building and renovation going on in the area over the past couple of decades, the ability to have custom metalwork fabricated at close hand has been a great boon for contractors and homeowners. Dirk says he doesn’t have a specialty

item, but admits that his railings and gates are probably “what people expect” from Blue Mountain. His showroom offers a diverse sampling of where Dirkthe-designer’s ideas can lead: a severely handsome coffee table, assorted whimsical coat racks, cool metal hooks that look like tree branches—there’s a lot to see. And it’s not merely Dirk’s design aesthetic; he is perfectly happy to have a go at “whatever you can dream up.” He says that “problem solving is the game,” and his interest is in the mechanics of making vision into functional, working items. Avocation vs. vocation—we had this conversation awhile back. To Dirk, the argument as to which is preferable, single-mindedly pursuing a calling, or flitting from one interest to another, is moot. He just does what he does. It’s not always easy to channel all those outlets; Dirk takes on a mock scowl and a fake accent to pronounce, “We are ze artistes, you know, we must have ze time to do and think!” These days, he says, there are fewer late nights at the shop, and someone to help with the administrative chores. Now the order of each day is to focus on one thing at a time. The drawing board, the fabrication shop, the bicycle parked nearby, the band rehearsal hour approaching…which thing will he focus on next? Rest assured whatever it is, it will get Dirk’s full attention. Likely, too, something really good and useful will come out of it.



McLeod & Seven Nations

E.J. Young & Piper Jones Band

E.J. teaching bagpipe chanter

Traveling Minstrels of the Highlands


.J. Jones typically arrives to set up his tent at the MacRae Meadows campgrounds as early as the weekend before the start of the July Grandfather Mountain Highland Games, North America’s largest gathering of the Scottish Clans. Now in his 4th year as Director of the Game’s Groves Music agenda, E.J. has to be on site well in advance of this legendary 4-day celebration and festival in order to make sure all of this year’s booked musicians are in place, provided for, and ready to perform. In addition, he leads his own Piper Jones band which performs each year. And, when not at the Grandfather Games, conducting piping workshops or performing around the globe, he’s back in Asheville where he hand-crafts authentic Scottish Small pipes, reeds, and chanters from his in-home workshop, records music in his small adjoining recording studio, and offers private piping lessons. Like many Grandfather Games performers, competitors and visitors, E.J. prefers to soak up the full experience of the event by camping on the grounds during the days leading up to the official Thursday through Sunday Games schedule. For E.J., camping, playing music, and comingling with other kindred spirits are at least half of the experience, and typical of many other traveling minstrels who follow the international Celtic music circuit each year. “I like being close to everything and, most importantly, being part of the music in the campground. It’s the best way to share our common passion for the music, culture and adventure of these events. And it’s the best way to network with other musicians, learn new tunes and make new friends,” E.J. notes. That’s a sentiment shared by many of the other talented traveling minstrels who perform each year. As Frances Cunningham—accomplish Celtic musician, recording artist and Piper Jones band member—proclaims, “Camping? YES!! That is one of my most favorite times of the year. Camping at Grandfather Mountain is as enjoyable as the festival itself.


By Steve York

I especially look forward to sitting around the campfire late at night, playing music with whoever wants to join in, telling stories and having breakfast together all bundled up in the morning chill. So many magical moments happen spontaneously in the campgrounds,” she adds. Now some of you may remember E.J. from his Texas-based Celtic band known as Clandestine. They are a group who always drew big crowds to Grandfather Mountain. His new Piper Jones Band with Frances and various other guest members have more recently become one of the big favorites in the Groves music performers. But don’t be surprised if you see E.J. on bagpipe or flute jamming along with several of the other bands. They all respect his role and his talent as a musician, and enjoy inviting him up on stage to join in. By the way, you should know that our Grandfather Mountain Highland Games are a magnet for some of the most accomplished Scots/Irish musicians and singers anywhere in the world. And it’s E.J.’s job to help pull them together each July to bring you a full helping of true, traditional, and contemporary Celtic music performers. That said, the 2017 lineup continues to set the mark for great music and exhilarating performances. Along with E.J.’s Band, Highland Games officials are excited to welcome back the revered fiddle maestro Alasdair Fraser for the first time in 15 years. Alasdair will perform with his longtime duo cello player, Natalie Haas. Rounding out this year’s lineup are Elias Alexander with Eamonn Sefton, Chambless & Muse, Brothers McLeod, Maura Shawn Scanlin, Andrew Finn Magill, Ed Miller, Raven & Red, John Taylor, Hannah Seng, William Jackson, Rathkeltair, and—returning again by overwhelming demand—Celtic Rock legends, Seven Nations, led by Kirk MacLeod. Coordinating all the musical performers for each year’s event begins long before July. In fact, it’s really an ongoing process. E.J. is continuously in contact with known performers who are Games favorites, while always on the lookout for new,

up-and-coming talent. Now this is a major accomplishment considering that Jones is also on the road at least half the year. “Last year I booked about 30,000 miles and 198 days on the road, either playing professionally at a club or festival in the USA—or in Scotland studying and preparing to compete. I even went to Brittany, France to play with a pipe band there. But I usually have about 80 percent of my Grandfather bookings confirmed by six months out,” Jones says. So what does E.J. look for when considering his music lineup? “When I’m selecting the performers, I hire based on how effective the musician is at entertaining the audience and how effective they are in leading other musicians in their wake. Every single person in the lineup knows some Scottish music and has a connection with some great musicians that came before them. The ones who will get hired at Grandfather have worked hard to get here and they bring something especially beautiful and interesting to their stage performance,” E.J. explains, adding “as for new talent, I always look at who’s emerging from the North American Academy of Piping and Drumming and— closer by—the Swannanoa Gathering Celtic Week’s music camp in Asheville each summer. Singers, pipers, flute players, song writers, and other aspiring Celtic musicians attend this camp to learn from experienced professionals, practice their craft and set their sights towards—one day—becoming the caliber of performer required to take the stage at our Grandfather Highland Games and other similar events within the circuit. In addition, we’re adding a new twist this year where aspiring musicians will be able to attend informal workshops with some of our featured performers during the week. Encouraging new talent is very important towards molding the professional musicians of tomorrow,” he concludes. It’s no stretch to say that virtually all of the Grandfather Games musicians are truly traveling minstrels in the classic spirit of the definition. They chase numerous Scottish games, Renaissance Fairs, Irish festivals and Celtic concerts all around the country and the world. They sacrifice sleep, home-cooked meals, at-home time with family, regular laundry and, often, a leisurely warm shower just to have the chance to live their music, and to do so with you. Sometimes they’re paid well. Sometimes they play for tips. Some have been musical stars for decades, and some are just beginning to shine. But they all have two things most in common. They love their music. And they love performing for you even more so. They also know that it’s ultimately YOU who are the true patrons in support of their performance each year. Your tickets, your attendance, your purchase of their CD’s, your enthusiastic cheers, your spontaneous dancing, your applause, your visits back stage after their performance to thank them and encourage them to come back, and—mostly—your sharing in the experience with them. That, and the music that runs through their veins. That’s the life of a Highlands Traveling Minstrel. And they’ll be back again at your pleasure this July 6th through 9th at MacRae Meadows, in the lap of Grandfather Mountain, for the 62nd Annual Grandfather Mountain Highland Games and Gathering O’ Scottish Clans.

A HANDY SUMMARY OF THE GRANDFATHER HIGHLAND GAMES HIGHLIGHTS The full lineup of events is currently online at, and printed Games program.

THURSDAY, JULY 6TH 4:30pm: Opening Picnic Scottish with entertainment and traditional Celtic music plus Sheep Herding with Border Collies on the field throughout the weekend. 7pm: The Bear Assault on Grandfather featuring over 800 runners on a 5-mile foot race climbing 1,568 feet “up” from Linville to the summit of Grandfather mountain. All followed by the Torchlight Ceremony

FRIDAY, JULY 7TH 9am: MacRae Meadows Opening Ceremonies & Clan Arrivals: Preliminary Athletic Competitions, Harp Workshop, Sheep Herding, Highland Dancing History & Genealogy Studies at Clan Tents Grove’s Celtic Music Performances throughout the weekend 6:30-11pm: Celtic Rock Concert at MacRae Meadows. 8pm -12am: Scottish Country Dance Gala, Williams Gymnasium,Lees-McRae College.

SATURDAY, JULY 8TH 6:30am-9:30am: Mountain Marathon from Boone to MacRae Meadows field track. Highland Dancing Atlantic International Championship, piping, drumming, Scottish track & field events, Scottish country dancing, fiddling, harp competitions. Scottish Cultural Village Fiddling workshops & jam sessions. 6:30-10:30pm: Celtic Jam at MacRae Meadows.

SUNDAY, JULY 9TH 8am: MacRae Meadows Opens Scottish Heavy Athletic Demonstration and Clinic Scottish Worship Service Outside & Kirkin ‘O’ the Tartans. Parade of Tartans Guests of Honor & Distinguished Guests are introduced as all members of the sponsoring clans are invited to march in the parade behind the massed pipe bands. Atlantic International Highland Dance Championship Competition 4pm: Closing Ceremonies



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Inside A Mountain

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HIGHLAND GAMES & Gathering of the Scottish Clans

JULY 6 -9, 2017 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.


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Blue Ridge Explorers: Back in Black By Tamara Seymour

“The black bear is the only species found in North Carolina or anywhere in the eastern United States and is an important part of North Carolina’s cultural, historical and natural heritage.” – N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission


t’s not uncommon to encounter a black bear (Ursus americanus) this time of year, as they are becoming active again after a long denning season. Seeing a bear can trigger a range of reactions and emotions, from awe, to “aww, how cute,” to annoyance, to extreme fear. But for most wildlife fans a bear sighting is a real treat, especially in light of the huge challenges this species has faced for more than a century. A Bear Success Story Frequent bear encounters today are actually a sign of yesterday’s successes in wildlife management. By the mid-1900s, black bear populations had reached an all-time low throughout much of the country. Unregulated hunting, habitat loss due to logging and development, and the die-out of the American chestnut tree, an important food source, all contributed to the black bear’s decline. Since then, bear populations have rebounded. Better wildlife management and enforcement, as well as a shift in human attitudes, have contributed to their recovery. According to the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, black bears now inhabit nearly 60 percent of our state, with the biggest populations here in our Mountain and Coastal regions. As bear-human interactions increase, education will likely be the key to a healthy coexistence.


Photo courtesy of USFWS

Smart, Shy Omnivores Bears are bright. In fact, many wildlife researchers believe that a bear’s simple concept level is similar to that of a three-year-old child, making it one of the most intelligent non-human animals in North America. Being clever beasts, bears use tools, such as sticks and branches, to scratch; they’ll even throw rocks and other objects. Bears are generally shy and spend their time quietly foraging for a variety of foods, such as acorns, seeds, berries, tree fruits, grasses, grains, and animal matter. They are rarely aggressive, and want to avoid interactions with humans. So why do we increasingly come into contact with bears? Here are two clues: Bears Need Room to Roam. Typical black bear densities range from one bear per square mile to one bear per seven square miles. As the human population increases and we develop more land for homes, roads, farms and businesses, we break up contiguous tracts of land that bears and other wildlife need to survive and reproduce. We therefore see more bears crossing our roadways and ambling through our backyards. Bears Are Effective Food Finders. Bears are quite good at locating natural food sources on their own; unfortunately,

they’re also good at finding food that humans provide, whether intentionally or accidentally. One of the biggest attractants is a bird feeder. Bears LOVE birdseed. They also enjoy pet food that is left outside, as well as household garbage that hasn’t been secured properly. Plus, bears have a long memory, a great sense of direction, and a keen sense of smell. They will return to dine at their favorite “establishments” for as long as food remains available. And the more they dine on human-provided food, the more likely they are to become dangerous to humans. Homeowners have the power to protect their property AND help bears by removing or securing all outdoor food sources. You’ll not only discourage bears, you’ll prevent raccoons and other pesky wildlife from making unwanted visits. Most important, doing everything you can to avoid feeding a bear may actually save its life. As the old saying goes, “A fed bear is a dead bear.” We can all play a role in the successful management of our local wildlife by learning everything we can about our neighbors in nature and sharing what we know with others. Tamara Seymour is a N.C. Certified Environmental Educator and Blue Ridge Naturalist. She is the publisher of Carolina Explorers magazine, a family publication all about the nature of North Carolina. You can reach Tamara at

mountain notes M O U N TA I N N OT E S F R O M T H E G R A N D FAT H E R M O U N TA I N S T E WA R D S H I P F O U N D AT I O N

Grandfather Mountain in Bloom: Rhododendrons By Amy Renfranz

Every year Grandfather Mountain plays host to a colorful showing of rhododendron plants in bloom. Five species of shrubs in the rhododendron genus bloom along the park’s roads and trails. Rhododendron cover dozens of acres in the park, but trying to plan for exactly when they will be in bloom can be challenging. With that said, all bloom times are relative, depending on elevation and weather. The flowers at lower elevation will bloom first. The mountain will then “bloom up” as the rhododendrons begin to bloom in procession further up the slopes of Grandfather. Often times, the first to bloom are two species of native azaleas, which are grouped in the rhododendron genus. Pinkshell azaleas (Rhododendron vaseyi) can be found on Grandfather Mountain in early May. Flame azaleas (R. calendulaceum) range from yellow to orange, peach, or red in color, and can be seen at the mountain’s main entrance gate and at Split Rock in late May and through July. The botanist that discovered the flame azalea in 1791 described it as being “certainly the most gay and brilliant flowering shrub yet known.” It is dependent on large butterflies such as the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail for pollination. The wings of the butterfly perfectly strike the extended anthers and thus pollen covers their wing scales. On subsequent foraging for nectar on nearby flowers the butterfly will unknowingly deposit pollen into the plant’s pistil. Catawba rhododendron (R. catawbiense) is in bloom from early to mid-June, depending on elevation. Probably the

most well-known of the rhododendron, their deep purple blooms will frame most of the trails in natural splendor. A closer look at the bloom will reveal a small series of golden dots on the upper petal, called the “nectar guide.” These dots catch the eyes of bees, which can see on ultraviolet wavelengths. What we see as barely noticeable, the bees see as veritable billboards – billboards that advertise nectar and point to where to get it. Rosebay rhododendron (R. maximum), with its very light pink flowers, is the last to bloom in late June and July. Its blooms also have the nectar guide. Be sure to stop and watch the bees, covered in pollen, as you walk the Black Rock Trail. The rosebays dominate the trail to Black Rock which is an easy one mile trek with a finale view of

the Blue Ridge Mountains that rivals the views from the Swinging Bridge itself. The rosebay rhododendron is sometimes called the “great laurel” because of its tendency to take over the understory of the Appalachian forest. Early settlers referred to their impassable low, sprawling, and interlocking branches as “laurel slicks” or “laurel hells.” You won’t hear anyone complaining from the comfort and convenience of the trails on Grandfather Mountain. Grandfather Mountain staff can help guide you to where the flowers will be in bloom. Make sure to stop in at one of the information stations, or call the naturalist office (828-733-4326). We will be glad to direct you to the best locations to find these gorgeous shrubs in bloom.


About the Mountain: The not-for-profit 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, call (800) 468-7325 or visit to plan a trip. CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Spring 2017 —


Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation’s Volunteer Program We can always use extra hands on Grandfather Mountain. In 2014, we introduced a volunteer program to give our supporters and guests a hands-on way to know the gratification that comes from introducing others to the wonders of Grandfather Mountain. We are looking for hospitality volunteers to welcome our guests and to answer questions about the facilities, as well as animal ambassadors to interact with visitors and provide information on the animals in our environmental wildlife habitats. Volunteers can also help at the Swinging Bridge, Linville Peak, the photo exhibit, and our Naturalists’ interpretation table on the weekends. In addition, we have occasional need for help with special programs, traffic control, parking, office projects and fundraising events. The Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation will begin its official 2017 Volunteer Season on Memorial Day weekend, which starts on May 27. We have volunteers on the mountain Wednesdays through Sundays from 11:00 to 3:00. For more information on these fun and rewarding volunteer opportunities at Grandfather Mountain, contact Lesley Platek at 828-733-2013 or volunteer@


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The Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation is Celebrating 20 Years of Protecting the Parkway in The High Country and Beyond

The Denim Ball Mark your calendar for the second annual Denim Ball on Fri., August 4, at Chetola Resort at Blowing Rock. For event details or to donate items for the silent auction:

Twenty years ago, the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation started as a simple idea: Give the people who care deeply for the Blue Ridge Parkway the power to protect and guide its future. Whether they cherished the trails, overlooks, ties to mountain history and culture, wildlife, or just the drive itself, people were invited to support this magnificent National Park unit. The response was overwhelming. Since 1997, the Foundation has raised more than $12 million to support cultural and historical preservation, educational outreach, natural resource protection, and enhanced amenities for the millions of visitors who travel the Parkway each year. From the Foundation’s first project, the construction of the Visitor Center at Waterrock Knob, to the recently completed repairs of historic structures at the Peaks of Otter recreation area, the initiatives span the 469-mile route from Shenandoah National Park to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Working with individuals and community groups, the Foundation’s accomplishments in the High Country include: Expansion of the Linville Falls overlook to welcome more visitors and allow them to see a fascinating geological feature, the Linville Falls Thrust Line. Through a collaboration with the General Federation of Women’s Clubs of North Carolina, the Foundation also helped build a shelter and pavilion for interpretive programs at Linville Falls. Enhancement of Rough Ridge Trail by funding materials to repair boardwalks that protect fragile plant life. Most recently, the Foundation funded a crew with the North Carolina Youth Conservation Corps to work on Rough Ridge and

trails throughout the area. Successful support of Moses H. Cone Memorial Park’s bid to join the National Register of Historic Places, and construction of a restroom facility adjacent to Bass Lake. Providing help to protect more than 2,500 eastern and Carolina hemlocks in the High Country from the woolly adelgid. Working with the Hemlock Restoration Initiative, the Foundation commissioned a youth crew to locate and treat trees along the Blue Ridge Parkway against the destructive insect. Completion of extensive repairs to Price Lake Loop Trail and walkways at Julian Price Memorial Park. Through its signature Kids in Parks program, the Foundation also created two TRACK Trail adventures at the lake, one by land and one by water, for families to engage in outdoor activities. Visit for more information. During its 20th anniversary year, the Foundation is looking to the future with important projects and goals on the horizon! This summer, construction will begin on a new shower facility at Price Park Campground, one of the most visited camping areas on the Parkway. Moses H. Cone Memorial Park remains a top initiative, and thanks to the support of the surrounding community, the nonprofit has reached half of its $3 million goal to rehab Flat Top Manor and the grounds! This year, work is slated to begin on the installation of a new fire suppression system inside the Colonial Revival home completed in 1901. Workers will also reroof the 13,795 square foot mansion. The future looks bright for the former estate, the High Country, and the entire Blue Ridge Parkway. CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Spring 2017 —


A New Place to Park at the Profile Trail Story & Photos by Randy Johnson


y the time Appalachian spring explodes into bloom on Grandfather Mountain’s Profile Trail, a brand new parking area and connector trail for the hike should be open, according to state park officials. That’ll be great news for any of the thousands of people who have had to park along the edge of NC 105 near the Pedalin’ Pig barbecue restaurant and walk to the trail after the tiny original parking lot fills up. All that should change when the $1,071,000 project is completed. That includes a new 100-car lot and restroom facility built by Garanco, Inc. of Pilot Mountain. There’s no official date for a “grand opening” event but late April is the tentative target, the perfect time for wandering the Profile Trail that park superintendent Susan McBean says is one of her favorite places on the mountain to see and identify wildflowers. Indeed McBean guides many spring wildflower hikes on that trail herself. Check the park’s website for the full list of rangerled spring outdoor activities. The new trailhead lot is reached by a 0.2-mile side road from 105 that starts just across from Pedalin’ Pig beside the High Country ABC Store. The expansive parking area sits atop a height of land that offers views of Calloway Peak, the mountain’s highest summit, and the destination that most hikers target when they tackle the Profile Trail. A centerpiece of the new trailhead is an attractive facility for visitors that includes women’s, men’s and family restrooms, as well as a small storage space for park employees. It’ll be open year round with cold running water. Besides the new building’s rustic beauty, a distinguishing feature is that the lower exterior walls are dressed in “Grandfather Stone,” a geologically distinct “medium grained, light greenish gray” local rock, according to the 1966 US Geological Survey publication, the Mineral Resources of the Grandfather Mountain Window. The “metamor-


phosed sedimentary rock” has “cleavage parallel with bedding,” which explains why it was once easily quarried on and near the mountain. The rock is already very visible on Grandfather. The best examples of its use in existing structures on the mountain include the 1942 entrance station and the summit “Top Shop.” Even though the new summit shop was built in 2009, and Grandfather Stone is generally no longer available, stone from the original top shop was recycled and now covers the newer building. “We are very lucky to have the stone on our building,” Superintendent McBean says. “It’s a nice connection to regional history and mountain history, and it’s beautiful too.” The restroom facility “will be a ‘pack it in, pack it out’ trash free area,” McBean says. “Bears frequent dumpsters in the neighboring shopping center and we don’t want to encourage bear activity where we have extensive public facilities. If we keep our space clean, the bears won’t associate park visitors with food, thus keeping people and bears safe.” A new, 0.7 mile connector trail to the existing Profile Trail will depart the east side of the building and wind into the woods, descending from the trailhead to join the original trail not far from the old parking lot (which at some point will be closed to the public). The new connector will take over as the formal start of the Profile Trail. The trail was built by a trail contractor using mechanized equipment and just before press time, the only thing left to do on the trail was install steps and refine erosion control features. On the way down to the old trail, the path crosses a new bridge over a ravine, where a boulder sits below, covered in ferns. For hikers, the new trail means the climb to Calloway Peak is longer than it used to be. From the original parking area, the hike to Calloway Gap was about 3.1 miles, with Calloway Peak or Watauga View approximately 3.6 miles.

That’s roughly a 7.2-mile round trip— not an easy hike. The 0.7-mile length of the new trail will lengthen the hike to Calloway Peak by that same distance, making the trek about 4.3 or so miles, for an 8.6-mile roundtrip—which more than a few novice hikers will likely round up to “an almost 9-mile hike.” Given the new trailhead’s location is higher than the old trailhead, the new hike requires a descent to the original trail beside the Watauga River before tackling the climb to Calloway. And on the way back, that requires a descent to the river before a climb back to the new trailhead. In the future, a new, more level connector trail has been discussed that would link the new parking area to a higher part of the Profile Trail, eliminating the dip to, and climb back up from, the river. Speaking of the future, a so-called second phase of development for the state park may not be far off. Last year’s $2 billion Connect North Carolina bond referendum includes significant funding for parks, including $1,501,500 for Grandfather Mountain that’s expected to be available in 2018. Bean says the money will likely fund a small office/ visitor contact station and maintenance facility that may find a home at the Profile trailhead if designers determine all the infrastructure will fit there. Given the four year timeline required by the Profile Trail project, that could bring the bond improvements online by about 2022 (though McBean says, “nothing is ‘set in stone.’”) For anyone hitting the trail this spring, the new trailhead will be just one more reason to get out and enjoy the spring blooms found on so many of Grandfather’s trails. Randy Johnson oversaw construction of the Profile Trail as the mountain’s 1980‘s trail manager. His new book Grandfather Mountain: The History and Guide to an Appalachian Icon is the definitive volume on the history of the High Country. It’s a finalist for 2017’s Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Award for travel.

Not far from the new parking area, the Profile Trail crosses a ravine on a bridge above a fern-festooned boulder.

The Profile Trail is known for wildflowers and the show lasts for weeks as spring climbs higher up the mountain.

Grandfather Profile

In late March, the Profile Trail's new restroom facility was almost complete. It sits in an expansive parking lot far below the snow-blasted summit of Calloway Peak.

The classic visage of Grandfather’s iconic, namesake profile face, seen from Profile View on the Profile Trail.



The iconic Appalachian Trail is 2,200 miles in length, its southern terminus at Springer Mountain, Georgia and ending at Mt. Katahdin’s Baxter Peak in Maine.

AT Designation Recently Awarded to Roan Mountain


n February of 2015, Carter County Commissioner Mike Hill made a phone call to Morgan Somerville of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy to ask what it would take to earn the “Appalachian Trail Community” designation for Roan Mountain. Six months later, the Roan Mountain Citizens’ Club, led by Roan Mountain State Park Ranger J.R. Tinch, applied for and received the highly coveted honor of becoming the newest official Appalachian Trail Community in the State of Tennessee. The Volunteer State is home to 94 miles of the Appalachian Trail, which then continues to run along the Tennessee/North Carolina border for another 160 miles. Hikers on the Tennessee section of this federal linear park will experience variations in elevation from 1,326 feet above sea level to a breathtaking 6,625 ft. elevation. Ongoing maintenance of the Roan Mountain section of the trail is performed by volunteer members of the Tennessee Eastman Hiking and Canoeing Club, an organization that stood alongside the Roan Mountain Citizens Club to earn the AT Community designation. Contrary to popular belief, The Appalachian Trail Community designation isn’t based on how many folks are giving hikers a lift off the side of the road, or feeding them cheeseburgers and ice cream at trail heads (although this can


be a factor). This program of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) was designed to highlight those communities along the trail where non-profits, organizations, and private businesses provide support to the hiking community, and make a commitment to trail preservation and promotion. Examples of this support include lodging discounts, shuttle services, internet access and mail drop services to hikers, as well as more community-centric projects such as volunteer trail maintenance, “Trail To Every Classroom” programming in schools, and general AT promotion and awareness efforts. The Appalachian Trail Conservancy mission is to preserve and manage the Appalachian Trail, ensuring that its natural beauty and cultural heritage will continue to be shared and enjoyed by future generations. The Conservancy was the vision of Benton MacKaye, a regional planner who convened an Appalachian Trail conference in Washington DC in 1925. This initial gathering of foresters, hikers and public officials laid the groundwork not only for the creation of the trail, but also for an organization to build, manage and protect it. Today through the efforts of volunteers, clubs and agency partners, the A.T. extends more than 2,180 miles from Maine to Georgia within a protected 250,000 acre greenway. In 1968, the ATC was instrumental in the passage of legislation

proclaiming the A.T. as America’s first national scenic trail. The Roan Mountain Citizens Club was established in 1946 by a group of Roan Mountain Citizens concerned with the future of their community. The Citizens Club’s notable achievements include the construction of the highway which now leads to the peak of Roan Mountain and putting on the legendary Roan Mountain Rhododendron Festival each year. The Citizens’ Club also had a pivotal role in the establishment of the Roan Mountain State Park, which was recently voted #1 in the entire Tennessee Park System. Park visitors can enjoy valley or mountain camping in one of the finest campgrounds in the country. Completely modern cabins are also available for visitors to rent, and enjoy picnic shelters, a swimming pool, tennis courts, children’s play areas, and extensive hiking trails. During summer weekends a variety of concerts and other entertainment may be enjoyed in the park amphitheater. On April 24, Roan Mountain will celebrate becoming the 41st official Appalachian Trail Community—the second ever in Tennessee. Designation as an AT Community is designed to act as a catalyst for enhancing economic development, engaging community citizens and helping local community members see the Trail as a resource and asset. Roan Mountain will now be fea-

Celebrating Our Regional Rhodos

tured nationally and internationally with the forty other specially designated Trail Communities. On this day Roan Mountain’s AT Community Ambassador Jim Chambers will host a sign unveiling and designation event at the Roan Mountain State Park complete with dignitaries and an after party. Later on May 6, the Roan Mountain Citizens’ Club will host the first ever Roan Mountain Trail Festival, where hikers and guests will be treated to live music in the Community Park, and trail enthusiasts of all stripes will be welcomed to visit for a weekend-long extravaganza. All the events are free and open to the public, with the exception of camping in “tent city” for the weekend, which will cost a nominal $5 per person.



ome mid-June, the brightest of the high elevation rhododendrons (Rhododendron catawbiense) are typically in full-bloom, a colorful invitation to attend not one, but two celebrations honoring this famed flowering shrub. For more than 70 years, locals in both North Carolina and Tennessee have set aside the third weekend of June to celebrate the Catawba rhodos that adorn the balds of Roan Mountain, one of the highest peaks in the Appalachian Mountain Range at 6,285 feet. This year, mark June 16-18 on your calendar to hike the mountain and see this amazing display of hot pink and brilliant purple blooms for yourself. Then hit these two family friendly festivals:

• NC Rhododendron Festival, Bakersville, North Carolina

Friday, June 16 – Saturday, June 17 | 9AM – 4PM Home of the North Carolina Rhododendron Festival, Bakersville, NC, has long been referred to as the “Gateway to Roan Mountain.” This small-town festival features a Saturday street fair, complete with arts, crafts, food vendors, live entertainment, the “ducky derby,” and helicopter rides taking off from Bakersville Fire Department. Also on Saturday families can enjoy a car show and see the crowning of the NC Rhododendron Queen. Other weekend events include a golf tournament, the Rhododendron 10K run and a nightly dance on Main Street. For additional information, and directions to downtown Bakersville, visit

• Roan Mountain Rhododendron Festival, • Roan Mountain State Park, Tennessee

41st AT Community

Saturday, June 17 - Sunday, June 18 | 10 AM-5 PM Located at the foot of Roan Mountain in Roan Mountain, TN, Roan Mountain State Park makes it easy for festival visitors to access the world’s largest natural rhododendron gardens atop the ridge, and enjoy a fun-filled weekend of activities featuring handmade goods, food, and a variety of traditional music. Sponsored by the Roan Mountain Citizens Club, the festival also includes old-time folkway demonstrations and showcases more than 100 arts and crafts vendors. While at Roan Mountain State Park, consider hiking a portion of the Appalachian Trail as it runs along the border of Tennessee and North Carolina. Campsites and rustic cabins are available. For more information on the TN Roan Mountain Rhododendron Festival, visit For directions to the State Park and a list of other park happenings, visit CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Spring 2017 —


Join EJF and Warren Wilson College for our 17th Annual Field Day as we commemorate the 450th anniversary of the founding of Fort San Juan (15672017) and celebrate NC’s Native American descendant communities. Explore the site of the first known European settlement established in the interior of the United States and engage in primitive skills demonstrations, Native American crafts, storytelling, artifact displays, and archaeology in action. Discover the story of 16th-century Spanish explorers and Native Americans who once lived here and learn how their encounter forever changed our nation’s history.

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During Family Fun Month, enjoy 30 days of organized family activities included guided hikes, Land of Oz tours, mountain biking, movies under the stars, scenic chairlift rides and more, plus great discount lodging specials. 800.468.5506

SUMMER OF 79° any hotter and the golf’s on us! Play it COOL at NC’s mile high country club ... golf, tennis, pool and fun for the whole family. Book a Summer of 79° Stay & Play Golf Package at Beech Mountain Club, and if the official temperature of your day of play exceeds 79°, you’ll receive a free round of golf! Rates start at just $79 per person, per night. | 800.468.5506 50 — Spring 2017 CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE


our years ago, Beech Mountain designated June as Family Fun Month with the idea of bringing families closer together via a daily schedule of activities and adventures. The idea caught on. Parents, kids and grandparents now flock to Beech Mountain each June, where they choose from a long list of activities, as well as lodging specials. There are activities available every day of the month, including: family hikes, scenic chairlift rides, mountain biking lessons, pickleball, disc golf, ridealong ATV tours, cookouts, movies under the stars, trips to nearby Grandfather Mountain and Friday tours of the old Land of Oz theme park. Other adventures include hiking and biking in the Emerald Outback at the top of the mountain, canoeing and fishing at Buckeye Lake, parent/child golf outings, swimming at Beech Mountain Club, mini golf, and sunset concerts on the lawn. “Family Fun Month is perfect for families who all too often postpone ‘together time,’” says Kate Gavenus, tourism director for the town of Beech Mountain. “We only get 18 summers with our children, so take time with the family while you can.” All major entities on Beech Mountain join forces for the Family Fun

Month initiative. It is a collaboration of the Beech Mountain Tourism Development Authority, Beech Mountain Resort, Beech Mountain Club, Beech Mountain Parks & Recreation Department, the local chamber, and several town businesses. Fitness-oriented families gravitate to the Cool 5 Race Weekend, which includes a challenging five-mile run, a shorter fun run, a “walk and wag” event for four-legged family members, and a popsicle relay race. And if, by chance, families run out of things to do on the mountain, discount tickets are available to nearby Grandfather Mountain, Tweetsie Railroad, Linville Caverns, and the Biltmore Estate. Month-long lodging specials make it even more enticing. Families who stay two nights in June receive a third night absolutely free, or they can opt for a 25% discount on visits of five nights or more. A 10% discount is also available for twonight stays. It’s easy to enjoy the cool outdoors of the Blue Ridge Mountains on Beech Mountain. As the highest town in eastern America, the average high temperature in June is just over 70 degrees. For info on Family Fun Month and lodging discounts, call 800-468-5506, or visit:

Photo © Todd Bush Photo © Todd Bush

Photo © Todd Bush

Families Flock to Beech Mountain for June Family Fun Month

Mile High Fourth Offers an Extended Holiday Celebration Music, barbecue, fireworks and a parade highlight the many festivities on tap during the second annual Mile High Fourth of July in the resort towns of Banner Elk and Beech Mountain. This multi-day event, which runs Friday, June 30, through Saturday, July 4, celebrates our nation’s independence with cool temperatures and warm hospitality. The schedule includes live music each day, Saturday’s mile-high fireworks above the summit of Beech Mountain, the 47th annual Roasting of the Hog on Beech Mountain on Saturday, and one of the South’s friendliest, most patriotic Fourth of July parades on Main Street in Banner Elk. The Tuesday parade, which begins at 11am, concludes in Banner Elk’s TateEvans Park, where there will be food vendors and traditional July 4th contests like sack races, three-legged races and a rubber duck derby. A Tuesday barbecue lawn party is hosted by Dunn’s Deli. Banner Elk’s popular Art on the Greene fine art festival takes place that weekend, and there will also be a Monday concert in the Beech Mountain kite field. For details about the Mile High Fourth, call 800-468-5506 or go online to:



DECORATION DAY DOIN’S Story and Photos by Jim Casada


ne of the most cherished of all High Country traditions is an annual ritual known as Decoration Day or, in many cases, just “Decoration.” At its finest Decoration Day combines piety, reverent remembrances of deceased family members, thorough cleaning of burying

of Congress’ American Folklife Center and his wife, Karen, have written a carefully researched book, Decoration Day in the Mountains: Traditions of Cemetery Decoration in the Southern Appalachians. While the book’s coverage does not by any means gee-haw completely with my own experiences and recollections of the event, the differences are in large mea-


grounds, music which leans decisively in the direction of old timey hymns such as “Rock of Ages” and “Amazing Grace,” and some of the finest eating a body could want when the hour arrives for “dinner on the grounds.” It is in a sense Memorial Day, albeit with a distinctive High Country flair, for there are a number of features connected with Decoration Day which make it truly distinctive. For starters, Decoration is limited almost exclusively to the southern Appalachians and Ozarks, with the tradition being particularly strong in the rural highland regions of North Carolina. So much is this the case that a noted folklore expert, Alan Jabbour, who for many years served as Director of the Library


sure minor in nature and speak more to the fact that almost every cemetery where the tradition endures has some special type of celebration or unique approach to Decoration Day than to any errors on the part of the authors. The basic underlying premises associated with Decoration Day include: (1) Preserving linkage to the past, especially among families and tight-knit communities, through setting aside one day each year, almost always a Sunday, for the event. The preliminary work of sprucing up cemeteries through cleaning the grounds, raking or mounding graves, straightening or cleaning tombstones, and the like usually comes the day before. The actual “decoration” (placing

flowers on graves) takes place on Sunday. (2) Paying respect to familial links by making the event a celebration replete with food, prayer, and song. Sometimes a church homecoming and Decoration Day are combined, and the same holds true for family reunions. (3) Offering tribute to those who have gone before with fond recollections, retelling oral traditions, sharing of vintage photographs, and increasingly in the last two or three decades, exchanges of genealogical information. These activities combine to provide all interested parties not only a somber yet joyous time but also greater familiarity with their family roots. Sometimes, especially in the case of small rural churches, organization of the special day is undertaken by the pastor, deacons, or other church leaders. In other instances it is one extended family, a group of families sharing a cemetery, or possibly an entire isolated community involved in planning the event. Often cemeteries where the Decoration Day tradition still holds sway provide year-round visual evidence of the function. This comes in the form of picnic tables (anything from simple sawhorses and plywood arrangements to elaborate wood or concrete tables covered by a tin roof ) located in an open, flat area adjacent to the cemetery. Similarly, there may well be a small storage shed where caretaking tools can be stored. Timing for Decoration Day can vary quite a bit, although it normally takes place sometime in the late spring or summer. More often than not it is on Memorial Day (which always comes on the last Monday in May) or quite close to it on the calendar. A few cemeteries actually hold more than one decoration event a year, usually in the spring and again in the fall, but that practice seems to be in rapid decline. For that matter, it is probably true, as we become an ever more urbanized society, that the basic practice of Decoration Day as it has been known in the High Country of the southern Appalachians is also on the wane. Whether declining or not, its pri-

mary purpose is to honor all those who are buried in a given cemetery. By way of contrast, Memorial Day focuses specifically on those who died while serving in one branch or another of the country’s military. Sometimes colloquially known as Northern Decoration Day (an allusion to the practice having developed in the aftermath of the Civil War in connection with Union soldiers who died in the South), Memorial Day involves the placing of flags at the gravesites of all deceased military personnel. Today’s Decoration Day sometimes, though not always, includes the placing of small flags, but more traditional tributes include live flowers (often wildflowers picked near the cemetery), handcrafted crepe paper flowers, lovingly knitted or crocheted flowers, or in modern times, plastic ones readily available not only from florists but big box and craft stores. Along with the flowers (the literal “decorations”), other items emblematic of reverential memory might include removal of all vegetation from the grave mound, use of white stones or gravel to mark a site, or placement of some token associated with an individual’s life (for example, fishing lures at the grave of an avid angler). Then too there is the long-standing tradition of planting flowers (daffodils, grape hyacinth, rambling roses, spirea, and yellowbells are old mountain favorites) beside the grave or marking it with an ornamental evergreen such as boxwoods, arbor vitae, or yucca. I personally find Decoration Day one of the most endearing of all High Country traditions, even as I fear it will not be enduring. The annual event offers a prime example of the importance of a favorite adage of historians which states, “You can’t know where you are going if you don’t know where you’ve been.” Graveyards remind us of where we have been because they are the resting place of our families, a tangible link to our roots, and a testament to our abiding strength as mountain folks. They let us know, in the words of Thornton Wilder, “There is a land of the living and a land of the dead

and the bridge is love, the only survival, the only meaning.” Those cemeteries, and their care, are our long-lasting link of love between the two lands of which Wilder writes. It is a linchpin of surpassing importance. As was so often the case, Ben Franklin captured the very essence of the matter when he wrote: “Show me your cem-

weeds, and perhaps unfenced, with cattle grazing over the low mounds or sunken graves.” That is patently untrue, as is his suggestion that mountain folk in general show “a remarkable lack of reverence for the dead.” Decoration Day, a deeply rooted practice well before Kephart came to the southern highlands, offers a strik-


eteries and I will tell you what kind of people you have.” If one believed Horace Kephart and his treatment of mountain cemeteries in Our Southern Highlanders, we are a miserable failure as a people and a culture. Yet it must be remembered that Kephart’s book was in many senses an extended exercise in stereotyping, written not to reflect reality but to sell preconceived notions to Northern readers. He wandered far from the truth in many areas, but nowhere was he more astray, nowhere was his depiction of mountain people more shameful, than in what he wrote of graveyards: “The saddest spectacle in the mountains is the tiny burial-ground, without a headstone or headboard in it, all overgrown with

ing and richly praiseworthy statement to the contrary. One would hope that future generations will continue to show just how wrong Kephart was not only at the time but far into the future. After all, this matter of honoring our forebears, one with roots reaching deep into the Appalachian past, is among our finest traditions. May it ever be so.


Jim Casada is a native of the North Carolina High Country with a passionate love for its culture and traditions. To learn more about his many books and other writing, or to sign up for his free monthly e-newsletter, visit



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Star Light, Star Bright, Dark Sky Observatory Will Provide New Sights! By Elizabeth Baird Hardy


ur region may not be the brightest spot in the universe, but, when it comes to astronomy, that is actually a huge advantage. With electric lights illuminating the night over population centers and industries, locating a dark sky to watch the stars is increasingly challenging. Mayland Community College’s Earth to Sky Park has been officially designated by the International Dark Sky Association as a Silver-Tier-certified Star Park, the first such site in the entire southeastern United States. “Mayland Community College is the only educational institution in the world that operates its own IDA Star Park,” states Jon Wilmesherr, who is Mayland’s Director of Academic Support Services and Learning Resources Center and who has spearheaded efforts to gain the IDA designation. The IDA required that the site meet a number of stringent guidelines, including ensuring that all the outdoor lighting is provided by fully-shielded, low-color-temperature light emitting diode (LED) fixtures. The Blue Ridge Astronomy Group (BRAG), a local amateur astronomy society, has also worked tirelessly to make the Park a reality. Now, in addition to having excellent opportunities for seeing the heavens, stargazers will have access to a remarkable new facility at the site, the Bare Dark Sky Observatory. Slated to open in spring 2017, the 48-foot by 28 foot

observatory was made possible in part by generous donors Warren and Larissa Bare. The centerpiece of the observatory will be a one-of-a-kind Starstructure Horizon Observatory Class Newtonian/ Dobsonian telescope custom crafted for the Observatory and designed for public viewing use rather than exclusively for academic research. “Adding a premier public viewing telescope in a brand new observatory will enhance and support the college’s astronomy, physics, and Continuing Education classes,” points out Wilmesherr, who also notes that the .86 meter (34 inch) f/3.6. telescope, provided through the Samuel L. Phillips Family Foundation, will be the second largest such scope in the southeast, and the only larger one is in Atlanta, where light pollution is a major problem for stargazing. “Many visitors will want to travel to the area to see for themselves the spectacular views through a premier telescope located in a dark sky,” says Wilmesherr. In addition to allowing Mayland students to view the wonders of the sky, the new observatory will be open to visitors from across the country, and even the world, who will want to take advantage of the unique perspective offered by a dark sky site that sits at a half-mile elevation with 360-degree views. Views like that require going a few miles outside city limits, and the new observatory, located at the Earth to Sky site outside Burnsville, is a little out of the way, but visitors will not be disappoint-

ed once they see the remarkable vistas. Though there were numerous challenges, from correctly aligning a custom-made telescope to designing a roll-off roof building that works with the existing mountaintop, the many people who have helped make this project a reality are already looking to the future. Since even a marvelous site like this one depends on clear skies for the best views, plans are already underway for facilities that can provide educational opportunities rain or shine. Mayland President Dr. John Boyd is currently hoping to soon include a state-of-theart onsite planetarium, where everyone, from school children, to college students, to scientists, to the general public, can come. All these visitors can then be enchanted by the mysteries of the universe, even as they work to unravel those mysteries by learning more about close neighbors like the moon and about the far-flung stars and galaxies we could never see with the unaided eye. In the midst of a year filled with astronomical excitement, from newly discovered planets to a forthcoming solar eclipse, the Bare Dark Sky Observatory will be a marvelous new tool for all those who seek to look beyond our horizons to learn and to wonder.

a ma zing

To learn more about the new Observatory, visit http://, where you can learn more about events and developments at the site, and where you can find information about donating toward the continued projects at the Earth to Sky Park. CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Spring 2017 —


Avery County Chamber Launches Active Tourist Season AveryChamberLogo-600x384.jpg (JPEG Image, 600 × 384 pixels)

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he folks at the Avery County Chamber of Commerce have scheduled two early season events to launch a busy summer promoting the business of tourism in the High Country. On Thursday, May 11th, the chamber hosts a golf tournament at the venerable Linville Golf Club, home to Donald Ross’s mountain classic that opened in 1926. Spots in the four-man Best Ball event fill fast as this golf course is favored by golfers around the world. Executive Director, Melynda Pepple has mobilized the community at large to deliver a great day in Linville. Registration/Check-in begins at 11am the day of the event with lunch provided by Chick-fil-A. The Shotgun start begins promptly at 12:30. Friendship Honda of Boone is offering a new Accord for the first hole-in-one on the designated par-three and there’s a new Mahindra Tractor offered for the first ace courtesy of High Country Mahindra of Newland. Following the day’s play, Stonewalls of Banner Elk is serving up the food at the cocktail reception and awards ceremony. SkyLine/ SkyBest and Carolina West Wireless join in as title sponsors. To learn more call the Avery County Chamber of Commerce today at 828-898-5605. Entry fee is $200 per player and hole sponsorships are available. For those who appreciate fine local wines and crafted beers, the Avery County Wine and Beer Festival rolls out the barrel Saturday, June 10th. The tasting begins at noon and continues ‘til 5 pm at the Blind Squirrel Brewery Campground on Hwy. 19E in Plumtree, North Carolina. The Blind Squirrel brewmasters were the county’s first, and are joined by an impressive array of beercrafters from the Beech Mountain Brewing Company, Boondocks Brewing, and the Booneshine Brewing Company. Vintners join the hops crowd from the Linville Falls Winery, Lake James Cellars, the Banner Elk Winery & Villa, and others. The Village of Sugar Mountain Tourism Development Authority is an official sponsor of the event. Tickets for the Avery County Wine and Beer Festival are $25 at the gate, but you can save $5 by securing your ticket on-line before the event at Later this summer two editions of the Fine Art & Master Crafts Festivals return to downtown Banner Elk. The first of these “Juried” events that attract 70 accomplished artists and artisans is scheduled for July 14-16. Another Fine Art & Master Crafts show comes to town August 11-13. For tourists and residents of the High Country alike these exhibitions are a highlight of the mountain summer. And don’t forget the 40th Annual Woolly Worm Festival scheduled for Oct 21-22. Year after year the Woolly Worm Festival just gets better and better and continues to attract revelers of all ages. 4/1/15, 1:25 AM

Go to for all the information you’ll need during your trip to the High Country of North Carolina.


Mica Reopens! After a long winter’s nap, downtown Bakersville, NC re-awakens as Mica throws open its doors in full bloom with wonderful surprises. Mica, a cooperative gallery of fine contemporary craft, begins its sixth season with newest member, Robbie Bell of Speckled Dog Pottery. Robbie has had a studio for functional pottery in Bakersville for five years and is organist and choirmaster for Trinity Episcopal Church in Spruce Pine. In addition, Mica’s newest offerings include the work of Marita Strauss’ jewelry and Katherine McCarty’s oil paintings. And during the months of April and May as a special surprise to celebrate Mother’s Day and the joy of spring, a garden gift will be included in each purchase, as well as an opportunity to sign up for the drawing of a Mica gift certificate, with the drawing taking place the Saturday before Mother’s Day. Beginning April 4th, Mica, located on Mitchell Avenue, opens Thursdays through Saturdays from 10 – 5 and Sundays from 12 – 5; with stunning work by 19 local artists, including furniture, sculpture, wearables, jewelry, and, of course, functional pottery. Mica is a must see destination for those who appreciate the handmade. Stop by, meet an artist, and celebrate spring! 37 N. Mitchell Ave.Bakersville, NC 828/

A Super Transition: Townsend Succeeds Burleson as Avery County Superintendent of Schools By Elizabeth Baird Hardy


his summer, as students enjoy a break from school, the leadership of Avery County’s educational system will be ensuring that the county’s schools will be smoothly transitioning to new leadership to continue a tradition of commitment to students and community. After six years as superintendent of Avery County Schools, Dr. David Burleson is retiring. The new superintendent will be Ken Townsend, who has served in nearly every position in education: bus driver, coach, teacher, and more. He does jokes that he has never been allowed to cook in the cafeteria. Most recently, his role as the Human Resources Director for ACS has allowed him to work closely with Dr. Burleson, seeing the many successful opportunities and programs of Avery County’s educational system. Interestingly, Townsend did not originally plan to go into administration: “My passion was teaching and coaching,” he says, until “about year thirteen, my principal encouraged me to step up into an administrative role, and as I got into it, I realized, this is something I really enjoy.” Like serving as the principal of Beech Mountain Elementary and taking on the position of ACS Human Resources Director, Townsend has often found that some of the most exciting turns on his journey have been the ones that took him by surprise. It will hardly surprise anyone who knows Townsend that his appointment to this position is warmly supported by both the Board of Education, whose members elected him unanimously, and by outgoing Superintendent Dr. David Burleson, who says the county’s schools, staff, and students are “being left in great hands. I could not have picked a better person.” That is a strong endorsement from Burleson, who has defied the national statistics by serving as Superintendent three times the average term of two years, and who is thrilled to be able to con-

Ken Townsend and Dr. David Burleson (L to R)

clude his educational career in the district where he began as a student. Along the way, he says he has realized that “you can go home again.” Avery County, he says, is incredibly fortunate to have teachers, staff, and parents who all work together to provide the best possible education. “We are leading the state in graduations.” In addition, the schools boast a wide array of extra opportunities and accomplishments in everything from music to science, remarkable for a small, rural area. Burleson attributes these successes to the continued efforts of everyone involved with ACS, particularly the Board of Education. “I’ve worked with a lot of boards,” he says, and has seen none that “care as much collectively about the students and schools. Most have agendas; this one does not.” Such a positive commitment has contributed to the lowest teacher attrition rate in the state. “People stay here,” Burleson says of the excellent team that has helped him to enjoy, instead of endure, his six years as superintendent. The children of Avery County, though, are what he has enjoyed most about his position, and what he will miss most after leaving. His commitment to the students is one of the many characteristics that Board of Education member Dr. Bob Clark says make Burleson someone who took the superintendent positon “to a new level.” That same commitment inspired

the Board in supporting Townsend, as he is also student-centered and looks forward to the opportunity to interact with the students, from first graders to high school seniors. The Board also know he is leaving the Human Resources Department in excellent shape, no small feat since ACS is the largest employer in the county. As he takes over the reins, Townsend stresses that his goal is to “Prepare students for whatever avenue” they plan to follow, that no matter what a student’s career and goals, “we’ve prepared that person to be the very best.” Instead of scrapping or re-vamping the many successful programs, Townsend hopes to continue past successes with future expansion. “Our school system does really good things”; instead of changing those, “we need to continue those good things and enhance them, to continue to advance.” Among those successes are partnerships with educational entities like Lees-McRae College and Mayland Community College, as well as with community organizations like the YMCA of Avery County. Such partnerships reinforce Townsend’s belief that it “Takes everyone working together” as Avery County Schools move forward, “working with students, parents, staff, community, “to continue providing excellent education through the Avery County Schools. CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Spring 2017 —



828.733.8300 or 888.909.8333 1665 GOOSE HOLLOW ROAD, LINVILLE, NC 29646


Golf Guide:

NC High Country

Public Courses Boone Golf Club—Boone, NC Tom Adams, PGA Architect Ellis Maples, Revision Rick Robbins ‘Must play’ Mountain Standard. Casa Rustica’s Rick Pedroni in the kitchen. 828-264-8760 or Mountain Glen—Newland, NC Sam Foster, PGA Architect George Cobb Since 1965 folks have played this course every day and wouldn’t change a thing. Public classic right down to the grill room. Everything you could want in your favorite public course. 828-733-5804, Red Tail Mountain—Mountain City, TN Sam Adams-PGA Architect Dan & Ellis Maples New ownership dramatically refining fantastic mountain property. Big changes big impact. Great getaway lodgings, positive response on all fronts. 423-727-7931, Sugar Mountain Golf Club—Sugar Mountain, NC Tom McAuliffe, Golf Director Architect Frank Duane Dynamite par 64. Play specials—lodging packages. Great Value-Fine conditions. A little bit better every year and that says a lot. 828-898-6464, Linville Falls Golf Club Architect Lee Trevino/Revision Lloyd Clifton Jim Kelechi-PGA New ownership, fine layout, good value. Easy access Hwy. 221 S. below Linville Falls. 828-756-4653, Mt. Mitchell Golf Club—Burnsville, NC Jim Floyd, Golf Director Architect Fred Hawtree Spectacular property just off the Blue Ridge Parkway at Hwy. 80 to Burnsville. Group getaway lodging specialists. For the day or the week. Toe River trout fishing, food and beverage excellent. 828-675-5454,

Folks have been enjoying golf in the mountains since 1892 when the first golf holes were carved out in Linville. And though golf has endured its ups and downs over the last decade, the game has never been more accessible than today.

Willow Valley—Boone, NC Architect Tom Jackson-nine holes The Little Green Monster is a fine par three course. 828-963-6865 MountainAire Golf Club—West Jefferson, NC Archtitect/Committee, Revisions Dennis Lehmann Popular Ashe County stop, good range, good course, good folks in the pro shop. Phil Shepherd carrying torch in Hagel family tradition. 336-877-4716, www. Grassy Creek Golf Club—Spruce Pine, NC Bruce Leverette, PGA Architect/Committee Visit the Mitchell County Mainstay and find out what all the locals love about Grassy Creek. Outstanding food service. 828-765-7436

Resort Clubs w/lodging access to golf Linville Golf Club—Linville, NC Tom Dale, PGA Architect Donald Ross Eseeola Lodge Golf Access For those who know her, their favorite place on Planet Earth. 828-733-4311,

Jefferson Landing—Jefferson, NC Dean Spainhour, PGA Architect Larry Nelson/Dennis Lehmann Course Access for members and On-site Lodgers— Great golf group getaway. Public play space available at this beautiful Ashe County Classic. Clubhouse dining. 336-982-7378 Linville Land Harbor, Linville Michael Hayes-Golf Director Architects Tom Jackson--(A-9Ernie Hayes) Long-time private enclave between Linville and Pineola opening to public play with stay and play offerings. Fabulous putting surfaces. 828-733-8325

Private Clubs Members and Guests Only Grandfather Golf & Country Club—Linville, NC Chip King, PGA Architect Ellis Maples 828-898-7533 Blowing Rock Country Club—Blowing Rock, NC Wayne Smith. PGA Archtitect Donald Ross Revisions Tom Jackson BRCC debuts latest revision by Ross specialist Kris Spence this spring. 828-295-3171


Hound Ears Club—Blowing Rock, NC Peter Rucker, PGA Architect George Cobb Revisions Tom Jackson Limited public play with selected lodgingsclubhouse rentals, Chetola, Crestwood Inn tie-ins a success. New membership opportunities in the gorgeous Watauga River Valley. 828-963-4321, Beech Mountain Club—Beech Mountain, NC John Carrin, PGA Architect Willard Byrd Diverse Qualified Lodging. Stay and Play Packages More Affordable than ever at Eastern America’s Highest Town. Home of “Summer of 79” Chamber of Commerce 1-800-464-5506

Elk River Club—Banner Elk, NC Brian Newman--PGA Architect Jack Nicklaus/Bob Cupp 828-898-9773

Linville Ridge Club—Linville, NC Kurt Thompson, PGA Architect George Cobb Revisions Bobby Weed 828-898-5151 Diamond Creek—Banner Elk, NC Joe Humston- PGA Architect Tom Fazio 828-898-1800



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Remembering Banner Elk School By Carol Lowe Timblin


he thought of Banner Elk School evokes pleasant memories of the eight years I spent there learning to read and write, making lifelong friends, and preparing for high school, college, and beyond. Built by the WPA in 1938, the rock school was practically brand new when I entered the first grade in 1946. Each grade had its own classroom, the principal occupied an office and the library was in a room that also doubled as a teachers’ lounge. The boiler room, where Mr. Charlie Townsend kept the fires going, was in the basement. The big auditorium was located on one end of the building and the lunchroom on the other. Huge oil paintings from the old Klonteska Inn hung on the walls of the auditorium, which was used for assemblies, music classes, and physical education classes before the gym (shaped like a tin can cut in half ) was built behind the school. Mr. Zelzah McCoury, who served as the principal, brought in extra money via fundraisers such as the annual Cabbage Festival, cakewalks and pie suppers, seed and candy sales, as well as Hollywood westerns and comedies. Except for a few people who lived within walking distance of the school, everyone rode buses to the school. Some students lived at Grandfather Home for Children away from their families. Though I was a shy, timid girl, I had wanted to attend Banner Elk School long before I turned six. My brother Jack had played the lead role in “Jack and the Bean Stalk” operetta there. My friend Jane


Baucom, who was two years ahead of me, had told me all about the school. Finally, the big day came and I enrolled in the school. It didn’t take long for me to feel at home in Mrs. Mildred Coffey’s first grade class. I can still see the big pictures of Dick and Jane and Spot she held up as she taught us how to read. And though learning to read was fun, I also enjoyed jumping rope or playing Red Rover at morning recess. When the weather was nice, we picked the wildflowers in bloom and caught tadpoles in the Shawneehaw Creek that ran beside the school building. Big snows might close the school, but we made up the days we missed. I always went home for lunch unless Mrs. Beatrice Chappell, who ran the lunchroom, had turkey and dressing on the menu. Her son Terry sat behind me in the first grade. Miss Laura Hall, who taught second grade, was a bit stricter than Mrs. Coffey. If you were doing something wrong, all she had to do was give you a disapproving look. I was amazed that she could knit and teach at the same time! She was also in charge of the May Pole Dance at the annual May Day celebration, which included the crowning of a king and a queen. Miss Lucy Vance, our third-grade teacher, allowed us to play dress-up on Fridays if we worked hard all week long. Mrs. Anna Belle Perry was a bit more serious and made sure we learned the multiplication tables in the fourth grade. Mr. Marshall Ward (Terry Chappell’s uncle) entertained us every Friday afternoon with Jack tales he had learned from his grandfather. As he explained it, early English settlers brought the stories, along with music, to the Beech Mountain area, where original Elizabethan dialects and expressions had been pre-

served for generations. Richard Chase, who collected the stories from the Wards and published them in a couple of books, visited our class occasionally. Mr. Ward also coordinated field day activities and coached basketball. Miss Lola Rowe, our sixth-grade teacher, helped us focus on history and social studies. Miss Lavola Carender, also the school librarian and one of my favorite teachers at Banner Elk School, opened our eyes to science. One of our projects was to write postcards to every state government requesting soil samples. We had several teachers in the eighth grade – Mrs. Carolyn Brinkley, who also doubled as the school’s music teacher; Mrs. Elsie Beasley, who took Mrs. Brinkley’s place when she moved to Florida; and Mr. McCoury, who taught math. (Mrs. Mena VonCanon, who became the music teacher after Mrs. Brinkley’s departure, was also my first piano teacher.) I hated to see Mrs. Brinkley go, because she had organized the school’s first square dance team and staged operettas every year. She also prepared us for the North Carolina Symphony’s annual visit, made possible through the Banner Elk Women’s Club. Conductor Benjamin Swalin and his wife seemed impressed with our knowledge of various composers and their works. I will never forget the time our school was featured on national radio! Eight years at Banner Elk School went by in a flash, and we were soon on our way to Cranberry High School. The girls wore white dresses and the boys their Sunday best for the graduation ceremony. After listening to farewell speeches and receiving our diplomas, we posed for pictures on the steps in front of the auditorium. I still get a lump in my throat when I think about that last day at Banner Elk School.

The Jack Tales; Way More Than a Hill of Beans! By Jane Richardson


any of us grew up hearing or reading stories such as Jack and the Beanstalk and Jack the Giant Killer. But did you know that these tales with their clever -- albeit not always on the up and up -- protagonist are offshoots of similar tales first spun in Europe centuries ago? Told on long winter nights for the amusement of children and adults alike, the stories featured rich language and earthy situations as well as supernatural characters and feats. And always, they featured “Jack” as victorious in roles as varied as the tellers themselves. These “Jack tales” were also shared in “chapbooks,” or folded pamphlets, carried from town to town by peddlers. Brought over to the colonies and the Caribbean by immigrants, the distinguishing feature of American Jack tales is that they were presented and remembered almost entirely orally. Handed down from generation to generation, each teller added his or her own touch, or “spin” to the tale depending on the cultural influences present at the time, but held to the original plot with relatively minor variances. You may find discrepancies between different versions of each story but the connection to the original is always visible. In his book The Jack Tales (Houghton-Mifflin 1943, 1971) Richard Chase documented 18 of these stories which he collected directly from their mountain tellers. And it’s a good thing he did, because with the invention of television,

storytelling was fast becoming a lost art. In the relatively isolated coves and hollows of Appalachia, however, these tales of old days and old ways have lingered and survived. Chase interviewed R. M. Ward and other descendants of Council Harmon of Beech Mountain, a renowned 19th century storyteller, as well as other Virginia families to put together this invaluable piece of Appalachian history. In addition to the “Jack in the Giants’ New Ground” (aka Jack the Giant Killer) and “Jack and the Bean Tree” (Beanstalk), you will find such wonders as “Sop Doll!” and “Jack and the Robbers,” all meant to be told in the unique and colorful twangy vernacular of that cultural era. Imagine that voice as you read this excerpt from “Sop Doll!” As Jack sat there eating his stew he saw something out of the corner of his eye. A big, black cat walked into the room. Jack didn’t pay it no mind, but then another cat came in. And then another. And soon there were twelve big black cats, each one bigger than the last, sitting around the room and staring at Jack. Now Jack was a little nervous about this, but he figured there was nothing to fear from a bunch of cats. But then the biggest, blackest cat of all walked right up to Jack. It looked up and down at Jack and then spoke to him. “Sop, doll, sop” said the cat, and it stuck its paw right in Jack’s stew to sop up the juices and started licking that tasty meat right off its paw. Now Jack was a little surprised at this,

but he looked right back at that cat and said “ You do that again and I’ll cut that doll right off.” The cat didn’t seem to care much. It looked up and down all over Jack again and then cast its bright green eyes right on that bowl. “Sop, doll, sop,” said the cat, and stuck its paw right in the bowl again. So Jack whipped out that silver knife the old man had given him and he cut that doll right off. When he did this, that cat let out a yowl and all the other cats started yowling and they all ran right out into the night. Jack went to pick up the cat’s paw lying on the ground, but when he did he was surprised to see that it wasn’t a cat’s paw lying there, but a woman’s hand with a wedding ring on one finger. So Jack wrapped it up in a cloth and set it aside to show the miller in the morn. Intrigued? If you aren’t fortunate enough to know a local teller, you can hear these and other Jack tales told on several CDs/DVDs available on Amazon and other sites. There are some audios by various tellers available on YouTube sites as well. Check out this especially good one by Richard Chase at https://www. But better yet, ask around in your neck of the woods: you just might learn of a teller down in that holler, up on that bald, or across that gap that will take you back to the old ways, of the days long gone by.



Report From the Historic Banner Elk School: New Programs and New Tenants Putting Life Back in the Old School By LouAnn Morehouse


here’s a lot going on at the Historic Banner Elk School. The circa 1939 rock building that served as an elementary school for more than eighty years was purchased by the Town of Banner Elk in late 2015. Assisted by volunteers from the community, the town council has been transforming the old school into a community center ever since. Now just one year into its new role, the Historic Banner Elk School (HBES) is buzzing with new faces and projects that bring more energy and excitement to town. The first project that received a warm welcome from the community is The Book Exchange, where readers of all ages can find books they will love at this “bring a book, take a book” library setting. Thanks to generous private donations and a grant from the High Country Charitable Foundation, the old school library was renovated into a friendly, comfortable space with plenty of room for adults’ and children’s books. In just over a year since it opened, The Book Exchange has served more than 3,000 adults and 700 children with more than 6,000 books coming in and 3,000 books taken out by readers. In addition to providing books and a free WiFi space year round, Book Exchange organizers are hosting programs of general interest each month from May through September. These include three regularly scheduled series that are free and open to the public: Author Talks – On the second Saturdays of June, July, August, and September at 2:30 PM local writers talk about their books and give readings. June 10: Barry Blair, July 8: Jerry Shinn, August 12: Marcee Corn, Sept. 9: Mur Lafferty. Tuesday Evening Lectures at 7:00PM are twice monthly in-depth discussions about matters of local and international importance, and are cosponsored by the Banner House Mu-


seum. June 13: Jimmy Guignard will address fracking and its effects on the rural Pennsylvania county where he and his family live (book available for purchase). June 27: Ray Russell, of fame, will speak about his run of the entire Blue Ridge Parkway last summer. July 11: Karl Campbell, will lecture and lead a discussion on “Who’s a Real American? The History of Immigration.” July 25: Randy Johnson will explain his role in developing the trail system on Grandfather Mountain and how that led to the writing of his book on the history of this beloved mountain (book available for purchase). August 8: Jerry Turbyfill and Joel Shipley will share the history of Eastern Tennessee and Western North Carolina’s railroad of the early 20th century. August 22: Joe H. Perry, Charlie B. VonCanon and Jean Webb will join together in a panel discussion to tell stories and answer questions about “Banner Elk in Days Gone By”. September 12: Michael Vines, professor of religion at Lees-McRae College will be speaking. Topic TBA YOU ARE HERE presentations at the Book Exchange – Select Wednesday afternoons at 4:30PM feature knowledgeable people talking about interesting places and things. Co-sponsored by the Banner House Museum. May 24-Bear Safety: Learning how to live with the natives. Presented by Ray Daniels of the Wildlife and Fisheries department. June 28-Making Something from Weeds: how the folks at Forage Soaps use native plants to make useful stuff. Presented by Lisa Smith of Forage Soaps in Newland. July 19-A Special Storytime Event, face painting to a reading of Ellie’s Long Walk: the true story of two friends on the Appalachian Trail by Pam Flowers. Face painter, Trish Daniels, will transform listeners into the hero dog of the story, as well as the forest creatures she meets on her adventure. August 23-Native Americans in these Mountains: trading and travel-

ing between the tribes of East Tennessee and the Joara Settlement. Presented by archeologist Jay Franklin, Ph.d, of East Tennessee State University. September 20-Apple Heritage: a primer on local apples grown by our ancestors, plus updates on the Heritage Orchards and current heritage apple production. Presented by Doug Hundley, recently retired Extension Agent and apple guru. To stay informed of Book Exchange events and activities, visit the website at or drop by the Book Exchange and check out the schedule. And two new tenants are adding their talents to the creative mix at the old school: Ensemble Stage, the professional theater company that has performed in Blowing Rock since 2009, is now in residence at the HBES. The company is leasing the gymnasium for performance space, and has begun improvements to the stage, lighting, and seating areas. Previously, Ensemble Stage productions took place only during summer break and school holidays because the company was housed in the Blowing Rock Elementary School. Now relocated to a dedicated, permanent space, they are planning a year-round repertoire. Artistic Director, Gary Smith, says “We want people anytime of the year to say, ‘Ensemble Stage has something going on in Banner Elk. Let’s go there.’” The main stage season opens June 16 with a summer lineup of four plays and two new shows for kids. The alwayspopular “Theatre Magic” summer camp for kids 6-11 starts June 19 and advance registration is required. For more information about performances and camp, go to Just down the hall from the Book Exchange, you will find the offices of Carolina Mountain Life magazine have opened for business. Babette McAuliffe,

"Historic Banner Elk School", plein air oil study by Gaylene Petcu

publisher and head dynamo, says she is celebrating the magazine’s 20th year of publication by locating the head office at the old school. She looks forward to having a place that is more accessible to the public, who she says are the “source of never-ending stories that amaze, amuse, and inspire” her. Sharing the space with Carolina Mountain Life is Carolina Explorers, a new small-format, ad-free family magazine all about the nature of North Carolina. Check out a copy at the Book Exchange. There’s even more going on at the Historic Banner Elk School… Mayland Community College offers leisure and lifestyle courses in their classrooms at HBES throughout the year. For news about current and upcoming classes, visit The Avery Farmers Market takes place every Thursday, 4:30-7:00PM, from April 20 through the middle of October on the big green front yard of the HBES.

Historic Marker at the school

Get your fresh, local groceries from our favorite farmers and then drop in at the Book Exchange, open later until 7:00 on Thursday evenings only for your book browsing pleasure. There are a total of FIVE arts and crafts festivals that take place on the front yard. Shoppers can find handcrafted goods while enjoying the beautiful summer weather of the mountains. Juried vendors offer jewelry, pottery, basketry, wood carving, and many other specialty items among the 60-plus artisans on hand. The town hosts three Arts on the Greene festivals in 2017: May 27-28, July 1-2, and September 1-3. The Avery County Chamber of Commerce presents the Avery Chamber of Commerce Fine Arts Festival twice in 2017: July 14-16, and August 11-13. Last but not least, be sure to come by the Historic Banner Elk School on June 10, when the Rotary Club is hosting a

community yard sale again this year. Get your fabulous finds here and help lend a hand towards making the HBES a real live center of the community in the heart of Banner Elk. The yard sale goes from 8:00AM to 1:00PM so plan ahead and get there early. Make a note—things are going on inside the Historic Banner Elk School, outside on the front yard, and around back at the Mayland Annex. There’s plenty of parking, so drop by and check it out this spring.

take note CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Spring 2017 —


A Walk Through the Architecture of West Jefferson’s Main Street By Lynn Rees-Jones


owntown West Jefferson is a charming blend of historic buildings, vibrant shops and a freshly designed streetscape. While it is easy to get wrapped up in the window displays of the shops, or to focus on the buildings according to their current function, a closer look at the architecture provides clues to the stories that make up the history of the town. While Jefferson Avenue is now the primary business corridor, Main Street is the original thoroughfare along which much of the town first developed. One hundred years ago, the streets were dirt and the traffic was horses, carts and the occasional new-fangled motor vehicle, and the often muddy footpaths were covered by boardwalks. The catalyst for the establishment of the Town of West Jefferson in 1915 was the Virginia-Carolina railroad which extended from Abington VA to Todd NC. The railroad was originally constructed to extract timber from the area, but once the timber supply was depleted, railroad use declined and the railroad stopped operations in 1977. The train followed the current day “Backstreet,” and the West Jefferson Depot once served as the heart of town with the original town limits radiating one half mile in each direction from the depot. The original two story wood depot was located in the area of the current Backstreet Park before it burned down and was replaced with the red depot building seen today. It is a well-


Kraft Cheese / Ashe County Cheese

preserved, side-gable, board-and-batten-sheathed building and is one of only three remaining historic depots in Ashe County. It was relocated to its current position in the 100 block of Main Street during the late-twentieth century. The Old Hotel, located at 5 W Main Street, was originally built of wood in the year 1915, specifically to house people and businesses brought by the railroad. It burned down a year later and was immediately rebuilt in 1917 using brick. It is built in a modest Classical Revival style and the bricks used for construction were hand-made on-site, with native clay from the adjacent hill where the library now stands. The bricks on the exterior of the building are now painted; however, the historic natural bricks can be seen in the dining room of The Hotel Tavern Restaurant. The original hotel included 22 hotel rooms, formal dining room, sitting room and large kitchen and operated until the early 1970’s. As a hub of the community, the building has served in many capacities including the Ashe County’s first library, the post office, newspaper office, bus station, beauty shop, doctors’ offices, and various restaurants. While no longer operational as a hotel, it continues to be a dominant building downtown and houses a variety of successful businesses, both on the street level and in the upstairs guest rooms recently renovated into shops and offices. It is interesting to stand at the top of the interior staircase and envision what it must have been like back in the early 1900’s.

Across the street from the hotel is a two story brick building at 4 West Main Street that houses WJ Hardware, one of the oldest businesses in town. It was built in 1920 as a hardware store and also included upstairs offices, a dental practice, and at one time residences. On the side of the building there is a second story door with no means of egress but there is evidence of a former stairway outlined in the bricks. The single story portion of the hardware store was added in the 1950’s. The original Parkway Theater (The Artists Theater) at 10 East Main Street was built in 1938 in just 58 days by R. W. Barr. Art Deco in style, the original building was designed by architect D.H. Cook and was modeled after the historic Earle Theater in Mt. Airy. Originally containing a balcony and 430 seats, it was West Jefferson’s movie theater for 10 years, before relocating to its current location next door. Opening night featured Gene Autry’s “Boots and Saddles” and Mr. Autry sent a telegraph extending his regrets for being unable to attend the theater’s formal opening. The building exterior has remained largely unchanged except for the infill of the recessed entry. The interior balcony was extended to create a second floor to accommodate a furniture store. The original second stair to the balcony was removed and a freight elevator was added at the rear of the building. The beautiful ceiling on the second floor is original. The building underwent major renovations in 2009 for conversion to The Artists Theater, an art gallery, and current plans include

West Jefferson Railroad Depot

West Jefferson Railroad Depot and train

alterations for a Dr. Pepper museum and soda bar. Note: the current Parkway Theater (next door at 8 E. Main St) was originally a car dealership but was renovated as a movie theater with cream-colored steel enamel panels on the façade and an art deco style marquee). The Ashe County Cheese building at 106 East Main Street was built by the Kraft-Phoenix Cheese Corporation in 1930. Cheese has been produced in this same building for the past 80 years, making it North Carolina’s oldest cheese factory. The front of the building, where the silo and milk tank cows now stand, was covered by a porte-cochere until 1955. Farm trucks with milk for cheese production would pull up and drop milk cans onto metal roller conveyors which would then be emptied inside the plant. The curbing for the drop-off is still visible as is the brick patched outline of the original front door. With its close proximity to the historic West Jefferson School, it was a popular location for an afternoon snack with school kids. Existing large milk tanks were refashioned into the iconic cows by local high school welding students guided by a local artist. The cows are a popular photo destination for the many tourists visiting the cheese plant. Cheese produced in the plant is sold in the shop across the street and is shipped to southeast distributors from Texas to Pennsylvania. The cheese is also carved for buffets on cruise ships. The Ashe Arts Council building is a visual gem in a downtown of predominately brick buildings. It was built as a

Works Progress Administration (WPA) project and is made of rough-cut random coursed native “Parkway” granite typical of many late 1930’s depression era projects. Located at 303 School Avenue (but facing Main Street), it was originally built as a Community Building and has also been the location for the non-profit Blue Ridge Opportunities Commission, school offices, vaccination clinics, and has served as a gathering space for other community groups. Seventy-nine years after its construction, the building now houses the Ashe County Arts Council’s offices, an art gallery, shop, meeting and performance venues and currently serves as a “hub” for the arts in West Jefferson. This sturdy, stately little building evokes nostalgia as it continues as a community building and gathering place. The Badger Funeral Home is located at 300 North Main Street at the eastern terminus of Main Street; however, the building originally served a much different purpose. In the early days of the town when the historic West Jefferson School was built, students would travel from rural areas in the county to attend school. Because of the poor roads and rough terrain, it was not feasible for students to travel to and from school daily. In 1925, a school dormitory was built next door to the historic school and students would stay there weekdays during the six-month school term. There were rooms for up to thirty students, and an apartment for principals and teachers. A central staircase led to rooms on continued on next page...

The Old Hotel

Old School Dormitory / Badger Funeral Home

Original Parkway Theater CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Spring 2017 —


WEST JEFFERSON: continued from previous page

Banner Elk Winery & Villa Experience Luxury in the High Country’s Original & Most Acclaimed Winery

West Jefferson Hardware

both sides of the building’s second floor. When there was no longer a need for the dormitories, a local couple took over and rented out rooms. In 1944, the building was sold to the Badger family who converted it to a funeral home which they still operate today. It was remodeled in 1956 and 1985 with wings built on each side of the original structure. The Badger Funeral Home, which originally operated in a building around the corner from its current location, has been the longest continually operated business in Ashe County and the 16th longest in North Carolina, providing its services since 1854. There are, of course, lots more historic buildings in West Jefferson and many more stories to tell, but those are for another day. The railroad is long gone, but the impact of it lives on, in a town that is thriving as a community and tourist destination. A self-guided “West Jefferson Historic Building Walking Tour” brochure is available at the Ashe County Chamber of Commerce or West Jefferson Town Hall. The tour was a joint venture between the West Jefferson Centennial Commission and Appalachian State University’s Recreation Management program during the town’s Centennial Celebration in 2015. For additional information contact Town Hall at 336.246.3551.

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Experience Wine With A View... Banner Grandfather Linville Watauga Elk Vineyard Falls Lake Winery & Winery Winery Winery Days/Hours* DAILY DAILY DAILY CLOSED TUES/WED Offerings Lodging Stunning views Outdoor patio Tuscan vineyard Private Events &Weddings &Weddings &Wedding &Weddings Wine Tasting YES YES YES YES *Open Year Round: Check for Seasonal and Holiday Hours with each winery. See Website • (828)898-9090 135 Deer Run Lane, Banner Elk, NC 28604 Nestled in the awe inspiring majestic Blue Ridge Mountains stands North Carolina High Country’s original winery. Come for a tasting or a tour, or perhaps stay the night at our Tuscan-inspired Villa. A private retreat with luxury accommodation, beautiful scenery, and warm hospitality in an idyllic setting. • (828)-963-2400 225 Vineyard Lane, Banner Elk, NC 28604 Our terraced mountain vineyard & winery is nestled along the Watauga River at the base of Grandfather Mountain. We are the first producing winery in Watauga County, NC. Warm breezes during the day and cool Crisp nights help develop the flavors and balance of our wine. Enjoy and share with friends. • (828)765-1400 9557 Linville Falls Highway, Linville Falls, NC 28647 Our 40 acre vineyard & farm is just off of the Blue Ridge Parkway on a beautiful piece of land by the Linville Gorge. You can enjoy peaceful views of the mountain vineyard on the patio or by the fireplace while sipping our estate grown wine. Come elevate your taste with us! • (423)768-3633 6952 Big Dry Run Road, Butler, TN 37640 Visit the historic and “haunted” schoolhouse where the classrooms have been transformed into our winery. Enjoy tasting the 2015 “Best of Tennessee” wine produced from the fruit of our vineyards. Enjoy a bottle of wine with our deli items out on the deck or inside the event room.

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Start Planning Your High Country Wine Trail Getaway! By Steve York


ot an afternoon or— better yet—a weekend? How about wine? Got wine? Well, “If you’ve got the time…we’ve got the wine!” In fact, we’ve got an exciting winelovers getaway adventure in store for you thanks to four incredible wineries that grace the hills from Linville Falls to Banner Elk to Foscoe and onward to Watauga Lake. And these wineries have a very special enticement to help you plan your wine-lovers getaway. It’s the new High Country Wine Trail. And it comes with extra bonuses when you take the time to tour each of these four wineries. Your four wineries include Linville Falls Winery on Hwy. 221 in Linville Falls, Banner Elk Winery off Hwy. 194 on Lee Gualtney Road in Banner Elk, Grandfather Vineyards & Winery in Foscoe and their nearby Tennessee cousin, Watauga Lake Winery at beautiful Watauga Lake. Each of these wineries is known for its distinctive wines, its distinctive “Wine with A View” mountain setting, its distinctive charm and…for its distinctive association with the brand new Appalachian High Country American Viticulture Area, or Appalachian High Country AVA for short. Now you may remember that a select group of wineries and vineyards spanning 2,400 square miles, at elevations above 2,000 feet, across three states and eight

counties was recently designated as its own AVA. And that designation is a big deal for our regional tourism and agricultural industries; in the same way as that Yadkin Valley or NAPA Valley AVA’s distinguish their brands of wines and boost their travel/tourism economies. Our four High Country Wine Trail wineries within this new AVA have teamed up to bring you an extra treat when you visit all of the four locations. They’ve created a special “High Country Wine Trail Passport” that entitles you to receive special gifts as you make the tour, and to qualify for semi-annual prize drawings. Your “Passport” gets stamped when you visit one of these four wineries, and that stamp qualifies you for the gifts and drawings. It’s pretty simple. But there’s more! All four of the High Country Wine Trail wineries will be sharing a big KickOff Celebration on the weekend of Friday, June 2nd through Sunday, June 4th. Their celebrations will include live entertainment, food, special gifts and an opportunity to win a grand prize. You’ll be able to sign up for your “Passport” and kick-off your own High Country Wine Trail Getaway. If you plan ahead, you can make a whole weekend winery tour adventure out of their collective kick-off celebration. Each winery is near restaurants, lodging and other attractions. And winery operators can help you plan your

weekend itinerary with tips on nearby accommodations. Whether you hit all four wineries during the kick-off celebration weekend, or space out your visits one at a time, you’re in for a real treat. Part of that treat is the chance to experience the unique picturesque mountain setting of each winery. No two are alike. And, if you haven’t yet visited all of these locations, you’re also in for the special treat of tasting wines unlike any others in the country or around the world. You see, that’s what an AVA is all about. These wines are made from grapes grown in the conditions that are unique to our High Country region. That means the flavors and types of wines featured can’t be found anywhere else. Oh… and one more thing: Each of these wineries has received numerous awards for many of their wines; wines you can add to your list of favorites as well as your wine cellar. So, like we said, “If you’ve got the time…we’ve got the wine!” All you have to do is hit the trail! Check out details at Then make your plans to come celebrate the big High Country Wine Trail celebration June 2nd-4th.



Caldwell County: Where Old and New Come Together By LouAnn Morehouse


ne of the great pleasures of being in the mountains is looking out across the heights to distant views. If you have ever taken in the sights from our region’s famous Blowing Rock, you have had (weather permitting) a fine view off the escarpment into the Johns River Gorge. The lush and steep sides of the mountain seem to be forest primeval, and it’s easy to imagine there’s nothing but wild critters and trees down below. Actually, that’s the truth, at least for a nice big part of it. The land you gaze upon is the northern boundary of Caldwell County, which extends up into the mountains as portions of the Pisgah National Forest and the 49,000-acre Wilson Creek area, part of the National Wild and Scenic River System. Less well known than neighboring Linville Gorge, the Wilson Creek Gorge is a granite chute with a 200-foot drop. Open to the public only since 2002, Wilson Creek is a whitewater adventure land that remains as rugged as it has been since time immemorial. Camping, kayaking, hunting and fishing, waterfall hikes, off-road driving, and mountain biking are available in selected areas. Opportunities for adventure and activity abound for every skill level including the most experienced outdoorsmen. Wilson’s Creek Visitors Center is open every day April through November to help make your visit an enjoyable one. Wilson Creek is not the only part of Caldwell County that is like stepping back in time. As Highway 321 reaches


the gentle hills that snug up to the mountains, it crosses paths with NC Highway 268, and the land of Happy Valley. There, settlers came as early as the 1700s, when the land below the mountain range was the western frontier. They were protected by Ft. Defiance, one of the string of colonial-era forts along the foothills. There are echoes yet of that frontier in the deep green forests and fields of Happy Valley. One of Caldwell County’s founders, a Revolutionary War hero and namesake of the county seat, Gen. William Lenoir, built his home at Ft. Defiance in 1792. It was lived in by the Lenoir family continuously through six generations until the 1960s, and is now a restored house museum and historic site. Considered to be one of the most unique restorations in the country, the house contains more than 300 pieces of original furnishings and artifacts. Fort Defiance is open for tours Thursday through Sunday and has many special events as listed on the website throughout the summer. It’s Highway 321 that does the big job of transiting from the past into 21st century Caldwell County. The part of the highway that spans the ridges up to Blowing Rock was built in the 1850s as a toll road, and has played a major role in the economic vitality of Caldwell County ever since. Resources such as fine timber came out of the mountains, and the bold streams that rushed off the slopes powered mills for all types of products. Officially recognized as a county in 1771, by 1889 there were furniture factories rising amid the more than two thousand farms

in the area. Those factories, with family names such as Bernhardt and Broyhill, manufactured furniture that became legendary for its style and quality. Although many things have changed, Bernhardt Furniture continues a fourgeneration tradition of designing and making furniture from its corporate headquarters in Lenoir. And the stretch of Highway 321 known as “twenty miles of furniture” remains a center for great buys on quality furniture from the best in the business. More recently, another type of craftsmanship has taken root in Caldwell County. Google, the internet’s center-of-all-knowledge, has a large facility in Lenoir. The people of Caldwell County maintain a reverence for their past and a passion for their wild places. They also welcome a chance to celebrate the good living in their county. The Butterfly Festival in Hudson on May 6 is a great early summer tradition. And don’t miss the North Carolina Blackberry Festival in Lenoir from Thursday, July 6 through Saturday, July 8. There will be music and blackberry treats of all kinds, including a giant patchwork of blackberry cobblers parade. For a great overview of everything Caldwell has to offer, visit the website at or call the Visitor’s Center at 828-726-0616 and let them help you plan your trip. Whether you come and visit for a day, a weekend or just a meal, Caldwell County and its charming towns of Lenoir, Hudson and Granite Falls will surprise you.

Come Explore Caldwell County...

Visit our historic downtowns, our serene outdoor destinations, and experience the most public sculptures per capita in the US. Upcoming Events in Caldwell County:

Art Around Caldwell - Studio Tours

2017 NC Gravity Games & Science Street

North Carolina Blackberry Festival

April 29 | Downtown Lenoir, NC Sponsored by Google

Hudson Butterfly Festival

May 6 | Downtown Hudson, NC

June 24 | Around Caldwell County July 6-8 | Downtown Lenoir, NC

Visit Fort Defiance

One of the most unique restorations in the country. Open April - October, Thursday - Saturday 10 AM - 5PM

Visit Wilson Creek, A Wild & Scenic River

Open All Year, 10 AM - 5 PM Events happening all Spring and Summer. 49,000 acres of rugged wilderness. and


Caldwell Chamber of Commerce 1909 Hickory Blvd SE, Lenoir, NC 28645 828.726.0616 CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Spring 2017 —


Hot Topics: Community Solar & Energy Efficiency A Closer Look at Blue Ridge Energy’s Latest Innovative Programs By Tamara Seymour


any thousands of high country residents rely on Blue Ridge Energy to supply electricity and heating to their homes. Perhaps the company name sounds slightly different from the name you’re familiar with; the Blue Ridge Electric Membership Corporation, or BREMCO for short, has in recent months taken on a new identity. But little else has changed, says Doug Johnson, Blue Ridge Energy’s CEO. “We have brought together our two energy businesses, Blue Ridge Electric and Blue Ridge Energies, our propane/ heating fuels subsidiary, into a single brand,” Johnson explains. He emphasizes, however, that the electric cooperative’s vision “to deliver the best energy solutions with extraordinary service and care for our communities” has not changed. “Our new identity will be easier for the consumers we serve,” says Johnson. “It also helps position us to meet our vision for continuing to be the best provider of innovative, forward-thinking energy solutions.” Take for example Blue Ridge Energy’s latest innovative renewable energy offering, the Community Solar program. “We’ve had a lot of calls from members interested in solar electricity and have been looking at solar energy program options for several years now,” says Jason Lingle, Energy Solutions Advisor at Blue Ridge Energy. “2016 was our year to make solar happen.”


The High Country Looks toward the Sun

Blue Ridge Energy began construction last fall on the first of four “solar gardens,” the infrastructure for their newly formed Community Solar program. While much of North Carolina’s energy still comes from traditional sources – coal, nuclear, and natural gas – many residents, businesses and utility cooperatives throughout our state have rallied behind cleaner, renewable energy options, such as solar, generating an increase in both supply and demand. Although solar technology has come a long way and public interest has soared, Lingle notes, “The accessibility and affordability of rooftop solar panels have always presented a challenge.” But today, cost-conscious, environmentally focused Blue Ridge members, including homeowners AND renters, have an option to go solar. “Only about 25 percent of residential rooftops are suitable for solar due to shading and orientation issues,” says Lingle. “With our new Community Solar program, there are no rooftop panels, no upfront installation expenses, no ongoing maintenance costs, and no long-term commitments. We’re making it easy for our members to go solar.”

Planting Community Gardens

Solar gardens, similar to solar farms but smaller, are open parcels of land where solar panels are “planted” to collect sunlight throughout the year. Each of Blue Ridge Energy’s solar gardens consists of

several hundred solar panels, collectively called arrays, installed on an acre of land or less. Blue Ridge Energy currently has gardens located in each of its main service districts, including Alleghany, Ashe, Caldwell and Watauga Counties. “With the Community Solar program these solar arrays are shared among an entire community of people, which keeps costs lower while maximizing energy output,” says Jon Jacob, Blue Ridge Energy Solutions Advisor and Lingle’s colleague. “With our Community Solar gardens, solar is an option for anyone.” According to both Lingle and Jacob, the hardest part of the venture so far was finding optimal sites to develop their solar gardens. “We had to find flat land that was cleared, with very few trees, not too rocky, outside of a flood-plain, and free of conservation easements,” explains Jacob. “The easier the site to work with right out of the gate, the lower the costs of the program for our members.”

Signing Up for Solar

The average Blue Ridge Energy member uses around 900-1,000 kilowatt hours of electricity (kwh) per month. For residential customers ready to add solar to the mix, the Community Solar program makes it easy via monthly subscriptions. “The program allows members to subscribe to the energy rights of one to ten panels,” says Lingle. For as little as $4.50 per month, per panel, subscribers can generate much of their energy usage from clean, renewable solar, and in some cases even save money.

“First, we perform a usage analysis for members who are interested in Community Solar,” says Jacob. “We help them choose the best personalized plan based on annual costs and their overall objectives for participating in the program.” He adds that consumers who are particularly interested in the environmental benefits of solar are pleased to learn that as few as three panels can offset over a ton of carbon dioxide emissions per year. Jacob points out that even members who do not subscribe to Community Solar can realize benefits from this new program. “Community Solar helps reduce system demand when it’s at its highest, which in turn reduces costs for all members.” Blue Ridge Energy currently operates 1,472 panels in their four solar gardens, generating more than 53,000 kwh per month and powering the equivalent of 60 homes. Lingle and Jacob reveal that twothirds of the 1,472 panels already have subscribers, and recommend that any Blue Ridge Energy member who may be interested in the program contact one of them soon.

Innovations in Energy Efficiency

Another branch of Blue Ridge Energy’s “Powerful Solutions” includes several popular energy efficiency programs that offer members opportunities to improve their homes, communities and lives by making energy-efficient choices. One of their most popular programs is the Energy SAVER (Savings After

Verified Efficiency Renovations) Loan program, which is designed to help members finance energy efficiency improvements to their homes. “With this program, members can schedule a home energy audit, which results in a list of improvements a homeowner can make to increase energy efficiency,” says Jacob. For example, Energy SAVER loans can be used to purchase and install a smart thermostat, encapsulate your basement or crawlspace, or install a more efficient water heater. Loan terms are competitive with other loan rates, and loan repayment can be built into the member’s monthly energy bill. Interested members can get started by completing a brief online survey at Another popular program is the Smart REBATES program. With Blue Ridge’s appliance and weatherization rebates program, members can purchase certified energy-efficient Energy Star® appliances, such as refrigerators, freezers, high-efficiency heat pumps, or geothermal heat pumps and receive substantial rebates, from $25 to $250 or more. And when members weatherize their homes with air sealing, duct sealing/replacement, or insulation, OR build an Energy Star® home, they can receive rebates of $100 to $500. According to Blue Ridge Energy, there are more powerful solutions than ever before to help you save energy and money. “Simply express an interest and we will reach out to you, and guide you through your options,” says Lingle. We

want to be your trusted energy advisors – we want to be that first call that you make.” To learn more about the changes happening at Blue Ridge Energy, or to find out more about Community Solar, Energy Efficiency programs, and energy-saving tips and tools available to members, visit Contact Blue Ridge Energy Advisors Jason Lingle or Jon Jacob directly by calling 1-800-451-5474, or submitting an online form via their website. Blue Ridge Energy, a Touchstone Energy affiliate, serves approximately 73,700 consumers in Caldwell, Watauga, Ashe, and Alleghany counties and parts of Wilkes, Alexander and Avery counties in North Carolina. Its propane and fuels subsidiary, Blue Ridge Energy, LLC, serves customers in the northwest North Carolina counties of Caldwell, Watauga, Ashe, Alleghany, Avery, Catawba, and Burke, as well as in southern Virginia.

“I wanted to support the community solar program because I believe that moving toward more sustainable energy sources is necessary to preserve the planet for future generations.” —Sarah Goff, Watauga County Resident

“Major changes are occurring in the energy marketplace and consumer needs are changing. As a result Blue Ridge is evolving to be the energy company our consumers turn to for all their energy needs.” ­—Doug Johnson, CEO, Blue Ridge Energy



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Crafting Your Landscape Robert N. Oelberg ASLA PA


hinking about a creating a new High Country landscape, or perhaps renovating an existing one? Some people find that to be a daunting undertaking due to seemingly innumerable choices. A few principles may help organize your thinking. Perhaps most importantly, keep your landscape simple. Not just in terms of the different kinds of plants that you bring to it, but also in terms of the big ideas that inspire any particular area. Landscapes go wrong very quickly when the owner or designer has too many different, competing big ideas for the same area. So, identify the different distinct areas around your home, and then consider what single thing comes to mind when you think about that area, just as it is now. Then, imagine a single, compelling ‘big idea’ for that area. If you can do that, it’s a good start. Keeping the big idea in each area simple and consistent requires some discipline. Imagine yourself shopping at a plant nursery and literally, you like everything you see. What if you like everything you see so much that you decide to buy a few of each of everything you like. When you get back to your house and you try to find places for all of those different things, how well will they fit together? More than likely, just a few different types of well selected plants, massed together in carefully considered groupings in your landscape would have given you a lot more satisfaction over time than a collection of lots of different things. But that’s an outcome that’s hard to imagine when you’re at a nursery looking at an abundance of wonderful plants. If you can keep it simple, then also strategize where you’ll be spending your landscape time and money resources, and spend those resources where they’ll


have an impact. Those areas are typically the same areas that will require the most future maintenance: the front entrance to the property or to the house, an outdoor patio or terrace, or anywhere that you’ll be sitting, relaxing or entertaining outdoors. So, think strategically about what those places are where you’ll be coming in close contact with plants, stonework and engaging finishes. Those are the areas where you’ll want to concentrate your money as well as future maintenance resources. Additionally, plan your landscape for four seasons of the year. Start with evergreens and consider what a winter dormant landscape (six months of the year) might be like without them. Along with trees, evergreens create the framework that will organize the other components of your landscape: the flowering shrubs, perennials, grasses, and annuals that will hang from your framework and give it seasonal interest. Dependable evergreens for Carolina mountain landscapes include rhododendrons, mountain laurels, spruce and fir cultivars, pines and the like. Moving out from the framework or ‘backbone’, and thinking about giving it interest, think beyond just flowering annuals and consider getting color from the foliage of perennials like coral bells, shrubs like ninebark, trees like Forest Pansy redbuds or a grass like yucca. These all flower as well, but the flower color is ephemeral. Foliage color will be present throughout the growing season, or in the case of evergreens, throughout the year. Think about the color your plants will have when the leaves change, knowing that some otherwise drab background plants burst into brilliant burgundies, yellows and reds for four to six weeks. For winter color, in addition to the various needle and foliage colors of evergreens, consider twig color from red stemmed dogwoods or Japanese maples,

or the exfoliating bark of river birch or paperbark maples. Also, think about the transition from plants that may that look good next to your house out to the woodlands that likely adjoin your High Country home. The formal, showy plants that have been selected to complement your home or ornamental border may look out of place next to the woods. So, think about quickly transitioning away from the more formal showy plants to ones that look at home next to your woodlands. These are more natural and don’t require as much maintenance. So, if budget and time are limited resources, consider transitioning in short order to the woodlands that surround you through careful plant selection. Thought of differently, bring the surrounding woodlands in closer to your home. Consider native hydrangeas, clethras and viburnums among others. Most high country landscapes are challenged by deer. Make the decision early on whether you want to fight deer or live somewhat harmoniously with them. Numerous plants available from local nurseries are resistant to deer damage. There are lots of deer resistant plant lists on the internet. Compare lists and favor those locally available plants that show up on most of the lists. Finally, if you want to do something to give back to the environment that may have drawn you here in the first place, consider the following: use plants indigenous to the area, avoid installing plants that are on invasive species lists (yes, most nurseries do sell some plants considered invasive), plant to attract and nourish pollinators, and consider indigenous ground covers to create a ‘layered’ landscape more like the natural landscape that surrounds you. Using that larger landscape as an inspiration and guide, you can’t go too wrong.

NC Native Plant Society

Photos Courtesy of Todd Bush Photography and Greenleaf Services Inc.

Do you ever look at the landscape surrounding your High Country home, and then look at the rich natural beauty surrounding you, and wonder why your landscape doesn’t look more like what drew you here in the first place? If you aspire to bring a more native and natural look to your own landscape, or if you just want to learn more about the High Country natural environment, you’ll find kindred spirits at monthly meetings of the NC Native Plant Society (NCNPS). Ever since the first meeting of the Blue Ridge Chapter two years ago, there’s been robust attendance by local native plant enthusiasts. Meetings are held at 7 in the evening, the second Wednesday of each month, at the Boone Holiday Inn Express. Each meeting, between 25 and 50 enthusiasts come to hear speakers talk about indigenous plants, conservation of our natural heritage and even the science behind the High Country leaf season. The Blue Ridge Chapter is one of seven active chapters throughout the Tarheel state, and the newest. The hospitality of the Holiday Inn Express in hosting the monthly meetings has been invaluable in getting the chapter started, according to Mark Rose, chapter founder and current Chairman. In addition to creating a forum for native plant enthusiasts to gather, the mission of the NC Native Plant Society includes providing a venue for speakers, supporting research, promoting landscaping with natives and sponsoring field trips. All activities are open to the public. The Blue Ridge Chapter will be sponsoring the annual state Spring Outing the weekend of May 5-7. Talks and gatherings will be held at Deerfield UMC, and transportation to local wildflower hikes will leave from the Super 8 Hotel in Boone. To sign up for any of the hikes or for the entire event, please visit details/2017-spring-outing CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Spring 2017 —


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Hunter’s Tree Service, Inc. has served the High Country since 1980. Our mission is to provide you with skilled tree care and outstanding customer service, while caring for one of your most valuable resources. As your complete tree specialist, we offer a range of services:

Pruning View enhancement Tree removal Stump grinding Bucket truck service Crane service Cabling Lightning protection Pre-construction consultation Disease and pest control

POB 1674, Banner Elk NC 28604 / 828-733-3320 or 828-953-5094 CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Spring 2017 —


The True Value of Trees By Tamara Seymour


ave you hugged a tree lately? We should all express respect and admiration for trees, as they are one of our most valuable renewable resources. Those of us who use wood to heat our homes can appreciate this resource almost daily through the colder months. Yet most people don’t treasure the trees on their property until leaves, flowers and fruits begin to emerge with the arrival of spring. While now is the time to marvel at new growth and celebrate the changing colors of our mountain landscape, it is also the ideal time to recover from winter damage, restore the health of your trees, and reevaluate your landscape. To help property owners know where to begin, we consulted one of the leading experts in tree care here in the high country, Hunter’s Tree Service, Inc. If you visit or live in northwestern North Carolina, you have likely seen the work of Hunter’s Tree Service, Inc. Tony Hunter has been serving the communities of Banner Elk, Linville, Boone, Blowing Rock, Newland, Valle Crucis, and beyond for more than 35 years. Here, Tony and Judy Hunter provide some valuable tips on caring for your trees and enhancing your property.

of your trees,” says Hunter. “Heavy winds and high moisture can cause the soil to heave, and trees may begin to lean or become uprooted.” When these trees are near your home or driveway, they’re more likely to topple and cause damage to your property. “Look for large pieces of deadwood and hanging fragments in your trees,” adds Hunter. Often called “hangers” or “widow makers,” these larger branches present a hazard; they could drop at any time, especially during windy conditions. He also suggests that you check tree trunks and branches for cracks and splits, hollow or decayed areas, wounds, peeling bark, and mushroom growth, which often indicates a rotting tree. “All of these are signs that your trees may be weak or have an unstable root system,” Hunter adds. Depending on the location of damaged or dying trees, partial or complete removal may be the best option. The Hunters specialize in safe tree removal, having a professionally trained staff and just the right equipment – cranes, a bucket truck, chippers, dump trucks, stump grinders, and more – to help property owners recover from winter damage.

Restore Tree Health

In many cases, trees that are in poor shape can be saved. Pruning, training, fertilization, and pest treatment are all services provided by Hunter’s Tree Service to help restore the health of your trees. “Pruning is an especially important part of maintaining the trees and hedges on your property,” says Hunter. He adds that removing hazardous and dead limbs not only protects homes and structures, it helps your trees grow in productive patterns. “When we prune trees, we remove deadwood and any branches that might be at risk of falling. And if we see signs of disease, we selectively remove areas around the diseased parts and advise you on ways to cut that risk.” Pruning also helps enhance the natural form and character of a tree,

trees Recover from Winter

Damage from high winds and heavy precipitation take a toll on trees during the wild winter months, especially here in the high country. According to Tony Hunter, one of the first things homeowners need to do with the arrival of spring is to look at what occurred on their land during the winter. “Now is the ideal time to walk your property and note what’s happening with your trees,” says Hunter. He points out that you’ll want to assess your property prior to the plants and trees filling in completely with greenery, which can mask damage, and mentions several things to look for as you stroll your grounds. “Start by looking at the bases


and often stimulates flower and fruit production, as long as it is done at the right time of the growing season. “While some hedges and shrubs can be relatively simple to prune, tree pruning in general can be quite complicated,” Hunter explains. He says that without having the proper knowledge and tools, pruning can potentially harm the tree and produce cuts that do not properly seal over. Hunter mentions several other clues to help you know if you need to intervene. “Look for proper flair and taper where your trees meet the soil. If the tree looks like a telephone pole, it may have been planted too deep, and be less sturdy.” He also adds that you should locate any codominant trees, or trees with multiple trunks or large branches growing from a single base. “Poorly structured and multi-stemmed trees are more susceptible to breakage that can affect the health of the tree. Depending on their location and proximity to your home and other structures on your property, they can be dangerous. In areas of new construction look for soil that has been pushed against the base of the trunk that may reduce the oxygen to the tree roots. ” In cases such as codominant trees, tree cabling may be something to consider. Tree cabling provides support to the overall tree structure and can help reduce the risk of tree failure. But be aware that cables should only be installed by a skilled professional. “If the cables are not placed properly they cannot provide proper support and may actually weaken the tree,” cautions Hunter. Another concern of property owners is pest management. A number of non-native, invasive insects and pathogens have spread throughout much of the country, weakening or killing many of our native trees. The vast majority of eastern hemlocks (Tsuga canadensis) in the High Country have been damaged or killed in recent years by one of the more notorious pests, the hemlock woolly adelgid (Adelges tsugae). But recently, a new threat has emerged here in the mountains: beech bark disease. Beech

bark disease begins with a scale insect (Cryptococcus fagisuga) that weakens the tree and allows a fungus to invade. It’s an affliction that causes both defects and death for American beech trees (Fagus grandifolia), a common tree species found at higher elevations in our area. “Arborists have had great success treating hemlock woolly adelgid, but treating beech bark disease has been more challenging because the trees must be treated annually and the types of treatment are more limited,” Hunter says. “The emerald ash borer/EAB (Agrilus planipennis), which attacks ash trees, has been discovered in North Carolina and Tennessee and is likely to reach our mountains soon.” The Hunters have seen a number of pests and diseases threaten trees over the years, and stay current on all the latest risks. They welcome questions and concerns from property owners on these risks, as well as any aspect of tree health. “Whether you know exactly what your trees need, or if you’d like someone to just take a look, now is the time to call a tree care professional,” he says.

Reevaluate Your Landscape

Now is also a great time to consider your overall landscape. Have trees fallen and altered the scenery? Are certain trees so tall that they block your views? Are larger trees growing too close to your

home or outbuildings? Do you notice cracks in the pavement along your driveway? Tree shaping, cleanup, and removal can help solve many of these issues. Upon looking at your post-winter landscape, you may decide that now’s the time to enhance your property with more trees. While the Hunters do not offer tree planting services, they can recommend many good local landscapers in the area. Hunter advises that you consider the slope of your property, light availability, and soil type. “A good landscaper can help you select the best tree species for your site,” he says. “Just be sure that the landscaper you choose to work with is a certified landscaper.” Whether you end up needing help with tree removal, pruning, pest treatment, or any of the other services offered by an expert tree care provider, Hunter offers some final advice. “Spring is an especially busy time, so the earlier you schedule a visit the better.” Hunter’s Tree Service, Inc. provides complete tree care, including pruning, view enhancement, tree removal, stump grinding, bucket truck service, crane service, lightning protection, tree cabling, pre-construction consultation, fertilization and pest control. Both Tony and Judy are certified arborists through the International Society of Arboriculture. You can reach Hunter’s Tree Service, Inc. at Contact:, or at (828) 733-3320 / (828) 963-5094.

Hunter’s Tree Service, Inc Top 10 Reasons to Value Trees:

• Trees provide shade and naturally cool many homes during the summer months, making homes more energy efficient • Trees hold soil particles together and slow or prevent erosion and run-off • Trees provide much of the oxygen we need to breathe • Trees help clean the air and absorb carbon dioxide through their leaves and bark, which helps combat pollution and climate change • Trees provide food and habitat for wildlife (and humans!) • Trees provide natural barriers and wind-blockers, and can hide things you’d rather not see (like well heads and propane tanks) • Trees provide materials for furniture, buildings, paper, arts and crafts • Trees provide firewood, a natural heating source for many homes • Trees bring communities together at parks and greenspaces • Trees increase your property’s value Certified arborists are professionals who are trained in tree maintenance and care. Contact a certified arborist to periodically assess the health and address the maintenance and care of your trees. To find a complete list of certified arborists in your area, contact your local Cooperative Extension agent. CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Spring 2017 —


Start Your Own Garden Club This Year – and Grow! By Nan K. Chase


his season, plant something in your community that can grow and blossom for years to come: a garden club. It is true that garden clubs have been on a steep decline in recent years – oldfashioned garden clubs made up of whitegloved, blue-haired ladies who lunched, that is. But put aside that stereotype and think of a garden club as being similar to a book club: a chance to get together with like-minded people to enjoy stimulating conversation plus companionship, and maybe learn something new. A garden club can also provide ways for newcomers to connect and contribute. Many local garden clubs undertake public beautification projects that benefit residents and visitors alike. Fund-raising garden tours, main street flower boxes, and public garden maintenance are all ways that High Country garden clubs can make a difference.


Because the garden clubs of half a century ago have inevitably lost members through old age and social change, it’s often easier to form a brand new club than find an active existing club.

What’s not to love?

I’m a garden club lady…21st century style. My current garden club, the Asheville E-Z Gardeners, has 24 members, up from 10 when we began seven years ago as a lark. There are two men in the club; many of us have work responsibilities, so we don’t “do” lunch but instead meet at other times; we range in age from 30’s to nearly 70; and some of us have never planted anything. Our official club beverage is wine. Our mission is simple: “To improve ourselves and our community through gardening.” So anything goes, and we sometimes make up the rules as we go along. Meetings are anything but staid, and have included field trips to places like a

bamboo garden, a waterfall wildflower garden, a daylily garden, and a beautiful urban garden created on industrial wasteland – all of them close by and inspiring. Although we have a lot of gardening novices in the club, some of us are professional gardeners or landscape designers. With informational lectures from our members and from local experts we have learned to grow ferns and peonies and roses, learned how to prune shrubs and care for a lawn, and learned how to use our own flowers, fruits, and vegetables in new ways. Best of all, we have a blast doing community service projects. Over the years we have been involved in trash pick-up for North Carolina’s Litter Sweep program. We have teamed with a sheltered workshop to turn their unattractive driveway into a garden spot. We have instituted a yearly plant sale to raise money for community college scholarship funds so that horticulture students can advance their

studies. And our favorite: once a year in early summer we hold our “pop-up flower shop” to make dozens of beautiful bouquets in the space of an hour. Those go to patients in a nearby hospice facility. Of course, in December we treat ourselves to a holiday party where we exchange gag gifts and sample the official club beverage.

It’s so easy to start

How to begin? Don’t be shy. Reach out to a dozen people you know, and ask them to reach out to other friends. Set a charter meeting date and give it a go. Many new residents in the High Country have come from much warmer climates – Florida, Georgia, Alabama – and they need help on adapting to cold weather gardening. That’s a great starting point. When I moved to Asheville from Boone, N.C., about a decade ago, I left one of the oldest clubs in North Carolina, the Blue Ridge Garden Club. I

only knew a few people in Asheville, but one January decided to invite those I did know to see about starting a garden club. I sent out a letter and nine people showed up. We ate a chili dinner, chose a club name, and scheduled another meeting for the next month.We grew and grew. Here are some of the ways our club has made it easy to belong: Be flexible. Instead of setting a regular meeting time, we rotate between choices like weekends and evenings…brunch, dinner, tea, bag lunch, or no refreshments at all if we have a field trip. Be modern. We have adopted a number of cloud-based online tools for scheduling our meetings, keeping a roster in real time, and sharing our activities with the world. No need to get bogged down with printed materials or longrange scheduling. Be friendly. People of all ages and from all walks of life are eager to bond over their love of plants and gardening. Young people can learn from older folks

and their decades of experience; and the seniors get a helping hand from the “kids.” Include men, women, children, and couples if you like. Have fun. Our club motto is “It’s E-Z,” a philosophy that encourages us to try new things…in small doses. What are you waiting for? This summer try forming your own High Country garden club. And get growing! Nan K. Chase is the founding president of the Asheville E-Z Gardeners. She is the author of Eat Your Yard! and co-author of Drink the Harvest.



Veteran’s Memorial:

Did you know that Watauga County will soon have a new Veterans’ Memorial honoring our local veterans, to be located on King Street in downtown Boone? To follow updates on the project, including the winner of the recent memorial design competition, visit the High Country Chapter of the Military Officers Association of America website at Check out their Facebook page at www.

Old Hampton Barbeque Ramp Festival 2017

Old Hampton Barbeque and Tavern will host its first annual Ramp Festival on May 13th as they celebrate the Appalachian heritage of a mountain leek known as the wild ramp. Local music is scheduled throughout the day. The fest is guaranteed to be a culinary and cultural experience for all! Check out their Facebook page at www.

New Exhibition At Biltmore Combines Literature, Fashion & Film

Award-winning costumes from films based on some of George Vanderbilt’s favorite books from his 22,000-volume collection adorn rooms throughout the Biltmore House at the estate’s newest exhibition, “Designed for Drama: Fashion from the Classics.” This colorful exhibition runs through July 4, 2017.


Guess Who?! Nationally know entertainer coming to Boone in support of the Sonny Sweet Scholarship Fund for Western Youth Network(WYN). Save the date for the evening of August 24, 2017.

Old Schoolhouse Cabaret:

Save the date! Sunday, July 16th, 6pm Reception with Wine, Beer & Hors d’oeuvres and local artists to benefit the renovations of the Historic Banner Elk School

Congratulations! the Avery High School Key Club on the recent awards students received at the 2017 Carolinas Key Club District Convention in March. Awards included: • Distinguished Club (1 of 2 clubs selected out of 241 in North & South Carolina) • Club Digital Poster- 1st Place • Oratorical Competition 1st Place to Garrett Dellinger • Club Video - 2nd Place • Single Service Award 3rd Place • Kiwanis Family Relations 3rd Place “The Key Club is an exemplary organization with outstanding young men and women who go above and beyond to make our county better. They show leadership and become role models to other young men and women, often taking the lead or being the driving force to make something happen in Avery County which otherwise would not be accomplished.” - Avery County Sheriff Kevin Frye

Safety at Seven Devils

The 14th Annual SafetyFest will be held on Saturday, July 1st from 10am-3pm at Town Hall.

The Banner Elk Boom Continues...

If you’ve driven through downtown Banner Elk lately, you’ve likely seen a number of construction and renovation projects taking place. One of the more visible projects in the works this spring is the expansion of the Banner Elk Café & Lodge Espresso Bar and Eatery. Once finished, this well-known restaurant will include a new 2,000 sq. ft. tavern, complete with sports bar amenities and regular live music performances. Located on Hwy 184/Shawneehaw Ave. in downtown Banner Elk, NC. Check out the spring live music calendar and follow updates on the expansion project at their Facebook page.

My Best Friend’s Barkery Dog Bakery and Pet Boutique

...has recently completed the expansion of their popular shop in downtown Banner Elk. The store has doubled in square footage, adding retail space, new displays, improved lighting, and an enlarged front porch and handicap accessible entryway. The “new wing” is now open to shoppers and their canine companions; stay tuned for a Grand Re-opening celebration to take place later this spring. Located at 176 Shawneehaw Ave., Banner Elk (directly across from the Banner Elk Café & Lodge) and at Facebook: www.facebook. com/MyBestFriendsBarkery/

Stonewalls Restaurant getting a major facelift this spring and the new owners, Scott Garland and Tim Heschke are excited to re-open their doors April 20th to show off their new look, including a full service bar with signature drinks. Come check out their new menu items, new salad bar and brunch offerings on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Brunch menu will include Mimosa and Bloody Mary Specials, poached duck eggs over hash, sweet tea infused fried chicken with Belgian waffles. Located at 344 Shawneehaw Ave. S., Banner Elk and at stonewallsrestaurant. com


(Opposing Abuse with Service, Information, and Shelter) is the local non-profit serving survivors of domestic and sexual violence. All of their services are free and confidential, last year the agency received over 1,900 crisis and information calls from this very community. This spring, the agency’s 14th annual fundraiser “Midnight at the OASIS” will take place Friday, May 19th at the Meadowbrook Inn in Blowing Rock from 7 to 11 PM. The Asheville-based band, Laditude, will be back by popular demand! As in years past, there will be heavy hors d’oeuvres with Middle Eastern themed food and a cash bar. Tickets are $35 per person; proceeds raised at the event are used to operate OASIS’s confidential, emergency shelter for women and children currently fleeing intimate partner violence. Secure online ticket purchase available at, or you may mail a check to P.O. Box 1591, Boone, NC 28607. We hope to see you there!

Lily Learns to Swim: A New Book for Children


t often happens that the most satisfying tale is a simple one. And if there are dogs and puppies involved, all the better. In Mary Williams’ book, Lily Learns to Swim, the story is a true one, and so beautifully illustrated that every reader is sure to become immersed in it. Mary Williams was a teacher for thirty years, and when she retired, she wanted to write stories for children. The antics of her family’s beloved dogs—“always Labs, always black, and always with red collars”—provided plenty of inspiration. Especially Lily, who was “such a character.” Watching Lily learn to swim, Mary was reminded that while encouragement and support are well and good, sometimes what is needed is a little push. She thought it might help kids to see how it had turned out for Lily, and possibly learn something from the story. The plan to write about Lily’s adventure had come easily to Mary, but the prospect of finding someone to illustrate the story “took awhile,” she says. “It was a lucky break, when a friend met Olivia Schoeff and put us together. It was a great working relationship.” Olivia, who works as an illustrator and artist in Asheville, says, “ I was very inspired by the Boone area and the amazing plant life and landscape there.” Just as depicted in Olivia’s pictures, Mary and her husband Wayne enjoy walks with their dogs along a variety of trails in and around their Blowing Rock home. Lily Learns to Swim is available in Boone at the Watauga Arts Council’s gallery shop and at Stickboy Bread Company. In Valle Crucis, the book is available at RiverCross Market next to the Mast Store. Youngsters up to about grade four are a perfect audience, along with pretty much everyone else who has ever loved a dog. To purchase the book online: For more information about Olivia Schoeff: Mary Williams will do an author reading of Lily Learns to Swim at the Historic Banner Elk School on Wednesday, July 12 at 4:30 PM. The event is free and open to all. Books will be available for purchase. CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Spring 2017 —





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Charleston Forge Home Store & Outlet: Furnishings and Accessories for the Home and Hearth

Located at their factory in Boone, North Carolina, the Charleston Forge Home Store & Outlet features a showroom well-stocked with handmade metal and wood furniture, fireplace goods, and handcrafted home accessories, most of which are produced right here in the High Country. There is also a 7,000 square-foot furniture outlet featuring prototypes, discontinued pieces, exclusive designs, and factory seconds, all at reduced prices. Charleston Forge has been creating handmade furniture since 1984 and is known for the beauty and quality of their products. The craftsmen who build the furniture combine age-old forging and woodworking techniques with contemporary designs, resulting in a truly exceptional offering. Guided tours of the factory are available upon request. Whether you are furnishing your home, looking for a memorable gift, or would just enjoy watching beautiful furniture being made in America, the Charleston Forge Home Store & Outlet can provide it all. They can also be found on the web at The Home Store and factory are located off Highway 421 in Boone at 251 Industrial Park Drive. Open Monday through Friday 9am4pm. Call (828) 264-0100.


Avery County School Students Kick Starting Mountain Biking Program

In September 2016 North Carolina High Country Cycling (NCHC) presented to the Avery County School Board the opportunity for its students to join the new National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA). North Carolina was the 19th state to join this growing league that introduces middle and high school students to the sport of mountain biking. The national cycling association’s mission is simple—get more kids riding bikes. Avery Schools Superintendent Dr. David Burleson agreed to join the league and suggested that the new NICA club be a school sponsored club. As a result, The Avery County Composite Cycling Club (AC4) became a reality. The new cycling entity represents three student bodies, Avery County High, Avery and Cranberry Middle Schools. In order to provide a safe introduction to mountain biking for the students, NCHC organizer, Doug Owen, a longtime cycling coach, had to search for suitable terrain. “We needed a place to practice,” Owen explained, “and Dr. Burleson connected us with Tracy Grit, Banner Elk Elementary Principal. He showed us an unused field next to the school.“ Everyone agreed it was the perfect ground to launch the new cycling programs of AC4. The only restrictions to transforming the park was limiting its use to non-school hours. That meant the park could open every evening, Saturday and Sunday, holidays, and all summer long. “We felt that was a great opportunity to build the playground we needed so badly for the kids in the community,” Owen declared. “All of the new trails systems in the area have been built for adults to ride. This gives us the safe place we needed for our children to develop their mountain bike skills.” When weather was favorable, the trails provided a bonus; the third, fourth and fifth graders at Banner Elk Elementary got to ride/run/ walk the trails one day a week as part of their physical education curriculum. The Cycle4Life bike playground consists of 1.5 miles of trails, separated into three one-half mile long loops. The Field Trail is a beginner/advanced trail that consists of 20 wooden features, 12 dirt berms, and numerous other features to ride over. The Creek Trail is an advanced trail that includes three bridges, four creek crossings, steps, and a solid rock drop. The School Trail is a beginner trail that is an open trail with a fun tree maze and off camber sections along the school playground fence line. One thing that makes this new playground the place to take your family while in Banner Elk,” Owen said, “is that it completes the current school playground that includes swing sets, climbing areas, a basketball court, and a field to play ball in.” For Owen, the new trails complement the current playground facilities already in place marking a new day in Avery County recreation. “Dr. Burleson has created an opportunity for us to make mountain biking a part of the Avery County Schools physical education programs,” said Owen who once led the National Championship Cycling Teams at Lees-McRae College in Banner Elk. “I am not sure that any other county school system in North Carolina, or maybe the eastern United States can say that.” With this project underway, Owen moves a few miles south to Riverside Elementary to begin construction of a new playground and a 3.5 mile trail for riders of all experience levels. Completion of the project is scheduled at the end of this school year. And according to Owen, North Carolina High Country Cycling is just getting started adding programs for young riders. “We’re looking forward to expanding the bike playgrounds to all the elementary schools in Avery County,” Owen concluded. Learn more on Facebook at Cycle4Life Bike Park.

Christmas in July an Ashe County Tradition

Foscoe Fly Fishing Company has New Owner in Linville’s Alex Dale

On Saturday, July 1st you can share in Ashe County’s agricultural tradition of producing some of the world’s finest Christmas trees. The Christmas in July Festival is one of the best, old fashioned summer festivals in the South, drawing thousands of visitors to historic West Jefferson, North Carolina. The inaugural festival debuted in 1987 to showcase the Ashe County Christmas tree industry. The praise of the county’s signature agricultural product is rooted in quality; in 2015, Ashe County was named the leading Christmas tree producer in the U.S. This year’s festival delivers a fantastic line-up of things to do, see, and hear. The very best in live traditional mountain music sets the backdrop. Over 100 handmade arts & crafts vendors join numerous food vendors delivering a fabulous variety of delicious festival foods. A signature event is the annual Civil War reenactment battles held throughout the day at the West Jefferson Municipal Park. The event includes demonstrations, battles, meet & greet with the generals, and a tour of their campsites. Children’s activities, roving performers, and the Farmers’ Market are also part of this year’s festival schedule. A Community Stage will showcase talent from local community groups and individuals, with dancing, clogging, singing and music. Christmas tree growers are invited to join the “People’s Choice Favorite Christmas Tree” competition and enter their best looking tree; festival goers will vote for their own favorite. Visitors are also invited to attend the kickoff events, beginning on Friday, June 30th. Live music will begin at 3 p.m., food vendors will start cooking at 5 p.m., and a special edition of a fantastic Farmers’ Market will be open until 8 p.m. Saturday’s main event will begin at 9 a.m., and conclude at 7 p.m. Join us for an array of local and regional music, food vendors, home grown vegetables, farm-raised meats, fun and festivities at Christmas in July in Downtown West Jefferson. For more information, visit us online at www.

More than thirty years ago Foscoe Fly Fishing Company opened along the Hwy. 105 corridor between Boone and Banner Elk. In 2007, after a number of ownership changes, the Orvis dealer and guide service owned by Slate and Tyler Lacy moved into its ‘Big Sky’ log structure on the banks of the Watauga River. The Lacys’ dramatic capitalization raised the ante in the High Country trout fishing industry. So it was big news when Linville’s Alex Dale moved in this spring as the new owner of the iconic fly fishing outfitter. Dale grew up on the banks of the Linville River and Grandmother Creek in Avery County and has pursued native and rainbow trout since he was 12-years-old. As a guide for hire and retailer, he’s been in the trade for 8 years. “I’ve always enjoyed the fun, the informative environment of fly shops and want to promote that feeling here at Foscoe Fishing Company,” Dale said. “That’s the backbone of any fly shop—a friendly, knowledgeable staff that can provide a customer at any level of experience with the gear and know how they need to get in the water.” Dale will work with a core of 4 head fishing guides, and a handful of others, to lead trips on the Watauga and Elk Rivers, Wilson Creek and the Toe and New Rivers. The tail waters of the South Holston and Watauga are productive destinations too. “Our staff is made up of anglers who are passionate about the sport,” Dale said. “Our goal is to make our shop a fun place to hang out.” Foscoe Fishing Company will remain an Orvis dealer and feature Simms, Rio, Umpqua, Lamson reels and Echo rods.

Boondocks Brewing’s Tap Room & Restaurant Named Great American Beer Bar Boondocks Brewing’s Tap Room & Restaurant, located in Ashe County, has been recognized as the best beer bar in North Carolina in the annual Great American Beer Bars competition conducted by —the Brewers Association website for beer lovers. “We started with a passion of not only serving great beer and high quality food but educating our guests and staff on what quality, hand crafted beer is all about,” said Gary Brown, Owner and Head Brewer of Boondocks Brewing. Gary further added, “What started as a leap of faith in 2012 is now a model that others are following.” You will always find around five Boondocks beers and 20+ other craft beers on tap, and more in bottles at the Restaurant. You can walk one block up to the Boondocks Brew Haus location where all of their beers are available on tap. Boondocks Brewing’s Tap Room & Restaurant is located at 108 S Jefferson Ave. Boondocks Brewing’s Brew Haus is located at 302 S Jefferson Ave and is the home of the Boondocks Brewing operations.






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Old Planks of Chestnut and New Heirlooms from Sugar Mountain

Sugar Mountain Woodworks is a small, family owned business located on Sugar Mountain. The firm’s artisans specialize in building dining tables, hand crafted from reclaimed wood and sustainable locally cut pine and hardwoods. Hand finishing produces unique creations, tables as full of the charm and character as the wood from which it was handcrafted. Ed Gibson, along with his sons Grant and Greg, take pride in each beautiful dining table. “Our customers’ joy in owning one of our special tables is very important to us,” the elder Gibson said. “It’s not something we take lightly.” The family comes by its craft honestly. “My heritage is Sugar Mountain,” Gibson said adding, “and my passion for wood working can be traced back to the memories shared with my grandfather, Ford Banner. When I think of Paw, I remember the smell of fresh cut wood and a faint hint of tobacco as I stood in his wood working shop and watched him work with pieces of wood he carefully molded into custom treasures for his home. He built the home he lived in and all of the furniture in his home, including cabinets, tables, and cane woven chairs. All of the wood that he used was cut by him on his land on Sugar Mountain.” As a child, Gibson was on his Paws heels, roaming his land selecting the wood that was just right in his eye’s mind. Many of those trees were Chestnut, which were all but obliterated by a blight at the turn of the century. “Listening to Paw tell the stories and legends of the Chestnut trees was magical to me as we explored the ancient forests,” Gibson remembers. “I could imagine the majesty of their size from the only thing that was left, the massive stumps.” It’s been said an estimated 3 to 4 billion Chestnuts trees were killed in the blight. “My Mom recalls as a young child with her sister and brothers scooping up handfuls of the big nuts to be eaten immediately or saved for cooler autumn days,” he recalls. “The old familiar song, Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire, is a real memory for her.” Gibson remember tales of his mother, with Paw, trading sacks of those Chestnuts at the General Store for needed supplies—a real cash crop. Now the majestic trees are just a memory, as is Paw’s old wood working shop. But Gibson revels in his childhood. “Those memories as a young child were the inspiration that led me to the same passion for woodworking instilled in me by Paw,” he explains. Today, Ford Banner’s grandson and great grandsons take the same pride in the family legacy, preserving beautiful wood and creating striking furniture. “Our shop is nestled in the same woods that I roamed as a young child with my Paw and where my Mom grew up in,” he says. The supply of chestnut boards is shrinking, but the Gibsons take pride in preserving and saving what boards remain, with their long untold histories of the ancient forests, for future generations. “We like to think of ourselves as artisans,” Gibson says honestly, “and we work together to provide our customers with a dining table that they can proudly display in their homes—a place where they can come together as family for generations to come.”


Local Musicians Contribute to Second CD in Support of Hunger and Health Coalition, Inc.

With Volume II, we’re continuing the tradition of working with musicians to create a collaborative work of art to raise money and help our town’s low income community. You can help too, by showing your support and becoming a sponsor. Get a free CD with any contribution over $10, and have your name or your business name in the liner notes by donating $100! Albums will arrive in May, and are a truly unique piece of the High Country that can’t be found anywhere else. Buy one for your out-of-town friends to share a little bit of the local music culture, and support the Hunger and Health Coalition’s work to feed our neighbors in need. To contribute:

Finding Hope in Foster Care Children’s Hope Alliance is dedicated to finding safe, healthy homes for children in need. That’s where foster parents step up and welcome hurting children with open hearts and open doors. Carrie and Jamie had a storybook romance with a twist. They found out they could never have children of their own. While this news was a blow to their dreams, they vowed to have a family in a different way. Carrie passed by Children’s Hope Alliance every day for work. One day she called to find out about their foster care program. “They were so helpful from the start, I just knew this was how we would have a family,” Carrie said. Shortly after Carrie and Jamie completed their training to be foster parents they met the little boy who would make them a family. Riley has a mischievous, gap-toothed grin that can win over anyone. The youngest of six children. His mother was addicted to drugs. The children would often have to sleep in their car and get food from a gas station. The Department of Social Services intervened. The very first time his social worker brought Riley over to visit with Carrie and Jamie, he asked if he could stay forever. Carrie and Jamie felt the same way. It was love at first sight! Shortly after Riley moved in, Carrie and Jamie learned his older brother needed a home and without hesitation, they opened their hearts to him too! Today the brothers are thriving and the Levis home is full of love, hope and family. For information about how to become a foster parent, visit

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Watauga Public Library Helps Preschoolers Get Ready To Read By LouAnn Morehouse

“Story time sessions are a place to get your alphabet on, and children love it.”


ducators know that the ability to read comes more easily to children when they have been given an awareness of the shapes and sounds of letters, and the optimal time to do so is at about age four. That’s why Lisa Flanigan, youth librarian at the Watauga Public Library in Boone, offers a weekly “Alphabet Ready” story time on Mondays at 11:00AM that is aimed at preschoolers. These story time sessions are especially lively, participative exchanges with songs and hand games that highlight a specific letter at each gathering. It’s a place to get your alphabet on, and children love it. Not too long ago, Lisa learned about a preschool outreach program that the Buncombe County Library system was using at daycares in the Asheville area. The Buncombe program trains volunteers to give themed readings and assigns them to daycares throughout the county. The Buncombe system serves more than 60 daycare centers in this way, reaching young children even when they cannot come to the library. Lisa attended a training session for Buncombe’s daycare readers, and saw the potential for using trained volunteers to present Alphabet Ready story times at daycares in Boone. Director of the Buncombe preschool outreach program, Abby Moser, generously offered to share the program details for Lisa to adapt as an Alphabet Ready outreach effort. By then Maggie Christenbury, a board member of the Friends of the Watauga Library, had learned about the developing plan. The Friends of the Watauga Library, a well-established organization that exists to support library programs, looks after library needs on several fronts via


committees such as the outreach group. Maggie chairs the Friends outreach committee. This committee provides story time readings at Hospitality House, takes large print books to senior centers, and looks after the assorted Little Free Libraries in the area. They also founded and maintain the popular “Reading and Rolling” summer reading program for young readers in rural Watauga County. The committee liked the scope and direction of Lisa’s new program, and encouraged her to ask for funding from the Friends to make it happen. Thanks to their ongoing fundraising efforts, such as the annual May book sale at the Boone Mall, the Friends of the Watauga Library generates revenues that they use to fund library programs. The board quickly approved Lisa Flanigan’s proposal, and the “Appalachian Reading Literacy for Early Learning (ARLE)” program got the money to get started. The funds are going to purchase the materials that stock the bags the readers use. Each bag, and there are twenty of them, contains eight books plus some puppets as well as “Flannel” activities and a “Tip Sheet” with songs and finger plays as enrichment activities for that particular story time letter. The choices of featured letters were guided by Tamara Stamey, the chief academic officer of Watauga County Public Schools. She welcomed the effort for helping youngsters who are soon to start school. Lisa says that she is glad for the partnership with Maggie, who “has a lot of contacts” and is the kind of person to “make it happen.” They already have six daycares lined up to receive twice-monthly visits from a reader who “adopts” that particular daycare. Maggie says there are about twenty daycare facilities in Watauga County, and she feels

the ARLE program could easily expand, including to places such as Hospitality House and to homeschooling groups. That “ARLE” acronym is a play on “Arly,” the cute fox mascot of the Appalachian Regional Library System— Watauga County’s two libraries are part of that system. Arly the mascot has been seen at such notable events as the Boone Christmas Parade, which takes place just down the hill from the Watauga Library. He’s also frequently on hand in the library’s youth section…tallish fellow, sharp nose, foxy looking? Keep on the look-out, he’s a lot of fun. Well, seeing as how foxes have kits, and these bags of books headed to daycares are kits for some fun learning time, Lisa and Maggie and the rest have taken to calling this the ARLE (pronounced “Arrlee”) program. Maybe Arly the mascot will drop by the daycares sometime to deliver a kit. Recruitment for volunteer readers is now underway. Readers will attend a three-hour training session and a background check will be performed on all who participate. If interested, email Lisa at, or go by the Watauga Public Library and talk to her at the Youth Services desk. The project is moving along to be fully implemented at the start of the school year, August 2017, and will run concurrent with the school calendar. Lisa, Maggie, and the ARLE team expect to keep an evaluative process going throughout the program to learn what works best for their young audiences. The library folks are hoping that ARLE will prove to be a great introduction to the wonderful world of reading for a new generation— and another way for the library to contribute to the community.

Coming to America: Roan Leadership Scholar Fulfills Her Dream By Tom McAuliffe


hen Iris Rubi Estrada-Romero steps onto the campus of East Tennessee State University in Johnson City this fall, it will mark the end of an incredible journey--and the beginning of another. Rubi leaves Avery County High School to join seven other Roan Leadership Scholars in the Class of 2021 along with the 22 upperclassmen already studying in the program. The Roan Scholarship Program, the university’s most prestigious, was established by Johnson City business man Louis H. Gump, and modeled after the Morehead-Cain Scholarship at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill which Gump earned in 1961. Candidates are nominated from 78 high schools in 27 counties of Northeast Tennessee, Southwest Virginia, and Western North Carolina. “They have been selected as respected and admired student leaders by their peers and teachers having made significant impact on their school and community,” explained Scott Jeffress, executive director of the program. The program draws its name and inspiration from nearby Roan Mountain, the area’s highest peak and a hub of the Appalachian Trail, providing unspoiled recreation for all seasons and home to the iconic Rhododendron festival. A motivational sight, the mountain is a symbol of character, strength and idealism. Selection for the program is based on students’ character, leadership, intellectual curiosity and physical vigor. The potential for

leadership excellence and lifelong impact is the distinguishing factor in earning the Roan Scholarship award. The focus is on equipping Roan Scholars for leadership excellence to have a positive impact on society. Recipients are expected to seek and serve in leadership roles in their professions and communities. As a frightened 7-year-old at Newland Elementary, Rubi seemed a far cry from the student and community leader she would become. A decade ago, her parents along with Rubi and her 10-yearold brother, Isauro, left behind their small village in the Mexican state of Guerrero, a region marked by lawlessness and contaminated streams from centuries of silver mining in a region once part of the Aztec Empire. Rubi’s parents, Lucio and Lucia, still speak the ancient dialect of Montezuma. They had followed a path blazed by her uncle to a new world, a mountain county with a damp and snowy climate and best known as the Christmas Tree Capital of the World. But for a young girl from Mexico sitting in the back of a second grade classroom at Newland Elementary, it was a world filled with doubt. “I was frustrated, English is such a difficult language,” she remembered. “But I could always look to my brother, Isauro. He never complained and he was always calm.” Teaching young students without English was tough on Rubi’s teachers too, no matter how kind hearted they proved to be. “I made learning English my goal,” she recalled, “and to make my teachers proud.” By the 4th grade, Rubi’s English improved to the point she was assigned a desk next to Latino newcomers, helping them navigate the same difficult waters that had met her during those early daunting days she remembered so well. It was a role she would embrace and one that would define her and ultimately shape her destiny.

Before entering Avery Middle School, during her 5th grade commencement, Rubi’s was called to acknowledge one award after another. The parade to the podium was so frequent that day she feigned exhaustion, to the delight of her friends and teachers. When it was time to enter high school, Rubi looked to her brother again. “I saw his yearbooks and I had made a list of all the clubs I wanted to be a part of,” she said. “He gave me a tour of the school and introduced me to his teachers. He was humble and wise and told me it was my responsibility to make high grades.” Rubi proved a real leader at Avery High, determined to motivate fellow Latino students to get involved in clubs and other school activities. She believed the best way to do that was to reach out to the parents of new students. “I want them to know how important it is for students to have the support of their parents,” Rubi explained. “That they are involved is an important part of any student’s education.” Toward that end she addressed parents’ meetings, stressing the importance of their involvement in the school, and made phone calls to the homes of rising freshmen to help prepare them for Orientation Day. Later, Rubi volunteered to participate in college information sessions for all in the Latino community. “I get an amazing feeling when I know that I helped someone,” she said. “The joy I find through service to others cannot be found anywhere else.” As she has grown, Rubi has learned to engage everyone. “I’m a social person and I love meeting people,” she said, “and I’ve found others are just the same, they want to have friends. I learned to be myself.” Rubi’s life at Avery High is one of ‘firsts’. She was the first Latino elected to the Student Government Association and the first Latino member of the

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National Honor Society. To the Roan Scholar Leadership Selection Committee, she was just who they were looking for. Libby Gragg, Rubi’s college and career counselor, has seen the change the newest Roan Scholar has brought to her school and to her own personal growth. “Rubi has evolved,” Gragg said. “She’s a humanitarian, a leader, an innovator, and a motivator of the student body.” The Roan Leadership Scholarship serves as a tremendous validation for Rubi, her teachers, and her family. It includes a financial award and four years of customized experiences and opportunities, including international travel and study abroad, internships, workshops and seminars, alumni and community leader interaction, and other unique programs. “This incoming class has already made a tangible and positive impact on their schools and communities,” scholarship founder Gump explained. “They exemplify the character and leadership talent we want to attract to enhance their skills so they can have additional positive influence on ETSU.” For Rubi Estrada-Romero, who plans to study Physical and Occupational Therapies at East Tennessee State, the magnitude of the opportunities the Roan Leadership Scholarship Award promise is very real. “The Roan looks for young men and women with the capacity, desire and drive to become exceptional leaders—individuals who take the initiative to identify, learn about, and address needs in their communities and motivate others to join them in those efforts,” explained Roan director Scott Jeffress. “Rubi embodies those qualities.” “My parents, they have sacrificed for me every day,” Rubi said. “I can’t waste their sacrifice. That is my push every day.”

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At My Best Friend’s Barkery, we pride ourselves on carrying healthy foods for your dogs and cats.

Andrews & Andrews Insurance 1910 Millers Gap Hwy Newland, NC 828-737-0679 Melba Andrews/Agent

Himalayan Guide Brings Mountain Tale to High Country to Better Home Country By Terry Jenkins


assion and purpose mix equally in the heart of a Nepalese mountain guide. Pema Tshiri Sherpa was a recent guest in the High Country, sharing his remarkable story with a number of audiences, Hosted by the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation, Pema visited with Avery County middle and high school students. He also spoke to Avery County civic organizations and at special presentations at the Blowing Rock Art and History Museum and REI in Asheville. His life-long passion to become a Sherpa began at the age of sixteen as a porter. He recalls that his parents were not too pleased to see him go, but his first “job” netted him a fortune. “I had no trekking equipment, no boots, and no warm clothes. I was paid in chocolate, a t-shirt and a few pencils given to me by the trekkers,” he fondly remembers and shared his fortune with his family. Since that inauspicious beginning, Pema has summited Mount Everest two times and hiked the 960 mile Great Himalayan Trail. In 2008 he started his own business, Pema Treks and Expeditions, leading private groups of hikers in the Everest and Annapurna trekking areas.

But Pema’s mountaineering passion shifted to a purpose much more intimate in April of 2015 when an earthquake struck Nepal. Though he was living in the larger city of Kathmandu at the time, his heart made him return to his hometown of Hill, a rural village. There he found the village’s school complex heavily damaged and no longer of use. He described early repair efforts that resulted in “students studying in a temporary building built with a tarp as a roof and bamboo woven walls. Monsoon rain is damaging the temporary building day by day.” Pema returned to Kathmandu and founded the Sherpa Welfare Nepal Foundation, a private organization devoted to earthquake relief to rural villages. With help from the foundation, and a lot of hard work by the villagers, a replacement school has been finished in Hill. Building materials had to be carried by hand or by donkey for long distances. But Pema‘s purpose is more than restoring a physical building. His second project is underway at the school. “To promote my village and improve the education status of my village, I am going to build a dormitory for volunteer teachers,” he vows. Pema hopes to at-

tract teachers for a few weeks at a time and instruct the students of Hill in those teachers’ subject areas. To raise funds, his foundation has been selling handwoven yak wool shawls, shawls Pema had with him while here in the High Country. The shawls were loomed by Nepali women, both in Kathmandu and in the rural villages. Several of the shawls, as well as colorful prayer flags, are available for purchase at the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation’s office. Prayer flags are seen all over the Himalayas, most often hanging on mountain ridges. The belief is that prayers and mantra are passed via the wind moving the flags and spreading good will. Spreading good will also defines Pema Tshiri Sherpa. His passion for the mountains gives him a good life, and a purpose to share a similar life for future generations through education. Call the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation office at 828-733-2013 for information on the shawls and flags. Contact the Sherpa Welfare Nepal Foundation at or For information on the treks use or www.



Little Linguists Language Academy By LouAnn Morehouse


e all want the best for our children, of course. That’s why we get them music lessons and dance lessons and gymnastics classes and Tball. It’s called expanding their horizons, giving them an opportunity to experience different forms of expression. And it works. Even if we don’t become the proud parents of a concert pianist or professional athlete, we know it’s a good thing to do for our kids. As if we couldn’t tell from watching them, there’s an enormous body of research demonstrating that involving children in the arts gives them advantages that last throughout their lives In fact, the language arts rank high among activities that provide important benefits to young, developing minds. A recent post on Psyblog (, a news blog covering scientific research, lists ten benefits of second language acquisition in early childhood. The results are impressive: an increased capacity for memory, enhanced multi-tasking skills, stronger attention spans, and even the ability to significantly delay the onset of dementia. When scientists say that learning another language is mind expanding, they really mean it! Those benefits—and her personal experiences—got Dr. Carroll Olson set on the notion of wanting her children to be exposed to a foreign language at a very early age. When Carroll was a youngster, she was fascinated by neighborhood children who could slip as easily into Spanish as English. Hoping to one day achieve this amazing ability herself, Carroll studied Spanish throughout school, and eventually obtained a Bachelor of Art degree in Romance Languages simultaneously with her Bachelor of Science in Neurobiological Sciences. Now an Emergency Department physician with Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center Community Physicians,


Head teacher Krystle Winnie and students have fun with "arte majico.

Dr. Olson uses her Spanish-speaking skills daily. She describes how it helps her communicate with people in need of medical care, whether they are patients in the Emergency Department, those she has met on mission trips to Mexico, or those she helped when providing disaster medicine after Hurricane Katrina. She knows that her ability to speak a second language is a critical factor in saving lives for patients who only speak Spanish. When Dr. Olson and her husband, Dan, started a family, they intentionally engaged bilingual caregivers to help look after their children. Dr. Olson says, “I wanted to give my kids the gift of language at a time when it’s easiest to acquire another language. It will be a gift that will last a lifetime and they will be more employable, enjoy traveling more, and be able to add onto their language skills more easily if they choose to in the future.” As the Olson family made friends and enjoyed living in Boone, other parents frequently commented on the Olson children’s language skills. People often said they wished their children could have the opportunity to learn a

foreign language. Eventually, Dr. Olson realized the need in the community to have a place for children (and adults) to learn or practice their second language. It became what she calls “a mission and a passion” to open an foreign language academy “where kids will be completely immersed in a fun, active, and educational environment.” In an immersion language program, learners dive right into a new language. All communication takes place in the second language—known as the L2— and the learners’ primary language is left at the door. At an immersion school, all subjects are taught in the L2, whether they are math, science, or social studies. An especially good time to introduce children to a language immersion program is during their “language window” period, between the ages of six months and six years. That age range was precisely the target audience that Dr. Olson felt she could best serve. Her school “subjects” would be music, movement, and arts and crafts, which could all be experienced easily and effectively in a language other than English. Dr. Olson found an ideal partner for the project in Krystle Winnie, a bilingual



(Served on our homemade bread)

instructor and yoga teacher. Krystle’s particular passion for language immersion arose from her childhood in a multilingual household, an experience that broadened her respect for other cultures and languages. Krystle earned a degree in Recreation Management from Appalachian State, and has obtained certification in various yoga styles. In her role as a bilingual caregiver to families in Boone, she became convinced that the community would welcome an immersion language school. Thus inspired by their backgrounds and convinced of the need, the two women researched language immersion programs throughout the country and designed a curriculum centered on fun with music—“the universal language”— as well as art, science and movement. These components of early childhood education provide an engaging and familiar base to connect to words and sounds from a new language. The co-founders named their new school the Little Linguists Language Academy. The school, housed in what was once The Homeplace Antiques Store just a mile outside of Boone, opened its doors in late January 2017. On a sunny afternoon in early spring, the Little Linguists Language Academy is still vibrating from the “Immersion Academy” small fry, the two-to-five year olds who have just been picked up after a morning of creativity conducted in Spanish. Head teacher Krystle Winnie has a light step and a smile on her face as she puts away the soft toys and little chairs. She is preparing the space for the after-school kids, who attend from 3:30-5:30. This older crowd, ranging from kindergarten to 6th grade, has their own activities geared toward a more accelerated rate of learning. A sign near the entrance reminds all that they are entering a “No English language zone.” Beyond it is a project area with

all manner of crafts materials. Across the space is a comfy reading nook stocked with foreign language books at a variety of reading levels. Meanwhile, in a classroom upstairs a couple of older children are receiving one-on-one tutoring from another teacher. It’s only been a couple of months since the school opened, and Krystle is “extremely happy” with their progress. She says, “The classes are going really well, the kids are having a lot of fun— and I am having a great time also.” Dr. Olson and Krystle are gratified that the community is so receptive to the program, and they are already in the planning stages to have pre-K and afterschool sessions in French and Mandarin in the fall. This summer, they are offering weekly Spanish immersion camps that will showcase different Spanish countries by representing the art, music, and food from each. Just recently, a couple contacted Little Linguists Language Academy asking for help in German. Their daughter is getting married in Germany and they wanted to be able to communicate with the new family. Dr. Olson and Krystle were able to start a German class for them and have added another incredible teacher to the staff. And thanks to continuing interest from parents wanting to learn or improve their foreign language skills, the school has also added adult beginning Spanish classes to start in May. Krystle says she long dreamt of having a language school, and it has worked out better than she could ever have imagined. Now she’s envisioning a bustling schoolhouse with classes going on upstairs and downstairs, in all manner of languages, and with all sorts of art and music and dancing and reading and fun taking place. For Dr. Carroll Olson, Krystle Winnie, and the eager students at the Little Linguists Language Academy, the dream is now.

Pies • Cakes • Tarts Shepherd’s Pie Steak & Ale Pie Chicken Pot Pie English Specialties (On request)


Serving Dinner Twice Monthly Call or Check our Website for Dates & Menu

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Open Tuesday-Saturday 10am-4:30pm 9872 Hwy. 105 S. in Foscoe (Across from Mountain Lumber)

Furniture • Appliances Small Household Items • Books Clothing & Accessories 1/2 Off on clothing every Saturday! Donations welcomed. Pick up available for furniture and appliances Thank you for your continued support

828-262-5029 877 West King Street, Boone NC Open Mon-Sat, 9am-5pm SPONSORED BY RESORT AREA MINISTRIES CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Spring 2017 —


Appalachia MADE IN

The Crossnore Weaving Room on the campus of Crossnore School & Children’s Home, opened in the early 20th century to preserve the Appalachian art of handweaving. Today we employ adults and students to keep the art alive and provide beautiful wearables, table linens, and home decor. Drop by for a visit on campus or check out our online store at Crossnore Campus: P.O. Box 249 | Crossnore, NC 28616 | (828) 733-4305 Winston-Salem Campus: 1001 Reynolda Road | Winston-Salem, NC 27104 |

MadeinAppalachia-6.75x9.25.indd 1


3/27/2017 1:15:40 PM

New Opportunity School Helped Brandi Clark Find Purpose in Life By Carol Timblin


randi Clark, a junior at Lees-McRae College, never thought she would attend college, much less spend a month studying wildlife in New Zealand. At age 11, Brandi had lost her mother and then lived with her father and an older brother. By the time she turned 15, she was skipping school and getting into trouble. At 18, she went to live with her grandmother, who divides her time between Weeki Wachee, Florida and Sugar Mountain, NC. Meanwhile, Brandi drifted from one fast-food job to another and managed to earn a GED along the way. While visiting her grandmother in North Carolina in 2013, Brandi began to think about taking a new direction. She shared her concerns with a friend, who told her about the New Opportunity School for Women at LeesMcRae. Brandi contacted the school director and within a short time found her-

self in a group of women who had similar experiences to hers. Like Brandi, they felt trapped and wanted to better themselves. Over the next three weeks the New Opportunity women learned how to write resumes, how to dress, how to interview for a job, how to build self-confidence, how to help each other. They kept daily journals, studied Appalachian literature, and attended cultural events in the area. They also took advantage of health services (mammograms, pap smears, dental work, eye exams, and glasses) that were available to them. “The New Opportunity School gave me another chance in life…a chance to get on my feet and do something with my life,” Brandi says. “I gained confidence and began to believe in myself. We all empowered each other. I decided I wanted to go to college and make something of myself.” After the New Opportunity School session ended, Brandi was accepted in the freshman class at Lees-McRae that fall. Her experiences at the May Wildlife and Rehabilitation Center on campus opened her eyes to opportunities in that field. As a sophomore, she decided to major in Wildlife Biology, with a concentration in rehabilitation. A part of the program included traveling to New Zealand, where she studied the yellow-eyed penguins who shelter and breed there. When she returned to Lees-McRae, Brandi decided to remain at the school for an additional year to pursue a second major – Biology and Health Sciences – and to prepare herself for veterinary school. An excellent student, she will graduate in 2018. Meanwhile, scholarship and workstudy cover Brandi’s college expenses. “Brandi is one of the most self-actualizing students I know,” notes Nina Fischesser, director of the May Wildlife Center. “Once she makes up her mind, she does everything to make that happen. She often attends the symposiums at NC State and uses every opportunity to make connections there. That’s how she came to work on one of their turtle teams. Brandi

now mentors other work-study students at Lees-McRae, plus she knows how to take care of herself.” The first person in her family to go to college, Brandi will be the first one to receive a degree. “Everyone in my family is extremely supportive of me,” she says. “They are proud of the way I have turned my life around.” Were it not for the doors that New Opportunity School opened for Brandi, she might not be where she is today. “New Opportunity School gave me the confidence to do what I am doing, and it gave me a purpose in life,” she says. “I had wanted to be a vet since I was five years old. I realized I wanted to go to veterinarian school and study wildlife and exotic medicine after college. The school also prepared me to travel to New Zealand and experience the world. I am 29 now; I’ll be 35 when I get out of vet school.” As a house sister to New Opportunity students at Bluefield College in Virginia last summer, she looked at the program from another perspective. “It was exciting to see the change in the women…to see them take control of their lives and seriously look at what they can do,” she recalls. “Brandi is an example of what the New Opportunity School can do for women,” says Jennie Harpold, director the LMC program. “It helps them find employment, as that is usually their most immediate need. It also helps them develop a plan that best suits their future needs. Brandi chose to further her education here, while some of our other graduates take advantage of the educational opportunities at community colleges.” In 1987, Jane Baucom Stephenson, a Banner Elk native, founded the New Opportunity School for Women at Berea College in Kentucky, where her husband John was serving as president. The program began with a phone call from Gurney Norman, an Appalachian writer, asking if the college had a program that might help a woman who was recently

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Photo © Todd Bush

divorced and needed to know how to get a job. Shortly after that, a foundation looking for a worthy program to fund knocked on the college door. “I had one week to write a grant proposal,” recalls Stephenson. “About 15 people gathered in our living room one day to brainstorm and design the program. We talked about classes, internships, and housing. John insisted we include Appalachian lit classes in the program, and Gurney believed creative writing would help the women build self-esteem.” The original mission of the New Opportunity School for Women—“to improve the financial, educational, and personal circumstances of low-income, middle-aged women in the Appalachian region”—has not changed. Over the course of its 30year history, the school has transformed the lives of more than 900 graduates who have completed the program at one of its three sites—Berea College, Lees-McRae, and Bluefield College. “A survey of all graduates of all programs this past year revealed that 41 percent of the children of our grads answering the survey have gone on to higher educatio­— and four have earned Ph.Ds.,” notes Stephenson. “Furthermore, 15 percent of the grandchildren of our grads have pursued higher education. Thirty percent of our graduates have completed Bachelor’s and/ or Master’s degrees, and 76 percent have become employed part-time and/or fulltime. An additional 13 percent are selfemployed. Interestingly, 17 percent have retired from employment. I truly believe that to educate a mother is to educate a family,” she adds. Stephenson continues to be involved in the program at all sites, serving wherever she is needed and getting to know the students. However, her primary focus these days is raising money for the NOSW Foundation, which provides funds for scholarships, health care needs for the women, and operating costs at the three sites. “I especially enjoy meting the students each year and learning how the program has changed them,” she says. The New Opportunity School for Women is now taking applications for the summer session, June 11 – July 1. Application forms are available online at nosw/index.htm

SkyLine/SkyBest Opens New Customer Service Center in Boone


kyLine/SkyBest has a new home for its customer service operations in Watauga County with the recent opening of its newest customer center near Boone Mall. Located on Wilson Drive in the former Village Laundry, the new Boone Customer Center provides greater convenience to SkyLine/SkyBest’s Watauga County customer base and supports efforts to expand SkyBest Communications’ service footprint to new areas. The full-service Customer Center features weekday business hours of 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. as well as walk-in service from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays. In 2013, SkyLine established a Customer Center location in Banner Elk, which has drawn more Avery County traffic away from the Seven Devils location, and the close proximity of these two facilities led company officials to find a location closer to Boone that could better serve all of the cooperative’s Watauga customers, as well as its subsidiary’s business customer base in Boone. SkyLine/SkyBest recently introduced new broadband packages with speeds ranging from 5 Mbps to 1 Gbps, and it continues to offer digital TV, local and long-distance phone services, bundled services, security, automation and surveillance, and medical alert systems. It also functions as a customer service stop for Carolina West

Wireless customers for bill payments, purchases, or cell phone plan upgrades. The modern facility features a video wall, streaming TV and VoIP displays, and a telepresence device that is used for additional customer service support via live video conferencing from other locations. “With Boone as the commerce center of Watauga County, we feel this new site allows us to offer greater convenience and to be more accessible to all of our Watauga members and customers,” said Retail Sales Manager Jamey Jenkins. The Customer Center’s move to Wilson Drive further coincided with SkyBest’s expanded service footprint to more of the Boone business community, specifically along Highway 105 and Business 321, and to the Lenoir business community. The Boone location is led by Jamey Jenkins and staffed by Retail Sales Supervisor Paige Phillips and six retail sales consultants. Sales staff assigned to the Boone and Lenoir business markets includes Strategic Sales Supervisor Brent Keith, Business Account Executives Charity Shatley and Graham Brown, and Inside Sales Coordinators Robin Miller and Hollie Brown. SkyLine engaged David Patrick Moses, Architects of Banner Elk and VPC Builders of Blowing Rock with the design and construction at the new Boone location.

Mountain High Schoolers Keep Music of Appalachian Region Alive


ne of the greatest joys of living in or visiting the High Country is the opportunity to experience the region’s rich musical traditions. There was a time not long ago when fears were real that the tradition might be lost in a modern culture rife with change and technological distractions. But today the music of the Appalachian Mountains is ubiquitous, and a program called Junior Appalachian Musicians ( JAM) promises to keep the tradition alive. Today, more than 1,500 students from the third to eighth grade throughout the Highlands of North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee, and Georgia are participating in JAM programs. The founders of this cutting-edge campaign offer a simple mission statement: “we envision a world in which all children have the opportunity to experience community through the joy of participating in traditional mountain music together.” In Avery County, JAM is an afterschool program for children in grades 4

through 8. As in all JAM programs in 15 counties, including Watauga County, it’s an intergenerational program that welcomes children and adults. Avery JAM introduces music through small group instruction on instruments common to the Appalachian region, such as fiddle, dulcimer, banjo, guitar, mandolin and bass. In addition to individual instruction, the students play together in string band. When the sessions are over the students are encouraged to participate in local jams to keep the old time music alive and play an integral and visible role in the community. Each JAM program is individually operated and funded. “By affiliating with the JAM organization, each program is eligible to receive support and resources for free, and is licensed to use ‘Junior Appalachian Musicians’ to identify their traditional music education program,” according to Tim Cummings, of the JAM Board of Directors. In Avery County alone more than 60 students are taking lessons and actively learning the skills in the instrument of their choice. “We expect to see new students in our upcoming sessions this

spring,” said Avery JAM founder and director Niki LaMotte. And last winter, in keeping with the mandate to fill the community with traditional mountain music, Avery County JAM performed at the Historic Banner Elk School in a rousing concert free to the public. “We feel that the Old Time Appalachian Music and lyrics should be revered, and held in the same light as the songs of the bagpipe that recognize the Scots’ ancestries,” she added. Because every JAM program is self-funding, community participation is needed in return. LaMotte and a legion of volunteers and of course, the young musicians, are ready and willing to spread the word of their exciting endeavor. Financial support is critical to the growth of JAM, as are contributions of musical string instruments. If you love the mountains, chances are you love its music and its traditions. Here are some ways to find out more about JAM and ways you can play a part of your own. Email or call 919-264-0466, or visit and and CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Spring 2017 —


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- 3,000 square foot Multi-Purpose Facility - Lodge theme, retractable walls, caterers’ kitchen Located: 331 Hospital Dr, Linville, NC / 828-737-5500 Contact Elizabeth Womack at

HEALTH HEALTH Taking Control of Your Health! Things are happening at the Williams YMCA of Avery County. This quiet little facility is making big strides toward serving its members as well as the community at large. In addition to the indoor pool, an abundance of cardio and strength equipment, and over 50 group fitness classes per week, the Y is now offering a variety of Chronic Disease Prevention programs. At present, there are two of these programs running with plans to expand to five. Delay the Disease is a group exercise class for people who have Parkinson’s disease or other movement disorders. The class began last June and has been successfully helping this special population increase endurance, strength, balance and flexibility. It is offered two days a week and participants report improvement of symptoms and also enjoy the relationships formed with their peers. Blood Pressure Self Monitoring is another program that is successful and empowers people to take control of their health. Blood pressure can be measured at any of a number of stations manned by Y employees or if qualified, clients can receive a cuff to check their blood pressure numbers at home. Studies show that people who frequently monitor their blood pressure tend to eat healthier and exercise more. In the next 6-18 months there are plans to offer 3 other programs.

EnhanceFitness is an evidence-based group exercise program for older adults that uses simple, easy-to-learn movements that motivate individuals (particularly those with arthritis) to stay active throughout their life. Each class session includes cardiovascular, strength training, balance, and flexibility exercises and the fostering of strong social relationships between participants. The YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program helps overweight adults at risk for type 2 diabetes reduce their risk for developing the disease by taking steps to improve their overall health and well-being. The program provides a supportive environment where participants work together to achieve the program goals of reducing individual weight by 7% and building up to 150 minutes of moderate physical activity (the equivalent of brisk walking) per week to reduce their risk of developing diabetes. LIVESTRONG® at the YMCA is a small-group program that helps adult cancer survivors reclaim their health and wellbeing following a cancer diagnosis. Through this program YMCAs are creating communities among cancer survivors and guiding them through safe physical activity, helping them build supportive relationships, and reducing stress – all leading to an improved quality of life.

For more on these and other programs, visit the YMCA website at, or stop by their Linville location at 436 Hospital Drive. 828-737-5500.



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Servicing Western NC With Excellence & Dependability Since 1971

828-733-5842 106 — Spring 2017 CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE


Community Care Clinic Marks First Decade of Service to the High Country By Pan McCaslin


roviding healthcare to lowincome people in the High Country without health insurance is the primary mission of Community Care Clinic of Boone. Through a multi-disciplinary, but personal approach, over 1,200 patients received care last year alone. “We couldn’t meet the needs of so many without the team of staff and volunteers who help make this a primary care service for so many,” explained Executive Director Melissa Selby while proudly pointing to the picture wall of volunteers serving in multiple locations. Selby, who earned her Masters of Social Work (MSW) from the University of Colorado-Boulder, is celebrating the agency’s 10th year serving people most in need. Today, Community Care Clinic (CCC) boasts five full-time and four part-time employees, 66 medical volunteers, and 54 non-medical volunteers. The CCC team reaches out to patients in Cove Creek, Hospitality House, and Bradford Mobile Home Park as part of their ever-expanding coverage. Last year the Community Care Clinic staff began a weekly staffing at Hospitality House to assist in the intake process, ensuring an inter-disciplinary approach to assessing needs for those who currently find themselves without housing. “Being homeless is a crisis. We can often be a stop gap for a person who may need a medication refilled, due to having to leave their belongings behind,” explained Nickie Hayes, RN. The Clinic utilizes Health and Hunger Coalition to get medications for those in need. According to Hayes, interaction with patients involves much more than just direct medical care. “Often people need one-on-one education about diabetes, nutritional changes, or high blood pressure,” she said. “For many, this is the first time they have ever had medical care. We’ve seen a rise in Hepatitis ‘C’ and work with prescription assistance to obtain necessary medication to treat the disease.”

Dealing with poverty, chronic illnesses, which in many cases have never been treated, and lack of transportation for patient care, are some of the challenges Hayes and the staff deal with on a daily basis. “We are a primary care home for many patients,” Hayes observed. “We are not just a walk-in clinic, but a medical home for families. It is important to build relationships with the people to gain their trust so they will not only share their medical history, but also trust us with their primary issues.” For Hayes, a life-long resident of the High Country, her work is her passion. When a patient first enters the clinic, a social work intern completes an intake survey that assesses all levels of needs – food, housing, clothing, medical care and other areas which directly affect one’s emotional and physical well-being. Aaron, an MSW intern, explained the intake process. “We can’t help them if we don’t know what they need. Often, one of the primary areas of need is psychological counseling to address coping skills, recent or past traumas, or a current crisis. The Clinic and Hospitality House share one full-time mental health professional. “We could use full-time staff in both locations,” CCC director Selby admitted. The challenge for the staff and volunteers is living up to their mission statement—bringing critical medical services to those most in need. Funding is an ongoing issue and as Medicaid laws change in the state of North Carolina, many are left without health care at all. “In a state where Medicaid was not expanded, there are a number of people who are not insured due to income requirements,” Selby said, adding that about 4,000 adults in Watauga county are without any kind of health insurance and 30-40 percent of the population live in poverty. A member of the Boone Chamber of Commerce, the Community Care Clinic has made a significant economic impact on the community. But the clinic’s impact one-on-one cannot be overstated.

“We give back in non-profit jobs, grant funding for the community, local services and salaries. We assist in keeping absenteeism down and can decrease the number of less serious medical visits to the Emergency Department at Watauga Medical Center. We serve the employees that small businesses cannot provide insurance for,” Selby said. LabCorp of Burlington, NC, has proved a critical supporter, providing about $350 thousand in pro bono medical testing services to the clinic. Volunteers donate skills and time. Cooperation between Hospitality House, the Community Care Clinic, and Health and Hunger Coalition has made it possible to address quickly and effectively the needs of so many. The Community Care Clinic exists for the needs of the low-income uninsured person and their families, but can only do so in cooperation with other area non-profits and medical services. “We are a vital part of this community and our goal, as we work to serve the over 10,000 uninsured in the High Country, is to increase our cross cooperation between area medical professionals who, when faced with a person who does not have health insurance, will think first of the Community Care Clinic as a primary referral source for that individual and their families.”

You can help the staff and volunteers to help many others in the next decade of the Community Care Clinic humanitarian mission when you go online at




When Rules of Thumb Don’t Work By Katherine S. Newton, CFP ®, ChFC™


any years ago when my father, whose hobby was woodworking, had his first knee replacement, I remember him saying to the surgeon right prior to the operation, “Remember to measure twice and cut once.” Clearly, this is a very useful rule of thumb regardless of whether you are a woodworker, a seamstress, or an orthopedic surgeon. In fact in life in general, we often use rules of thumb to help us remember ways of doing things, and oftentimes these rules are very helpful shortcuts. But what if they have outgrown their usefulness? The truth is sometimes rules of thumb don’t work or are just plain wrong. Take for example three Financial Planning rules of thumb. While they might be helpful in a limited way, they don’t go far enough in helping to reach one’s personal financial goals and can even contribute to grave error. 1. “ You should always save 10% of your income.” This sounds like a really great rule to follow, and it is definitely easy to remember. But some research suggests that young people should be saving 15% of their income just for retirement! If you are also saving for a house, a car, an education, or something else, the number should be a lot higher. 2. “Take 100 minus your age and that is the percentage you should have invested in stocks.” Although easy to remember, this is a gross oversimplification of how to position one’s portfolio. First off, research shows that this rule will reduce your lifetime income compared to investing in a stable, moderately allocated portfolio for retirement. Secondly, this rule ignores the unique circumstances of a person’s situation. How does she think about risk? What does he want to do with the money left behind after he passes away? How much income does she need? 3. “ You will need 80% of your pre-retirement annual income during retirement.” Again, a nonspecific and gross oversimplification. Research shows that retirees may spend this amount or more than this during the early years of retirement, less than this during midretirement years, and considerably more than this during the latter years of retirement when health care costs kick in. Bottom line: When it comes to retirement planning, no rule of thumb can possibly replace planning for your own very unique situation.

Katherine Newton, a 30-year veteran of the financial services industry and Certified Financial Planner™, crafts protectorates for her clients’ wealth so they have confidence to pursue what’s most important in their lives. You can reach Katherine at her company Waite Financial in Hickory at 828.322.9595 or by email at katherine@ Registered branch address: P.O. Box 1177, 428 4th Ave., NW, Hickory, NC 28603, 28601. The views are those of Katherine Newton and should not be considered as investment advice or to predict future performance. Past performance does not guarantee future results. All information is believed to be from reliable sources. However, we make no representations as to its completeness or accuracy. Please note that neither Cetera Advisor Networks, LLC, Carroll Financial Associates or any of their agents or representatives give legal or tax advice. For complete details, consult with your tax advisor or attorney. Investors should consider their investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses associated with municipal fund securities before investing. This information is found in the issuer’s official statement and should be read carefully before investing. Registered Representative offering securities through Cetera Advisor Networks, LLC. Member FINRA/SIPC. Advisory services offered through Carroll Financial Associates Inc., a Registered Investment Advisor. Waite Financial, Cetera Advisor Networks, and Carroll Financial Associates are unaffiliated.

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Katherine S. Newton, CFP®, ChFC Waite Financial 428 4th Ave, NW  Hickory, NC 28601 8 2 8 . 3 2 2 .9 5 9 5  866.716.8663 (fax) katherine@  Registered Representative of and Securities and Investment Advisory Services offered through Cetera Advisor Networks, member FINRA/SIPC. Waite Financial and Cetera Advisor Networks are unaffiliated.


Welcoming Your Spring Birds


By Edi Crosby


ird watching is a great way to connect with nature and enjoy the outdoors. North Carolina provides wonderful opportunities to see a variety of species, from charming backyard birds like the Carolina chickadee and northern cardinal to mountain migrants like the golden-winged warbler. One reason bird watching is so popular is that birds are everywhere, and anyone can find and observe them. Their beautiful plumage, varied behavior, and seasonal migrations make birds fascinating to study. To get started bird watching, all you need to do is look out your window. In the state of North Carolina, 473 species of birds have been recorded. So our mountains are not only lucky to have a wonderful variety of colorful trees – but also of birds! We are truly blessed by the beautiful sights of spring, summer and fall, and what better place to go see them than on some of our beautiful hiking trails. We are fortunate to have incredible trails that go through areas of rich and unique flora and fauna like nowhere else in the world. You don’t have to be an expert to enjoy the wide variety of bird songs and maybe you can even learn a couple of new bird species. It can make for a perfect weekend outing to pile in the car with your family and head up in elevation to explore some new trails. Feeding wild birds is one of the fastest growing outdoor-related activities in the US. This is because nearly anyone can do it no matter where they live and the feeders can be enjoyed from indoors or outdoors. The most important consideration in feeding birds is what kind of birds you want to attract. Sunflower seeds are very attractive to the species that many people prefer to attract: cardinals, chickadees, grosbeaks, and goldfinches. Tube feeders, hanging feeders or platform feeders work well for these species. Nyjer feeders

are important to keep goldfinches around year-round, if you want to see the fledglings. To attract woodpeckers, use suet in wire basket feeders. Once you have started a feeding program, it is recommended to keep the feeders full, and to keep them clean and dry. For the most enjoyment, it is a good idea to have a variety of feeders and feeds available. It may take birds a few days to find a new feeder, so don’t give up -- feed them and they will come! A number of common landscape plants such as dogwood will also attract more birds to your yard or woodlot. Visit your local gardening store and find out what plants are best for your area to attract birds and butterflies to your yard. But most importantly, don’t forget a source of shallow, clean water. That may be the top attraction for your backyard “bird-paradise”. Birds need clean water for drinking and bathing. And it makes for great entertainment for you! Spring is the time most birds get to the business of mating, building nests and egg laying to take advantage of the warm months while raising their young. Nonmigratory birds like chickadees and titmice start scouting out nesting spots before the snow melts – so you will see their fledglings in early spring. Some species that start nesting early in spring often have multiple broods over the course of the season. For these, the sooner nesting starts, the sooner they can mate again and produce more babies so that they go into winter with as many offspring as possible – since many won’t make it through to the following spring. Don’t forget the arrival of the rubythroated hummingbird! Late April or early May, have your hummingbird feeders all clean, filled with fresh nectar and ready for thirsty guests. Timing will depend on the weather – as does everything else in the mountains!

BIRDING TIDBIT: If you spot a male cardinal, chances are his mate is nearby, especially in breeding season. This is one of the few species whose females sing. A pair of cardinals might even share song phrases, using them to communicate at nesting time. And there is no prettier picture than to see a male cardinal feeding his mate during the breeding season. Get involved in your local Audubon Society – Boone has a chapter with meetings and outings. There is also a Carolina Bird Club. Check out their website at and see if there are any meetings or events you might want to attend. It is a great way to go birding with groups – where you learn birding skills and see different areas within the state and their local birds. The site gives you migration periods and the birds you can expect to see as you roll through the year – even by county. If you love warblers, for example, you will see there is a wide variety to be found in Asheville in April. Our mountains are fortunate to keep a lot of our birds year-round. If you are feeding birds, you know how many stay and go! is another great site that allows birdwatchers to report their sightings online to scientists who use the data to study bird distribution, movements and abundance trends. It’s also a great place to electronically store your own personal bird lists. You can record your sightings daily, weekly – or just take part in the seasonal counts! There are many other computer/phone identification sites to figure out what bird you have just seen, but may have been unable to identify. So get out there and get birding!

Edi Crosby’s WingN’It Wild Bird & Gift Store in Banner Elk closed last year for them to be nearer to family in Las Vegas. “We greatly miss all our friends and customers – and those great concerts in the park! Contributing to the BIRDING column allows me to stay in contact with our friends and express my love for the area!” CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Spring 2017 —


Grandfather Trout Farm

Appalachian Angler



You may bring your own or use our equipment. All bait and tackle are furnished at no charge. We will supply you with a bucket, towel, net and the gear for all your fishing needs. Don't worry if you’ve never fished before, we'll be happy to help you get started.


For some, cleaning their catch is fun, and you may do so, or we will clean them for you. We can filet or clean your trout whole, then double bag and ice down your catch.


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Fishing Refresher By Andrew Corpening


pring is back in the High Country and for many, locals and visitors alike, this means trout fishing is in season, too. Even though most area trout streams can be fished all year, the Hatchery Supported streams are closed during the month of March. Opening Day for these streams is the first Saturday in April and for many it’s nothing less than a celebrated annual event. Also the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC) again starts stocking the Hatchery Supported streams monthly until mid-summer. All of the above makes this time of year, for many, the traditional trout fishing season. Since many of these people are not avid anglers, or are visitors to the area, it might be a good idea to go over some of the rules and regulations. If you fish on a regular basis the following should be common knowledge, but if not it may keep you from getting a ticket from the Game Warden. Even though it should be obvious, you do need a fishing license. This sometimes surprises our visitors from states with a lot of coastal fishing where a license is not required. Even our fellow North Carolina residents from the “flat lands” with a valid basic license are sometimes surprised to discover that they need more. Due to the nature of our mountain trout streams, they require special regulations. This, plus the stocking program, means that a trout permit, sometimes called a trout stamp, is required in addition to the basic inland fishing license. North Carolina residents can save a little money if they purchase a Comprehensive Fishing License instead of the Basic License and permit. If they already have a Sportsman’s (fishing and hunting) License or a lifetime Sportsman or fishing license, the trout permit is included. Out of state visitors need a fishing license and the trout permit. Out of state licenses can be purchased for ten days or a year. Even though these nonresident licenses are a little more expen-

sive, North Carolina is a lot cheaper that some of our neighboring states. Even if you own a second home in the area, you are not necessarily a resident. Your residency is determined by your driver’s license address. Once you have the proper license, you also need to consider the special regulations that apply to designated mountain trout waters. If you fish in the piedmont or coastal plains for warm water species, you usually just have to concern yourself with size or creel limits. It gets more complicated on mountain trout streams. The least regulated streams, other than having a closed month, are the Hatchery Supported rivers. On these streams you can use any kind of bait or lure, keep seven trout, and there is no size limit. The NCWRC stocks the streams expecting anglers to keep a few for consumption. The High Country also has a few Hatchery Supported lakes. These are a good place to take children or handicapped anglers. Another designation for some streams is Wild Trout waters. These are self-supporting streams with no stocking program. On these rivers you can only use single-hook, artificial lures, no bait. If you want to keep some, the size limit is seven inches and you can only keep four. Most people fishing these streams practice catch-and-release since they are not stocked. The High Country also has two Catch-and-Release stream designations. The first type is single-hook; artificial lures only, no bait. The second type is limited to fly fishing only. The final stream designation is Delayed Harvest. These streams are singlehook, artificial lures, catch-and-release only, from Oct. 1 to the first Saturday in June. From the first Saturday in June until Oct. 1, these streams fall under Hatchery Supported regulations. Keep in mind that on the first Saturday in June when you can start keeping fish, no one 16 years or older can fish until noon. Children get the first chance at these trout. To show the designations of the

mountain trout waters, the NCWRC posts diamond shaped signs along the streams. Hatchery Supported streams have a green and white sign. Wild Trout waters have a blue and gold sign. The flies only Catch-and-Release streams use a red and gold sign. The single hook, artificial lure only Catch-and-Release waters are marked with purple and gold signs. Delayed Harvest streams have black and white signs. These signs are helpful but due to vandalism or just plain wear-and-tear, sometimes they are missing. The most accurate information on the designations of the mountain trout waters is the NCWRC Regulations Digest. It lists the streams with the designations by county. The only problem with the Digest is that it uses State Road numbers instead of road names. These road numbers, usually placed on the side of a stop sign, are small and hard to read. You should be able to obtain a Regulations Digest from any store that sells fishing licenses. Of course, in the digital age, the NCWRC has a web site with all of this information. The site also has trout maps showing the designated streams by county. The only drawback to using the online maps is that they do not show all roads. If you are using the maps, have a good road map also. The NCWRC web site is Another option for getting this information is to stop in one of the High Country’s fishing shops. The knowledgeable staff at these shops can direct you to productive waters based on the time of year and how you want to fish. If all else fails, consider a guided fishing trip. Most area guides usually offer fly-fishing only trips. If you are concerned that you don’t know how to fly-fish, a guided trip is a great way to learn a little and the guides are excellent instructors. Another benefit to a guided trip is that you don’t have to have any equipment. Since all equipment is included, it is a great way to find out if you like fly-fishing before investing in the gear. CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Spring 2017 —


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FISHING “Man y go fishing all their lives without knowing that it is not fish the y are after.” —Henry David Thoreau

Wade in the Water: An Adventure in Fly Fishing By Julie Farthing


here is a river in Avery County that meanders through the communities of Plumtree and Roaring Creek. Crystal clear water that runs wide and still in one place, shallow and fast in another. It is here where I crossed off an item on my bucket fishing. For Mother’s Day last year, I did not receive the usual flowers, candy, or manicure. Instead my daughters gave me a memory­—a solo-guided fly fishing trip in some of the finest trout waters east of the Rockies. Years ago, I learned about “Sisters on the Fly,” a caravan of women in vintage RVs who empower women to be bold and live life through adventures. They meet together on the banks of a river to mingle, share stories…and fly-fish. There seems to be something about stepping into a river, a baptism of nature, that is a bit more daring than standing safely on the banks of a stream or pond. Sometimes, you just have to wade in the water to truly experience life. I guess that’s what always drew me to fly fishing. The wonderful thing about living in, or visiting the High Country, is there are many outfitters that offer solo and group fly fishing tours. Guided trips for those who have never held a rod, such as myself, to those who have several pricey rods of their own. And to clear things up now, when fly fishing, it is called a rod, not a pole. A pole is for pond fishing. Just

picture Andy Griffith and Opie walking down a dirt road towards the pond. Since I was a newbie, having a guide with patience and a sense of humor was a plus when I pulled up my waders, and stepped into the knee-deep, cold rushing water. I had practiced casting on land, using the back, then forward wrist snap I had seen in movies; that dance with the line as it flits back to catch a current waiting for a fish to snag the fly. But being in the water, trying to keep your balance on slippery rocks while finding the perfect casting spot was much harder than on dry land. Luckily, I was not the first novice my guide had taken out on the river. He not only hooked the flies, but guided each fish I caught into a net, snapped a few photos for posterity, then gently removed the hook so I could set my slippery fish free. I learned that all fly casting revolves around the basic backward and forward casting strokes and there are at least eight different types of casts. A complete body effort as your eyes, legs, shoulders, arms, wrists and hands all come together combine to energize and control the rod to cast the fly line, its leader and the fly to the target area. The water we fished was narrow with a canopy of trees overhead in many areas, so we mainly practiced roll casting. In roll casting, the fly line is not lifted from the water for the backcast but is simply pulled back along the water and

then cast forward. Once the fly is in the water I learned the technique of “mending the line.” When mending you try to pick up the fly line and leader off the water and place it back down upstream or downstream soon after your cast hits the intended spot. This prevents dragging the line and prolongs the cast. Some of you won’t know what in the world I am talking about, while you experts are rolling your eyes right now. Whichever it is, I’m pleased to say I must have caught on because before long the fish were striking the fly. But the real magic of fly fishing is when you let go of the outside and become one with the river and the moment. Sometimes I don’t think it even matters if you catch the “big one” or not. It is often said that “a bad day of fishing is better than a good day at work.” Maybe because the river doesn’t care if you’ve never taken a fish off a line, or if you squeal when a fish flip-flops in your hands. Instead, it beckons you to be a part of the ever changing shadows and light on the surface, to feel the cold current that demands your attention, and to hear the rushing sounds of fast waters flowing toward something bigger. The colorful rainbow and beautiful brown trout that I caught and released that afternoon were oblivious to the fact they were playing a larger part in my life than they could ever imagine. Together, this day, we were one with the waters of Plumtree Creek. CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Spring 2017 —


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Hospitality House By Pan McCaslin ...offering respect, dignity & compassion


o offer a safe, nurturing and healthy environment for individuals and families who find themselves experiencing homelessness and poverty-related crises is the undergirding mission of Hospitality House, a facility in Boone, which also serves individuals from at least seven other High Country counties. Shelter and food are essential for those in crises, but the staff and volunteers of Hospitality House, interfacing with other non-profit organizations, also work to provide skills to assist individuals in rebuilding their lives as they again become as self-sufficient and productive as they are able. “Respect, Dignity and Compassion are three of our key seven values through which the services we offer to families and individuals in need are assessed,” shared Todd Carter, Director of Development.” Anyone can come and eat a meal with us.” In 2016 alone, 149,576 meals were served, with over 500 of those meals served by church and community groups. Nearly 39,000 shelter nights were provided through emergency housing, winter shelter, transitional housing and other housing situations. “In bad weather, we use our conference room and dining area as overnight sleeping space,” Carter reflected. “We work to keep families together, which requires creativity for safety and space.” Through shared services and staff of Community Care Clinic, Hospitality House, and Hunger and Health Coalition, all three agencies located on shared property, individuals and families who come to Hospitality House realize the opportunity to have their emotional and physical health needs assessed, and are treated or referred to other agencies or individuals who assist those in need. Each new resident receives an intake with a social worker and may be offered ongoing counseling by a licensed clinical therapist who is a shared employee

of both the Community Clinic and Hospitality House. The intake may identify medical, psychological or other needs for the person or family who may have entered the program with only the clothes they were wearing. Tina Krause, Executive Director of Hospitality House, spoke of ongoing needs. “During the winter months, we work to help the most vulnerable in our population stay safe and warm. Often, what they carry with them are their only belongings.” To address the increasing need to provide everyone that utilizes the Winter Shelter with a locker, Hospitality House has partnered with the Kathleen Kennedy Fund of the Ethel and W. George Kennedy Family Foundation to launch the LOCKERS OF HOPE Matching Challenge. The Kathleen Kennedy Fund has pledged to match every dollar up to $10,000 to help increase the number of lockers from 18 to 48. Those donating $250 or more will have a nameplate placed on a locker that states their name, and underneath the name “Believe In Hope.” “Our vision is to be a community where every individual and family thrives,” Carter shared. Each client has the opportunity, as they are able, to learn vocational, interpersonal, and financial skills. Many who live in the transitional housing program have jobs in the community and learn money saving skills to build resources for deposits and utilities when they leave Hospitality House. Other programs which support skill building for the clients include RISE of the High Country, a program that seeks to partner those whose lives have been affected by poverty with mentors in the community who wish to help change the cycle of poverty. Welcome Home Thriftique, an upscale resale store, offers clients of Hospitality House an avenue to develop and further their skills and experiences in the work force.


The Gardens of Hospitality House program was begun to provide fresh vegetables, herbs and fruit for daily meals in the Bread of Life Hunger Relief programs, which include a Community Kitchen that serves three meals a day, seven days a week anda Food Pantry, which provides boxes of food for those in need in the community. “Every available space will soon have something growing as we are moving toward 100 percent edible landscaping. We are always needing volunteers to help assist clients with not only learning about gardening and harvesting, but also to help with garden care,” Carter encouraged in speaking recently to a Hearts of Hospitality House monthly meeting. Gardening classes are also offered to the community. The Summer Food Series, offered on the third Monday night of May, June, July and August, provides the community an opportunity to enjoy high quality meals that support and promote locally sourced food. Upcoming fundraisers include a golf tournament on June 3, the Hospitality House annual luncheon on August 18th, and the Turkey Trot 5K on Thanksgiving Day. When asked about ongoing needs for the clients of Hospitality House, both Carter and Krause shared similar responses. “Although we have some paid staff, we could not support our clients without the many volunteers who help cook, garden, serve on our board and ambassador’s group, raise funds, assist in the office, and help provide meals and supplies,” Krause shared with a smile. Carter reflected, “Once you get to know our clients and our needs, you begin to understand poverty and being without shelter in a different way. All of our clients are vulnerable. We seek to provide stability and safety as they regain their dignity and ability to care for themselves and their families as they are able.” Hospitality House is located at 338 Brook Hollow Road, Boone, NC. CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Spring 2017 —


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“The single greatest lesson the garden teaches is that our relationship to the planet need not be zero-sum, and that as long as the sun still shines and people still can plan and plant, think and do, we can, if we bother to try, find ways to provide for ourselves without diminishing the world.” —Michael Pollan


The Hunger and Health Coalition Plants a Garden for the Community


By LouAnn Morehouse

t the Hunger and Health Coalition (HHC) in Boone, there’s a pharmacy and a food pantry and good secondhand clothing to help folks who need assistance providing for themselves. And now there’s something else, too—produce fresh from the garden. It’s the second year that Ben Loomis has taken up the shovel and spade to plant a vegetable garden for the Coalition, and he is expecting a great harvest. Loomis, who serves as grants manager at the HHC, has a degree in sustainable agriculture and is an avid organic gardener. He’s so good at it his compost smells like nice dirt! Last year, Ben and his stalwart band of volunteer gardeners raised 400 pounds of produce in the fourteen raised beds at the Coalition, each 32 square feet of growing space. That’s a wildly crowded and wonderful assortment of vegetables, including candy roaster squash, ground cherries, violet tomatillos, strawberries, peppers, tomatoes, lettuce, onions, fresh herbs, and pollinator-attracting flowers. This season the goal is to raise 1000 pounds. Ben starts his days at the Health and Hunger Coalition in the garden; he’s the one who organizes and oversees, but he’s also a hands-on gardener. As he walks between the beds, where even in early spring there are thriving spinaches that have overwintered, he acknowledges some great help from the community. Many people come by for an hour a week, and a lot can get done

in an hour in a garden. Other volunteer laborers have built the solid and sturdy raised beds. Ben says they will need a few more of those raised beds built in order to meet the 1,000 pound harvest goal. The garden has other kinds of support too. A grant from the Blood, Sweat, and Gears event funded the purchase of building supplies; Earthfare and Johnny’s Seeds donated seeds. Carolina Farm Credit Union provided funds that purchased hand tools and other implements. Support also comes in the form of space made available in the greenhouse at Parkway Elementary, where Ben starts the HHC garden seeds. Where does all that produce go? The farm-to-market pathway in this instance is less than a block—just across the yard, into the front door of the Hunger and Health Coalition, and down the hall to the market for distribution. The market in the HHC gets stock from area grocery stores too, and it’s a good help. But there’s just no beating veggies fresh from the garden—they get snapped up in a jiffy. And that’s why Ben and the gardeners are planning for more produce this season. They want and welcome the opportunity to put fresh food into the HHC market. Fortunately, produce from local farms supplements the HHC garden’s output. It’s an improvement made possible by the growing sustainable agriculture efforts in the region. Ben talks about one innovative program that happens at the Watauga County Farmers Market—it’s called “Farmer Foodshare.” ( The

Farmer Foodshare program was developed by a non-profit in Durham, NC, and he says “the HHC partners with them and uses the system and materials they created.” HHC representatives have a booth at the Farmers Market where they encourage shoppers to donate money, which in turn is used to purchase fresh produce from market vendors for distribution through the Coalition. Farmers’ Market produce on the shelves at the Coalition market mean that some people will be eating well. Another local effort grown into fruition is the Community of Gardeners, which Ben says “encourages communication” and the sharing of materials across the farms and gardens of the area. He mentions the new program, to “Grow a Row, Share a Row.” Ben says, “We are asking farmers and gardeners to consider planting extra to donate to the Hunger and Health Coalition throughout the season, to increase the amount of fresh produce to our market even further.” As Ben starts pruning one of the dwarf apple trees on the property, a donor arrives bearing a big bag of dry leaves. The two have a friendly discussion on the merits of types of dry leaves for composting. The new soil Ben has created will soon be growing a riot of color and nutrition and plain ol’ good eating. Time to get planting. To volunteer as a gardener at the Hunger and Health Coalition’s garden, contact Ben Loomis, grants manager, at



From Mountain Roots to Mountain Rooster By Steve York 1st ever load of trees to Fort Bragg, NC Nov 2009


hat do a produce stand, a coffee kiosk, a Christmas tree farm, a hauling service, an apple orchard, a truly “jack of all trades” fix-up/ clean-up business, and a military family legacy….all have in common? Two things: the names Mountain Rooster and Boe Barinowski. Mountain Rooster is the umbrella brand name for several locally based business enterprises owned by Boe Barinowski. Those businesses include Mountain Rooster Trees, Produce, Services, Coffee, Hauling and Orchards. Of all these operations, only Mountain Rooster Trees isn’t targeted towards the general public. It’s a Christmas tree growing and distribution service specifically intended for selling locally grown Fraser firs to military personnel at Ft. Bragg, North Carolina, Ft. Campbell, Kentucky and Ft. Stewart, Georgia. There’s a very personal reason for that exception, and that’s just part of the “military” link underlying the Boe Barinowski connection. Retired Lt. Colonel Robert E. (“Boe”) Barinowski III of Banner Elk comes from a long line of distinguished military personnel. His father and grandfather before him were both officers and all bore the name of Robert E. Barinowski. Boe’s dad (Bob) was a Lt. Colonel in the U.S. Air Force as part of its OIC Blue Master Parachute Team in Europe where he scored 211 successful parachute jumps. He was also Officer in


Captain Commander Boe with lieutenant leaders

Charge of the Combat Control Team in Vietnam during the infamous Tet offensive. Boe’s grandfather (“Barry”) served for two years in the Second Infantry Division as an Army artillery officer in WW I. Both the father and grandfather served honorably and earned lasting respect from their fellow soldiers and commanders. Following in these illustrious family bootprints, Boe served in the U.S. Army for 24 years. His noteworthy military career included assignments throughout Latin America, two combat tours in Afghanistan where he served with the elite “special ops” 75th Ranger Regiment, and later as a Spanish teacher and women’s soccer coach with the U.S. Military Academy at West Point for four years. But the military isn’t the only strong family influence on Boe’s life. Agriculture has also played a major role. His dad, Bob, was one of the pioneers in the Avery County Christmas tree farming business dedicating 30 acres and over three decades to growing and selling his Fraser fir trees from his farm at Horney Holler. Boe’s mom, Marti Barinowski, was a practicing nurse and worked with hospice for over 20 years, as well as serving on the Avery County Board of Education. His parents moved to Banner Elk in 1978 and over the years have continued to earn great respect and affection from their Avery County friends and neighbors. Boe’s West Point teaching and coaching experience ultimately led him to-

wards a career in education after retiring from the Army. He taught Junior ROTC and coached boys’ and girls’ golf at Avery County High School for six years. But teaching and coaching weren’t enough to keep Boe’s drive fulfilled. So he looked for new opportunities to both support and invest in his community through a network of local businesses dedicated to bringing quality local products and services at competitive prices to his friends and neighbors here in the High Country. And this is where the family’s agricultural history comes in. To start with, Boe made a solemn commitment to his father to continue to devote the family Christmas tree business for the benefit of select military base personnel and their families. That commitment is why Mountain Rooster Trees isn’t geared towards the general public but, instead, provides high quality Fraser firs directly and exclusively to those three military bases. “It’s one way of giving back to those who bravely and unselfishly serve our country, and to honor my pledge to my father,” Boe says. Then, in 2015, Boe purchased the landmark Clemmons Produce market diagonally across from Lowe’s Home Improvement in Banner Elk. For over a decade the market had served the community as both an indoor and outdoor produce store. Seeing an opportunity to continue and build upon the store’s heritage, Boe officially launched this venture with a grand opening and ribbon cutting that May hosted with wife, Laurie, and

Mountain Rooster Coffee, Next to Mountain Rooster Produce

officiated by Banner Elk Mayor Brenda Lyerly. “Locally grown, quality, healthy food products are our standard of excellence at Mountain Rooster Produce,” says Boe. “And that isn’t just some hype. We not only insist on purchasing from local farms and growers, we actually go visit our suppliers and get to know them and their products personally. After all, if you don’t truly know your growers and suppliers, how can you assure your customers they’re getting the best possible quality?” he adds. As Boe’s website notes, he and his team focus on connecting the whole community with the rich variety of fresh vegetables, meats, cheeses, fruits, breads, jellies, honey and other locally-sourced food products. They believe that hormone-free food should be available to anyone who wants it. And their mission includes helping to promote a robust trade of sustainable, farm-to-table agriculture right here in the High Country. That concept also incorporates providing customers with a variety of food cooking tips and recipes that feature fresh, all natural produce. This theme of quality, locally-based and reasonably priced products and services runs through all of Boe’s enterprises. In October of 2016 Boe started Mountain Rooster Services. This is his all-around fix it/clean it/build it/repair it/plumb it/wire it/paint it/finish it operation that even includes yardwork and firewood delivery. Once again it’s all

Young family lieutenant Boe w/ siblings (Bear, Susanna, and Amy) & parents (Bob, and Marti)

about using local people to help provide local people with quality work at prices notably below the going rate. Boe sees it as a win-win for everyone. In January of this year, Barinowski III added a coffee kiosk to the Mountain Rooster produce site, featuring freshly brewed coffees and hot chocolate for folks on-the-go. And—you guessed it—this venture is also called Mountain Rooster Coffee. More recently this family of businesses was joined by Mountain Rooster Hauling. They provide any kind of hitch hook-up you need. Plus, with their CDL licensed drivers and their owner-operated trucks and trailers, they can hall, pick-up or deliver anywhere within the North American continent, including Canada, Mexico and all points in between. Oh yeah…then there’s Mountain Rooster Orchards. After considering working with an existing apple orchard, Boe decided to start fresh and grow his own trees so he could—once again—assure all natural, pesticide-free apples for his local customers. When trying to wrap your head around all the diverse Mountain Rooster enterprises Boe somehow manages to run so efficiently, you’d probably have to credit his strong personal and family military experience. The finely-tuned discipline, precise focus, multi-tasking skills, ability to train a team and then delegate responsibilities, and setting a standard of excellence…all fall within the profile of someone who has deep roots in the military mindset.

Of course you’d also have to credit a strong family “up-bringing” to balance out the equation. And along with all that, part of his success comes from nurturing an “employee oriented” philosophy within his team; much of which is based around a small, 14-page book called A Message To Garcia. “I buy and give away 50 copies of it each year. All Mountain Rooster employees are required to read it. In essence, it’s what I’m all about and what I’ve always tried to instill in others…developing character in our youth and especially young men,” Boe notes. This branch of the Barinowski lineage includes Boe, Laurie, and their four kids, Sadie, Eli, Silas and Madeline, ages ten to sixteen. Along with being a full-time mom, Laurie also helps tutor the learning disabled at Banner Elk Elementary School as well as substitute teaching as needed. All of the Barinowski bunch are actively involved in their own interests as well as their community. All are likely to make their mark along the way. And something tells us there could always be more to come from this Barinowski brigade of business initiatives. There seems to be a restless quest for reaching out, building on and giving back imbedded in the family genes. Either way, it’s obvious there are plenty of enterprises ongoing to keep the Barinowskis busy for generations to come.



Mountain Wisdom & Ways: Spring Traditions from Yesteryear


By Jim Casada

s we become an increasingly homogenized society, with technology having the ability to bring the world to doorsteps in even the most remote mountain hills and hollows, once standard or treasured traditions seem to fade. Before our eyes they are vanishing like a thistle seed caught up in a strong breeze, blown who knows where before being deposited in the dustbin of history. To me that is saddening and sometimes almost maddening, because one of the most attractive characteristics of mountain folks, along with their stubborn independence and sterling work ethic, has always been deep devotion to tradition. Even though those old-time ways are vanishing, my mission, thought perhaps an exercise in futility like Sancho Panza tilting at windmills, is to keep them alive in print and in memory. With that in mind, let’s offer a quick salute to some of the rituals of spring which were once as common as pig tracks and have now become scarce as hen’s teeth. EASTER EGG FIGHTS AND OTHER DOIN’S Easter egg hunts remain immensely popular, with colored eggs, excited youngsters, baskets bulging with “finds,” and general mayhem being commonplace. However, the use of real dyed eggs has largely given way to plastic substitutes, and I can’t recall seeing or hearing of pink, blue, red, or yellow chicks in a ‘coon’s age. Yet there was a time when Easter chicks, not to mention bunnies, were an integral part of the secular side of Easter celebrations. Most families took this all in stride, because it was the season to buy chicks anyway, and a rabbit


or two, properly fed and fattened, made fine table fare a few months down the road. As surely as live chicks and rabbits have disappeared, so has the custom of “fighting” eggs. Mention the activity to anyone under the age of 40 and chances are you’ll get a blank stare or possibly a look suggesting “someone needs to come and take this geezer to the funny farm, and it ought to be done in prompt fashion.” In the 1940s and 1950s though, real hen eggs were as important to youngsters celebrating the secular side of Easter as a fetching new bonnet to wear to church for the ladies. The whole process of boiling eggs, applying Rit food coloring with a bit of vinegar to help the color “set” (most stores carried special packets of food coloring made specifically for the purpose along with a nifty little wire gadget for dipping and removing the eggs from hot dye solution), and getting everything ready for Easter egg hunts was a big deal. The smallest kids were happy just to “seek and find” something to put in their bright baskets filled with shredded paper colored like grass or straw, but older ones fought their eggs. This process involved two youngsters tapping the pointed ends of their boiled eggs against one another, with the individual whose egg was broken sometimes having to give it to his opponent. The process would continue until only one egg remained unbroken, and that was king of the eggs. For the most part it was innocent fun, and the waste-not, wantnot mentality long prevalent in the High Country guaranteed that there were plenty of egg salad sandwiches featured on the menu in the aftermath. The only problem came when some

n’er-do-well managed to slip a dyed guinea egg into the competition. Guinea eggs have much harder shells that even the sturdiest-shelled chicken eggs from free-range birds with plenty of calcium in their diet. Guinea eggs would invariably leave a string of shattered shells in their wake. If caught, the scoundrel who resorted to such tricks was roundly condemned, but rest assured never an Easter passed, at least in my youthful experience, when someone didn’t try to tilt the odds by using a guinea egg. SPRING TONICS When it comes to another ritual of spring I knew first-hand, I don’t know whether to claim an especially privileged boyhood or reveal that I was the victim of child abuse. If it was the latter though, child abuse was near-universal in my highland homeland. This particular rite of spring involved an annual “tonic,” with the idea being that after a long, hard winter everyone’s plumbing needed a thorough cleansing and internal “pick me up.” The nostrum came in various forms including sassafras tea, wild greens, or the remedy which reigned supreme in my family, sulfur and molasses. Properly-made black strap molasses is a nectar-like gift from the culinary gods. Mixed with home-churned butter it will give a hot cathead biscuit a college education and put a finishing touch on a breakfast that is a pure delight. But sulfur powder is another matter entirely. No amount of cane sweetening can mask the bitter, noxious taste of this medicinal invention of the devil, and as a lad I would rather have had inoculations in the behind (where they were normally given then) for three days running than ingest

a dose of sulfur and molasses. My preferences didn’t matter. Momma, and for that matter my paternal grandmother as well, were adamant. Everyone got a hefty dose of this tried-and-true spring tonic. PICKING POKE SALAD Another aspect of a mountain spring was gathering and eating poke salad. About the same time of year as Easter and administration of spring tonics, poke weed began to herald earth’s reawakening with tender shoots poking out of the warming ground. Picking a poke of poke (for those somewhat lacking in mountain culture, “poke” is High Country talk for a paper bag as well as the name of a wild vegetable) was commonplace in yesteryear. A big bait of poke salad, perhaps topped with slices of boiled eggs that had done previous duty in Easter baskets, was standard fare for the season. It took some effort to gather poke, although dead, forlorn stalks from the previous year standing at field edges, along fence rows, on road banks, or in cow pastures told you where to look. On a personal note, the first “cash money” I ever earned was as a second grader when I picked my teacher a whopping poke full of the spring greens. She paid me a quarter, and that was big money for a boy in the late 1940s. After being cooked and drained three times, poke salad was ready for the table. The multiple cooking and draining was necessary because of the wild vegetable’s exceptionally high level of vitamin A. Once ready though, it made a mighty tasty dish, especially for palates enjoying somewhat similar offerings such as spinach or turnip greens. Poke is also a firstrate purgative, and if I had had my way,

which obviously I didn’t, it would have been a perfectly satisfactory substitute for sulfur and molasses. After all, as Grandpa Joe opined, “it tastes might fine but it will set you free.” TROUT, RAMPS, AND BRANCH LETTUCE FEASTS The opening day of trout season in North Carolina has long been a time for celebration as sportsmen shake off the mollygrubs and get out to greet spring and hopefully catch a mess of trout. The fishing part of the equation remains strongly in place, so much so that on opening day on some hatchery-supported waters it almost seems that you need to carry your own rock if you want a place to stand. On the other hand, a type of feast once commonplace on the trout opener seems to be fading fast. A number of mountain towns still hold ramp festivals, and the pungent wild vegetable, a singularly odiferous member of the leek family, has become all the rage in hoity-toity recipes and upscale restaurants. But you can bet that chefs in such high-brow establishments don’t serve ramps raw. In that form they come with an after-effect that redefines halitosis, makes garlic seem meek as a lamb, and renders a bottle of mouthwash completely useless. So much is that the case that during my youth anyone who came to school after having eaten ramps was forthwith sent home for three days. You simply couldn’t stay in the same room with such souls, although to the taste raw ramps are quite mild. Fortunately, if everyone in a group of

campers or a party of fishermen eats ramps, no one is bothered. Believe me, in such situations you will eat them, like it or not, in self defense. By happy coincidence, right about the time trout season opens ramps are putting out new growth, signaling that the slender tubers are ready to be eaten, and branch lettuce (saxifrage) is greening up as well. Until you’ve eaten pan-fried trout all dressed up in cornbread dinner jackets and browned to mouth-watering perfection, with a hearty salad of branch lettuce and ramps “kilt” with hot bacon grease as a side dish, you simply haven’t lived. No five-star restaurant in Paris can top this fare. Alas, it has been at least two decades since I’ve enjoyed this distinctive High Country feast, although merely remembering such occasions is enough to put my salivary glands into involuntary overdrive. Like former politician Zell Miller wrote in the title of a fine book, these things are Purt Nigh Gone. Yet to recall them is to relish, even revere, such traditions. A son of the N. C. mountains who has written or edited dozens of books and contributed to magazines on the regional and national level for four decades, Jim Casada is an award-winning writer whose special interests include hunting, fishing, sporting history, mountain folkways and folklore, and food. In company with his wife, he has written a number of cookbooks. For more information or to receive his free monthly e-newsletter, visit CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Spring 2017 —


good food Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture Expands Access to Locally Grown Farm Products By LouAnn Morehouse


f you like food and you live in or visit the High Country, you may have heard of an organization called Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture, frequently initialized as BRWIA. Since the name is long, folks call it by its initials, and that acronym is pronounced—BRRRWEEAA. Or something like that. Executive Director Carol Coulter agrees with a smile that the name of the organization has a lot of important components, but it doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue. However you say it, these Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture really stand behind a mission to put locally produced food stuff on local tables. A local and sustainable food supply, that’s their vision. And they are making it happen. Not yet twenty years old, the organization has excelled at “strengthening the High Country’s local food system by supporting women and their families…” per their mandate. Their founding achievement is the collective of dedicated small farmers who are well educated and well supported in the business of operating a farm. These 87 farms located across the region—in one Tennessee and eight North Carolina counties—are living proof that quality foodstuffs are being grown and sold right here, right now. In early settlers’ times, these hills and hollers were full of family farms and plenty of fresh produce, meat and dairy, but as we all know that hasn’t been the case in recent years. Fortunately, however, the trend to get back to the land has been picking up steam for awhile, and it’s at full throttle these days. “Back around 1999 or 2000, there was a bunch of women who wanted to


farm and the guys kept discouraging us,” says Carol, who describes herself at that time as “an urbanite who didn’t know anything about farming.” Since then, and with help from her fellow farmers, she has grown a goat farm and dairy that she refers to as “the accidental dairy.” In retrospect, the guys’ behavior seems odd, given that women ARE farmers worldwide, some “43% of the world’s agricultural labor force,” according to a World Food Organization report. Even in the U.S., women farmers are hardly a novel idea. The USDA’s 2007 Census on Agriculture recognized that “more than thirty percent of U.S. farm operators are women.” At any rate, that bunch of Blue Ridge women persisted and before long they were doing it for themselves, just like you would expect. The women started meeting monthly to hear educational talks on farming and having a farm business. They organized as a non-profit and pretty quickly the monthly meeting grew into a “Food Summit” conference and started attracting the interest of grantors. Having some funding meant BRWIA was able to host workshops where the teaching was hands-on and highly effective. The organization was able to award grants to farmers for their own enterprises. With BRWIA’s help, the farms of the region became more productive, which meant more good food was produced. Having plenty of foodstuffs was the beginning; getting it to market was an equally important concern. Many farmers established a presence at area Farmer’s Markets, particularly in Boone, and developed a devoted following among

the shoppers. BRWIA members also forged farm-to-table relationships with restaurateurs, assuring fresh, local products at places such as Proper, Blowing Rock Ale House, and the New Public House. Recently BRWIA helped with the reorganization of the High Country CSA—community sustained agriculture—program, where consumers prepurchase a “share” of the food producers’ harvest, thus assuring the farmers of a market and providing a guaranteed share of fresh produce to the consumers. In the continuing effort to connect consumers to their food sources, BRWIA joined with like minded organizations such as Asheville’s ASAP (Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Program) to host Farm Tours. Now nine years later, the High Country Farm Tours are a popular event of the early summer. Last year’s tour featured twenty farms and saw 700 visitors. Four Farm Tours are planned for 2017: Caldwell County on June 17, Watauga County Gardens on June 18, Ashe County on July 15, and Watauga Farms on July 16. But the doers at Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture are not satisfied yet. Carol Coulter says that only about one percent of the population shops at Farmers Markets, and that’s just not a big enough market for all the good food local farmers can produce. A part of the problem remains access—getting the fresh food into the hands of the eating public. Farmer’s markets usually happen only once a week, and not everyone can shop when the farmers market is open. The newest answer to this problem is a Food Hub.

Food Hubs are sites that serve as warehouses for foodstuffs delivered there from participating farms. With a centrally located storage site, consumers can go to one place and pick up a good variety of locally grown and processed food stuffs during regular business hours. Carol says that Food Hubs are “popping up all over the country,” as other folks figure out how to solve the convenience issues of a farm-to-market culture. At the new High Country Food Hub, lots of shelf-stable items will be readily available: coffee, granola, grits, jams, jellies…Carol says local pasta is also on the list. With plenty of onsite cold storage, the BRWIA facility will also be able to offer a fine variety of locally produced pork, beef, lamb, chicken, trout, and cheeses. In tune with 21st century shopping styles, customers of the High Country Food Hub will place their orders online—fill out and pay for the order. All that remains will be to pick it up at the Food Hub on the designated day. The High Country Food Hub is located at the Watauga Extension Services site, 252 Poplar Grove Road. That’s where the people who have bought into the CSA program are already picking up their boxes of lovely, fresh vegetables. Carol and the folks at BRWIA are putting the final touches on the online Food Hub “store” and invite you to check it out. They see a season of abundance ahead, and are looking forward to meeting the need. To learn more about the High Country Food Hub and other BRWIA projects such as the Farm Tour, visit

Local farmers deliver produce for CSA boxes at the Food Hub

Food Hub workers fill the online orders and have them packed and ready for pick up




Culinary Herbs and Spices that Excite Your Taste Buds & Enhance Your Health By Samantha Stephens


ho doesn’t love to eat? Our satisfaction with eating will be enhanced if we recognize that what we are eating is good for us. I like to follow a grain-free diet that is rich in deeply colored vegetables and fruits combined with clean proteins and healthy fats. This reduces inflammation in my body, provides the antioxidants that are required to live in this world, and maintains good brain health. Sure, I still consume a little caffeine, dark chocolate and alcohol, but in moderation. You gotta have some fun, right? Culinary herbs and spices have been used for hundreds of years not only to flavor but to preserve foods from spoiling. This is one reason that herbs and spices are so powerful. The strength of the antioxidants is very effective for preservation. Let’s explore some ways to enhance the flavor of your favorite foods with added health benefits. Soon you can reach back into that powerful medicine chest in your kitchen and start creating! In order to maximize the flavor and medicinal potency of your herbs and spices, it's very important to follow certain principles. See below for some tips on how to manage your herb pantry: • Use only high quality, fresh and well-preserved herbs and spices. This ensures culinary quality and enhances the enjoyment of your food. • Use only high quality, fresh and well-preserved herbs and spices. • This ensures culinary quality and enhances the enjoyment of your food. • Store all herbs and spices in air-tight container in a cool, dark place. • Every 3-6 months, inventory and check to see if the herb's color is vibrant and its scent strong and unique. Replenish if not. • When needed, re-stock from your own garden or local farmers market. If purchasing in bulk, check dates to ensure freshness. • Choose organic whenever possible.

Turmeric Paste 1/4 c ground turmeric powder 2 T fresh minced ginger 2 1/2 tsps cinnamon 1-2 tsps fresh ground black pepper Pinch of nutmeg 1 1/2 T coconut oil In a small saucepan, bring 1 cup water to strong simmer. Add all remaining ingredients and stir with a whisk to combine. Let simmer slowly for about 4 minutes flavors to marry, adding more water if necessary to make a thick, soupy paste. Fill a clean glass pint jar, cool and refrigerate. Turmeric paste is a welcome addition to lentils, sautéed vegetables, and soups. Also use turmeric paste to make Golden Milk. Recipe below.

Golden Milk 1 cup water 1 T turmeric paste 1/2-1 cup coconut milk, almond milk, or raw cow's milk 1/2 T raw honey (optional) Bring 1 cup of water to boil and add turmeric paste. Turn off heat. Stir in milk of choice followed by raw honey (if desired).

Herb Infused Herb Oil A blend of fresh or dried herbs Olive or coconut oil Add dried herbs to a Mason jar to at least 1/4 full. If using fresh herbs, finely chop and fill completely full. Cover completely with warmed oil. Make sure that none of the fresh herbs are exposed in the jar. Place in a crockpot set on the lowest setting to let the herbs marinate for 24-48 hours. Remove the jar to carefully release pressure twice a day. After 24-48 hours, strain herbs through filter or cheesecloth and refrigerate until use. Excellent on leafy greens, pasta, drizzled on top of an assorted cheese plate, or to dip bread in.

“An herb is the friend of physicians and

the praise of cooks.”


Samantha Stephens is a nutritionist, food scientist and wild food enthusiast. Samantha can be contacted at


Fermented Cranberries Fresh, raw cranberries, slightly crushed with mallet 2 tsp freshly minced ginger 5 whole cloves 1 tsp cinnamon 1 T liquid yogurt whey Equal parts fresh squeezed orange juice with pulp and raw honey to fill the jar up to 1 inch from top. Fill pint sized jars with ingredients in order. Seal and shake daily for 4-6 weeks. Store in a cool, dark place. Refrigerate or store in cool cellar after 6 weeks. Serve by itself as a sweet treat, as a condiment to accompany chicken, lamb or pork, or blend well to serve on toast or in a smoothie.

Cilantro Sesame Dressing 1/2 cup red wine or rice wine vinegar 2 tsps freshly minced garlic 2 tsps fresh minced ginger 1 tsp Celtic sea salt 2 T gluten free tamari sauce 2 T almond butter or tahini 1 T toasted sesame seed oil 1 tsp cayenne pepper 1 T raw honey 2 cups chopped cilantro 2 medium spring onions Blend all ingredients in blender and serve with salad or as a dip. May also be used to marinate or top chicken or white fish.

Blackening Seasoning 2 tsps freshly ground black pepper 1 tsp ground cayenne pepper 3 tsps finely ground Celtic sea salt 1 tsp celery salt 2 tsps onion powder 2 tsps dried oregano 1 tsp dried thyme 2 tsps ground cumin 1/2 tsp ground turmeric 1 tsp rapadura sugar Makes 1/4 cup. Store in airtight container in dark pantry.


• Anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, promotes heart health and optimum brain function. • Try in soups, rice, roasted veggies. Make tea or Golden milk. Use in Thai, Indian or Chinese dishes.

Black Pepper

• Stimulates digestion, promotes weight loss and respiratory health. It also boosts turmeric’s effectiveness by 2000% • An excellent addition to all roasted, baked and sautéed meats, poultry and fish. Sprinkle over cooked vegetables with a little garlic salt.

Cinnamon and Clove

• Boosts insulin function after meals. Both contain eugenol, a powerful essential oil which helps preserve food. Treats tooth pain. Cinnamon boasts the highest antioxidant content of all food existing! • Add to desserts, hot drinks and to spicy Mexican dishes. Great with sweet potatoes, cooked apples, oranges, and even lamb. Add to hot chocolate to turn this ordinary drink into something special!


• Stimulates circulation, detoxifies the body, prevents blood clots, and improves overall metabolism. • Use dried or fresh. This lively spice adds life to just about anything, even chocolate!

Thyme, Oregano & Garlic

• All have antioxidant, antifungal and antiviral properties. Supportive when eaten during a cold or the flu. • These savory seasonings are perfect for salad dressings, on pizza, or added fresh on top of a salad.

Coriander / Cilantro

• Helpful to detox heavy metals from the body, is nutrient dense and a powerful antioxidant • Adds a lot of pungent flavor to salsas, creamy dressings, and chicken dishes.



Art by Libby Stephens

Wild Harvesting Spring Treasures


ne of my favorite things about wild harvesting is the opportunity to liberally explore the outdoors for hidden treasures. We all need an excuse to get outside, don’t we? For me it’s like a scavenger hunt! And all those wild goodies won’t cost you a thing. They’re FREE! There are a few very important things to remember when foraging: Choose the right location. When wild harvesting, gather plants that are at least 50 feet back from the edge of the road, never gather where domesticated animals linger or near telephone lines (pesticides are usually sprayed there), and not under roof drip lines (roofing materials leach toxic material). Do not harvest near old, lead-painted buildings, industrial sites, or other areas at risk for soil contamination. Know your plants. The best way to learn how to accurately identify wild plants is to forage with an expert who knows wild foods well. Take photos and use for reference. Use identification books, like a Peterson’s Field Guide. Bring along a canvas bag or basket to take home all your goodies in. Carefully gather only what you plan to use immediately, and always leave plenty behind for others and for continual growth. Wash your herbs carefully with well or spring water before use. For this issue, I am showcasing only four wild edible foods that are available each spring right here in the High Country. Each of the future CML issues will feature just a few seasonal wild foods coordinating with that time of year. I’ve found that it is most effective to thor-


oughly study and learn just a handful of wild foods at a time. Let’s explore some of the spring’s finest offerings now. Stinging Nettle

Protein and mineral rich, this tasty herb must be collected carefully with gloves and shears. Be sure to locate and harvest nettle before it flowers, for that is when the nutrients are most concentrated. While collecting, if afflicted by the bristles, merely rub some of the juice from the nettle itself onto your skin, or locate a nearby jewelweed plant and rub it into your skin to heal the sting. Trust me, it’s worth it to endure a little hardship for this mighty wild food! (Boiling nettle completely eliminates the bristles, so don’t despair.) Try adding nettle to soups or serve it lightly sautéed with a little grass fed butter and a pinch of Celtic sea salt. Be careful to not overcook! You may also brew up a nettle infusion by soaking the fresh leaves in hot water. Drink as tea or a supplement.

Wild Violet

These gorgeous purple flowers and leaves make a dull salad come alive with color and flavor. Garnishing your dishes with violets is also very satisfying. Try freezing these delicate flowers with some water in an ice cube tray and then serve these flowers cubes in a glass of homemade lemonade. Some like to dip the flowers in egg wash and then sugar for a candied version of this wild food. It makes a beautiful topping for cupcakes! Violet is already a sweet herb, and sugaring it this makes it extra special for children. The sweet nectar that comes from deep within the flower head makes this wild food hard to resist.

By Samantha Stephens Dandelion

One of my favorite spring herbs! Now is the best time to eat the leaves and roots, for they serve as a powerful detoxifier for your liver. Yes, they are bitter, but the sweetest leaves are found young and early in season. Collect tender leaves after the morning dewfall and bring inside to add to your smoothie, farm fresh eggs, casseroles or a sandwich. Dig up the root, clean under running water, pat dry and snip into small pieces to dry. Add the root to smoothies, stir fry, or casseroles. Alternatively, roast dandelion root in the oven until dark brown, grind in a coffee grinder and enjoy as a powerfully detoxifying coffee substitute.


Another of my favorites for its addicting earthy flavor and satisfying nutrition. Collect chickweed in the spring because it will soon disappear once the summer heat sets in. Eat alone as a snack, on a sandwich, or add to salads or hummus. Make pesto or even tea with chickweed. It’s rich in many vitamins and minerals; so take advantage of this nutritional powerhouse that’s right in your back yard! There is so much more that I could say about these fabulous wild foods. I hope that I have piqued your interest enough to want to learn more. If you would like to do further study, there is a plethora of resources online and in your local library to choose from.

Samantha Stephens is a nutritionist, food scientist and wild food enthusiast. Samantha can be contacted at

Inspire Your Tastebuds Painted Salad

ket r a M e c u Prod and t S e e f f o &C

Visit our Produce Market, featuring fresh and local

MAKE YOUR RESERVATION NOW! 2941 tynecastle highway • banner elk (across from the entrance to Sugar Mountain)


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fruits & veggies breads & cheeses fish & meats jams & preserves


Drive through our Coffee Stand and enjoy locally roasted coffee & fresh pastries. NOW OPEN! Hours 7:00am - 11:00am, 1:00pm - 4:00pm

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Catering Available | Open 7 days a week Mon-Sat 11am-9pm & Sunday Noon-9pm 190 Boone Heights Dr, Boone, NC 28607 Reservations Suggested 828-386-6101 – Visit our Banner Elk Location –

1947 Tynecastle Hwy Banner Elk, North Carolina (828) 783-1071 Visit us on Facebook! (across from Banner Elk car wash)



Cooking with Beer: When “Bad” Beer Happens to Good People By Karen Sabo

Cooking (or b aking) with b eer gives you r recipes a great tang and de pth


aking the rounds at our great High Country microbreweries is a pretty fun endeavor. Most of these establishments offer ‘flights,’ delivering tiny samples of ales, lagers, and porters to help us find our favorites. But occasionally, things go wrong, even in our beer-happy culture. If you’re adventurous, you might bring home a mixed six-pack from the craft beer section, and discover they’re a bad match for your taste buds. My husband and I are way too young to have been raised during the Great Depression, but we hate waste. We just can’t dump out the rest of those weird bottles we occasionally get, but we sure don’t want to drink them. So what to do? Cook with it. Cooking (or baking) with beer gives your recipes a great tang and depth you wouldn’t get from other liquids like broth or buttermilk. And while there are some great savory basics, like chili, that seem a natural fit for beer, other tasty morsels, like chocolate truffles, are surprisingly perfect for those chocolate stouts that are a little too sweet for us. Truffles are also perfect for the few inches of lessthan-bubbly beer left in that growler. Contrary to popular belief, not all the alcohol will cook out of food when added as an ingredient, so go easy on letting kids around those truffles. Of course, they’re so dark that they’re for adult palates, so your kids probably wouldn’t like them anyway. More for the grownups.


Despite the satisfying alliteration in the title, I usually use a mixture of meats in this recipe. Having vegetarian friends over? Use extra firm tofu, crumbled. It’s your dinner, you’re the boss. This looks like a long ingredient list, but you’ve probably got most of this on hand: 1 tbsp vegetable oil 1 lb. ground beef, lower fat (or turkey, bison, or the aforementioned tofu) 1/2 cup diced green pepper 1 cup onion, minced 2 cloves garlic, minced 1 tsp dried oregano 1 tsp salt (Got smoked salt? Use it!) 1/2 tsp ground pepper 2 tsp cumin 2 tbsp mild chili powder 1/4 tsp smoked paprika, if you’ve got it. (Plain, if you don’t.) 1 15 1/2 oz. can fire-roasted diced tomatoes. (Just use regular if you don’t have fire-roasted. It’s nice to get a smoky taste in your chili. You probably noticed the smoky ingredient trend) 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce 1 15 oz. can kidney or pinto beans, drained 1 12 oz. bottle beer, any kind Add the oil to a large, heavy pot. Heat on medium, then add the meat and brown it, breaking it up. When it’s nearly done, add onions, green peppers, and garlic, stirring occasionally until the vegetables have lost their raw look. Add oregano, salt, pepper, cumin, chili powder, and paprika. Pour about 1/4 to 1/3 of the beer into a glass. Drink to your health. Put the rest of the beer in the pot with the tomatoes, Worcestershire, and half the beans. Simmer on low. With a large fork or a potato masher, smash the other half of beans to make a paste. Scrape back into the pot and stir to use as a thickener. Cook for about 40 minutes, although if you let this sit overnight it gets tastier, like any stew-type dish. Serve with toppings like chopped green onions, shredded sharp cheddar, diced fresh tomatoes, cilantro, and avocado. I’d recommend drinking some beer with this.

MUSTARD-CHIVE BUTTER 4 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature 1 1/2 tbsp stone-ground mustard 1/4 tsp salt 2 tps finely diced chives or green onions Mix all ingredients together.


BEER BREAD This easy recipe for a quick bread is perfect for a pale or amber lager. 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour 1 tbsp plus 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder 3/4 tsp salt 1 tbsp sugar 12 oz. mild lager, room temperature 2 teaspoons dried dill Adjust your oven rack to the middle, and preheat to 400 degrees. Grease a loaf pan. Stir together flour, salt, sugar, baking powder, and dill. Whisk together until thoroughly blended. Stir in the beer and mix until smooth. Scrape into a loaf pan, and bake for about 35-40 minutes until top is lightly browned and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Tent with foil if it’s browning too fast. Let cool in pan for 5-10 minutes, then release from pan. Let cool and serve. The robustly flavored butter below goes beautifully with your bread. If you’re peeking through the window of your oven too often (you know that it adds to the length of baking every time you open it, right?), make this while your bread’s baking. Takes your mind off the waiting.

STOUT TRUFFLES The other meaning of stout here is what happens to us if we eat them all ourselves without sharing. One 12 oz. bottle stout (or chocolate peanut-butter stout) 8 oz. dark chocolate 1 Tbls granulated sugar ½ tsp vanilla Powdered sugar and/or unsweetened cocoa Put beer in a medium sized, heavy pot. On medium heat, boil beer down until ½ cup remains. When getting close to ½ cup, add sugar and stir frequently. While the beer is reducing, break chocolate into small chunks. When beer is reduced, turn off the burner. Add chocolate and vanilla, and stir constantly until melted and smooth. Scrape into a bowl, cover, and refrigerate for at least an hour. Using a small spoon, scoop little portions and roll into balls with your hands. Taste one. If it’s sweet enough for you, roll ‘em all in cocoa. Not sweet enough? Use powdered sugar. Using both separately means winding up with a pretty plate of truffles. Store in fridge, but let warm up to room temperature to serve.




n style with a gourmet flair souther

A New Orleans style Restaurant & Bar Banner Elk Location:

Boone Location:

4235 Hwy 105 South Banner Elk, NC 28604 ..................

2968-A Hwy 105 Boone, NC 28607 ..................



Cajun & Texas Cuisine

A Friendly General Store

Dedicated to excellence Committed to community

Visit the Wall of Flame! Beer • Wine Local Items Souvenirs Hot Sauce Downtown Banner Elk Open 7 Days a Week

Kitchen Open Late! 828 898~8952 130 — Spring 2017 CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE






In th




Boone’s Town Square

Visit the 2015 “Best of Tennessee” Award Winning Winery Nestled in the Appalachian High Country

Open Saturdays 8-Noon May through November


Daniel Boone Park, Horn in the West Parking Lot, Boone NC

Watauga Lake Winery F.A.R.M. Cafe is a non-profit, pay-what-you-can community kitchen that builds a healthy and inclusive community. We provide high quality and delicious meals produced from local sources when available, served in a restaurant where everybody eats, F.A.R.M Cafe is a non-profit, donate-what-you-can community kitchen regardless of means. Located at 617 King Street in that builds a healthy and inclusive community. WeW. provide high quality Downtown Boone, NC and delicious meals produced from localOpen sources when available, daily for lunch 11-2


served in a restaurant where everybody eats, regardless of means.

617 W. King Street Downtown Boone, NC Daily for lunch 11-2

...a beautiful 30 minute drive from Boone, NC. Enjoy a walk through history in the historic and haunted “Big Dry Run Schoolhouse” where the classrooms have been transformed into the wine production area and tasting room. Share a great bottle of wine paired with Boar’s Head deli products in our indoor or outdoor seating area. Open Mon, Thurs, Fri, Sat 11am – 6pm Sunday 1 p.m. – 5 p.m

6952 Big Dry Run Road, Butler, TN 423-768-0345 CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Spring 2017 —


WINE TASTING SATURDAYS, 1-5pm Visit our tasting room Wine by the glass Visit our Craft Beer Cave

E “One of the High Country’s largest selections of awardwinning, imported and domestic cheese, incredible chocolates, fine specialty foods,and the wines... aah, the wines!”

Contemporary American Fare

ERICKS CHEESE & WINE Grandfather Center Junction NC 184 & NC 105 Next to ABC Store Banner Elk NC 28604 828.898.9424



Craft Beers v Thoughful Wines Patio Dining Available Live Music Sundays | 828.414.9230 9239 Valley Blvd, Blowing Rock 28605

The Other Montepulciano: Tuscany’s Best Value Red Wine? By Ren Manning / Ericks Cheese & Wine


ell, there’s the grape called Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, which is a soft, fruity simple quaffer, and then there’s Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, which may be Tuscany’s (if not Italy’s) best value, but least known, “noble” red wine. Pity that so few wine lovers are familiar with that wine. Vino Nobile has absolutely nothing to do with the ubiquitous Montepulciano grape grown to the east and south of Tuscany but everything to do with the tiny, remote Tuscan hill village of Montepulciano 25 miles southeast of Siena. It is in old vineyards, many tended by organic and biodynamic viticulture methods, clinging to the steep, rocky hills that seem to hold up the village like a plinth, that some of Italy’s best Sangiovese grapes grow. Not just any Sangiovese, mind you, but the particular clone of that grape, called Prugnolo Gentile. You don’t have to remember this Latin name – just note that this is the same clone that grows in Montalcino to the west, which produces one of Italy’s most iconic and well-known wine, Brunello. Vino Nobile costs half of what Brunello costs. Are you beginning to get the idea stated in the title?

Though not known as Vino Nobile until so named in 1930 as a wine fit for the nobility and popes, wines from Montepulciano have been revered for centuries and written about since as early as 789 A.D. The Tuscan mantle was seized by Brunello di Montalcino, however, as hubris and complacency doomed quality and reputation of Vino Nobile during the middle of the 20th century. A new generation of grape growers and wine producers came on the scene and ratcheted up quality. Although it was awarded the highest quality DOCG status, along with Brunello in 1980, it still plays second Tuscan fiddle, which is unfortunate because quality has continued to climb while prices have not, creating a great opportunity for Italian wine lovers. Another problem has been that regulations have allowed the blending of up to 30% of other grape varieties into the finished wine, including the traditional Colorino, Canaiolo, and Mannolo, and international grapes such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, so every producer can create his or her own unique Vino Nobile formula. While giving the winemaker flexibility to produce wines according to a desired profile, it enables significant variability in styles, depriving Vino Nobile of a constant stylistic signature like Brunello, which has always been 100% Sangiovese. More and more, Vino Nobile producers are using 100% Sangiovese as well with a view toward a consistent definition to carve out a familiar and recognizable wine. Though the aging requirement for Brunello is twice as long as for Vino Nobile, many quality producers of Vino Nobile adhere to the Brunello aging criteria, with the result that both wines are robust, full-bodied and full of complex aromas and balanced components. There

are varying characteristics due to soil and other elements, but both types of wines will reward decades of aging and mimic each other in many ways. Each features good aromatic profiles of violets and other flowers, black cherry, plum and red and black berry fruits. With age, these wines offer up silky tannins, earthy notes, spices and balsamic fragrances. Top drawer Vino Nobile producers to look for include Avignonesi, though some feel quality (but not price!) has declined since being sold to Dutch owners, Poliziano, La Braccesca (an Antinori company), and Il Macchione. Tasting through a number of wines, including these producers with a big reputation, however, I was most impressed by a small producer—Villa Sant’Anna­­­—consisting of Simona Ruggeri Fabroni and her daughters, Anna and Margherita. This passionate all-woman team make dramatic wines with bold aromas and flavors, yet showcasing elegance and freshness. Vino Nobile producers also make a wine from the same variety, but younger, grapevines and age it only one year, rather than the two required of the Vino Nobile. This wine, Rosso di Monepulciano, sells for $10 less than its big sibling, which is normally priced in the mid$30s. Either wine will bring good pleasure, with the best rivaling those from neighboring Montalcino. Tuscan wine lovers should give them a try. Buy and enjoy the Rosso while you wait for the Vino Nobile to hit its stride a few years down the line!



Our CML KITCHEN decided on a fresh look at Salsa and Tacos – we hope you enjoy. Salsa is especially delicious when using homegrown or fresh local products so it’s best to get started on your garden now. Every ingredient in the following recipe except for the spices can be grown at home which will elevate the appeal and flavor. Canned tomatoes can obviously be replaced with any variety that you grow (except small varieties).

Garden Salsa This quick and simple salsa plays up the greatness of fresh vegetables and will have your guests begging for the recipe. 1 ½ jumbo yellow onions roughly chopped 2 -28oz cans diced tomatoes (or fresh, see note below*) 6 cloves of garlic – ends cut off and roughly chopped 1 and ½ de-seeded jalapeno peppers roughly chopped One small bunch of fresh cilantro Salt & pepper to taste (roughly 2 Tablespoons of salt) Juice from 1 ½ fresh limes Cumin-2 teaspoons Paprika-1 Tablespoon Chili powder-2 teaspoons Combine onion, jalapeno, garlic, tomato and cilantro in food processor and use the pulse setting to break down ingredients. Be careful not to puree too long, for this will make the salsa watery and ruin the stars of the show... the fresh vegetables! Add remaining ingredients and stir. *If using fresh tomatoes, start with 5-6 medium size and add more if desired to temper the garlic/onion flavor if it’s too strong.

Guacamole Another tried and true family classic. 8 ripe avocados, pitted and skinned Juice from ½ a lemon and ½ a lime 1-2 diced Roma tomatoes ½ red onion, small diced 4-5 roasted tomatillos (optional*) 2-3 finely chopped garlic cloves Paprika- 1-2 teaspoons (Be cautious - too much will turn the guacamole a reddish color) Salt and pepper to taste Chili powder-1 teaspoon ½ bunch cilantro finely chopped

2 zesty sauces Cusabi sauce (cucumber/wasabi)

fro m cm

Combining the ingredients is fairly straightforward. Use a hand mixer to blend them if you wish, but hand-cut vegetables and hand-mashed avocados will give your guacamole a more rustic look and will not be mistaken for inferior store bought. *This is your basic Guacamole recipe; the roasted tomatillos will add another level of flavor, having more of a tangy bite. Roasting first is the key if you choose to use them. Simply pre-heat your oven to 350 and set tomatillos on a foil lined baking pan with skin and husks still on. You will know they are done when they start to leak out the bottom, roughly 15-20 minutes. Make sure to let cool completely and remove the husks before mixing with other ingredients.


1/2 cucumber, peeled, de-seeded, finely diced 1 tablespoon wasabi powder (love heat? add more!) 3/4 cup sour cream 1/4 cup mayonnaise 2 garlic cloves, finely minced 2 or 3 tablespoons finely sliced green onion (or chives) 1/2 lemon juiced 1 to 2 Tablespoons olive oil Salt and pepper to taste Whisk all ingredients together.

Jalapeno ranch (alternative to cusabi cream)

This is the same as the Cusabi, except swap the mayo and sour cream for pre-made ranch (or just swap the sour cream and mayo amounts) and add 1 ½ finely diced de-seeded jalapenos instead of cucumber. Delete wasabi powder and olive oil completely.

2 delicious tacos to accompany your new found favorite salsa and guacamole Fish Tacos

Vegetarian Tacos

We created tacos with:

Completely vegetarian. Hold the cream to make it vegan.

One pound of fresh fish of choice Coconut rice (recipe below) Guacamole (recipe p.134) Red onion Queso fresco, or Queso cotija Fresh lemon & cilantro Cucumber/wasabi cream or jalapeno ranch (recipes p.134) Tortillas of choice

Crispy fried shallots (directions below) Sauteed shitake or choice of mushrooms (directions below) Roasted corn (directions below) Brussel sprouts (directions below) These taco recipes can Mango, diced be easily tweaked. Romaine, shredded finely The first is perfect Cilantro for warm summer Lime evenings with a cold Garden salsa (recipe p.134) Mexican beer! Sour cream

To prepare the fish, let sit in fridge with light coating of: Salt and pepper (celery salt if possible) Paprika Onion and garlic powder Lemon juice Olive oil to coat after seasonings A simple dash of Old Bay, or your favorite fish seasoning. Coconut rice One can coconut milk (14 ounces)* 1 ¼ cups of water (water only) 1 ½ cups UN-COOKED jasmine rice 1-2 teaspoons of sugar (more if you want sweeter rice) Salt to taste This recipe is extremely easy, you’re basically just replacing some of the normal cooking liquid (stock etc.) with coconut milk, then adding a bit of sugar…One of the keys to success with this rice is dissolving the sugar. Combine sugar, salt, coconut milk and water in saucepan and let sugar dissolve. Add rice and bring to boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook covered for 20 minutes. *In the CML kitchen we use coconut milk instead of coconut cream to cook our rice, this way the rice is absorbing the coconut milk along with the water and will have a more subtle and delicious coconut flavor.

Begin by slicing 2-3 shallots. Separate slices and let sit in your favorite mild hot sauce. Coat in flour seasoned with salt, onion and garlic powders, and paprika. Fry in canola or vegetable oil in sauce pan at 350 until golden brown. Slice 2 cups of shitakes, sauté with white wine and butter. Roast corn in oven or over grill flames. Cut down a handful of brussel sprouts to size (half inch or smaller) so they will cook through when seared, or par-boil them first in salted water before they hit the searing pan. Cook the sprouts in oil, soy sauce and a bit of honey until browned to add depth of flavor. Assemble tacos in your preferred tortilla starting with mushroom, corn, and sprouts--finish with mango, romaine, shallots, fresh cilantro/lime, salsa and sour cream. Makes 6-8 tacos.

ml’’s kitc hen Cooking the fish Once the rice is cooked, guacamole is made, and the cusabi sauce is done, pan sear fish flesh down (skin side up) until golden, then flip and remove from heat. The carryover heat in pan will cook it the rest of the way. If using a thicker piece of fish, put in 350 degree oven for 5 minutes after searing or until the center is just barely cooked through. If grilling, use similar method but make sure that the grill is VERY HOT AND OILED otherwise the flesh of the fish will stick to the grill.

To assemble tacos:

Take your favorite type of 5-6” tortilla (if using corn use two, this way ingredients will not fall out as easy), apply generous portion of homemade guacamole evenly spread across the center, add 1-2 ounces of coconut rice, the freshly cooked/still warm mahi or other seafood, sprinkle crumbled queso fresco evenly along with fresh small diced red onion if desired for crunch, top w/ cusabi sauce or jalapeno ranch, fresh cilantro and garnish with de-seeded lemon wedge so that your guests can squeeze on the juice if desired. Makes 6-8 tacos. *The Mahi-Mahi for the fish taco can be replaced with any fish you like (we recommend mahi-mahi, pollock, cod, tilapia or another similar, flaky white fish). A crab cake in a taco would also be delicious! (Email CML if in need of an excellent crab cake recipe). Shrimp is another great seafood alternative. Enjoy! CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Spring 2017 —


CO BO SUSHI sushiBISTRO bistro AND andBAR bar Monday-Saturday: 5-Close 161 Howard Street, Boone 828-386-1201

Celebrating 22 Years! 136 — Spring 2017 CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE

Downtown Boone’s Microbrewery and Wood Fired Gastropub featuring local & regionally sourced foods

Good beer

good food


good times

Photo by Jim Morton Jim Morton leaves behind a mountain-sized legacy, having “He was his own man, and in a world of sameness, that was refreshing. He was extremely creative, brilliant and has brought untold good to the community and will continue to do so for years to come.” helped establish the nonprofit foundation to preserve – Harris Prevost Grandfather Mountain for the generations to come.



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 / 828-295-3644 CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Spring 2017 —


OUR SPONSORS: 33...........A to Z Auto Detailing 33 ..........Amy Brown, CPA 96 .........Andrews & Andrews Insurance 20...........An Appalachian Summer Festival 83 ..........Antiques on Howard 110.........Appalachian Angler 7.............Appalachian Blind and Closet 82...........Appalachian Elder Law Center 12...........Appalachian Voices 83...........Apple Hill Farm 34...........Ashe County Arts Council 104.........Ashi Therapy Ashi Aromatics 80...........Avery Animal Hospital 25,33......Avery County Chamber of Commerce 106.........Avery Heating and Air 60...........Banner Elk Consignment Cottage 69...........Banner Elk Realty 68...........Banner Elk Winery 130.........Bayou Smokehouse & Grill 33...........BB&T 50...........Beech Mountain Club/ Beech Mountain TDA 127.........Bella’s Italian Restaurant 112.........Best Western Mountain Lodge 137.........Bistro Roco 32...........BJ’s Resort Wear 116.........Blowing Rock Ale House Restaurant/ Brewing Co 10...........Blowing Rock Farmer’s Market 10,11......Blowing Rock Pages 83...........Blue Blaze Bicycle & Shuttle Service 34...........Blue Mountain Metalworks 114.........Blue Ridge Energy 6.............Blue Ridge Propane 60...........Blue Ridge Realty & Investments 22...........Boone Mall 130.........Boondocks Brewing Tap Room & Restaurant 83...........Brinkley Hardware 73...........Caldwell County Chamber of Commerce 42...........Canyons Restaurant 23...........Carlton Gallery 69...........Carolina BBQ 58...........Casa Rustica 32...........Charleston Forge Home & Outlet 132.........Chestnut Grille

10...........Chetola Resort 114.........Children’s Hope Alliance 6.............Classic Stone 106.........Compu-Doc 136.........COBO Sushi 58...........C/R Catering 82...........Creative Printing 100.........Crossnore School for Children 2.............Dewoolfson 8.............Distinctive Cabinetry of the HC 11...........Doc’s Rocks Gem Mine 42...........Drexel Grapevine Antiques 99...........Eat Crow Café 116.........English Farmstead Cheese 30...........Ensemble Stage 132.........Ericks Cheese and Wine 20...........Eseeola Lodge 58...........Fairway Café & Venue 131.........F.A.R.M. Café 54...........Footsloggers 69...........Fortner Insurance 25...........FORUM at Lees-McRae 112.........Foscoe Fishing 48...........Fred’s General Mercantile 8.............Fuller & Fuller 112.........Gadabouts Catering 83...........Gardens of the Blue Ridge 137.........Gideon Ridge Inn 139.........Grandfather Mountain 38...........Grandfather Mountain Highland Games 110.........Grandfather Trout Farm 39...........Grandfather Vineyard 81...........Greater Newland Business Association 10...........Green Park Inn 81...........Greenleaf Services 23...........Gregory Alan’s Gifts 11...........Handtiques 80...........Harding Landscaping 33...........Headquarters Bike & Outdoor 70...........High Country Wine Trail 112.........Highland Outfitters 93...........Highlands Union Bank 110.........Highlands Wealth 82...........Holsten Camp and Retreat Center 77...........Hound Ears Club 104.........Hugh Chapman Center 83...........Hunter’s Tree Service 104.........Incredible Toy Company

49...........Inn at Crestwood 136.........Italian Restaurant 116.........Jerky Outpost 48...........Joara Field Day 54...........Lees McRae College 93...........Libby’s 22...........Liberty Mountain 60...........Life Care 38...........Linville Caverns 132.........Linville Falls Winery 58...........Linville Land Harbor 54...........Little Linguists 3.............Lodges at Eagles Nest 136.........Lost Province Brewing Company 80...........Lucky Lilly 136.........Macados Restaurant OBC........Mast General Store 27...........Mayland Appalachian Music Camp 58...........Mayland Dark Sky Observatory 104.........Mountain Dog and Friends 48...........Mountain Jewelers 127.........Mountain Rooster 81...........Mountaineer Landscaping 96...........My Best Friend’s Barkery 11...........Mystery Hill 33,112....Nick’s Restaurant & Pub 33...........Northern Parker 127.........Painted Fish Café 33,54......Peak Real Estate 130.........Peddlin’ Pig BBQ 106.........Premier Pharmacy 9.............Ram’s Rack Thrift Shop 30...........Reeves DiVenere Wright Attorneys at Law 110.........Resort Real Estate & Rentals 33...........Rite Aid Pharmacy 22...........Rivercross 81...........Robert Oelberg Landscaping 33...........Rustic Rooster 34...........Rustik 23...........Sally Nooney Art Studio Gallery 49...........Seven Devils TDA 82...........Sherry’s Pawsitively Pampered Dog Sitting 33...........Shooz and Shiraz

27...........Shoppes at Farmers 33...........Shoppes 0f Tynecastle 11...........Six Pence Pub 82...........Skyline/Skybest 42...........Southern Highland Craft Guild 116.........Stick Boy Bread Co. 76...........Stone Cavern 30...........Stonewalls Restaurant 26...........Sugar Mountain Golf and Tennis 80...........Sugar Mountain Nursery 96...........Sugar Mountain Woodworks 32...........Sugar Ski and Country Club 80...........Sunset Tee’s 26...........Tanner/Doncaster 39...........Tatum Gallery 11,27......The Blowing Rock 77...........The Cabin Store 23...........The Consignment Cottage Warehouse 33...........The Dande Lion 106.........The Foley Center at Chestnut Ridge 96...........The Happy Shack 69...........The Hotel Tavern 34...........The Kilted Artists 116.........The New Public House & Hotel 116.........The Spice & Tea Exchange 5.............The Village of Sugar Mountain 10...........Timberlake’s Restaurant 4.............Tom Eggers Construction 81...........Tom’s Custom Golf 30...........Turchin Center for the Visual Arts 33...........Tynecastle Builders 33...........Tynecastle Realty 33...........Valle de Bravo Mexican Grill 54...........Village Jewelers 108.........Waite Financial 131.........Watauga County Farmers Market 131.........Watauga Lake Winery 12...........West Jefferson Christmas in July 10...........Woodlands Barbecue 105.........YMCA of Avery Co

thank you! 138 — Spring 2017 CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE



Human. Nature.

Seems like we’re all drawn to nature. And whether it’s childlike wonder or an adult sense of discovery, you’ll find it here, in abundance. w w w. g ra n d f a t h e r. c o m