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Spring delights inside! ...a wonderful read for 21 years!

FROM OUR HOME to yours

Manufacturers of European-inspired down pillows, comforters and featherbeds. Fine bed, bath and table linens from France, Italy, Switzerland, Belgium and beyond. Located in the High Country. ABYSS & HABIDECOR ANALI BOVI DASH & ALBERT HOME TREASURES LE JACQUARD FRANCAIS LYCELLA® BY DEWOOLFSON MATOUK PEACOCK ALLEY PINE CONE HILL JOHN ROBSHAW SCHLOSSBERG SFERRA STAMATTINA TRADITIONS LINENS WOLF YVES DELORME

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© 2018 DEWOOLFSON Down Int’l., Inc. Photos courtesy of Matouk & Yves Delorme

Since 1983

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Explore The Overlook at Eagles Nest, our newest addition. These homesites feature breathtaking views with a close proximity to all that the North Pavilion amenities have to offer.

Brand New Maintenance Free Cottages from the 400’s



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Tom Eggers Construction, LLC Builder of your choice

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Photos © Todd Bush

Photo by Todd Bush

High Country’s Sweet Spot

There are lots of places you can find in the Blue Ridge Mountains to lift your spirits. But few destinations match the Village of Sugar Mountain’s spirit of the outdoors and its 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 take keen delight in a lifestyle they happily call their own. Sugar Mountain’s municipal golf and tennis complexes belong to everyone, and extend a sense of belonging rarely found in the public domain. 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. And Sugar Mountain tennis is second to none. Six HarTru clay courts deliver what every player loves—low impact surfaces which are dutifully groomed morning and night. Our racquet community is close-knit, but always welcoming to

newcomers and travelers. Round-Robin events and clinics led by our former Davis Cup pro Gene Highfield get everybody involved. Both tennis and golf offer quality playing fields at affordable rates designed to include everyone. You’ll love the all-purpose clubhouse, with delicious fare in the Caddie Shack Café with indoor and outdoor dining. Peaceful deck seating overlooks the golf course with a stunning 180-degree panoramic view of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Just minutes away you’ll find some of America’s most spectacular biking, hiking, fishing and white-water rafting. Don’t miss a weekend ride to the peak of Sugar Mountain on the Summit Express chairlift or the many iconic attractions as Grandfather Mountain, Linville Gorge, The Blowing Rock and Blue Ridge Parkway. They’re all in your backyard when you visit Sugar Mountain. And don’t forget your appetite—the region is home some of the world’s finest dining, fine cuisine in settings casual to formal. Sugar Mountain is all yours with accommodations of all kinds for every party large or small. For a day, or a lifetime, isn’t it time you experience Sugar Mountain? For more information log on



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Firelogs Tankless Water Heaters Vented & Unvented Heaters Free Standing Heat Stoves Outdoor Firepits & Grills Patio Heaters


Blue Ridge Propane has served Avery County and surrounding communities for 25 years. Locally owned and operated with certified service technicians and superior customer service. See what possibilities propane can offer you call 828-733-3603



From glare glare to gla From to glow. glow.For Forless. less. From Save now on H Save now on Hunter Douglas window fashions.

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Hunter Douglas offers a wide variety of window fashions in an array of fabrics, textures and colors. Contact us today. We’re the Appalachian & Closet Co. Hunter Douglas experts, guiding you in the selections that’ll make your homeBlind even more beautiful—whatever your style.

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Art of Sat. by on appointment, Ask usWindow about special savings select Dressing product design bookoperating Hunter Douglas systems. Closed Sunday Ask us about special savings on select 828-264-1395 Hunter Douglas operating systems. with this ad *Manufacturer’s mail-in rebate offer valid for qualifying purchases made 4/14/18–6/25/18 from participating dealers in the U.S. only. Offer excludes HDOrigins and Nantucket Window Shadings, a collection of Silhouette TM


™ ™ ® Window Shadings. Rebate will be issued in the form of a prepaid reward card and mailed within 4 weeks of rebate claim receipt. Funds do not expire. Subject to applicable law, a $2.00 monthly fee will be assessed against card balance 6 months after card issuance and each month thereafter. Additional limitations may apply. Ask participating dealer for details and rebate form. ©2018 Hunter Douglas. All rights reserved. All trademarks used herein are the property of Hunter Douglas or their respective owners. 18Q2MAGSC2

*Manufacturer’s mail-in rebate offer valid for qualifying purchases made 4/14/18–6/25/18 from participating de ™ ® *Manufacturer’s mail-in rebate offer valid for qualifying purchases made 4/14/18–6/25/18 from participating dealers in the U.S. only. Offer excludes HDOrigins™ and Nantucket Window Shadings, collection of Silhouette Window Rebate will be issued in the aform of a prepaid reward card and Shadings. mailed within 4 weeks of rebate claim receip Rebate will be issued in the form of a prepaid reward card and mailed within 4 weeks of rebate claim receipt. Funds do not expire. Subject to applicable law, a $2.00issuance monthlyand feeeach will be assessed against card balance 6 months month thereafter. Additional limitations mayafter apply.card Ask participating dealer for details an issuance and each month thereafter. Additional limitations may apply. Ask participating dealer for details and rebate form. ©2018 Hunter Douglas. All rights reserved. All trademarks herein are the property of Hunter Douglas or their respective owners.used 18Q2MAGSC2 respective owners. 18Q2MAGSC2



We have broad visions with hand-crafted designs. Call us to discuss your next construction projects

Fuller & Fuller GENERAL CONTRACTING & DESIGN 828-898-8180

When your kitchen says it all... just add food, festivities and friends!

elegant living...


Beside Mountain Grounds Coffee & Tea, Grandfather Center, Tynecastle

3990 NC Hwy 10 5 S. Suite 9, Banner Elk, NC 28604 • 828.898.9633 •


On the Inside . . . “Flame Azaleas” by Skip Sickler, taken on Grandfather Mountain The annual display of native rhododendrons and azaleas in the southern Appalachian Mountains provides a breath-taking experience for visitors and natives alike. Starting in mid-April and stretching well into June, a succession of various colors and hues splash the hillsides, escorting the transition of winter into spring and, finally, into early summer. Thickets of Flame Azaleas have been described as bejeweled necklaces adorning the necks of our mountains.

15......... The Stirring Story of Tweetsie Railroad By Randy Johnson

18......... An Ambitious Line-Up for Summer Theatre By Keith Martin

25......... Mountain Music Scene By Mark Freed

32......... The Appalachian Mountain Dulcimer By John L. Morgan III

36......... Nature by “The Creatives” By LouAnn Morehouse

42......... Arts Alive in Ashe County By Lynn Rees-Jones

45......... A River Flows to Liberty By Robert Inman

49......... “Nearer, My God, To Thee” By Tom McAuliffe

52......... “Savor Blowing Rock” Moves to May By Steve York

59......... Mountain Biking Climbs to New Heights By Kelly Melang

71......... Driftboat Craftsmanship By Joe Tennis

80......... Remembering the Dead By Eric Plaag

86......... Charm of the Green Park By Julie Farthing

89......... Mildred Tester—A Force of Nature By Keith Martin

90......... Banner House Museum’s Path of History By Carol Lowe Timblin

95......... An Advocate for Banner Elk By Tamara Seymour

111....... Call of the Corn—A Whiskey Legacy By Jim Leggett

113....... Taste the Difference of High Country Wines

spring! By Steve York

121....... Talent Behind Stonewalls By Kim S. Davis

Blue Ridge Parkway Update with Rita Larkin…65 Fishing with Andrew Corpening…69 Birding with Curtis Smalling…73 Notes from Grandfather with Frank Ruggiero…75 Blue Ridge Explorers with Tamara Seymour…77 Mountain Wisdom and Ways with Jim Casada…83 Local Tidbits & News…98 Finance with Katherine S. Newton…105 Wine with Ren Manning…119 Be Well with Samantha Stephens…125 Recipes from the CML Kitchen with Brennan Ford…126



Satisfy Your Cravings.




“Elk River is an exceptional golf course. But the best work was accomplished by nature long before I got there.” - JACK NICKLAUS

DISCOVER EXCELLENCE ELEVATED. Nothing compares to the quietness of a cool evening spent gazing out across the majestic mountain landscape, set aglow by golden rays peering down upon the signature Jack Nicklaus golf course. Elk River members enjoy many activities such as an equestrian center, fly fishing, tennis and social events. The private airport sets Elk River in a class of its own. But what makes Elk River truly special is the warm camaraderie our members enjoy with each other every day. Elk River is now accepting requests for an exclusive opportunity to enjoy all the club has to offer in Banner Elk, N.C. Learn more about our Discovery Visit and all that Elk River has to offer. (828) 897-9773 D I S C OV E R E L K R I V E RC LU B N C . C O M As a 501(c)(7) private, member-owned club, Elk River Club membership is limited and by invitation only.



Banner Elk Winery & Villa Experience Luxury in the High Country’s Original & Most Acclaimed Winery Savor award-winning wine and pamper yourself at The Villa, a luxury B&B. Spend your days exploring the local golfing, fishing, and skiing. Or recharge with a spa treatment and a glass of wine in front of the magnificent stone fireplace. A weekend getaway, corporate retreat, family vacation, or destination wedding ... it’s the perfect place to relax, re-inspire, and rejuvenate ~ both inside and out.

A publication of Carolina Mountain Life, Inc. ©2018 by Carolina Mountain Life Magazine, Inc. All rights reserved. Contents may not be reproduced in whole or in part without written permission from the Publisher. Babette McAuliffe, Publisher & Editor in Chief Deborah Mayhall-Bradshaw, Design Director Kathy Griewisch, Account Manager Tamara Seymour, Editor Keith Martin, Cultural Arts Editor Jane Richardson, Assistant Editor Contributors: Rebecca Cairns, Jim Casada, Andrew Corpening, Kim S. Davis, Craig Distl, Julie Farthing, Nina Fischesser, Brennan Ford, Morgan Ford, Mark Freed, Koren Gillespie, Meagan Goheen, Scottie Gilbert, Elizabeth Baird Hardy, Mike Hill, Annie Hoskins, Robert Inman, Randy Johnson, Lynn Rees-Jones, Rita Larkin, Jim Leggett, Ren Manning, Nina Mastandrea, Tom McAuliffe, Pan McCaslin, Kelly Melang, John L. Morgan III, LouAnn Morehouse, Katherine Newton, Eric Plaag, Frank Ruggiero, Curtis Smalling, Wendy Snider, Samantha Stephens, Ken Swanton, Jim Swinkola, Joe Tennis, Carol Lowe Timblin, and Steve York Share us with a friend! CML is published 4 times a year and is available by subscription for $35.00 a year (continental US) Send check or money order to: Carolina Mountain Life, PO Box 976, Linville, NC 28646

Corporate Meetings • Weddings • Special Events 135 Deer Run Lane, Banner Elk, NC 28604

828-260-1790 12

— Spring 2018 CAROLINA BannerElkWVSep/Oct2012.indd 1 MOUNTAIN LIFE

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Energetic and filled with wonder. The older one wanting to climb trees and explore the different textures of moss growing on the boulders and ponder what imaginary life lives under the green lichen. The younger one is just getting her legs under her and will soon be joining her sister as they explore the natural treasures just out their front door. Special rocks, dandelions, worms and dirt are all part of the mix that makes their world special. I want to join in their utter glee of being with the wind, in the rain and digging in the dirt. We have mighty plans for starting our garden in cardboard egg crates and transplanting them once the fear of frost has passed. Tomatoes, cucumbers, radishes, carrots, Brussels sprouts and snap peas are just a few to mention. I think the veggies that grow within reach and can be plucked off the vine and plopped in the mouth are the best for teaching how planting seeds are so important in life. As we all enjoy this long awaited spring, we hope that you, too, will get

out and explore. Maybe not in the dirt planting seedlings, but headed out to see a new band or try out a new dish at one of our favorite local restaurants. This place is literally crawling with remarkable things to do, explore, and experience. Enjoy the delights inside these pages and let us hear from you! Happy Spring!




HIGHLAND GAMES & Gathering of the Scottish Clans

JULY 12 -15, 2018 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.

Find Your Perfect Home, Second Home, or Mountain Property— We'll Handle All the Details.

415 Shawneehaw Ave. Banner Elk, North Carolina 28604 (beside the red caboose) 828-898-3500 REALTOR ©


Here’s Why “Tweetsie Country” is a National Railroad History Hotspot This June, Come Celebrate Tweetsie’s Stirring Past By Randy Johnson

Photo courtesy of Tweetsie R.R. Today, Tweetsie’s engine No. 12 is a rolling National Historic Site, but it’s only a part of the history of the East Tennessee and Western North Carolina Railroad visible in our area.


ou’re excused if you thought Tweetsie Railroad was just one of North Carolina’s top family tourist attractions. Actually, the 3-mile Blowing Rock train ride behind a smoke-belching steam engine is barely the start of the legend of the East Tennessee and Western North Carolina Railroad (ET&WNC), a romantic tale that qualifies the High Country as one of the nation’s railroad history hotspots. Right now, it’s easier than ever to appreciate why that’s the case. Tweetsie is an increasingly big deal for many reasons, especially with the ET&WNC Railroad Historical Society set to hold its 30th anniversary convention June 1-3, 2018 here in the High Country and in Johnson City, Tennessee. (For details visit: There’s also a brand new 10-mile recreational greenway called the Tweetsie Rail Trail from Johnson City to Elizabethton Tennessee that tells the railroad’s story in exciting interpretive displays. The trail will remind cyclists of the popular Virginia Creeper Trail not far away in Virginia. (Visit:

A Rich Past Dubbed “Tweetsie” for the shrill wail of its whistle, the ET&WNC was much more than a local tourist attraction between 1916 and 1940 when the little trains chugged between Johnson City and then back-in-the-sticks Boone. Unlike today’s Tweetsie attraction, the Depression-era trains weren’t attacked by Indians and robbed by bad guys. Nor did they morph into Thomas the Tank Engine during the summer or hail Halloween as today’s award-winning Ghost Train. As distinctive and fun as those themed train rides are now, the old ET&WNC was far more than that—which is why so many people are inspired to attend the ET&WNC Railroad Historical Society’s June convention and revel in the memory of an irreplaceable era in the history of the High Country. Tweetsie’s story looms way beyond local. Believe it or not, in its heyday, Tweetsie was nothing less than the longest narrow gauge railroad in the world, and the highest passenger train in the Eastern United States.

The ET&WNC sparked some of the High Country’s earliest fame as a resort area and helped invent tourism at early inns and hotels. The train was renowned for the engineering marvel of its passage through the Doe River Gorge near Hampton, Tennessee, beneath cliffs towering nearly 2,000 feet above. Where the rails crossed the Eastern Continental Divide at 4,000 feet in Linville Gap, today’s junction of NC 105 and 184 between Linville and Boone, Tweetsie showcased the monumental vista of Grandfather Mountain that we still appreciate. But Tweetsie’s early view was different. Back then, the East’s most inspiring virgin forest spilled down from Grandfather’s peaks. No shopping centers or anti-crime lights marred the mountain’s absolute dominion over travelers awed by the scene above. For a generation in the early 20th century, Tweetsie revolutionized life in the mountains. Once isolated mountain families commuted to urban areas to shop and visit doctors. Kids rode to school. Good jobs arrived. Traditions we savor CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Spring 2018 —


Photo courtesy of Tweetsie R.R. Courtesy John Waite Collection.

Courtesy Collection of Hugh MacRae II

Photo courtesy of Tweetsie R.R.

Photo by Marilyn Ball

From top left: The Tweetsie attraction’s Steam Locomotive Shop performs routine maintenance and the most sophisticated, extensive restoration for steam trains nationwide. / The historic Linville Depot as it appeared in 1916 / 1930s passengers pausing at Linville Gap / Engine No. 12 today / Local historian Jerry Turbyfill restoring the Avery Museum’s classic ET&WNC caboose.

today got started. The first ASU football fans flew banners out the windows on their way to weekend games in Boone. Then the 1940 Flood washed away the tracks and turned back the hands of time on transportation in the High Country. Time to Reconnect All that and more will get the juices flowing for attendees at the early June 30th anniversary meeting of the East Tennessee and Western North Carolina Railroad Historical Society based at the Carnegie Hotel in Johnson City. In its three decades, the society has amassed an impressive collection of the railroad’s history, including rescuing some of the last of the ET&WNC’s remaining railroad cars. Also part of the program are interesting multimedia lectures and tours. Attendees will visit a massive model railroad layout in Johnson City, and explore ETSU’s growing George L. Carter Railroad Museum. Field trips are on tap, including a must-see train ride into the spectacular


Doe River Gorge on the last rideable portion of the rails. Short walks, a number of them in the High Country, point out the still visible route of the rails. One will explore how and where Tweetsie connected to the logging railroad grades that launched the lucrative timber harvesting of Grandfather Mountain, a topic featured in Saturday night’s presentation at the Carnegie. Attendees also visit the Tweetsie Railroad attraction to see special historical exhibits, presentations, and enjoy a barbecue dinner. A Museum Worth the Memories The Tweetsie society will also visit the Avery County Historical Museum, a truly impressive facility in Newland dedicated to the history of North Carolina’s newest county (founded in 1911). All of the museum’s extensive exhibits are worthwhile, but in recent years, the museum’s Tweetsie emphasis has exploded with the addition of the now fully restored, bark-sided Tweetsie Railroad Depot from Linville that opened in 1916. Sitting just outside the railroad’s

last remaining station, Tweetsie’s last remaining caboose is undergoing restoration by ET&WNC Historical Society vice-president Jerry Turbyfill. Late last year, $25,000 in funding from Avery County through the efforts of new county manager Phillip Barrier permitted the museum to upgrade its entrance, improve exhibits, and install a modern restroom that Museum board chair Tense Banks says “brought us into the 21st century.” Just outside the museum, the Linville depot’s beadboard waiting room glistens as it did when Eseeola Inn guests tarried before their ride home to Birmingham and elsewhere. The freight part of the depot houses an impressive interpretive display of railroad history, including a spectacular map of the entire ET&WNC route from Johnson City to Boone. The map, by ET&WNC Railroad Historical Society president Chris Ford, first appeared in the classic Tweetsie book Blue Ridge Stemwinder. That book, and a poster of the map, recently updated to


Above (left to right) John Thompson and Justin Ray of the N.C. Community Foundation, and Dodie Thompson and Tense Banks, board member and chairman respectively of the Avery County Historical Museum, welcome a grant. / Photo by Marilyn Ball.

From top left. Left and middle photos—attendees of the ET&WNC historical meeting will ride the rails through the Doe River Gorge beneath cliffs towering nearly 2,000 feet above. / Following the tug on existing tracks through Doe River Gorge / Exhibits at the Avery County Historical Museum / Randy Johnson photos

include the logging railroad history of Grandfather Mountain, are available for purchase at the museum. (Maps can also be ordered online at: maps/order.html). Hop Aboard for History If you can’t attend the ET&WNC Railroad Historical Society convention, part of the past is still alive at the Tweetsie attraction that last year celebrated its 60th anniversary as North Carolina’s first theme park and a kingpin of mountain tourism. When developer Grover C. Robbins Jr. trucked the last remaining Tweetsie locomotive to Blowing Rock in 1956, the train’s return was proclaimed “Tweetsie Homecoming Day” by Governor Luther Hodges. A year after the park opened in 1957, Tweetsie adopted its “Wild West” theme. Today, Engine No. 12 is a rolling National Historic Site that still chugs the tracks, exactly 101 years after it was built in 1917. This year, the park’s steam engine No. 190 turns 75 years old.

A great time to savor the rich history of the park is during Railroad Heritage Weekend held in 2018 on August 25th26th. Besides the chance to see a rare “doubleheader” two locomotive hookup, old No. 12 will pull a vintage train that includes an 1870s coach car. There will be special exhibits of historic artifacts, demonstrations, and tours of Tweetsie’s steam train repair shop—appropriately, one of the country’s most renowned restoration facilities. Decades ago, Railroad Heritage Weekend started as “Old Timer’s Day,” when Tweetsie hosted the aging railroad employees who actually ran the trains back in the day. Sadly, the old-timers are gone now, but Tweetsie honors them still. If just touching Tweetsie’s storied past is enough for you, a train ride through the rhododendron at the attraction will recall that earlier time. But if you’re really inspired to revel in one of the country’s most moving railroad tales, now is the time to do it.

Between the upcoming June annual meeting of the ET&WNC Railroad Historical Society, and the exciting new Tweetsie exhibits you’ll find at the Avery County Historical Museum, you may find yourself imagining that you can still hear the little train’s whistle echoing off the mountains. Thanks to the non-profit organizations above, we can all help protect Tweetsie’s past with our donations. n Details: For more on the East Tennessee and Western North Carolina (ET&WNC) Railroad Historical Association and its June 1-3, 2018 meeting, visit Click through to pages featuring the society’s history and to see newsletters for information about the June 2018 convention. Visit the Avery County Historical Museum at www.; 828-733-7111. Randy Johnson’s award-winning recent book Grandfather Mountain: The History and Guide to an Appalachian Icon, features Tweetsie Railroad’s stirring history and its role in the logging of the mountain. CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Spring 2018 —


THEATRE 2018 Summer Theatre:

Local Companies Plan Ambitious Line-ups By Keith Martin


Pianist Misha Dichter performing with the Eastern Festival Orchestra

Cultural tourism is a growing trend for visitors to our region during the spring and summer months as local residents join our seasonal guests to experience hundreds of performing arts events. To assist you with your vacation plans, or “staycation” cultural activities, here is an overview of three local companies with additional contact information for tickets and other details. Enjoy! 18 — Spring 2018 CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE

elebrating its 34th season, AN APPALACHIAN SUMMER FESTIVAL is known for presenting a whirlwind of music, dance, theatre, film and visual arts programming that rivals venues in our nation’s large metropolitan areas at a fraction of their ticket prices. Presented by Appalachian State University during July and early August, the festival is nationally-celebrated for the breadth and artistry of its world-class performance and exhibition programs, presented against the magnificent backdrop of North Carolina’s High Country. The festival’s classical music programming will feature perennial favorites such as the Broyhill Chamber Ensemble, the Eastern Festival Orchestra (with guest pianist Misha Dichter), and the Rosen-Schaffel Competition for Young and Emerging Artists, as well as a concert showcasing the talents of Appalachian’s Hayes School of Music faculty. The nation’s finest dance companies frequently appear on the festival’s roster, and this season is no exception, with performances by Aspen Santa Fe Ballet and Complexions Contemporary Ballet, performing its critically acclaimed tribute to David Bowie, Stardust, set to music by the iconic rock star. The festival’s popular music artists are currently being booked, and will be announced shortly. The North Carolina Black Repertory Company returns to the festival this summer with its production of The Legend of Buster Neal, which tells the story of four generations of African American men and the challenges faced by each generation. Award-winning international film programming is one

of the festival’s popular components, and will continue with the Helene and Stephen Weicholz Global Film Series, as well as a global film series for young people. Visual arts programming, a cornerstone of festival programming, will consist of several new exhibitions at the Turchin Center for the Visual Arts, including an international show featuring artwork from Australia and New Zealand, as well as the national, juried Rosen Outdoor Sculpture Competition and Exhibition, now in its 32nd year. Educational activities, including workshops, a lunchtime lecture series, and the university’s annual Energy Summit round out the festival’s eclectic programming menu. The complete schedule of events will be announced in April with details available on the festival’s website or by calling (800) 841-ARTS (2787). ENSEMBLE STAGE celebrates their second season in their new home at the Historic Banner Elk School with a summer slate of five productions, beginning with the suspense thriller Deadly Murder from June 8 - 16. The protagonist in David Foley’s play is an attractive, successful jewelry designer who has fought her way up from humble beginnings to a glittering Manhattan lifestyle and has a penchant for attractive young men. It is followed from June 29 - July 6 by Red, White and Tuna, the sequel to Jaston Williams, Joe Sears and Ed Howard’s megahit Greater Tuna. This side-splitting spoof of life in rural America takes the audience through a satirical ride into the hearts and minds of the polyester-clad citizens

Return to a Strange Land by Aspen Sante Fe Ballet / Photo by Sharon Bradford / Choreography by Jiri Kylian.

of Texas’ third smallest town. Along with Tuna’s perennial favorites, some new denizens burst into the Tuna High School Class Reunion. This sets the stage for fireworks and fun from the land where the Lion’s Club is too liberal and Patsy Cline never dies. Playwright William Hanley’s drama Slow Dance on the Killing Ground runs from July 27 through August 4. It takes place in 1962 on a dark night in Brooklyn where circumstances have brought three seemingly very different people together, including a victim of the German concentration camps, a pregnant girl, and a street-wise juvenile delinquent. Jeanine and Sam Brobrick’s Weekend Comedy takes the stage from August 17 – 25. Two very different couples have rented the same cottage on the same weekend and reluctantly agree to share the one-bedroom, onebathroom cabin. What ensues is a delightful exploration of the stages of life and love. The company’s popular Kids Summer Saturday Theater continues with 11 a.m. performances of Marmalade Gumdrops on June 23, July 14 and 28. Carol Lauck’s children’s play explores the imaginative world of 10-year-old Walter K. Hampton with actors serving as furniture in Wally’s bedroom to chronicle his experiences

with wind up dolls, an old-fashioned melodrama, a circus, story-telling, and even a time-machine. “Imagination is like a marmalade gumdrop; once you’ve tasted it, you’ll never settle for just plain.” For ticket information, visit or call (828) 414-1844. 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. Announcing earlier than any summer company in our region, Speer has programmed four tuners to celebrate diversity. Beginning from June 24 – July 1, The Wiz is based on the classic L. Frank Baum story “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” but with a “soulful” twist with book by William F. Brown and music and lyrics by Charlie Smalls.   Speer says, “This show will take an international approach with a wonderfully diverse cast and a huge group of children.” David Grapes and Todd Olson created the musical My Way: A Musical Tribute to Frank Sinatra to demonstrate that “Ol’ Blue Eyes” will never be forgotten because Sinatra knew how to effortlessly present a song with intention and style. Performing from July 13 – 18,

Dream Play by Aspen Sante Fe Ballet Photo by Jordan Curet / Choreography by Fernando Melo

the show will feature a multi-ethnic cast to sing Sinatra classics, including “All of Me,” “Chicago,” “I Love Paris,” and of course, “My Way” and many more. Without question, the highlight of the season is the regional premiere of In The Heights, written by  Hamilton  composer and star LinManuel Miranda. The show spans three generations of music celebrating the inhabitants of Washington Heights, New York. Following their dreams, residents share memories of home, fall in love, worry about the changes in the neighborhood, and dance to Latin music from their native countries, mixed with the rhythms of the streets. Performances run from July 31 – August 5. Young audiences are in for a treat when Speer again joins forces with John Thomas Oaks (her collaborator for both The Denim King and last summer’s children’s show Screen Test) for the world premiere of their newest work, Passport Please! Around the World in 45 Musical Minutes. This exciting, interactive musical adventure teaches children about the diversity and beautiful cultures that make up the world. All shows have a family-friendly curtain time of 10 a.m. on June 9, 16, July 7 and 21. For tickets or information, visit or (828) 898-8709. n CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Spring 2018 —





585 West King St., Suite D Boone NC 28607 10am-6pm, mon-sun



Sally Nooney ARTIST STUDIO GALLERY Fine Art Paintings Glass Creations & 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

336-990-0708 • 1611 Industrial Dr. • Wilkesboro, NC 28659

One of the largest Antique Markets in the High Country with over 10,000 square feet, 45 unique dealers and new merchandise arriving weekly.

New Coffee Shop offering - Local Honey - Farmer's Wife Pies - Ashe County Cheese Bottled Sodas - Assorted Baked Goods - Gifts and More

Experience ART

Relax on the front porch or in the picnic area. Music on the weekends coming soon!

Bob Meier. Carved Vase, 2017. Clay. 28 x 13 inches. Courtesy of the artist.(Top) Workman on the framework of the Empire State Building, New York City, ca. 193031. National Archives, Records of the Works Progress Administration (Bottom)

159 Chestnut St. Blowing Rock, NC 28605

(828) 295-9099 @brmuseum

8807 NC Hwy 105 S. Boone, NC 28607, 828-963-7450, Open daily. See you tomorrow! CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Spring 2018 —


2018 FORUM at Lees-McRae College Summer Series Hayes Auditorium Lees-McRae College, Banner Elk Monday evenings at 7:00 p.m.

June 18: We’ve Only Just Begun Carpenters Remembered

June 25: Roy and Rosemary

with Vocalist Tiffany Desrosiers

July 2: Western Piedmont Symphony Orchestra

July 9: Vox Fortura

July 16: Branden and James “From Bach to Bieber” July 23: The Dutton Experience July 30: The Glenn Miller Orchestra August 6: The Step Crew



Banner Elk’s Got Talent!

n “America’s Got Talent” has been a favorite television show for the past 12 years and folks across the ocean have been tuning in to “Britain’s Got Talent” for over 10 years! These shows are known to “find” the most talented singers, dancers and other performers from around the globe. If you live in the High Country, or are visiting for the summer, you will have the opportunity to see performances by musicians who were finalists on these popular television shows! You need not fly to New York or London, but simply drive to Banner Elk! FORUM at Lees-McRae College will offer another exciting summer program of eight performances at Hayes Auditorium. Finalists in “America’s Got Talent” Branden and James have traveled the globe sharing the stage with legends such as Sarah McLachlan, Rita Moreno and Neil Sedaka. They performed in the Vatican for Pope Benedict XVI’s eightieth birthday as well as for Nelson Mandela in South Africa. From the Opera House in Sydney, Australia to Carnegie Hall in New York, this powerhouse cello and vocal duo bring a unique blend of pop tunes in a classical style. Vox Fortura were semi-finalists on Britain’s Got Talent in 2016. Featuring four male acapella vocalists, they combine a classical crossover operatic style with iconic songs. These exceptionally talented young men won the “Best Song of the Year” for their hit “Heroes” at the 2017 Black British Entertainment Awards. They fill every “wow” factor with personality and style as well as outstanding musicality, singing everything from Bizet to David Bowie and Stevie Wonder. Some of the FORUM performers are hardly new to the entertainment scene. The Glenn Miller Orchestra, considered the greatest band of all time, was formed back in 1956 and has been touring the globe ever since (the Glenn Miller Band was started in the mid-1930s). Known for their unique jazz sound, they are the most sought-after big band in the world today. The full band, as well as two vocalists, will perform classic hits such as “Chattanooga Choo Choo,” “Moonlight Serenade” and “Little Brown Jug.” “Uncle Sam Wants You!” The Western Piedmont Symphony Orchestra will return to celebrate the patriotic accomplishments of all kinds of Americans: soldiers, workers, schoolchildren, and each of us in our own way with orchestra and vocalists. Roy and Rosemary, a pianist and violinist, bring Hollywood’s beloved cinematic instrumental songs, as well as classical and hip top tunes to Hayes Auditorium. They have performed at St. Peter’s Basilica and Carnegie Hall as well as throughout Europe and Asia. They will perform with Tiffany Desrosiers, who performed with the popular classical singing group Vivace last summer. The Duttons, international touring and recording artists, perform bluegrass to classical and everything in between. This family of nine singers and dancers play a variety of instruments to create unique performances that are enjoyed throughout the world. Also combining a variety of instruments with song and dance are The Step Crew who combine Irish, Tap and Ottawa Valley Step Dancing. This virtuosic cast of eleven performers is known internationally for their appearances at Celtic Festivals worldwide. The first show of the FORUM summer season is We’ve Only Just Begun: Carpenters Remembered which celebrates the music of one of the most successful recording acts of all time. Led by Michelle Brett and accompanied by a five-piece Nashville Band, the show recreates the original sound of the Carpenters. So with the FORUM at Lees-McRae one only needs to travel to Banner Elk, NC to be entertained by internationally admired musicians. Since 1979 FORUM at LeesMcRae has been bringing a stimulating series of cultural programs to the area and this summer offers an outstanding line-up of performances. n For additional information go to: Patrons receive a season ticket for all 8 shows for only $150. Centurion level patrons have preferred seating and reserved parking for $450. Only 710 season tickets are available so get your seats today. Contact Sandy Ramsey at 828-898-8748


9 2 0 S h a w n e e h a w Av e n u e | B a n n e r E l k , N C 2 8 6 0 4


May 24th through October 11th | Every Thursday Night, 6-9pm Live Music | Lawn Games Local Handcrafted Beers Showcased Each Week Magnificent Sunsets over Grandfather Mountain


THE INN AT CRESTWOOD RESTAURANT & SPA 3236 Shulls Mill Road, Boone NC 28607 828.963.6646 |



10543 NC Hwy. 105 South, Suite #2, Banner Elk, NC 28604 828-963-8110 Estimates gladly given | Pilar Harding, Owner

Hunter Douglas Window Fashions

The most Incredible Toy Store in the High Country! Mon-Sat 10am-6pm, Sun 1-5pm Hwy 321 South between Boone and Blowing Rock 828 264 1422



MUSIC Danny Whittington Looking Forward with Love By Mark Freed


inger, multi-instrumentalist, and band leader, Danny Whittington prefers his vibrations positive. “I want to influence people in a good way and leave the world, the church, and my family in a better place,” he says. As leader and member of the Boone Mennonite Brethren Church band and choir, as well as devoted husband, father, and grandfather, Danny is fulfilling those wishes with a loving heart and a soulful sound. And, while Danny says he prefers to go through life looking forward, it is worth taking a look back at his journey. Danny grew up around the music of the church and school choirs. His mother was a member of the Heavenly Gospel Aires and sang at the Boone Mennonite Brethren Church. “I discovered I had a voice at the age of five,” Danny recalls. “I loved to sing.” Danny spent much of his childhood attending an orphanage school in Oxford, North Carolina, where he joined the school’s chorus group to fulfill his love for singing and develop his vocal gift.

Danny learned other important life skills in Oxford, where the students all pitched in to help with the school operations and student needs. When he was in the fourth grade, Danny started learning to cut hair. He continued as a barber during his time in Oxford, and later worked as a hair dresser to earn a living. Danny continues to cut hair in Boone today, and he has nearly 40 years in the profession. Danny moved back to Boone as a teenager to attend and graduate from Watauga High School. He joined the high school choir, and he expanded his musical skills, learning to play trumpet for the marching band. Music came naturally to Danny, and he sought out other avenues to play and perform. He joined a group of Appalachian State University students in a band called The Brotherhood. Danny played trumpet and sang with the band, and they went on to win the ASU Battle of the Bands for several years in a row. After high school, Danny spent about six months hitchhiking around the country, and he ended up in Omaha, Nebraska. He started cutting hair during the day and playing in bands at night and on weekends. He sang and played trumpet for several groups that travelled the region as part of Five States Productions. Danny lived in Omaha for several years before returning to North Carolina and settling in Greensboro. He joined the band Men of Distinction, which played beach and dance music and traveled around the state playing parties and events. During this time, Danny met and married his wife, Kathy. He took some time off performing while the couple raised their young girls and moved their family to Boone. Back home in the High Country, Danny started getting involved with the Living Waters church and got excited about their worship music. He taught himself to play guitar and bass, so he could join in the gospel band.

“The church had a large congregation, and after a while, I realized there were lots of musicians at our church interested in playing,” Danny recalls. “I figured there were probably small churches around the community that could use some more musicians, so I searched for a place where I could be of more service.” Danny found his way back to the Boone Mennonite Brethren Church, where Morris Hatton was leading the band and playing piano. Danny fit right in on bass, and several year later, when Hatton was moved to another church, Danny took over as band leader. He continues the role today, usually playing bass and singing, but filling in wherever he is needed. Danny performs weekly with the church band on Sundays, and they frequently give performances around the community. The church choir even produced a CD of their music a few years ago, which is available in various locations around the CML region. When Danny is not playing with the church choir, cutting hair, or spending time with his family, he also does some performing on his own—playing keyboard, bass, guitar, and singing. Danny will be performing at the Jones House Cultural and Community Center in downtown Boone this summer with the Boone Mennonite Brethren Church choir on June 1, and with his own group on July 13. The concerts are part of the free weekly performances at 5:00 p.m. every Friday at the Jones House from June through August. For more information on the Boone Mennonite Brethren Church, visit https://www.facebook. com/boonechurch. For more information about the Jones House concerts, visit n



Spend an

hour Spend the day .


Encounter the beauty featured in Crossnore Fine Arts Gallery Find a beautiful handwoven garement at Crossnore Weavers Enjoy lunch at Miracle Grounds Coffee Shop & Cafe Discover a hidden treasure at Blair Fraley Sales Store Experience the peace and quiet of Sloop Chapel CROSSNORE school & children’ children’s childr en’ss home

Crossnore School & Children’s Home | 100 DAR Drive | P.O. Box 249 | Crossnore, NC 28616-0249 (828) 733-4305 | | All proceeds support the children of Crossnore School & Children’s Home. LIFE 26 — Spring 2018 CAROLINA MOUNTAIN


Mountain Home Music 25 Years of Tradition By Mark Freed

Joe Shannon


018 marks the 25 anniversary for Joe Shannon’s Mountain Home Music ( JSMHM), and the organization will be celebrating in some big ways. Mountain Home Music kicks off its annual concert series on St. Patrick’s Day; Director and master dancer Rodney Sutton will be working with Watauga County Schools to provide clogging instruction to 4th graders across the county; and the organization has already provided funding to the local Boone Junior Appalachian Musicians ( JAM) program to support scholarships and workshops throughout 2018. Founded by the late and beloved Joe Shannon, Mountain Home Music began as a concert series in February 1994, giving Shannon an opportunity to showcase the traditional folk, old-time, and bluegrass musicians and music that drew him to the mountains of North Carolina. Joe was known to say, “Mountain Home Music presents world-class Appalachian performers that you’ve probably never heard of.” He felt strongly about the incredible artistry of the traditional music from the region, and he wanted to present that music on stages for others to appreciate. The series grew, and in 2002, a group th

Mountain Home Music Crowd

of loyal fans and individuals joined with Shannon to create the non-profit organization that continues today. The organization’s mission is to “celebrate diverse styles of Appalachian performing arts” while striving to “educate and build the community through the arts, providing accessible, cross-generational experiences.” Mountain Home Music is making big strides to meet this mission in 2018, starting with a sizeable donation to the Boone JAM program. The organization kicked off the anniversary year by presenting a check for $1,600 to the Boone JAM program, which will be used to help provide affordable music lessons for students and present workshops with master old-time and bluegrass musicians. “Joe was an educator who loved kids,” says JSMHM director Rodney Sutton. “He performed and offered dulcimer workshops to kids in the region before there was a JAM program—what better way to honor Joe’s memory.” The money was collected from the 2017 JSMHM Matinee Concert Series, which utilizes a “pay as you exit” concept. These afternoon performances have no entrance fee, but donations are collected

Photos by Lonnie Webster

at the end of the concert. All of the proceeds above the costs of the presentations were gathered for the donation. In celebration of the 25th anniversary and a successful year in 2017, JSMHM is planning a series of five matinee performances in 2018 (see sidebar for schedule). All matinees take place at the Harvest House in Boone and begin at 2:00 p.m. JSMHM will also be presenting the regular concert series, which always starts on St. Patrick’s Day. The series continues on April 21, with a concert at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Boone featuring North Sea Gas, returning after their 2014 appearance which ended with a standing ovation. North Sea Gas is one of Scotland’s most popular folk bands, combining extraordinary harmony vocals and masterful performances with guitars, mandolin, fiddle, bouzouki, harmonica, whistles, bodhrans, banjo, and more. The JSMHM concert series utilizes several venues around Boone and Blowing Rock to present concerts and dances, and there is one aspect that sets it apart from other concert series in the area. “Joe Shannon’s quest was to offer performers a chance to play before a CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Spring 2018 —


listening, paying, and appreciative audience in an indoor, climate-controlled setting with great sound,” Sutton adds. “The series really gives people a chance to hear and see folk music presented in an artistically-friendly environment.” In addition to being director of JSMHM, Sutton is a veteran dancer, storyteller, and performer, who has been active on the folk music and dance scene for more than 40 years. Like Shannon, Sutton is also an experienced educator, and he has been working with 4th grade students at Blowing Rock Elementary School to present “Get Your Kicks Clogging” workshops. Sutton first presented similar workshops as part of the North Carolina Arts Council’s Visiting Artist program in the 1990s. After completing a pilot project in Blowing Rock, Sutton and JSMHM will be working with Watauga and Avery County schools to continue presenting these five-day clogging workshops. “It is really a great way to get these kids up and moving and learning more about the dance and musical traditions of their home,” Sutton says. In addition to all of these special 25th Anniversary projects, JSMHM plans to present at least a dozen shows throughout the year. Fans can look forward to shows by many of the series favorites, like David Johnson and the Mountain Home Bluegrass Boys with national bluegrass banjo and guitar champion Steve Lewis, the annual Bluegrass-nBrass 4th of July concert, and more. For a complete list of all of the JSMHM 25th Anniversary Concerts and events, and to learn more about becoming a member of the organization, visit n

JSMHM 2018 Matinee Schedule n Matinee performances take place at the Harvest House in Boone and begin at 2:00 p.m. n Admission is free, and a “pay-as-you-exit” donation will be collected at the conclusion of the concerts. June 21 - John Cockman Family July 10 - Strictly Strings with Rodney Sutton Aug 28 - Americana Show with Mathew Weaver and Clay Lunsford Sept 25 - Lois Hornbostel and Ehukia Teves Oct 18 - Glenn Bolick and Bobby McMillon


Jones House Events The Jones House Cultural and Community Center is the cultural hub of downtown Boone and a great place to hear live music and participate in community events. The Jones House is located at 604 W. King St. For more information, call 828.268.6280 or visit Upcoming events include: Old-time jam session—every Thursday from 7:30-11 p.m.  FREE Artistic and historic exhibits—galleries open Tues.-Fri. from noon-5 p.m. FREE Thursdays in June—June JAMBOREE - Slow Jams 5:30-7:30 p.m. FREE April 6 Downtown Boone Art Crawl (6-9 p.m.) April 20 Indoor Concert with Alasdair Fraser and Natalie Haas (7:30 p.m. - $20) May 4 Downtown Boone Art Crawl (6-9 p.m.) May 19 Indoor Concert with Paul Brown’s Across the Blue Ridge featuring Terri McMurray, Trevor McKenzie, Strictly Strings, and Rick Ward (7:30 p.m. - $20) June 1 Outdoor Concert - Junaluska Gospel Choir and Soul Benefactor (5 p.m. - FREE) June 8 Outdoor Concert - Sheets Family and Strictly Strings (5 p.m. - FREE) June 15 Doc Watson Day Celebration - Jeff Little Trio; Presley Barker; Jack Lawrence and Patrick Crouch; Jay Brown - (4 p.m. - FREE) June 22 Andrew Finn McGill and Page Turners (5 p.m. - FREE) June 29 Shay Lovette and Brooks Forsyth and Kevin Williams (5 p.m. - FREE)

Entertaining Music Series

2018 Season

Hayes Auditorium, Broyhill Theatre All performances begin at 7 p.m. We’ve Only Just Begun: Carpenters Remembered June 18

Roy and Rosemary with Special Guest Tiffany Desrosiers June 25

Western Piedmont Symphony July 2

Vox Fortura July 9

Branden & James: “From Bach to Bieber” July 16

The Dutton Experience July 23

Join Us for Our 2018 Season! Experience 19th century life in Banner Elk and the High Country in the home of Samuel Henry Banner, one of Banner Elk’s early settlers. Opening Day Event with Children’s Day Activities Saturday, June 16, 11 a.m. - 3 p.m. NEW THIS SEASON! Guided Walking Tour of Historic Downtown Banner Elk Offered by limited appointment availability for $10 per adult Heritage Bus Tour: Hidden Stories of Hickory Nut Gap Road Saturday, August 4 Tours depart on the half hour: 10 a.m. to 12 noon (the Museum will open at 9:30 a.m.) 2018 Lecture Series at the Book Exchange in the Historic Banner Elk School See our website for event details and an up-to-date list of lectures co-sponsored by the Banner Elk Book Exchange Museum & Guided Tours Wednesday - Saturday 11 a.m. - 3 p.m | Walking Tours of Historic Banner Elk by appointment

Glenn Miller Orchestra July 30

The StepCrew August 6

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

To schedule a walking tour, please call:




567 Main Street East

4 | Banner Elk, NC 2860

Bring a Book, Take a Book

at the Historic Banner Elk School www.bluemountainme emountain (828) 898-8582 | blu

We offer books to swap, magazines, WiFi, puzzles, book discussion groups, Tuesday Evening Lectures, children’s storytime and the Carolina Explorers “Adventures in Nature” program for ages 9-12 once a month in the summer. For daily hours and a full schedule of Spring and Summer Events, visit:

Apple Hill Farm Store

“Get back in touch with what's real.” Largest selection of alpaca yarns & accessories in the High Country. Summer Hours: Mon - Sat 10-4; Sun 12 to 4 Banner Elk, NC | (828)963-1662


COME. RELAX. ENJOY. STAY... for a weekend, a season, or a lifetime!

Town of Seven Devils

828/963-5343 • Ad Sponsored by the Seven Devils Tourism Development Authority


Enjoy summer breezes at 4900ft when you visit Sugar Ski & Country Club’s year-round resort. Efficiency • Efficiency w/loft • 1 & 2 bedroom Condos with WiFi and access to hiking/biking trails. 100 Sugar Ski Drive Banner Elk NC 28604


Be sureNC to visit The Rock View from 4KBlowing above sea level

SHAGGING AT THE ROCK JUNE 2ND 2018 Visit website for ticket information

“Enjoy the Legend”

NORTH CAROLINA’S OLDEST TRAVEL ATTRACTION, SINCE 1933 “Enjoy the Legend” Planning a Wedding or Special Event? Make it a breathtaking event for your special day.

432Road, The Rock Road, Blowing Rock, NC 28645 828.295.7111 • Rock Blowing Rock NC • 828.295.7111, N o r t h C a r o l i n a’s O l d e s t Tr a v e l A t t r a c t i o n , S i n c e 1 9 3 3

Village of If you thought the golf and tennis club at Sugar Mountain was for members only you’re forgiven. The popular public golf course offers the same fabulous putting surfaces and mountain climate shared by our illustrious private neighbors. Our tennis courts feature the same Har-Tru clay court surfaces found at only the finest racquet clubs. But at Sugar Mountain there’s no guardhouse or initiation fees—just a hearty mountain welcome for everyone. Our café offers great food and alluring outdoor seating with spectacular panoramic views. At Sugar Mountain, you’ll only think you’re at a private club. Make this season your season at Sugar Mountain. Learn all about us at

S e e S u g a r. c o m | G o l f : 8 2 8 . 8 9 8 . 6 4 6 4 | Te n n i s 8 9 8 . 6 7 4 6 CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Spring 2018 —


music The Appalachian Mountain Dulcimer By John L. Morgan III

Dulcimers crafted by Paul Maudette


he Appalachian mountain dulcimer or dulcimore is a true American folk instrument. It is simple to understand and play, easy to build with the right woodworking skills, and relatively inexpensive if purchased. Originally it was played by itself, by ear, as a solo instrument. The dulcimer has a sweet melodic, droning sound similar to the bagpipe. In fact the word dulcimer means “sweet sound” or “sweet melody.” The date the mountain dulcimer was introduced into Appalachia is uncertain and its earliest history was never recorded, but most sources agree that it was not common in the region until the nineteenth century. What is safe to say, however, is that the mountain dulcimer was, in the early days of its inception, played exclusively in the Appalachian Mountains. In addition, no traditional instrument of similar style and proportions has ever been found in England, Ireland, or Scotland, the places from which many Appalachian settlers immigrated. Most likely the mountain dulcimer developed from a version of the sheitholt, a fretted zither, brought into Appalachia by German settlers from Pennsylvania. The fretted zither dates back to the Middle Ages and went by different names: the Swedish hummel, the Norwegian langeleik, the German sheitholt, and the French epinette des Vosges. The sheitholt was, over time, copied and modified by various local craftsmen and artisans. An important fact to note is that the mountain dulcimer was never a factory made instrument, at least in its early years of integration into this country. The first and most critical chapter of the mountain dulcimer story begins with the Philadelphia Wagon Road. This was a route and major artery of the day used initially by Indians and later by hundreds of


thousands of early settlers who, beginning around 1700, were moving west from Pennsylvania into the frontier. The route went through present day Lancaster, York, and Gettysburg, Pennsylvania before it curved southward into the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia located strategically between the Allegheny and Blue Ridge Mountains. Passing through Winchester, Harrisonburg, Staunton, Lexington, and Roanoke, the wagon road continued south into North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. Near Roanoke it forked west to Wytheville, Virginia. At Wytheville the road forked yet again, to the right, through the Cumberland Gap into Kentucky, becoming the Wilderness Road, and to the left, down into Tennessee to Knoxville and Nashville. As German and northern European settlers travelled the Philadelphia Wagon Road, they dispersed and settled in Appalachia at points all along the route, bringing with them different versions of the scheitholt fretted zither. These zithers were initially played as solo instruments. As time passed, however, local residents and family members gathered to play dance music and the scheitholt became part of the music scene sharing space with the fiddle. While not all scheitholt players chose to be part of a group musical setting, those who did realized that it had its limitations when played with other Appalachian musicians. The scheitholt was either played on a table or positioned horizontally across the lap and strummed. Because of its narrowness, the scheitholt tended to move about the table or slip off the lap when vigorously strummed, particularly during fast paced dance tunes. Also, because this instrument produced a soft, mellow tone it was being drowned out by other instruments. The solution to these problems was to symmetrically widen the sides of the scheitholt and thereby give it more stability and greater volume. These modifications were done over time by disparate, local mountain craftsmen who had the talent,

skill, and equipment to make the necessary changes. By trial and error their endeavors led them to ultimately build from scratch an entirely new instrument, the Appalachian mountain dulcimer. As can be imagined, depending upon the specific region of Appalachia, different craftsmen, separated by hills, valleys, rivers, and mountains, developed uniquely individualized dulcimer styles and shapes. Dulcimers were straight sided, hourglass, tear drop, oval, diamond, and, like the Tennessee Music Box, rectangular shaped. Early mountain dulcimers were built from wood commonly found and available in the mountains. The back and sides are made of harder woods for strength such as black cherry, maple, or black walnut. The top, which acts as the soundboard, is made of softer and more resonating woods such as yellow poplar, butternut, white pine, and spruce. Some later mountain dulcimers were made of laminated wood; even cardboard dulcimers exist today. The origins of many older mountain dulcimers are unknown, but there is good documentation on some of the more prolific, traditional, dulcimer makers. From Kentucky, noted makers include Jethro Amburgey, Homer Ledford, and the legendary James Edward Thomas; from North Carolina we have the Presnell, Glen and Hicks families; from southwest Virginia there is the Melton family; and from West Virginia come dulcimers made by the Pritchard family. The Appalachian mountain dulcimer was introduced onto the world stage by folksinger and songwriter Jean Ritchie of Perry County, Kentucky. She began playing it in New York City during the urban northeast folk music revival of the late 1940s and early 1950s. In 1963 Jean also published the first significant instruction book on the dulcimer. Her blending of traditional songs of Appalachia with dulcimer playing ignited a firestorm of interest in the Appalachian mountain dulcimer which continues to this day. n

Jethro Amburgey Dulcimer #883

Jethro Amburgey, dulcimer maker, 1955

Jethro Amburgey #883 Comes Home By John L. Morgan III


alking into the den of an estate sale in May of 1997, I saw a dulcimer hanging on the wall. It was in great condition, had an elongated, hourglass shape, four strings, was made of laminated walnut with 17 frets, and four heart-shaped sound holes. The price was initially set at $185. I bought it for $75. The instrument was signed in the strum hollow, “Jethro Amburgey, Hindman Ky., 8-1-1967, #883.” I took it home and hung it on our den wall. Several days later I discovered some additional provenance on this dulcimer. Among my music books was a soft cover dulcimer book. The title was simply “The Dulcimer Book,” written by folk singer Jean Ritchie, Oak Publications, 1963. It had songs tabbed for dulcimer, and as a bonus, some historical sketches about dulcimer makers including a Mr. Jethro Amburgey. When Jean Ritchie arrived on the New York folk scene in the 1950s, she brought with her one of Jethro’s dulcimers and after writing about him in her songbook, orders started pouring in to Mr. Amburgey from all over the world. Fast forward twenty years to 2017. Sweet Briar College in Amherst, Virginia, was having an online, silent auction to raise money. Since the Jethro Amburgey #883 wasn’t being played and, for twenty

years, had been relegated to life as a wall hanging, the time was right to find it a better situation. I got to work seeking out additional information for the Amburgey #883. After talking by phone with Mike Bell at the Tennessee State Museum, Ralph Lee Smith, author of “Appalachian Dulcimer Traditions,” and Sandy Conatser of the Blair School of Music, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee, it was discovered the Amburgey #883 was historically significant and that a number of Jethro’s instruments were in fact museum pieces. Jethro Amburgey (1895-1971) of Knott County, Kentucky was one of the single most influential dulcimer makers of the 20th century. Amburgey was an apprentice to master dulcimer builder James Edward “Uncle Ed” Thomas and between 1928 and 1971, built close to 1,400 numbered instruments, mostly at the Hindman Settlement School in Knott County, Kentucky where he had attended as a boy and was the school’s woodworking teacher from 1931 until his death in 1971. The Sweet Briar College auction began April 24, 2017 and ended on alumnae weekend, Saturday, June 3, 2017. Many alumnae became totally engrossed in the bidding that last evening for the Amburgey #883. The reserve auction price was

set at $350. The high bid changed hands ten times jumping from $570 to a final bid of $1,870, the third highest bid of the entire auction. The successful bidder was Mary Anne Audette of Montreal, Canada. After the auction Mary Anne and I spoke by phone. She said Jethro Amburgey was, in fact, her second cousin, and that she was absolutely thrilled to get the Amburgey #883 back in the family. Right before hanging up she commented, almost in an offhand manner, “John, I was prepared to pay any price to get it.” A few days later, Mary Anne arrived to take possession, gently wrapping the instrument in a sheet and cradling it lovingly in her arms as she left our house. The Jethro Amburgey Mountain Dulcimer #883 was home. n POSTSCRIPT: In discussions with Ralph Lee Smith, author of “Appalachian Dulcimer Traditions,” Mary Anne was told that toward the end of his life, Jethro Amburgey made a small number of dulcimers on which he etched his signature, instrument number and date in the strum hollow to take the place of a paper label inside the instrument. This fact made the Amburgey #883 an even more rare and significant find. She also said there was a dulcimer just like the Amburgey #883 in the Tennessee State Museum, Nashville, Tennessee. Its production number however was 1165. CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Spring 2018 —


Custom, Hand-Craaed, Artistic, Natural Edge Wood Furnishings

EAT, DRINK, BE SOCIAL... Lunch • Dinner • Full Bar Tues-Sat, 11am-9pm 128 Pecan Street Abingdon, Virginia (276)698-3159


(828) 394-9663 | 65 Orchard Lane, Banner Elk, North Carolina Please visit or

Charleston Forge

HOME STORE & OUTLET Monday — Friday: 9am to 4pm 251 Industrial Park Drive

y r t n u o C h Hig ! s g n i n e p p Ha May 14: Avery Chamber Golf Classic Linville Golf Club, Linville Sponsored by:

Boone, NC 28607 828.264.0100

June 30: Avery County Wine & Beer Festival Downtown Banner Elk, Sorrento’s Dining Complex

When it matters...

MOUNTAIN JEWELERS Between the 2 stoplights in Newland NC 828-733-0186 Join us on Facebook

July 20-22 & August 10-12: Fine Art & Master Crafts Festival Downtown Banner Elk

October 20-21: 41st Annual Woolly Worm Festival Downtown Banner Elk Come by or contact our Visitor Center for more information 4501 Tynecastle Highway, Unit 2 Banner Elk, NC 28604

828-898-5605 | CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Spring 2018 —


The Creatives: Joseph Bua and Skip Sickler By LouAnn Morehouse

Skip Sickler photographs


aving spent a good portion of my working life aiding and abetting creative people, it’s been an honor (mostly) knowing them. I have encountered absolute sheer genius along with pretty good, better than most, talent, in writers, musicians, painters, actors, and others. When you get right down to it, there are wondrous varieties of people gifted with a clear channel to their expressive side. And they aren’t all artists with a capital A either. A whole lot of us have entirely different careers than those in the arts professions, yet our creativity still results in works of art. I think people who are creative are the luckiest people on earth…Do what you love, and you will find the way to get it out to the world. That’s how Judy Collins, the singer and songwriter, puts it. Two great examples of people who do what they love and have found a way to get it out to the world are Skip Sickler, photographer, and Tony Bua, bird carver.


If you had occasion to meet or happened to know Joseph “Tony” Bua or Burton “Skip” Sickler maybe twenty years ago, you would likely have been outdoors doing something such as hiking or hunting. To say they are outdoorsmen perfectly hits the mark. Sickler spent 27 years as an educator with Outward Bound, the internationally based programs that emphasize experiential learning. But it started way before that; Sickler says, “I had immersed myself in the outdoors since a very early age.” Bua, a native New Yorker, is the son of Sicilian immigrants. It was a tradition to provide the family table with fresh game and fish, so hunting and fishing were regular pastimes. Family tradition also upheld a deep reverence for nature, and Bua loved the outdoors from childhood. Sickler looks back to a camera he received as a teenager one Christmas as his first creative tool. It became so essential to him that he was seldom without it throughout his work as a Park Ranger.

He created visual displays to enhance visitors’ experiences of the parks, and documented programs and projects. The camera came along in the backpack when Sickler joined the Outward Bound team. Wilderness experiences are an integral part of the program; he says he spent the better part of some years sleeping outside. As his eye became trained to the landscape, Sickler perceived those physical surroundings to be as beautiful as fine art. That was the beginning of his effort to “preserve the natural world” in photography so that others could see it as he did. Bua’s ultimate job was supervisor of maintenance at a major science laboratory in Princeton, NJ, but he got outdoors at every opportunity. He spent 27 years at the lab, starting out with expertise as a pipefitter and welder, and steadily gaining the skills to master the myriad inner workings of a complex facility. Bua says it gave him, “a wide experience of knowing what to do.” Perhaps it was his depth of knowledge in knowing what to do

Bua’s wood carvings

that led to his next skill set, carving and painting birds. On vacation one year he chanced to see a decoy carver at work, and “was amazed at the birds.” He “figured I could do that,” and within two years, was selling his carvings. Carl Jung said that “The creative mind plays with the objects it loves,” and for Sickler and Bua, a profound love for nature has fueled each man’s creativity to spectacular results. Neither styles himself as an artist; Bua says, “If I didn’t do this I’d be out wasting money.” Yet both pursue their pastimes with thoroughness and attention to detail befitting a professional. When Sickler decided to exhibit his photos, he started entering competitions, and learned to have his work properly framed and matted. These days his pictures are regularly accepted into prestigious exhibitions throughout the region. The bird carving world likewise holds competitions. Bua says, “Every ribbon (and he’s got a lot of them) is like a biscuit to a dog,” and what he particularly enjoys

about the shows are the opportunities to ask questions of the master carvers. Both men are avid workshop participants, always interested in adding to their skills. In his neat, small room with its sunny window scene of bird feeders and trees, Tony Bua spends up to five hours a day measuring, cutting, burning and gessoing to make his lifelike bird sculpture. Now retired, he can devote the minimum 15 hours it takes to make a goldfinch—or the three months needed to create a Harris hawk. It’s his special pride to create the appropriate habitats for his birds, whether wetland or branch. He says he researches each bird he carves “to understand them better.” Skip Sickler will soon set aside his day job selling climbing equipment for Adventure Hardware and relishes the prospect of more time to spend on photography. It’s hard to see how he can add more hours than he does already, though. For years, Sickler has served as an official photographer of Grandfather Mountain,

and that means he’s up on the mountain often. And early—he says photography requires many an early rising. The camera is always in his truck, and at some times of the year, he takes photos every day. After a lifetime of working at jobs, Tony Bua and Skip Sickler are making art. Sickler says he’s just trying to “have a hand in sharing the beauty.” Bua, who still refers to his carvings as “a hobby, not a business,” likes to think of the birds as his legacy. To which I say thank you, gentlemen, for finding the way to get your art out in the world. n

ART Skip Sickler’s photography and Tony Bua’s carved birds are at BE Artists Gallery, located in the Historic Banner Elk School, downtown Banner Elk. The gallery resumes regular operations on April 14, open Thursday, Friday, Saturday, 10-4, with extended hours in the summer and for gallery socials. Visit the website for up-to-date schedule and events,



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Ashe Arts Celebrating 40 Years! By Lynn Rees-Jones


she County undoubtedly has an arts vibe. A trail of colorful painted quilts adorns the barns and outbuildings in the rural landscape, while murals and sculpture dot the buildings and public spaces in historic downtown West Jefferson. Art galleries and artists’ studios are plentiful and performing arts activities are offered at a multitude of venues around the county. Artists often flock to areas of

natural beauty such as Ashe County, but the abundance of arts and artists has not just happened by chance. The catalyst for much of the organized arts is the Ashe County Arts Council (ACAC), which has been guiding the arts since 1978, and now in 2018, is enthusiastically celebrating its 40th year! The origin of the ACAC began fifty years ago, when the state of North Caro-

You can’t throw a rock and not hit something musical in

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Lansing Blues Festival Todd Summer Concert Series Music On The Green Christmas In July Old Time Fiddlers Convention New River Blues Festival Phipps Store Friday Night Jam 42 — Spring 2018 CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE

Saloon Studios

Zoe & Cloyd Concert at the Arts Center

lina became a leader in acknowledging the importance of arts in communities. In 1968, Governor Terry Sanford established the first grassroots arts programming in the United States by allocating per capita funding to support community-based initiatives with a focus on the arts. In 1978, the ACAC began developing a long-range plan which provided a methodical path to success. Over the years,  the Ashe County Arts Council, along with the support and expertise of the NC Arts Council, has grown to be a leading force in promoting the arts. Jane Lonon, executive director, is excited to celebrate the history of the ACAC. “During 2018, we invite all of you to join us in renewing our focus on the visual, performing and literary arts that make our region such a standout in the state.” The extent of the arts offerings of the ACAC is vast. The organization is headquartered in a cozy,  1938 WPA  granite building located in downtown West Jefferson. It provides a central location to learn of the many arts opportunities available in Ashe County, whether as an artist, performer or writer, or as an observer keen on the visual and performing arts. There really is something for everyone. Outdoor sculpture located on the grounds hint at the art to be found inside.  The interior gallery plays host to a changing roster of art exhibitions every month. Examples include “Best of the Blue Ridge” juried art show, the Ashe County Piecemakers Quilt Guild, or the annual Christmas Tree Fest with a special

Wings and Things Mural

The Cooper Barn Quilt

visit by Santa. The building also serves as an intimate performance venue for concerts, readings and dinners hosted by the Arts Council. The gallery shop is filled with locally made arts and crafts and Zaneeta, the resident cat, keeps a watchful eye out for visitors. Gallery Crawls are held monthly in the summer and fall and arts lovers are invited to stroll between many galleries to enjoy art, friends and music. Once a year, “Studio Tours” provide the public an opportunity to drive the beautiful winding roads of the county to shop and enjoy the inspiring working artists’ studios. Music plays an important role at the ACAC and specific efforts reach out to a wide variety of music enthusiasts. For those who enjoy local musicians playing traditional Appalachian music, local radio personality Gary Poe hosts a live , AM radio broadcast, “WKSK s Old Time and Bluegrass Show,” which is a unique opportunity for visitors to be part of a live radio audience at the Ashe Civic Center. For classical music lovers, Harmonia Baroque is a chamber ensemble that entertains audiences with music played on traditional instruments. While many concerts feature local and regional artists, groups have also come from overseas including the Kiev Symphony Orchestra and Chorus. The ACAC commissioned the Kruger Brothers, European natives, to compose “An  Appalachian Concerto,” a work featuring the Kruger Brothers and a string quartet. The world premier was held at the Ashe Civic Center in 2010.

Zaneeta, ready to assist, at the Literary Festival book display

One of the major initiatives of the ACAC is the sponsorship of performances and art residences in the local schools with the goal of providing every student the opportunity to experience the arts at a young age. The Mountain Arts Program (MAP) has enabled quality professional performing and visual artists to visit Ashe County Schools to lead hands-on experiences in clay,  creative writing, music, dance, weaving, storytelling,  puppetry and origami. Each year at the “Young at Art” exhibit, young artists are given the opportunity to showcase their work at the Ashe Arts Center. Ashe County is known for traditional old-time music and through the Junior Appalachian Musicians ( JAM) Program, this music is being passed to the next generation. Students in grades 3 – 8 are offered weekly instruction in banjo, guitar and fiddle at the Ashe Civic Center. Each spring, the ACAC hosts “Spring Fest” and the “Very Special Arts Festival.” The gymnasium at the historic West Jefferson school bustles with art stations galore, offering a wide variety of art activities while children move from table to table creating art in a dynamic interactive environment. For young people interested in the performing arts, the Missoula Children’s Theater comes to Ashe County every year for a week-long residence culminating in a play featuring the youth of Ashe County. During the annual Christmas in July festival, the arts council juries an arts and crafts show which brings in vendors from across the region. The Ashe County

Bluegrass and Old Time Fiddlers Convention brings regional musicians to a two-day festival of performance and competition. The Ola Belle Reed Song Writer’s Retreat  is a weekend  of songwriting, making music and celebrating her work. In recent years, Ashe County, and West Jefferson in particular, have received many accolades as a draw for those who love the arts, and there is no doubt that the Ashe Arts Council has played a large part in this success. In honor of their 40th anniversary, the Arts Council invites everyone to celebrate during the “Forty Fest!”—an all-arts street festival on June 2 from 11 a.m.  – 4 p.m. There will be a line-up of music performances including Wayne Henderson and Helen White, WKSK radio coverage, heritage arts and arts demonstrations, food trucks, and the unveiling of a new sculpture titled Brush Up!  The Arts Council has come a long way since 1978  and  its first  long-range plan scribbled on  a legal pad. If the accomplishments of the next 40 years keep pace with what has transpired since 1978, Ashe County is sure to have some exciting times ahead! n The Ashe County Arts Council is located at  303 School Avenue, West Jefferson. For more information, to volunteer or support the ACAC, call 336.846.2787, email  or visit



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Presbyterian Rev. McKenzie (Darrell King) performs a backwoods baptism in Liberty Mountain.

The River that Flows to Liberty By Robert Inman


e mountain folk love our rivers. The New, the Elk, the Nantahala and all the others, they’re an essential part of the mountain landscape and culture. They’re intimate rivers, meandering through our mountain valleys—beautiful and welcoming. A mountain river invites us to enter—swim, kayak, canoe, inner tube, or just sit and contemplate. But there’s also this other thing that intrigues me. These streams are pathways through our history. Take the Watauga, beginning at a spring on the slope of Peak Mountain in Watauga County and winding 78 miles until it merges with the Holston River in Eastern Tennessee near a place called Sycamore Springs. And thereby hangs a tale. At Sycamore Springs on a late September day in 1780, several hundred grizzled backwoodsmen gathered to begin a journey that would take them 300 arduous miles through snow and daunting terrain to Kings Mountain on the line of the two Carolinas. They were joined along the way by several hundred more from Virginia, North and South Carolina, and Georgia. And at mid-day on October 7, they attacked up the slopes of Kings Mountain. In an hour of savage hand-to-hand combat, they destroyed a

larger and better-trained force of Loyalists led by British Major Patrick Ferguson and turned the tide of the American Revolution. The core of this Patriot force was what we now call Overmountain Men and Wataugans. They had pretty much stayed out of the Revolution, their hands full with building homes and fighting attacks by Indians. But the British considered them a threat to their plans to conquer the South, move north to attack the Continental Army, and end the rebellion. So the British ordered Ferguson to recruit and train a regiment of Loyalists and move into North Carolina to protect the army’s western flank. Ferguson was doing just fine until he issued a threat to the Overmountain folk: “If you do not lay down your arms and swear allegiance to the Crown, I will march my army across the mountains, hang your leaders, and lay waste to your land with fire and sword.” That got the mountain men considerably riled up, and they gathered to hunt Ferguson down and do battle. Kings Mountain meant everything. When Ferguson and several hundred of his men were killed on the mountain, British commander Cornwallis withdrew from recently-captured Charlotte and put his plans on hold. There were other

battles, but a year after Kings Mountain, he surrendered to General Washington at Yorktown, and the war was essentially over. It’s an epic story, one I believe every American should know. And that’s why my colleagues and I will present our fifth season of our stage play Liberty Mountain in Kings Mountain, NC this summer. We chronicle the settling of the Carolinas by immigrants from Europe—many of them Scots-Irish Presbyterians from Northern Ireland—and how they made wrenching choices when the Revolution came to their land. If these hardy folks hadn’t responded as they did, we might all be singing “God Save The Queen.” Our goal in presenting Liberty Mountain is to give our audience an actionfilled two hours that will entertain and inspire. Our audiences are growing every year, and we look forward to a long and distinguished future for Liberty Mountain. This year we’ll present 17 performances June 29 through July 22 with a special show on July fourth. It’s family entertainment from a cast and crew of dedicated amateurs and professionals. We hope you’ll join us. n For information, show dates and tickets, visit CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Spring 2018 —


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Biltmore’s New Exhibit of Chihuly Glass Sculptures Opens May 17

Chihuly Exhibit at Biltmore, Photo courtesy of The Biltmore Company


hihuly at Biltmore, a new exhibition opening at Biltmore on May 17, 2018, will feature multi-media artist Dale Chihuly’s monumental glass sculptures. The exhibition will be set throughout areas of Biltmore House, gardens, and grounds. Dale Chihuly’s creative vision utilizes light, space, and form. For more than a half century Chihuly has employed a variety of media including glass, paint, charcoal, graphite, neon, ice, and polyvitro to explore possibilities and realize his vision. Acclaimed for his iconic glass sculptures, Chihuly is also known for ambitious and immersive site-specific public installations and exhibitions in museums and gardens around the world. Born in 1941 in Tacoma, Washington, Chihuly draws inspiration from the Pacific Northwest region. A renowned leader of the studio glass movement, Chihuly established the glass program at

the Rhode Island School of Design and cofounded the Pilchuck Glass School in Stanwood, Washington. Chihuly, who continues to work from his studio in Seattle, has received numerous awards and honorary degrees, and his work is included in more than 200 museum collections around the world. Chihuly’s work has been exhibited at famous locations across the U.S., including the Atlanta Botanical Gardens, but this is the first time this breathtaking work will appear at Biltmore. Running through Oct. 7, 2018, the exhibition will display Chihuly’s sculptures in the Winter Garden of Biltmore House, and throughout the estate, including the Italian Garden and Walled Garden. Biltmore will host an evening experience in the gardens that will offer views of the sculptures after dark. Chihuly Nights at Biltmore will take place each Thursday through

Sunday night during the exhibition. Daytime admission to Chihuly at Biltmore is included in the general admission ticket price. Admission to see Chihuly Nights at Biltmore requires a separate ticket. Tickets are now available at n





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”Nearer, My God, to Thee” By Tom McAuliffe


Left: Billy Graham strikes a mighty chord with the faithful in 1962 at the 38th Singing onthe Mountain / Right: Graham on the peak of Grandfather

s it has for the past 62 years, the second week of July will mark the arrival of the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games, North America’s largest gathering of Scottish Clans at MacRae Meadows in the shadow of the iconic mountain’s towering peaks. But another, similarly powerful gathering takes place on the same grounds three weeks prior on Saturday, June 23 when the 93rd edition of Singing on the Mountain heralds its stirring altar call to Grandfather’s rocky crags. It began in 1924 when Linville’s Joe Lee Hartley, Sr. called the faithful together on the fourth Sunday in June. Gospel music, prayer, and fellowship marked the first Singing on the Mountain on the revered grounds of Grandfather. It was an old-time revival and picnic— a tent meeting held beneath a Blue Ridge sky. Author Heidi Coryell Williams described the event as a place “where spiritled people from North Carolina and well beyond have come to be ‘Nearer, My God, to Thee’—with plenty of sweet tea.” Legend recounts when Little Betty Johnson of the Johnson Family Singers led the crowd in a stirring sing-along, it could be heard over a mile away on Grandfather Mountain’s Mile High Swinging Bridge. “What a glorious place to praise the Lord,” Grand Ole Opry legend and frequent pilgrim Roy Acuff would say. “It is like being lifted right up there with your prayers.” By the 1950s crowds in excess of 25,000 were common for the one-day gos-

pel singing on Grandfather. Storied performers joined Acuff in the likes of Johnny Cash and June and Maybelle Carter, Arthur Smith and the Crackerjacks, Oral Roberts, and even Bob Hope spoke to the multitudes gathered on Grandfather Mountain. But it was in 1962 at the 38th Edition of Singing on the Mountain that the event took its rightful place in mountain lore. That year the Reverend Billy Graham struck a mighty chord with the faithful making their annual pilgrimage to Singing on the Mountain. A crowd estimated between one and two hundred thousand packed all roads leading to Grandfather to hear the world’s most charismatic and powerful Christian evangelist. Ominous thunder heads formed over the mountain that morning as folks in their Sunday best clambered over the meadow, filled the rocky grottos, and crowded roads and pathways to hear Rev. Graham. No one there will forget how the clouds parted as Rev. Graham stepped up to the microphone and the sun shone brightly, a truth recorded in 90-year-old Joe Lee Hartley’s diary. Rev. Graham spoke. “Many people here today have hungry hearts, you have problems that need solving and you have sins that need forgiving. You have burdens that need lifting. You have a need in your life and you’ve come up on the side of this great and historic mountain hoping that somehow today you might find help in

your life and find the beginning of a new life. Well, I tell you that before you leave Grandfather Mountain this day your life can be changed. You can be a new person and start a new dimension of living in an entirely new direction.” It was one of the largest masses of people ever assembled to hear the evangelist speak. “This must be among one of the largest crowds ever to gather in Western North Carolina,” he intoned. “People are in the bushes, in the trees, in the shadows of campfires in what must be the most picturesque setting I’ve ever seen. Is there a more beautiful spot in all the world than Western North Carolina?” So large was the crowd Rev. Graham acknowledged early that a traditional ‘altar call’ would be impossible given the mass of humanity assembled in that setting. Instead, he called for a show of hands from those accepting their Savior that day. Rev. Graham invoked the words of poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow to punctuate his stirring mountain top sermon. “Mountains are great Apostles of nature, whose sermons are avalanches and whose voice is one crying in the wilderness.” n Billy Graham passed away on February 21st at the age of 99. But the Hartley family continues the tradition of Singing on the Mountain. To learn more about the 93rd Annual of the gathering on Grandfather Mountain on June 23, go to Admission is free. CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Spring 2018 —




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The GMHG VISION: We constantly strive to be the premier Scottish Highland games and gathering of Clans, Guests, Families, Sponsors, Patrons and Visitors. We will work diligently to be the model games of integrity and excellence for all. Massed bands of bagpipers fill the air with the sounds of Scotland

Grandfather Mountain Highland Games A

ir out your kilt and take out your calendar! The time is drawing near for the 63rd Annual Grandfather Mountain Highland Games and Gathering of the Scottish Clans. This year’s Games will be held July 12-15, 2018 at MacRae Meadows on Grandfather Mountain near Linville, NC. For more than six decades, the Games have fostered interest in the rich history of Scottish culture with dancing, piping, drumming, athletic achievement, music and more. Stroll through the Scottish Cultural Village, hone your history and genealogy knowledge at clan tents, and participate in music workshops and competitions. If you’ve never attended the Games, you will be wowed by the tradition and camaraderie that fuel this festive, family friendly event. So gather your clan and make a plan. Check out the 2018 event highlights, then visit, where you’ll find essential information on tickets, lodging, parking, and shuttle bus information, along with a map, directions and a checklist. You’ll also find a comprehensive list of merchants and civic groups who offer products and services on the mountain. Be sure to pick up the summer issue of Carolina Mountain Life for additional details and up-to-date listings. n

2018 Grandfather Highland Games Highlights Thursday, July 12th

4:30 p.m.: Opening Picnic Scottish entertainment with traditional Celtic music, plus sheep herding with border collies on the field (throughout the weekend) 7 p.m.: The Bear – Assault on Grandfather featuring over 800 runners on a five-mile foot race climbing 1,568 feet in elevation from Linville to the summit of Grandfather Mountain Evening: Opening Torchlight Ceremony announcing each participating Clan’s arrival to the Games

Friday, July 13th

9 a.m.: MacRae Meadows opens, with preliminary athletic competition, sheep herding, and music/dancing exhibitions. Celtic Groves will be open and other activities will highlight the day. 6:30 - 11 p.m.: Celtic Rock Concert at MacRae Meadows. 8:00 p.m. – midnight: Scottish Country Dance Gala, Williams Gymnasium at LeesMcRae College.

Saturday, July 14th

6:30 a.m.: Mountain Marathon from Boone to MacRae Meadows field track. Amateur heavy athletic qualifying begins, competition begins for Highland Dancing Atlantic International Championship, piping, drumming, Scottish athletic events, track & field events, Scottish country dancing, Scottish fiddling, and Scottish harp 6:30 - 10:30 p.m.: Celtic Jam at MacRae Meadows

Sunday, July 15th

8 a.m.: MacRae Meadows opens Scottish Heavy Athletic Demonstration and Clinic Prelude music for Worship Service begins • Scottish Worship Service outside main gate, includes 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, Scottish athletic events, sheep herding, kilted miles, children’s events, Scottish country dancing, Scottish harps, Clan Tugs-of-War, and Celtic Grove entertainment 4 p.m. Closing Ceremonies CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Spring 2018 —


savor Blowing Rock’s 11th Annual Celebration of Food, Cheer & Spring By Steve York, with photography by Amanda Lugenbell


hat’s the most deliciously-fun way to celebrate spring in the High Country? Three words: “Savor Blowing Rock!” Those three words represent a premier Rites-of-Spring festival for the High Country. Over the past decade this palate-pleasing gala has established itself as the hallmark event for locals and visitors alike to usher in spring and joyfully toast the spirit of renewal for our Blue Ridge Mountain highlands. And you’re invited! But Savor Blowing Rock is much more than a strictly High Countryflavored event. It has evolved into a rich world-class celebration of libations, culinary artistry, seminars, entertainment and international cultural enrichment. Savor Blowing Rock is truly an all-around sensory festival, attracting brand-name wineries, regional craft breweries, spirited liquor distillers, locally acclaimed restaurants, popular gourmet chefs and expert pairing gurus from around the block, all over the state, across the country and around the globe. And it all gets deliciously served up in generous portions from our very own distinctively charming and picturesque mountain vil-


lage of Blowing Rock, North Carolina. This year’s four-day event has moved from its previous April schedule to Thursday, May 3 through Sunday, May 6. The May timing is smart since the transition from winter to spring here in the High Country is notorious for a last-minute April chill, freeze or even a few flurries. Plus, many of our summer residents often don’t arrive till late April or early May. So, this little bump to May will provide for a timely and festive Welcome Back!” to our seasonal family. The initial inspiration for what was formerly called the Blue Ridge Wine & Food Festival sprang from a recognition of the uniquely exceptional dining options to be found here in the High Country, along with the rapidly emerging mountain winery industry that has been capturing the attention of wine lovers from far and wide. The whole idea of the festival was to create an expansive event to showcase and celebrate the rich food and wine menus and venues here in our own backyard. Because our scenic Blue Ridge Mountain setting has attracted people from many regions and cultures to relo-

cate here and open a rich variety of specialty restaurants, the array of foods and cuisines in this area is far more extensive than may be expected. Here you can enjoy iconic Southern country cooking, seasonal garden-to-plate menus, fresh game or native river fish, regional favorites and authentic international dishes. You can dine casual or formal, familiar or exotic, domestic or global. In addition, our local wineries have been winning hearts and awards from all over the Southeast as one after the other have opened their tasting rooms and offered distinctively delicious mountain varieties. In fact, select Northwest North Carolina, Southwest Virginia and Eastern Tennessee wineries recently qualified to receive their own unique AVA certification (American Viticulture Area), establishing them among such noted AVAs as the Yadkin Valley and NAPA Valley winery regions. Now, as if great food and wine weren’t enough, craft breweries have also begun sprouting up across the region like crocuses in the spring. Before most people knew it, new local brew-masters were turning out some amazing craft beers

and achieving serious acclaim. Today, you can find breweries and tap rooms all over the High Country. And these local craft beers are being widely demanded and distributed all across North Carolina and the Southeast. Plus, there’s one more part of our local mountain heritage that also owns a place at the table of fine foods and libations. Yes…distilled spirits. After all, what would mountain culture be without “mountain dew“? Dating back to the era of colorful bootleggers who ran “shine” all across these Appalachian hills, distilled spirits have fueled the fires of many a fable and many a festival in the High Country. And that’s how the Blue Ridge Wine & Food Festival became simply Savor Blowing Rock. Now in its third year under that moniker, this four-day celebration includes a festive blend of all the aforementioned delicacies and delights, combined with the following: informative seminars, “how to” cooking classes, food and beverage tasting and pairing dinners, regional dairy cheese offerings, a high-end Wine Reserve Tasting, the ever-popular Sip & Stroll excursions

through shops and around town, live music and entertainment daily, plus Chetola’s uniquely challenging “Corkscrew & Brew 5-K” early on Saturday morning. Some new and updated agenda items include: Thursday’s “TASTE! A Restaurant Showcase” featuring small portion entrees along with craft beers, wines and live music at the Main Tent; the Savor Fashion Show and Brunch at 10 a.m. Friday held at The Green Park Inn; the Black & Gold Night dinner Friday evening with foods prepared by App State faculty members, students, alumni and friends at the Main Tent; the Saturday morning 47 mile, 5,200-foot climb Globe Gravel Challenge bike race starting and ending in downtown Blowing Rock; the Saturday main event from noon to 4 p.m. at the “Culinary Village,” which is a showcase of chef demos, wine tastings, beer and spirit samples, spice and meat pairings, over 70 NC made or grown products to experience, and much more. Saturday evening’s Horses, Hats & Hooch Kentucky Derby themed cocktail party; and Sunday morning’s Gospel, Grits & Gravy homestyle breakfast complete with gospel choir, also at the Main Tent.

All of this food-and-drink merriment is conveniently spread out between Thursday, May 3 and Sunday, May 6. That means you have plenty of leisurely time to take in as many activities, seminars, tastings, dinners and FUN as you can pack into this long and tasty weekend. The itinerary of events and activities is sweeping in scope, yet easily manageable, and is posted at Tips on lodging packages, dining, special sponsor activities and area attractions are also listed, as well as links to the Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce and other related websites, all designed to make your event planning as easy and enjoyable as possible. Some special activities can get booked up in advance. So, make your plans to celebrate Savor Blowing Rock. n




Visit Our Website Or Call 828-963-8453

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EstablishEd in 1891

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EstablishEd in 1891

Chestnut Grille

9239 Valley Boulevard Blowing Rock 828-414-9230 9239 Valley Boulevard Blowing Rock 828-414-9230

Come enjoy the patio this summer! Divide Tavern

Chestnut Grille

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The Village of


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Beat rising power costs

Be a champion! Join others in Beat The Peak, a voluntary program to help hold down power costs for all Blue Ridge Energy members. Participants shift or reduce their use of electricity a few hours during peak periods, when the most electricity is being used. Beat The Peak participants can help keep rates affordable, bills low and even delay the need for new power plants!

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Come spend the day!

A to Z Auto Detailing 828.897.1966 Amy Brown, CPA Certified Public Accountant 828.898.7607 Avery County Chamber of Commerce 828.898.5605 / BB&T 888.BBT-ONLINE / Headquarters Bike & Outdoor 828.898.8885 Nick’s Restaurant & Pub Open 7 Days a Week 828.898.9613 Creative Interiors by Darlene Parker 828.898.9636 Peak Real Estate 828.898.1880 Rite Aid Pharmacy 828.898.8971 Shooz & Shiraz A Shoe & Wine Salon at The Dande Lion The Dande Lion Ladies Apparel, Shoes, & Accessories 866.222.2050 and 828.898.3566 Tynecastle Builders 828.387.1222 / Tynecastle Realty 828.898.7777 / Valle de Bravo Mexican Grill 828.898.4949

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SHOPPING • DINING • BUSINESS • At the Corner of Hwy 105 & 184 Tynecastle Hwy. • Banner Elk CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Spring 2018 —





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This year, Appalachian Voices is celebrating two decades of bringing people together to stand up for the mountains, for rivers and drinking water, for farms, forests and wildlife, and for healthy Appalachian VoicesAppalachia. fights mountaintop and communities across Join us asremoval we begin ourfrackednext 20 gas pipelines to prevent the scarring of our landscape years. (New members: take advantage of our special “$20 for and 20” poisoning of discount!) our planet and people. Join us in our work to shift membership the region from fossil fuels to clean, renewable energy.

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Specializing in




Mountain Biking the High Country By Kelly Melang


here is nothing better than hopping on a bike and enjoying the scenery. The High Country of North Carolina is a mountain biking destination of the Southeast with the development of bike parks in Boone, Sugar Mountain, and Beech Mountain. Each park is unique in look and feel, from its trail system to expansive views to vegetation. Rocky Knob Bike Park, a 185-acre park in Boone, was a citizen effort. “We didn’t have any legal mountain bike trails in Watauga County, so through a partnership between Watauga County, the Tourism Development Authority, and the Boone Area Cyclists, we created Rocky Knob Park,” says Kristian Jackson, a volunteer of the park. “This is a volunteer effort—our goal is to create trails for all levels, along with the fun of a pump track for mountain bikers. We’d love to connect Rocky Knob to the Greenway of Boone. There’s nothing better than lunch in Boone, hopping on a bike and riding to Rocky Knob.” Rocky Knob Bike Park runs through a forest with towering trees, along with different bike features. The park includes an adventure playground and picnic shelter, as well as several skills areas. In 1993, Sugar Mountain offered recreational mountain biking to the area including the NORBA (National Off Road Bicycle Association) National Mountain Biking Championships. Their trails have evolved over the years and now run through the Village of Sugar.

From the summit at 5,300 feet, bikers find adventure on the National Expert Down Track, used in 2013 for the National Collegiate Downhill Championships. This 1.2-mile trail is what some call the most challenging and thrilling on the East Coast. Sugar’s National Cross Country Trail features six miles of intermediate and advanced trails that are grueling but fun. Sugar Mountain is pleased to announce the addition of PJ Noto, former Lees-McRae mountain bike coach and trail construction specialist to the team. “Look for the building out of our expert trails, adding in Intermediate and Beginner lines, as well as different features to the park,” says Kim Jochl, Marketing Manager of Sugar Mountain. Scenic lift rides are available through biking season and into fall. Beech Mountain offers two types of parks, each distinct in its own right. Created in 2011, Emerald Outback was developed by the Town of Beech Mountain. The trails, intermediate and advanced, are the highest adventure trails of the Southeast. The vegetation and views are completely different from Sugar and Rocky Knob but the trails are just as challenging. Riders enjoy the gnarly beech trees, ferns and views from 5,400 feet on mostly single track. The Emerald Outback has hosted mountain biking races, an Xterra trail race, and the USA Cycling Collegiate Mountain Biking National Championships in both 2013 and 2014. 

Beech Mountain Bike Park opens for downhill mountain biking Memorial Day through Labor Day. The park gained the interest of the mountain biking community when it hosted the USA Cycling Mountain Bike Gravity Nationals in 2011. The park has since expanded from this base creating 15 different trails from Beginner to Pro with a skills park, making it a premier destination for the Southeast. “That first event helped us gain traction in the industry and served as a catalyst for greater visibility with our customer base,” says Talia Freeman, Director of Marketing. “We are constantly revamping our trail system and hope to expand our offerings in the future.” The Resort also rents mountain bikes along with equipment for those wanting a taste of the sport. Even if biking isn’t in your veins you can still access the lift for scenic rides up to the bar at the 5,506 feet summit for a cold beverage and an amazing view. Whether you are looking for a lazy afternoon bike ride or the thrill of downhill adventure, the High Country offers what many consider a world class mountain biking experience. Information for each park can be found on their respective websites: Rocky Knob; Sugar Mountain -; Emerald Outback -; Beech Mountain Bike Park - n CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Spring 2018 —


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 60 — Spring 2018 CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE

Photo by Todd Bush

Photo by Todd Bush

Bring Your Crew to Beech Mountain for Family Fun Month

Mile High Fourth: A Multi-Day Celebration of Independence Day

By Craig Distl

By Craig Distl



pending quality time with the entire family is the focus for Beech Mountain’s Family Fun Month each June. This June marks the fifth year that Beech Mountain will host a month-long celebration for parents, children and grandparents. Family Fun Month promotes the idea of bringing families closer together via a daily schedule of activities and adventures, paired with lodging specials throughout the month. Organized activities are available all 30 days of June, including family hikes, scenic chairlift rides, mountain biking lessons, pickleball, disc golf, ride-along ATV tours, cookouts, movies under the stars, trips to nearby Grandfather Mountain and Friday tours of the old Land of Oz theme park. Other notable activities on the schedule are hiking and biking in the Emerald Outback at the top of the mountain, canoeing and fishing at Buckeye Lake, family Zumba classes, mini golf, all-ages street dances, a kiddo fishing derby and sunset concerts on the lawn. Family Fun Month is a collaboration of the Beech Mountain Tourism Development Authority, Beech Mountain Resort, Beech Mountain Parks & Recreation Department, the local chamber and several town businesses. “Each June we see families coming together for quality time, which is very rewarding,” says Kate Gavenus, tourism director for the town of Beech Mountain. “They tell us they actually have conversations and unplug from their digital devices to participate in the various activities.” 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 two-night stays. It’s easy to enjoy the cool outdoors of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Beech Mountain. As the highest town in eastern America, the average high temperature in June is just over 70 degrees. n

he resort towns of Banner Elk and Beech Mountain team up each July in a sizzling cool way to celebrate Independence Day. The Mile High Fourth of July takes place June 30July 4 and includes fireworks, barbecue, live music at multiple venues, a parade and much more. Spread over five days in the two neighboring towns, this extravaganza offers a great option for folks visiting the High Country during the July holiday week. Highlights include a mile-high fireworks show Saturday night, June 30, atop Beech Mountain (elevation 5,506 feet) and an all-American Main Street parade Wednesday in Banner Elk. Saturday’s fireworks will last longer than previous years with larger shells producing more robust displays. Preceding the fireworks is the 47th annual Roasting of the Hog on Beech Mountain, where families, friends and visitors gather for a feast of smoked barbecue and turkey. Wednesday’s mid-morning parade, one of the South’s friendliest Fourth of July parades, concludes in Banner Elk’s Tate-Evans Park, where there will be food vendors and traditional July 4th contests like sack races, three-legged races and a rubber duck derby. In conjunction with the parade, a barbecue lawn party is hosted by Dunn’s Deli and includes live music. Speaking of live music, there is no admission charge for most of the bands playing at various venues across the five days, including a Tuesday, July 3, late afternoon concert in the Beech Mountain kite field adjacent to the Famous Brick Oven Pizzeria. Arts aficionados can take in a performance of “The Wiz” by Lees-McRae College summer theatre in Banner Elk, or “Red, White and Tuna” by Ensemble Stage in Banner Elk. Show times for “The Wiz” are 7 p.m. Saturday, June 30, and 2 p.m. Sunday, July 1. Show times for “Red, White and Tuna” are 7:30 p.m. Saturday, June 30, and 2 p.m. Sunday, July 1. n For more details, go to or call 800-468-5506.

For info on Family Fun Month and lodging discounts, call (800) 468-5506, or visit: CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Spring 2018 —


The perfect fit is a feeling!

Always be You!!!

Celebrating 16 years!

207 Long St, Shamrock Square , Jefferson, NC 336-846-9551 * Mon–Fri 9:30–6:00Sat. 9:30 -5:30 Closed Sundays



CARINA LLOBET 305.205.8665

MELINDA EGGERS 828.387.5376

Each office is independently owned and operated. Equal Housing Opportunity. *Countryside by Josephine Trotter used with permission.

“My mission is to offer people life-changing experiences and a sense of connectedness through the discovery of different cultures. - Wendy Snider

We Care About The Health Of Your Pet

Encore Travel is a full service travel agency specializing in complex itineraries and experential travel. Looking for a truly unique, safe and comfortable adventure? Why wait— now is the time to travel! Call Wendy Snider to discuss your next dream destination.

• High Quality Dog & Cat Food • Raw Diet & Freeze-Dried Pet Foods • USA Made Treats & Home-Baked Treats • Featuring alternative supplements for your pets dietary and health needs • Toys, collars, leashes, and more

Creating Travel Experiences as Unique as You


176 Shawneehaw Ave. Downtown Banner Elk NC

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Visit Our Travel Lounge by Appointment 2780 Tynecastle Hwy, Banner Elk | 828-719-6955




Where Do YOU Want to Go?


Since 2010

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

Wine and Travel: Some of the Best Things in Life Are Even Better Together By Wendy Snider


maWaterways’ Wine Cruises  bring together two of the top travel trends: “River Cruising” and “Wine Travel.” What’s not to love about cruising down Europe’s stunning waterways while sipping a fine glass of wine? These immersive itineraries invite guests to tour private cellars, stroll through stunning vineyards, and enjoy encounters with local vintners and artisans. My first journey into wine travel began on the well-appointed AmaPrima. New World wine hosts and sommeliers shared their passion for viticulture through discussions and wine tastings on board. On shore, the insightful wine host—always a professional winery owner, winemaker, wine instructor or certified sommelier from renowned North American wineries— leads guests through discussions and wine tastings on board. Our host also accompanied us to Old World wineries and vineyards, where I learned first-hand from regional European experts. Kristin Karst, Executive VP and CoOwner of AmaWaterways states, “And all of this comes at no extra cost. Whether

guests are wine novices or self-described oenophiles with their own home wine cellars, this is the perfect chance to indulge in one of the world’s most perfect pairings: travel and wine.” The Old and New World of wine is one of the hottest travel trends. Every time I travel, something unexpected impacts my experience. While sailing on the Danube Wine Cruise, the ship manager noticed I enjoyed the complimentary bikes provided by the ship. He invited guests to join him off the beaten path, on a bike ride from Melk to Krems through spectacular vineyards, a truly special ride to where the locals meet: the Heuriger. Europeans vacation around Heuriger’s featured wines, when eager travelers purchase a years’ worth of wine. I tasted a wine spritzer with Elderflower, the way the locals begin their day. The refreshing taste of the spritzer delighted me as we learned how wine weaves through the daily life of the Wachau Valley. We met generations of families involved in the choreography of wine where entire villages work

to plant, manicure and harvest. Vineyards dating back to the 1100s, where monks perfected the viticulture of the Old World wine, tell fascinating stories. This unique Heuriger tradition in the Wachau Valley drew similarities to New World wineries where people gather on weekends to taste varieties of wine—much like our local vineyard, Linville Falls Winery, where a multi-generational family is bringing this culture to the High Country. They are our local Heuriger. Once a Cistercian monastery with beautiful castle grounds, the Schloss Gobelsburg is one of the oldest wineries in wine-rich Austria. When we think wine, we don’t usually think of Austria, but their traditions certainly enticed the palette to explore. One of the cellars we visited dates back to the 11th century where the monks of Zwettl began making wine. The current owners retain the unique and special character, and created what they’ve termed the ‘Dynamic Cellar Concept.’ While other wineries are utilizing new machines and other technologies to produce their wines, Schloss Gobelsburg wines minimize CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Spring 2018 —



Artists Gallery

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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:

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modern conveniences to retain authenticity. Wines are transported via barrels from one section of the cellar to the other, as opposed to being pumped from one location to the other. Amazing to experience firsthand! Further ensuring an authentic flavor, the winery continues to use oak casks produced entirely from the local trees of the region. We noticed the elegant designs carved on many on the casks—after all, where better to view artwork than in a winery! After the tour, we purchased wines straight from the winery to toast a perfect evening. We noticed the Canadian guests purchasing crates of Ice Wine to send home. In general, Americans don’t seem to have a passion for the expensive Ice Wine, but the production is amazing. The ringing of village bells calls an entire village to harvest when the temperature and time is perfect. Everyone comes out to participate in the yearly excitement. With similar terrain and temperature in the High Country, I wondered if one of our vineyards will begin perfecting this wonderful wine. As I sip a glass of wine and complete this “travelogue” at the Banner Elk Winery, I delight in the blend of wine and travel christened by AmaWaterways. Wineries throughout the United States, including our own Linville Falls Winery and other local wineries, are beginning to offer AmaWaterways wine cruises to their patrons. “We wanted to do something nice for our wine club members as they are such an amazing group of folks who support our business year round,” said Linda Wiseman of Linville Falls Winery. “We’re beyond excited to offer this experience and learn about ‘old world’ wine while cruising down the Rhine River through the Netherlands, Germany, France, and Switzerland. We’ll have the opportunity to explore historic wineries, taste their native wines and cuisine, and sight-see in some famous European cities.” Delightful itineraries bring together the Old and New Worlds, and a community of wine enthusiasts who enjoy enriching travel through the palette. Wendy Snider is the owner of Encore Travel, a fullservice travel agency located in Banner Elk. She has been recognized as a top travel consultant by Travel Weekly.

Moses Cone Trails

J.D. Lee is the new Blue Ridge Parkway superintendent

What’s new on the Parkway

This spring, National Park Service staff cleaned Flat Top Manor from head to toe for opening to the public. The Parkway Craft Center and Eastern National gift shop have moved to rooms flanking the cleared foyer, which more closely resembles its appearance during the Cones' days at the estate.

Come Volunteer at Moses H. Cone Memorial Park Would you like to help visitors enjoy their adventures at Moses H. Cone Memorial Park this season? If so, there are great volunteer roles for you on the estate near Blowing Rock. The Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation is working with the National Park Service to recruit helpers with a passion for local and Cone family history to greet visitors, lead informal talks, provide directions, and patrol trails on the 3,500-acre estate. You can be a friendly face who greets visitors at the front desk inside Flat Top Manor, imparts information about the Blue Ridge Parkway as well as the estate, and directs hikers to the trails as a visitor service assistant. Other tasks may include monitoring trails, presenting informal talks about the park and the estate, providing tour information, accepting reservations, answering phone inquiries, and assisting with first aid and other emergency situations. There are two shifts available for this position: a morning shift (9 a.m. to 1 p.m.) and an afternoon shift (12:30 to 5 p.m.). Those who are interested in diving deep into historical research can sign up to become interpretation and education assistants. This role includes in-depth study of American history focused on the life and times of Moses and Bertha

By Rita Larkin

Cone, including the running of the estate as an orchard, farm, and country retreat. To step into this role, you should have a keen interest in the cultural and economic history of North Carolina, strong people skills, the ability to organize a large amount of information, excellent public speaking abilities, an interest in working cooperatively, and the ability to handle diverse situations with tact and professionalism. Learning more about this magnificent place and sharing your love for it with others could be the perfect way to spend your days. Volunteers must be generally available between March and November, the time period during which Flat Top Manor is open. Training is provided by the staff of the National Park Service and Eastern National, which operates a gift shop inside the manor. If you are interested in these opportunities, contact Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation Outreach Coordinator Clary Pickering at cpickering@ or Highlands District Interpretive Ranger Tina White at tina_, or call (828) 348-3540 for more information. Even if you can’t give your time, you can help bring history to life at Moses H. Cone Memorial Park with a donation at

Opening Days: Each spring, Flat Top Manor is one of the first visitor stops to open along the Blue Ridge Parkway thanks to the Southern Highland Craft Guild. Be sure to visit the group’s Parkway Craft Center at the manor, which features handmade crafts from hundreds of regional artists as well as live demonstrations of quilting, pottery, wood carving, glass blowing, and more on the front porch. Nearby campgrounds at Linville Falls and Price Park open in early April on a first come, first served basis with reservations starting May 20. The official opening day for visitor centers on the Parkway is May 25. Welcome, Mr. Superintendent: The Blue Ridge Parkway welcomed J.D. Lee as its new superintendent in February. For the past eight years, Lee has served as deputy superintendent of Big Cypress National Preserve in southern Florida. He is a 30-year veteran of the National Park Service, beginning his career as a seasonal park ranger and wildland firefighter at Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The Parkway is No. 1: More than 16 million people accepted the Blue Ridge Parkway’s invitation to explore these gorgeous mountains in 2017, making the park unit the most visited in the country! Imagine all that could be done to protect and care for the Parkway if each of the 16,093,765 visitors gave just $1 (or more)! That total would double the Parkway’s entire budget for the year. Your journey is priceless, but you can give now to show how much you care. CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Spring 2018 —


Wildflowers Since 1892 Gardens of The Blue Ridge 9056 Pittmans Gap Road Newland, North Carolina 28657 828-733-2417 / Fax 828-733-8894 Open Monday-Friday 9 to 5


Your new favorite course in the mountains. “The most beautiful golf course in the NC mountains.” — Mary Lee C.

“If you want to experience the closest place to heaven, this is it.” — Jamie T.

“A beautiful course with a friendly and knowledgeable staff.”

You’re about to discover a hidden gem in the High Country. The unique 18-hole layout follows the native terrain with two vastly different nines, each offering a lot of fun and unforgettable views. The semi-private course is available for public play with one of the best golf deals around. – For rates and more information, visit

_ Michelle T.

Book your tee time at CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Spring 2018 —


“The only Orvis endorsed fly shop in the high country”

Check out our new merchandise & product lines. Gifts & Gear, Full Line Fly Shop,Guided Float Trips, Fly Fishing School, Fly Tying Classes & More.

Rod, Reels, Flies, Wading & Footwear, Apparel and Fly Fishing Gifts

8857 Hwy 105 | Between Boone & Banner Elk | 828-963-6556

Guided Trips, Casting Schools, Fly Tying Classes Open 7 day a week in Downtown Linville 4210 Mitchell Ave., Linville, NC 28646, 828-733-2181

The Williams YMCA of Avery County | 828.737.5500


the YM CA



FISHING Spring Has Sprung Fishing with Andrew Corpening


ow that spring has returned to the High Country, many people think about outside activities. For some it could be hiking or camping, for others it might be gardening and lawn care but for the fly fisher it means trout fishing. However, if your gear is not ready, you might have a problem. With a little maintenance your gear can work better, last longer, and make you a more successful fly fisher. The first item that needs to be checked is the fly line. You can visually inspect your line for cracks or wear. If the line is badly cracked or even abraded, it is probably time to replace it. If it does not look too bad, a good cleaning will probably be enough to get you through the season. The local fly shops sell commercial cleaners that clean and recondition the line. Fly line needs to be slick to cast and float properly and line cleaner alone may reduce its slick coating. Use a product that both cleans and reconditions at the same time. These products are the easiest and most convenient method of caring for your fly line. When finished, wind the line back onto the reel. And speaking of reels, does yours seem stiff or hard to wind? If so it may need cleaning and lubricating. Under certain storage conditions, the lubricant applied at the factory can dry out and make the reel hard to wind. If this is the case, remove the spool from the housing and check the spindle. Use a rag to wipe the spindle clean and then apply lubricant. Use the lubricant sparingly and make sure not to get any in the drag system. Reel lubricant is also available at the local shops. Some other items to check are your leaders and tippets. It will be obvious that you need a new leader if it is getting too short or is full of knots. However, it could also need replacing if it is getting too old. This does not mean that

you should throw away all your leaders and tippets each year. Storage conditions have a lot to do with how long they will last; leaders and tippets are especially vulnerable to high heat or sunlight. If your equipment is not stored in the trunk of your car during the summer or stored where it gets direct sun, then you are probably all right. But is it worth the risk of losing the trout of a lifetime by not using good leaders and tippets? If you have a problem with your waders or hip boots, it will be abundantly clear. A wet pant leg is a sure sign you have a leak. A cut or a tear should be easy to find but a pin hole leak is a bit harder. If you use the stocking foot type of waders or hippers, the best way to find a pinhole leak is to turn them inside out and fill them with water. When you see the water coming out you have found the leak and can circle it with a pen. After turning them right side out again you can patch the hole once the waders dry. With the popular breathable waders and hip boots, it is important to use the proper method to patch the hole. Some patching methods are not compatible with some of the breathable materials and can make the problem worse. Consult with a local fly shop to find the best patching method. While you are taking care of these fly fishing chores, it can also be a good time to clean out some of your fly boxes. Every fly fisher is carrying around flies that haven’t been used in years. It is a fly fisher’s nature to buy flies that look good and give them a try. Logically, if the fly does not produce, you would take it out of your box but most fly fishers have the “just in case” mentality and carry them forever. Clean out your boxes and you may find that you end up carrying one less box. Now that your equipment is ready it is time to hit the water and spring is a

great time to fish. As the water warms up, the insects that the trout feed on are getting more plentiful and the wild trout will get more active. Also, the North Carolina Wildlife Resource Commission starts stocking the Delayed Harvest and Hatchery Supported waters in March. Keep in mind that the Delayed Harvest waters are single hook, catch and release only from October 1 to the first Saturday in June, and that the Hatchery Supported streams, where you can keep some trout, are closed to fishing from March 1 to the first Saturday in April. It is difficult to recommend specific dry flies for spring fishing since spring is a transition season. As the temperatures warm up, the insects change from small dark flies during the early spring to larger light colored flies in late spring and early summer. If you see trout feeding when you arrive at the river, take a moment to try to see the insect. If you can determine its color and size, try to match the hatch. If you see feeding but no insects, try using a parachute fly beginning with a dark pattern (Adams). If that does not work, switch to a light colored parachute (Cahill). Of course underwater nymphs always will work since 90% of the trout’s diet consists of underwater insects. You cannot go wrong using Copper Johns, beadhead pheasant tails, and Prince Nymphs. As the water temperature rises with the progression of spring, streamers will work well, especially on larger trout. With the warmer temperatures the trout get more active and will chase after streamers fished with a darting action. Now that your equipment is ready and you know what to use, forget about the cold days of winter and go fishing. Time flies so don’t waste it. n CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Spring 2018 —


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Boat Builder Calls High Country Home By Joe Tennis


t all started with canoes and kayaks. Matt Maness built these boats for fishing and because of his love of the North Carolina High Country when he first came here as a teenager. Growing up in Raleigh, Maness began roaming the majestic mountains of western North Carolina during the 1980s and ‘90s. He came to the High Country to fish with his father, exploring Wilson Creek and Lost Cove. Maness’s love for kayaks and canoes naturally expanded into driftboats. Today, that’s become this man’s artful occupation: building boats. He does this with his business partner, Les Vance. “I was building boats more for myself and built a couple of sea kayaks, a couple of canoes. It just kind of evolved from there,” says Maness. “It’s kind of my art, but you can also use it. It’s something I can make look like I want it to, but it’s very functional in my life. I use it every day of the summer in my guiding.” Maness offers guided fishing trips of local waterways, extending from North Carolina to Virginia and Tennessee, working with Les Vance. “We are both fishing guides in the summer,” Maness says. “The Watauga River that we float is in Tennessee, and it’s below Watauga Dam and Wilbur Dam. Releases are done on a fairly regular basis. It’s a good-size stream. That’s probably our primary float river, the Watauga. “Les Vance, my business partner with

High Country Boats, guides for Duranglers in Durango, Colorado,” adds Maness. “He is originally from Fuquay Varina but grew up coming to the High Country to visit his family in Pineola. I met Les on a backpacking/camping trip on Wilson Creek in the 90s. We’ve been great friends ever since and both have a passion for fishing and boat building.” Maness also floats into Virginia on the New River, meandering along the North Carolina border. “It’s floatable pretty much from the Virginia line, as far as you want to go. There’s a lot of water up there. It kind of meanders through nowhere.” Maness books trips through Foscoe Fishing Company in Foscoe, NC. Fullday floats ($450) span about three to six miles. Half-day floats ($375) cover about two miles. Guiding is Maness’s and Vance’s primary occupation. They make boats during their off-months, largely during the winter. “It consumes us, for sure,” says Maness, who lives with his wife, Shannon, in Banner Elk. “We work long hours and many days in a row, but it’s all worth it when we see the finished product.” For Maness, designing and building driftboats still remains a labor of love. “This year, we’re building five for customers,” Maness says. “And we’ve got a couple sold for next year. We’re not trying to build a lot. We’re just trying to build them right.” Maness makes the boat’s gunnels out of ash. He uses marine

plywood, fiberglass and aluminum. “And we use some oak,” adds Maness. The result is a handsome craft, spanning a little more than 16 feet in length. The custom-colored driftboats often feature greens and whites as well as natural tones, tans and blues. “You could use them for just floating the river. It’s a fishing boat, for sure—flyfishing, mainly, for smallmouth on the rivers,” Maness explains. “They are very specific river boats—oar rigs, no motors.” Over the years, Maness has made about 30 boats. He sells his driftboats for about $15,000 each, which includes boat, trailer, anchor and oars. An oarsman rows the boat, but you can also use the natural propulsion of a river’s flow. “You’re floating the river, and you’re using the oars to maneuver the rapids,” Maness says. “You could pretty easily go over a Class II, III or even a III-plus rapid. They can handle some fairly heavy, technical water—that’s kind of what they’re designed for.” But unless you can find some flatwater, Maness says, you’ll likely be heading one way: downstream. So you’ll need to use a shuttle. Building such boats is unusual on this side of the country, Maness says. “Most of these companies are based in Montana, Idaho, Colorado. We’re kind of it right now, and we’re not trying to be a monster in this business. We’re pretty specialized and trying to keep it small.”

High Country Boats can be reached at 828-260-5866. To book a float trip, call 828-963-6556. CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Spring 2018 —


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Planting Season for Birds By Curtis Smalling, with photographs by Will Stuart

Left to Right: Grey Catbird on Beautyberry / Pileated Woodpecker eating Wild Cherries / Black-throated Blue Warbler / Ruby-throated Hummingbird on Trumpet Vine


ur hearts and our senses turn their attention to the vibrancy of spring after a long winter season. The birds know it is here and our ears and eyes connect to them as they advertise their presence for mates and rivals. The greening of the grass, the lengthening of the days, the smells that have been gone all winter come back and remind us that the circle keeps turning, and it is time to get outside and stretch our minds and bodies to prepare for the busy season ahead. One of the ways that we often take those first steps is by working in our yards and gardens, cleaning up winter debris, tilling those garden plots, setting out our seeds and plants (always a little too early, at least for me). This is a great way to connect, to feel the dirt in our hands, and see the growth of our newly planted seeds, or see if our efforts that went in the ground last year survived and are perking up for the new year. But did you know that those actions can also have a positive impact for birds? And not just in the ways we can easily see—like the American Robin turning over freshly tilled ground looking for worms and other insects, or the Wild Turkeys busily scratching through our leaves left from winter—but in ways that will benefit them all year. Birds use a variety of food sources throughout the year: seeds, fruits, nectar, and the insects that live on, in, and around our plants. Some species might switch from one type of food to another, like insects mostly in the summer then fruits or seeds in the fall and winter. Others eat everything all year round. But all do better when there is abundant food available of whatever type they consume. And one of

the simplest ways to meet that need and improve your yard and garden for birds is to increase the diversity and abundance of native plants you have available. Native plants are adapted for growing in their native range, usually matching the growing season, available water, and living in some kind of balance with the insects that might eat them. Those insects are key to helping our bird species thrive. The average songbird nest needs about 4,000 – 6,000 insects (usually soft bodied caterpillars) to get those baby birds ready to leave the nest! A forest or natural area dominated by native plants usually can provide that with little problem, but in many of our yards and developed areas, up to 80 percent of the plant material by volume is not native. Many of these species of plants do not support insects at all or only minimally. To use a couple of tree examples, oaks as a group support over 600 species of insects at some point in their life cycle. By contrast a Gingko or Crepe Myrtle supports less than six species. Fortunately, Audubon North Carolina and its partners provide a lot of help in deciding what plants can be the most beneficial for our birds. A variety of online resources is available at nc.audubon. org to help you find plants right for your area, and Audubon also partners with local growers and nurseries to help you find a supplier for those plants with an interactive map. But often it is even more helpful to have someone show you how to use and grow natives in your landscape. We have a few resources locally that can be a big help. Audubon partners with the High Country Audubon Society, the Daniel

Boone Native Gardens, and the local chapter of the NC Native Plant Society to provide a lot of opportunities for you to learn more about how to use native plants easily and affordably. There are a variety of opportunities this year. High Country Audubon is hosting garden tours and visits, new Birds, Bugs, and Blooms walks which will help teach people about native plants, as well as programs on native plants and the bird connections at their regular monthly meetings. Visit for a complete calendar. The Daniel Boone Native Gardens (located next to Horn in the West in Boone) is celebrating its 55th year this summer and has its annual plant sale on April 21st from 8 a.m. to noon. Visit their website (danielboonenativegardens. org) for more details on photographer day, Fairy Day and other chances to learn about our native plants, and to see more than 200 species in person! Monthly meetings of the Blue Ridge Chapter of the NC Native Plant Society are always a great way to meet other enthusiasts and learn a lot about selected topics through their informative programs. Meetings are held on the second Wednesday of each month at the Holiday Inn Express Boone. So if you are a bird enthusiast and want to help our feathered friends, as well as get more of them in your yard and garden, learn all you can about native plants and think about including some space to feed the birds, just like your vegetable garden feeds your family. Your birds will thank you with their beautiful spring songs and bright colors! n CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Spring 2018 —





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 Springs to Life, Makes a Splash

The lofty peaks of Grandfather Mountain are striking in any season—but spring is something special. It’s a season bustling with activity, and not only for the flora. Just ask Uno, one of Grandfather’s newest—and most playful—animal residents. Uno, a juvenile North American river otter, came to the mountain in November 2017, having been found orphaned in the Asheville area earlier that year. After spending time with a wildlife rehabilitator in Lincolnton, NC, it was determined that he was unfit to be released into the wild. “He was just too friendly to be released,” said Christie Tipton, chief habitats curator of the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation, the nonprofit organization that oversees and operates the Linville, NC nature preserve and attraction. In other words, his affection toward humans would prove dangerous in the wild. And that’s where Grandfather Mountain came in, adopting the pup and offering him a home as an animal ambassador. Grandfather is home to a variety of rescued animals, including black bears, bald eagles, cougars, elk and river otters that, having been orphaned or injured in the wild or born into captivity, are unfit to be released into the wild. On the mountain, they live in environmental wildlife habitats, specially designed spaces built around actual native landscape with ample room to roam as they please. At the habitats, guests can learn about the important role these animals play in the ecosystem, while seeing them in their natural settings. The river otter habitat features an underwater viewing area, where guests of all ages can watch the mischievous creatures swim and play in their element. Now around one year old, Uno delights his keepers and visitors with aquatic antics, frolicking fun and splashing shenanigans. He currently resides in the mountain’s spacious quarantine facility, known as The Plaza, where he’s being introduced

to a couple of Grandfather’s off-display river otters, Nottaway and Nova. The mountain keeps only two of its five otters in the main habitat at a time, due to conflicting personalities, and alternates display time between pairs— Luna and Oscar, and Nottaway and Nova. With Nottaway, Grandfather’s oldest river otter, nearing his 18th birthday and beginning to have some difficulty traversing the habitat, he and Nova (who’s almost five years old) spend most of their time among the creature comforts of The Plaza, which include an indoor sleeping and dining space and an outdoor play area, complete with private swimming pools. The idea is to eventually have Uno and Nova share the main habitat, alternating with Luna and Oscar, while Nottaway enjoys his golden years at The Plaza. As such, Uno is gradually being introduced to the elder otter and his younger cohort. “They’re already sniffing noses and seeing each other, so he’s comfortable enough with the whole Plaza area,” Tipton said. “We’re giving him a little time to get a little more age on him.” Because as Uno is often inclined to demonstrate, he’s a very playful pup. “He’s pretty independent, but once he gets bored with his toys, he’ll start chirping a lot, wanting us to pay attention to him,” assistant habitats curator Emma Noto said. “But he’s super interactive with his toys right now, just loving all the new stuff he’s been getting, so everything is just very exciting for him.” He’s particularly fond of stashing toys in the corners of The Plaza, “which is funny, because I don’t think any of our other otters have ever done that,” Noto said. Uno is also a fan of rocks. “We got him this tiny little children’s chair, and when we came to feed him today, he’d placed all of his little rocks on the chair,” Noto said. Although Uno is currently off display, guests to Grandfather Mountain can meet him through one of the park’s

By Frank Ruggiero

Uno, Grandfather Mountain’s newest river otter rescue. Photo by Frank Ruggiero | Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation behind-the-scenes tours, offered April through October. To learn more about behind-the-scenes tours and other habitat programs, visit Animal Wish List Folks can welcome Uno to Grandfather Mountain by purchasing him a treat from the habitats’ Animal Wish List on Through the list, donors can choose a gift for their favorite animal, purchase it online and have it delivered straight to Grandfather Mountain for their immediate enjoyment. To see the list, visit 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 www. to plan a trip. CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Spring 2018 —


HATCHLINGS by Savannah Lewis

NESTLING by Nina Fischesser

BABY OPOSSUM by Pamela Thompson


FLEDGLINGS by Nina Fischesser BABY COTTONTAIL by Tabby Smith

Love Is in the Air By Nina Fischesser, Director, May Wildlife Rehabilitation Center


ll over the High Country love is in the air. Spring has sprung, and with that so has wildlife baby season. Baby birds are learning to fly, cottontails are learning to run and hide, baby opossums are learning to use their exceptional sense of smell to find food to fit their omnivorous appetite. The images of these animals are adorable, but this is also a dangerous time for these young vulnerable babies. The May Wildlife Rehabilitation Center at LeesMcRae College in Banner Elk is packed with orphaned babies who were susceptible to cat or dog attacks, lawnmower accidents, accidental kidnapping, and the list goes on. Some of these babies do need our help, but many young birds should be left alone when found hopping around the ground; make no mistake, Mom is hidden nearby watching and waiting for you to leave so she can continue to care for her young fledgling who is still not able to fly. With any wild animal you come across, you must ask yourself some questions. Is he or she hurt or sick? Are you seeing blood? Is the animal shivering, stumbling, limping, or leaning to one side, or is it looking up with its head moving back and forth appearing to be reading? Are limbs or feathers out of place? Did you observe an attack or the animal hitting a window? If the answer is yes to any of these questions, call the May Wildlife Center or a local licensed rehabilitator to

find out what to do next. Remember that your safety is the most important thing— call before you act so we can walk you through a safe rescue and transport! Following are some additional tips to help you determine when a wild baby might need help. Baby Songbirds Baby songbirds are divided into four age groups: hatchling, nestling, fledgling, and sub-adult. Hatchlings are bald, eyes closed, and nest and heat dependent. If found out of the nest they always need help. Nestlings have some pin feathers, maybe a few feathers, but still cannot leave the nest or hop around. If found out of the nest, they need help. Fledglings are fully feathered, might have short tails, can hop or flutter, still dependent on parents for food so will beg, and unless injured, do not need help. Sub-adults are fully feathered with long tails, can fly, find their own food, but still may receive parental support (depending on species). If injured and can be captured this bird needs help. Baby Opossums Opossums are North America’s only marsupial, meaning the mother raises her young in the pouch. If you find a single baby opossum and it is six inches

or smaller from rump to nose, then it needs intervention. If Mom has rushed off, dropping her young to the ground, she will not return for it. Baby Cottontails Because their nests are shallow depressions in the ground, they are often found when mowing your lawn. Unless they are injured please call for guidance. Bunny moms do the best job at raising their young, and they are tricky to raise. Baby Squirrels People often find baby squirrels when something has happened to the parent and the babies come out to search, so they may get attacked by a predator, or simply be found by a human. If a tree (the squirrels’ home) has been cut down. Please call for guidance. Fawn Deer

People often find fawns curled up quietly in the grass. This is what they are supposed to do. Please leave that fawn alone. If he/she has flies swarming around him/ her, or has been walking around calling for mom for several hours, or obviously has wounds, then call for guidance.

These are the more common orphans we receive from the public. If you ever have a question about a potential injured or orphaned animal of any kind, please don’t hesitate to call us at (828) 898-2568. n

Learn much more at our public programs from June to mid-August, every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at 1 p.m. at the May Wildlife Rehabilitation Center at Lees-McRae College, Tickle Classroom. Learn more about the May Wildlife Rehabilitation Center at




Springtime on the Watauga River at Valle Crucis Park

Clean Water Crusaders By Tamara Seymour

Inset Left: Andy Hill is MountainTrue’s Watauga Riverkeeper, protecting and advocating for the Watauga River Basin. In addition to river clean-up events, volunteers can participate in water quality monitoring programs throughout the Watauga River watershed to ensure that our waterways are clean and healthy. Inset Right: A crew cleans up sections of the Watauga River each year as part of a “Big Sweep” event organized by the Watauga Riverkeeper.


very year, Earth Day is celebrated on April 22. The first Earth Day in the U.S. was held in April of 1970 to generate public support for the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Many important regulations and laws were enacted around that time, including those that ensure the air we breathe and the water we drink are safe (Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act). For the most part, these laws have served our country’s citizens well. But the work must continue. As our planet’s population grows, new challenges arise when it comes to clean water. In fact, a major source of conflict around the world stems from limited clean water resources. While the U.S. has a number of checks and balances in place to protect the public health of its citizens, it takes an extensive network of local, regional and national organizations and individuals (including countless volunteers) behind the scenes to ensure our drinking water and recreational waters remain untainted. Protecting the Places We Share Here in the High Country and the entire western mountain region, we are fortunate to have good availability of, and access to, clean water. According to the 2017 Preliminary Healthy Watersheds Assessments (PHWA) developed by EPA’s Healthy Watersheds Program, the Blue Ridge Ecoregion contains some of the cleanest

watersheds in the state. Nature has, however, relied on plenty of help. One noteworthy group, MountainTrue (, was organized to champion resilient forests, clean waters and healthy communities throughout Western North Carolina, with a special focus on protecting water quality. In essence, MountainTrue is a group of groups—an alliance of people and conservation organizations who have joined together to restore and preserve our waterways as healthy ecosystems that are also great places to swim, paddle and play. MountainTrue is home to several “riverkeeper” organizations, who are the primary guardians of their respective river basins; members and volunteers help maintain the health of local waterways (including surface and ground water) by monitoring pollution and cleaning up their home rivers and streams. Here in the High Country, the Watauga Riverkeeper acts as the primary protector and defender of the Elk and Watauga Rivers in the Watauga River Basin. The Watauga Riverkeeper wants all High Country residents and visitors to enjoy clean waterways that are free of sediment pollution, and support a thriving mountain ecosystem.

Earth Day, All Month Long Watauga Riverkeeper, along with other local community and environmental groups, is offering service days, workshops, educational events and celebrations throughout the month of April in honor of Earth Day. If clean water ranks high on your list of concerns, consider participating in the annual “Big Sweep” event this spring to clean up sections of the Watauga River and adjacent banks on April 21. This year, teams led by Watauga Riverkeeper Andy Hill will be cleaning up around Valle Crucis Community Park, the Guy Ford Access, the 321 Access, and Old River Road. If you’re interested in participating in this event, bring your friends and family members to the Valle Crucis Community Park at 9 a.m. on April 21. Safety equipment and supplies will be provided— and you can bring a passion to “think globally and act locally” while contributing to the day’s camaraderie. n Support the cause of clean, healthy waterways and water resources by learning all you can. Check out these websites:;;

Tamara Seymour is a N.C. Certified Environmental Educator , a Blue Ridge Naturalist and publisher of Carolina Explorers magazine, a publication all about the nature of North Carolina. Reach her at CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Spring 2018 —


Gardening with Kids By Scottie Gilbert


n first grade, you may have been given a lima bean, a wet paper towel, and a plastic baggie. You were instructed to make a pocket with the towel, put the bean inside, place it in the bag, and tape it to a window that got plenty of warmth from the sun. I remember this so clearly because it was the first thing I ever grew and it inspired a great sense of wonder in me about where food comes from. Many people are rediscovering the benefit of being able to grow their own food. And many parents and teachers are beginning to instill gardening in their young children as a necessary and fruitful part of living a healthy, sustainable life. Starting an edible home garden with your child can be simple and affordable. At the tail end of the cold season, when children are likely bouncing off the walls ready for warmer weather, you can begin your project by starting seedlings indoors. And when spring’s fresh air rolls in, you will be ready to make a container or garden bed with your little one and transplant the baby plants. Here is a timeline with ideas and tips to get you started: Early April: Start your seeds indoors There are many vessels you can use to begin seedlings indoors. Flat, shallow trays or containers with separate dishes like cardboard egg cartons or old muffin tins lined with organic paper cupcake liners work well to keep varieties separate. Both the cardboard and the cupcake liners will decompose when planted with the seedling in the ground; just tear a small hole in the bottom. Some plants, however, will grow fast and will need to be transplanted to a slightly larger pot while you wait for fear of frost to end. When buying seeds with your child, allowing them to choose things they enjoy eating will get them more involved. You can also collect seeds directly from produce you buy in the store. Tomatoes can be sliced and placed directly in soil. In a little over a week, after misting daily, you’ll have dozens of baby tomatoes sprouting.


April-May: Create a garden space For beginners and young children, it is recommended either to utilize sheet mulching techniques for your yard, or if you have a small space, start with a container garden. Sheet mulching is an easy technique used to rid the earth of existing grass and weeds by placing cardboard or newspaper on the ground and adding layered compostable materials to provide an ideal soil environment for your plants. A lot of information and tutorials can be found online to get you started with this method. On the other hand, containers can be economical, especially if you use recycled buckets and pots (painting or making a mosaic on the outside can be an added creative activity for your kid), and require little space. When preparing your containers for planting, first confirm there are drainage holes in the bottom. Fill the bottom third with rocks to prevent the container from losing soil, and add in a good potting soil mixed with compost and a little sand (if you live in a wet climate). Your bucket is then ready for your new plants. Frequent watering and fertilizing are necessary since nutrients in the soil are limited but this can be a good way to teach your child responsibility and patience. May-June: Transplant seedlings When fear of frost is gone, transplant your baby plants in the ground, or place your containers in an adequately sunny area outdoors. June-September: Take care of your garden and harvest Children will love looking after the garden every day and seeing it grow. By the end of summer to early fall, you and your family can have a feast using your fresh herbs and vegetables. Year Round: Bonus project: Make a worm bin A fun educational side project is teaching your child about composting.

Try using an old wooden crate, or a plastic bin with one-eighth-inch holes drilled in the bottom and sides. Create a base layer using torn up newspaper and dried yard debris, add a layer of soil, and water thoroughly. Let sit covered for a couple days then add a pound of healthy worms. Once the worms get to eating, you and your child can add vegetable and fruit scraps, coffee grounds and more dry matter in small amounts; you’ll be amazed at the high quality compost you acquire in just a short time. Place the covered bin in a well-ventilated area that stays between 40 and 70 degrees. Make sure you save the “tea” that seeps from the bottom. It is “miracle grow” for your garden! n IDEAS! The ideas are endless for fun learning opportunities that also increase meaningful family time. Here are a few resources that will inspire your household’s garden creativity: Books: Roots, Shoots, Buckets and Boots ­—by Sharon Lovejoy Gardening Lab for Kids: 52 Fun Experiments to Learn, Grow, Harvest, Make, Play, and Enjoy Your Garden (Hands-On Family) —by Renata Brown Websites:



Dragonfly / Photographs by Bill Barbour


See What’s Blooming at the Daniel Boone Native Gardens T

he Daniel Boone Native Gardens (DBNG), located near downtown Boone, NC, is known for its outstanding collection of native trees, shrubs, and wildflowers. Opened in 1963, the three dedicated acres of native plants are the result of many years of educational and conservation efforts to nurture rare or endangered plant species. The public gardens include a bog garden, fern garden, rhododendron grove, rock garden, rock wishing well, vine-covered arbor, pond alongside the historic Squire Boone Cabin, and several grand vistas. Wrought-iron gates at the entrance were made by a descendant of Daniel Boone, who hunted in the area. Several noteworthy events will take place at DBNG in the coming months. The 11th Annual Early Bird Wildflower Walk and Plant Sale fundraiser will be held on April 21 from 8 a.m. to noon. Local growers and vendors will be selling native and locally raised plants in the parking lot. If you’re new to garden-

ing with natives, plenty of information about gardening with native plants and for birds and pollinators will be available from a variety of groups, such as the North Carolina Native Plant Society, Audubon Society and the Master Gardeners. The Daniel Boone Native Gardens and Ashe Camera Club are hosting the Sixth Annual Flower Photo Stroll at the Gardens in Boone from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday, June 9. This event is designed to help novice photographers capture better images of plants and flowers anywhere they go. The event is free and attendees are encouraged to be at the DBNG gates at 9 a.m. to hear an introductory talk and receive instructions by local photographer Bill Barbour. On Saturday, July 14, the Daniel Boone Native Gardens will host the Fifth Annual “Fairy Day in the Gardens” from noon until 4 p.m. This free event features music and activities especially for children and families. Participants

are encouraged to wear fairy or superhero costumes and bring a picnic to the gardens. Face painting will be available for a small fee, and a selection of lowpriced fairy items and accessories will also be available. This fun and educational event will allow children to “meet the bugs” and learn about pollinators and butterfly life cycles. In addition to these special events, visitors can tour the Gardens during daylight hours May through October to see what flowers and trees are in bloom. Hundreds of plant varieties provide a progression of blooms throughout the growing season. Cherry trees, redbuds, dogwoods, trout lilies, lady slippers, flame azaleas, rhododendrons, trilliums and wild irises are just a handful of the many flowering plants to discover at the Daniel Boone Native Gardens this spring. Visit the Gardens at 651 Horn in the West Drive in Boone, NC. Learn more at n CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Spring 2018 —


Remembering the Dead: Boone’s Union Soldier Graves By Eric Plaag

Site of the Union soldier graves in the foreground near the tree at right, as seen in March 2018 at the Boone Cemetery. Replacement headstones will be installed for the April 8, 2018, rededication service.


igh on a hill in the old town cemetery at Boone, North Carolina, lie the graves of three Union soldiers who died during the Union Army’s occupation of Boone in April 1865. Tourists sometimes go looking for “the three Yankees killed during Stoneman’s Raid,” but the truth is that those three men didn’t die during the fighting. Their demise actually came weeks later. Their headstones have been missing for years, but this spring, the Town of Boone intends to do something about that, so now seems as good a time as any to tell their story. By the end of March 1865, Confederate hopes for winning or even securing a stalemate to the American Civil War had faded. Most of the Union strategy outside of Virginia was focused on preventing the escape of the Confederate government and Lee’s forces in Virginia. It was in this context that Major General George Stoneman began an expedition into western North Carolina to cut off those escape routes through the mountains. Because the line of march would be long, Stoneman cut the cumbersome supply trains from his expeditionary force to keep movements light and quick and instructed his troops to forage off the land from civilian homes instead. Stoneman’s first wave arrived in


Watauga County on March 28, when a detachment of the 12th Kentucky Cavalry descended on Boone in order to subdue the local Confederate Home Guard, which Union trackers had determined might be gathering at Boone for field exercises. Approaching from the west along present-day US 321/421 (West King Street), the Union troops surprised local residents. Sources disagree on who fired first. Members of the Home Guard quickly gathered near the James W. Councill House, where Mrs. Councill stepped onto the front porch with her child to check on the ruckus, only to be met with a hail of bullets that splintered the wood around her but somehow left her unharmed. Union forces then moved on Councill House, killing Ephraim Norris and flushing out the rest of the Home Guard, who scattered to the northeast toward the rocky cliffs on Howard’s Knob. Federal troops caught up to Warren Green, who then attempted to surrender but was shot dead anyway. Perhaps the most controversial casualty was 35-year-old Jacob Mast Councill, whose only sin appears to have been that he was standing next to one of the six people enslaved by his father, Benjamin Councill, while working in his field along the Home Guard’s

escape route between the heart of Boone and Howard’s Knob. Union troops shot down Jacob despite his being unarmed and pleading for his life. Boone casualties included the three dead and at least five wounded. Stoneman’s forces imprisoned another 68 Watauga men. Union forces then fortified the Watauga County Courthouse and quickly converted the James W. Councill House into a field hospital. Stoneman made the nearby Jordan Councill House into his personal headquarters for the night, then moved on with most of his forces the following day, leaving behind a small contingent of troops to maintain control of Boone until the second wave arrived. Following the skirmish, Benjamin Councill buried his son Jacob on the land that would eventually become the Boone Cemetery. His grave was likely the second there to be marked by a headstone, following that of Jacob’s daughter Sarah who died in 1863. At least three other familial burials appear to have predated Jacob Mast Councill’s, with later stones placed to mark them. By the 1870s, the cemetery was being used for other community members. It’s likely that Benjamin Councill reserved the east part of the cemetery hill for the graves of the

Original gravestone for Henry P. Evans, incorrectly rendered as H. P. Ewins, as seen in 2015.

people he had enslaved for decades. It was in this space that the Union soldiers found their final resting spot, an area later known as the “black” section of the Boone Cemetery. The three Federal soldiers buried at Boone Cemetery served under the command of Colonel George W. Kirk in the 2nd North Carolina Mounted Infantry, which arrived at Boone on April 5. While most of Kirk’s men continued on two days later toward Deep Gap and Blowing Rock, Kirk remained at Boone with about 400 men, occupying the Jordan Councill house, guarding the courthouse fortification, and sending men out into the county to forage from civilian homes. Kirk also maintained at least two field hospitals in the county, one of them at the James W. Councill House. The stop at Boone likely provided the opportunity to leave the three men—all of whom were already ill—in hospital at Boone. All three of the Union soldiers buried at Boone died from disease. Private William T. Bradley (1847-1865) was born in Rutherford County, North Carolina, and died from typhoid pneumonia on April 10. His tombstone order incorrectly rendered his name as “William F. Bradley.” Private Henry P. Evans (1832-1865) was

North Carolina historical marker for Stoneman’s Raid located on West King Street in Boone near the present Watauga County Courthouse.

born in Buncombe County, North Carolina, and died of “fever” on April 16. His tombstone order misspelled his name as “H. P. Ewins.” Private John E. Maricle (1836-1865) was born in Harlan County, Kentucky, and died from a relapse of measles on April 15. All three grave locations were welldocumented in cemetery surveys during the late twentieth century, but by 2010, all three headstones had vanished from the graveyard. One of them resurfaced in 2014 but had badly eroded over the years and become illegible, necessitating its replacement. In 2016, the Boone Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) and the Town of Boone applied to the Veterans Administration for replacement headstones for all three graves. The Town plans to rededicate these new headstones, which were provided at no cost to the Town, at a public event on Sunday, April 8, at 2:00 p.m. in the Boone Cemetery. Representatives from the Town of Boone, the HPC, and the Major General George Stoneman Camp #6 of the Sons of the Union Veterans of the Civil War will perform a historic rededication memorial service and unveil the three replica headstones. This rededication ceremony is the latest in a series of efforts by the Town

of Boone and the HPC to preserve and protect the cemetery while also celebrating its history. Last October, with assistance from the Town and the HPC, the Junaluska Heritage Association unveiled a marker it had designed and purchased to acknowledge the burials of 165 African Americans in the historic black section of the cemetery, many of which are otherwise unmarked. The Town also recently completed work on a wall protecting the east end of the black section from erosion and installed a new fence around the entire cemetery to replace the battered chain link fence erected in the 1970s. The HPC is also engaged in an extensive survey and Geographic Information System data collection of the surviving grave markers in the entire cemetery. The years have not been kind to the memory of these three Union soldiers, but with the rededication of their graves, the community hopes to rekindle public interest in one of the more difficult chapters in Boone’s history. n Images courtesy of Eric Plaag, Carolina Historical Consulting, LLC.




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Traditional Mountain Fundraisers By Jim Casada


aybe the church needed a new steeple; perhaps the local school required some improvements; possibly some unfortunate family had lost their home to a fire; or indeed any of an endless number of significant problems or outright emergencies might confront individuals or an entire community. In yesteryear, mountain folks understood such situations and confronted them in a fashion which defined their outlook on life and constituted one of the finest possible testaments to their collective character. Particularly in rural communities, that attitude of helpfulness and togetherness still holds strong today. The invariable answer to situations of stress or distressing circumstances, then or now, is what might well be described as the High Country’s equivalent of “crowd funding,” namely, a fundraiser. In times past typically a prominent local citizen—possibly a preacher, teacher, coach, school principal, politician, or just a widely respected resident—would take the lead. Folks would put their heads together and toss out ideas for the best means of obtaining funding, or possibly just required materials, for the need of the moment. The result was a kind of community togetherness and common sense of purpose that filled all involved with quiet, satisfying pride and an inner feeling of doing the right thing. We can be thankful that vestiges of

this worthy tradition of making money to do good deeds remain with us today. Probably the most widespread example involves events sponsored semi-annually or annually by volunteer fire departments in order to purchase new equipment, acquire uniforms, or other necessities with a potential to save homes or even lives. Barbeque plates with all the trimmings, “poor man’s suppers” (usually pinto beans, slaw, cornbread, and banana pudding or a similar dessert), cake and pie sales, raffles, and a veritable host of similar initiatives offer opportunities to enjoy some good food, perhaps share a festive time with others, or procure a take-out meal to carry home at the end of a long work day. Athletic booster clubs, scout and church groups, parent-teacher organizations, and others also sometimes take this approach. It’s somehow heartening to know that this deeply rooted High Country tradition continues today. Maybe things aren’t quite the same as they were in times gone by. Those were days when communication was by word of mouth, when solitude could at times weigh heavy, and when any opportunity for a few hours of togetherness was most welcome. Community suppers combined with raffles, barn raisin’s, or church gatherings focused on some specific need provided a respite from the tedium of daily life through companionship coupled with some worthy cause. In those pre-telephone and Internet times,

when long distance information came from mail or newspapers and local happenings were bandied about by the likes of preachers, postmasters, and owners of country stores, most everyone welcomed the fellowship, which was a matched twin of local philanthropy. Whether one looks at generations past or today though, there is one bright thread running through the entire fabric of mountain fundraising. Caring and compassionate people have always been willing to help the less fortunate or support a worthy project to the extent of their means. Those who have long been resident in the region and who have roots running back for generations know and appreciate, usually through intimate personal familiarity, the work ethic-related adage which suggests “God helps those who help themselves.” Likewise, they also know that the tradition of giving a hand up where a need exists and appreciate the fact that such gestures are deeply meaningful ones. On a personal level, it’s a pure delight to wander down mental corridors remembering my own experiences with fundraising. On one occasion, as an exuberant first grader, a classroom fundraiser landed me squarely in a mess. Most students pledged a nickel or a dime for the effort (I don’t recall any of the details of the cause), but in a singularly misguided fit of what my father later said was “big CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Spring 2018 —


britches” I spouted out, “My Daddy will give five dollars.” Inasmuch as the monthly mortgage payment on the house where I grew up was only $20, not to mention that the family budget was pretty much under constant strain, my pledge was preposterous. To his credit, Daddy made good on my foolish statement, and over time I have to reckon he was repaid a hundred times over through telling the tale of his son’s sheer stupidity. Far less controversial or traumatic were other efforts in which I participated or was a keen observer. A personal favorite was cake walks, which were performed as sort of a version of musical chairs. Participants paid an entry fee—perhaps a dime or a quarter, depending on the size of the crowd—with the ultimate winner receiving a home-baked cake. The cake would be proudly displayed by the person who had baked it, touted for its scrumptious nature by an organizer of the fundraiser (usually a school teacher), and the walk would begin. Then there were turkey shoots, with their origins dating back generations; the famed Cataloochee Ranch muzzleloading competition where winners received portions of a prime steer; candy pullings; church suppers; and much more. One now vanished fundraiser, immensely popular in its time, involved auctioning off picnic baskets prepared by young, single women in a community. A picnic date was part of the package, and a basket prepared by a lovely lass who had two or more potential beaus interested in her favors (and flavors) could draw spirited bidding. Fundraisers of that type largely belong to a world we have lost, but a notable feature common to all of them remains steadfastly to the forefront in today’s world. That feature is fine food. Mountain folks have always, and rightly, been renowned for their “fixin’s.” Find a fundraiser, no matter what the cause, and chances are excellent that it will involve something that pleases the palate along with serving a worthy purpose. That’s the High Country way. n Jim Casada is a native of the N.C. mountains who has written about his highland homeland, the world of the outdoors, food, and related topics for decades. For details or to sign up for his free monthly e-newsletter, visit


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Discover the Rich History and Southern Charm of the Green Park Inn By Julie Farthing

history... W

hen looking for venues for my daughter’s wedding reception in Blowing Rock, the Green Park Inn was everything she was hoping for, and more. This was to be a destination wedding with guests expected from many countries. The historic Inn, with a backdrop of the Blue Ridge Mountains, would be a magical venue and gathering spot for the reception and those spending the weekend. The beautiful grounds and inside common areas with their formal furnishings exude Southern charm much like they did 127 years ago. Opened in 1891 by a group of three businessmen from Lenoir, NC, including Civil War Veteran Major George Washington Findlay Harper, the hotel first welcomed summer residents who ventured up the “Lenoir Turnpike” lured by the healing properties of the cool, fresh air and the gorgeous vistas. The threestory hotel offered the most luxurious


accommodations with amenities including a billiard room, bowling alley and the only United States Post Office in the entire region. Guests could enjoy hot baths and sip cool water drawn from the headwaters of the Yadkin River. News of this luxurious Queen Anne-style beauty soon spread across the country and attracted guests such as Presidents Coolidge and Hoover; First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt; John D. Rockefeller; Marilyn Monroe; Henry Fonda; and Jimmy Stewart. “Little Sure Shot” Annie Oakley once conducted sharp-shooting demonstrations on the grounds, and Margaret Mitchell, inspired by the Southern charm of the Manor, even penned a portion of Gone With the Wind during her holiday at Green Park. Local resident Wayne Green recently shared his memories of the Inn that began when he was a toddler. Wayne’s grandfather, Oliver Green, was caretaker of the then Green Park Hotel for 46 years

and passed that baton to Green’s father, Stanley, who worked there for almost 40 years. The Inn not only provided a cool respite from the summer heat “off the mountain,” but also provided employment for local residents, including bellhops, kitchen help and housekeeping. According to Green, the bellhops were housed in the dormitory behind the Inn and the waitresses resided above the kitchen. A large field of flowers, tended by Green’s father, yielded colorful bouquets that filled rooms and common areas of the hotel. “It was pretty fancy,” remembers Green, who lived in a house beside the Inn that once served as a store. “There were fireplaces in every room.” When asked about folklore of the Inn being haunted, he said there were a few stories, but everything gets embellished. “As far as it being haunted, I never saw any indication of it that could not be ex-

plained by something else. The Inn is old. It settles and you hear funny noises. Once or twice doors seemed to be locked after they were unlocked, but with my dad, my brother, my uncle and me all going through it, one of us probably locked it back.” Green said if it was haunted it was the ghost of his father. “My dad was obsessed with the hotel. He would not leave the property if there was not one of us there to watch out for it.” General Manager Lorry Mulhern assures guests, “The motto (our employees) live by is, ‘We respect the privacy of all of our guests, whether or not they have ever checked out.’” The Inn, which straddles the Eastern Continental Divide, does have a force of physical nature. A spilled glass of water on one side of the Inn will flow into the Atlantic Ocean, while another spilled on the opposite side will eventually find its way to the Gulf of Mexico.

Green Park Inn was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982. The last of the “Grand Manor Hotels” in all of western North Carolina, she remains the State’s second oldest operating resort hotel. One can imagine that maintaining a 127-year-old, 73,000 square feet inn with three levels, a restaurant, and bar would be a hefty endeavor. Enter Eugene and Steven Irace, New York Hotel “affection-ados” who purchased Green Park in 2010. This duobrother team immediately ordered extensive infrastructure and systems repairs. Of the hotel’s 88 guest rooms, approximately two-thirds have been refurbished with updated bathrooms. The brothers’ commitment to “Buy American” extended to purchasing local furnishings made by Thomasville in nearby Lenoir and High Point, North Carolina. “The current owners and management have been working toward restoring the

hotel, while keeping its historic charm,” said Kerry Hines, Operations Manager. “The floors in the lobby are the original heart pine wood floors, there is original etched glass in the front door entryway, the key boxes at the check-in desk are original, and we have a piece of the original post office displayed in our history room. We often have people stop in and share historic newspaper articles and advertisements, postcards, and photographs of the hotel. Someone even had a newspaper clipping with an old recipe from the restaurant entitled ‘Green Park Rolls.’ Of course for history’s sake, we had our chef give the recipe a try so we could see how it turned out. We do offer historic tours of the hotel to those interested in learning more about the history.” n For more information on weddings and receptions at Green Park Inn and for reservations and hotel events, visit or call 828-414-9230.



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Mildred Tester at 90 A Force of Nature! By Keith Martin


n Monday, February 26 at the Valle Crucis Conference Center (VCCC), approximately seven dozen folks gathered to celebrate the 90th birthday of Mildred Tester with a surprise luncheon. During the event, the venerable dining hall at the 175-year-old Episcopal center was named “Mildred’s Kitchen” in honor of its longest-tenured employee. Mildred Tester started working in the dining hall on a part-time basis in the mid-to-late 1950s and was hired full time by the conference center in spring of 1974, some forty-four years ago. “I guess it’s time to slow down a bit,” said the honoree when reflecting on over 60 years of service, noting that she was looking forward to getting her house in order since “I’m never home to clean it!” Mildred—as everyone calls her—has lived in Valle Crucis all her life, and her family were some of the original settlers of the valley. She remembers feeding over 300 folks for a single meal during ballgames some three decades ago, which she thinks is her personal record. A faithful member of Clark’s Creek Baptist Church, Mildred admits that she’s almost always working on Sundays, “but I do sneak away every now and then.” According to VCCC Executive Director Margaret L. Love, Mildred is a favorite of many Conference Center guests, who will seek her out to say hello when they stay here. “To me, Mildred embodies the can-do spirit of mountain women. From baking endless loaves of bread to putting a shine on countless pots and pans, Mildred’s hands are never still. She is generous to a fault with those she loves. She puts family first, always. And she can beat me up the Annex’s steep back concrete steps covered in snow!” Dale Townsend has been VCCC property manager since he was a “wee pup” and fondly recalls Mildred’s determination, walking home in waist-deep snow rather than waiting for him to get his truck unstuck. “She’s been here for as long as I can remember, and she’s a very

good cook, making bread for the Mast Store for years and years. She’s set in her ways.” Townsend’s remark resonated with former director Mike Cogsdale, who has known her since the late 70s. “She is the last of the old gang at the Mission School who was pure Appalachia. Mildred taught me how to scrub pots when I worked in the kitchen as a college student at Lees -McRae. ‘No black marks on the bottom of the pot.’ ‘Don’t cut yourself washing a knife.’” The most frequent remark made by birthday guests when asked to comment was a resounding “Mildred’s Yeast Rolls,” the recipe for which appears on page 127. Dedy Traver recalls her dad saying that her rolls “were so light you had to weight them down on your plate so they wouldn’t float away before you could eat them!” When asked to name her favorite group over the decades, Mildred says politely, “I love all of them, but the pipers are the folks I most look forward to seeing.” That sentiment is echoed by Sandy Jones, director of the North American Academy of Pipers, who leads events at VCCC for some 300 pipers over a five-week period coinciding with the Highland Games. “Mildred is a force of nature and we have kidded each other back-and-forth for decades,” said Jones, who admitted to starting the rumor that “Mildred the Bear” at Grandfather Mountain was named in Tester’s honor. “Although we look forward to seeing her every summer, I do get complaints that the food is too good… we keep gaining weight!” The sound of bagpipers will again soar across the Valle when the Academy of Pipers returns for their 40th consecutive summer in 2018. When asked if she’ll be there to cook for them, Mildred replied, “It all depends on whether they’ve got me scheduled up on the board,” before adding with a wink, “but I wouldn’t miss them!” n

The Valle Crucis Old Oak Tree is pictured at the turn of the road in 1907. In preparation for this story about Mildred Tester, VCCC Executive Director Margaret L. Love offered the following information about the origin of the dining hall plaque that is now emblazoned with the inscription “Mildred’s Kitchen.” The Valle Crucis Old Oak Tree stood as sentinel over the orchards and fields across from the Mission School for over 250 years. Gradually, as the concrete encroached from the widened NC-194 and the salt from plows eroded its roots, the tree weakened, until a storm in spring of 2017 finally took it from us. The felled tree was too damaged to harvest much of the main trunk, but we were able to salvage slices from the once-mighty branches. Two of these branches will be planed, milled, and engraved for Mildred - one for her to take home as a cutting board, a practical gift for a practical woman, and one will hang over the door to the kitchen, engraved with the new name, “Mildred’s Kitchen,” as a celebration and reminder of the person who has, like the oak tree that shaded the path to the Mission School for generations, shaped this valley and the people in it indelibly. CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Spring 2018 —



Historic Banner Elk School

Banner House Museum Expands Visitor Experiences By Carol Lowe Timblin


ow in its 12th year of operation, the Historic Banner House Museum continues to please visitors. Tours of the circa 1870 home of Samuel and Jane Banner portray life in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and interesting exhibits reveal information about the growth of the town and the Native Americans who once lived in the area. This season the museum will offer the guided walking tour of downtown Banner Elk more often and will partner again with the Banner Elk Book Exchange in a series of lectures at the Historic Banner Elk School. Meredith Olan, who assumed the role of executive director of the Greater Banner Elk Heritage Foundation in 2016, invites visitors to “walk along the path of history to learn about some of Banner Elk’s most historic buildings, their roles in the community, and the businesses they house today.” Available by limited appointment, the walking tour leaves from the museum and


then travels along a one-mile route past the Mill Pond and through downtown Banner Elk. Visitors pass the Historic Cheese House (site of a thriving cheese industry in the 1930s), the Historic Banner Elk School (built by the Works Progress Administration in 1939), and the Banner Elk Chamber (formerly Cook’s Store). The tour highlights twelve other familiar sites as well, a number of which date back to the early days when Banner Elk was a small, isolated village consisting of only a few stores and residences—a place that was virtually unknown to the outside world. After Banner Elk was discovered, two enterprising families built small hotels, which entertained guests and served as social centers of the town for several decades. The Banner Elk Hotel was located on a hill overlooking the town (across from the LMC Alumni House), and the Klonteska Inn on a hill at the top of Klonteska Drive. This was the world that the Rev. Edgar Tufts found when he first visited the area in the

late 1800s and was inspired to establish a Presbyterian church, school, hospital, and children’s home. The Banner Elk Book Exchange lecture series, which debuted in 2017 at the Historic Banner Elk School, will continue this year. A full schedule of the free lectures will be listed on the Foundation’s website, BannerHouseMuseum. org. Anyone who gives a donation to the Book Exchange may tour the Banner House Museum free of charge. “The Book Exchange Committee worked really hard to provide a range of topics,” says Olan. “One of the speakers in the series was Professor Jay Franklin from East Tennessee State University’s archaeology department, which led to a second collaboration: He and his team identified a collection of stone points that were in the Museum’s collection. We had always known that these objects were interesting and were able to translate the wealth of information they provided us into a new exhibit for the museum.”

Banner Elk Hotel

According to Olan, the Museum also brought in Lee Goodan, former director of exhibitions for the Charlotte Museum of History to consult on guided tours and exhibits. The result of that collaboration last year was a new focus on collections at the Banner House. Opening day at the Museum, June 16, will feature children’s activities that explore local heritage via crafts, games, and more, starting at 11 a.m. and ending at 3 p.m. The Museum will close on October 6 with children’s activities. House tours will be free on opening and closing days, thanks to the Banner Elk Heritage Foundation. Another signature event this year is the Heritage Bus Tour. This year’s topic, “Hidden Stories of Hickory Nut Gap Road,” is planned for Saturday, August 4. Coach buses, courtesy of Lees-McRae College, will depart from the Banner House on the half hour between 10 a.m. and 12 noon. Though there is no specific fee for the bus tour, donations are always welcome. Olan and the volunteers at Banner House Museum invite visitors to learn about Banner Elk history by touring the Museum and taking part in the special activities and events that are planned this season. n

Maple Tea Room (now BJ’s Resort Wear)

Historic Cheese House The Banner House Museum, located at 7990 Hickory Nut Gap Road near the Mill Pond in Banner Elk, is open June 11-October 1, Wednesday-Saturday, 11 a.m. - 3 p.m. Admission is $5 for adults, $1 for ages 6-12, under 6 and patrons free. Walking tours are $10 per person. Because the walking tour involves stairs and uneven terrain, comfortable walking shoes are recommended. Sunscreen and an umbrella may also come in handy. For more details, call 828.898.3634 or log on to



Discovering “The Old Log Mill” at Beech Mountain Writing and photography by Mike Hill


hese days, we tend to forget how thin the line is between North Carolina and Tennessee, especially here in the Appalachian Mountains. Our Common Core textbooks have compartmentalized and homogenized too many details of our collective past which occurred on both sides of that arbitrary border, integrally intertwined and effortlessly crossing back and forth along this historic corridor. Understanding that the “big picture” of Appalachian culture does not fit well within the confines of any single state or municipality makes the opportunity to touch the collective history of our mountains within the walls of an existing structure a rare and inviting treat. I recently discovered one such unique bit of the history—not just of North Carolina, nor just of Tennessee—but of Appalachia, and it is located right in our backyard on Beech Mountain in NC. Currently known as “The Old Log Mill” the original log structure of this dwelling was constructed near Jonesborough, Tennessee (Tennessee’s oldest town) in 1797 by the Rubbles


family. Jonesborough, the County Seat of Washington County, was established in 1777, and at that time was still part of North Carolina. Its origins are rooted in the Watauga settlements, established in the early 1770s in the vicinity of what is now Elizabethton. In 1799, a daughter of the Rubbles married a Dr. Hill and for generations, their descendants lived in this log home. When this house was constructed, it was the largest structure in the valley, consisting of four floors of 750 sq. ft. each.  Following North Carolina’s cession of western lands in June 1784, settlers west of the Appalachians found themselves without government. They remedied the situation by organizing the State of Franklin at Jonesborough. In August 1784, John Sevier became the governor of this “Lost State,” which continued until 1788. The constitutional convention and the first legislative sessions of the “State of Franklin” were held in Jonesborough until 1785. From the beginning, Jonesborough was a planned community. No ram-

shackle cabins were permitted; the owner of each lot had to build “one brick, stone, or well-framed house, 20 feet long and 16 feet wide, at least 10 feet in the pitch, with a brick or stone chimney.” Failure to comply with this provision brought forfeiture of the land title. In May 1788, commissioners reported in favor of Jonesborough as the best and most convenient location for the Washington County courthouse, prison, and stocks. It is known that at one time, magistrate business including court hearings were conducted in this, the home that eventually was to become “The Old Log Mill.” In the early 1900s, ownership of “The Old Log Mill” was conveyed to the Hicks family, and new additions were added to make a total of eleven rooms. The Hicks’ occupied the home for 45 years. At the time, heat for the structure came from a 12-ft. wide fireplace that burned logs so large they had to be dragged in by oxen. According to historical accounts, Indians were fired upon from gun ports that were built into the dwelling, one of which is preserved

on the second floor of the structure in its current location. In 1980, Dr. Ed Calvin (one of the original developers of the north ridge of Beech Mountain) purchased the building and had the structure dismantled, match-marked and shipped by truck from Jonesborough to Beech Mountain. Dr. Calvin was a survivalist, and he reconstructed the structure like a bunker in its new location. The basement now contains walls and ceilings of concrete and steel that are three feet thick. The dwelling was fed at the time by an artesian well, which required no source of electricity (and which still exists on the site). During Calvin’s painstaking restoration of the log home between 1982 and1987, other modifications were made to the dwelling, including resizing the fireplace and enlarging the windows. New wood elements were incorporated into the reconstruction and included a fireplace mantel, a bar, walls, and flooring, some of which was sourced from trees felled on the Beech Mountain construction site. Waterfalls emanating from Buckeye

Creek feed three ponds that were created on the property and stocked with rainbow trout. Calvin demonstrated a remarkable and unique vision in his creation of this tranquil and serene mountain compound. Among the most interesting modifications to the structure, he added a fully functional steel waterwheel by the Fitz Waterwheel Company that he acquired at a cost of $8,000 from a grist mill in Mountain City, Tennessee. His intention was to grind flour on premise but he never fulfilled that dream. Dr. Calvin’s wife Jan Calvin was one of the Beech Mountain Club’s most beloved recreation directors. She especially enjoyed entertaining at the old mill and hosted programs that she developed for all ages and interests, including pig roasts, wine tastings, craft classes, wildflower walks and ladies’ luncheons. In 1999 ownership of this historic structure transitioned once again, this time to the Biondo family. Upon acquisition of the home, the Biondos completely gutted the basement bunker and converted it into an office and playroom. Ten

years later they added a 2,700 squarefoot addition, being careful to keep the integrity of “The Old Log Mill.” Today the home is over 5,000 square feet, with five bedrooms and four and one-half baths. The 700 square-foot covered rear deck is built adjacent to Buckeye Creek and faces a ten-foot streaming waterfall. “The Old Log Mill” property, located mere minutes from the heart of Beech Mountain Town Center, feels completely off the grid with sweeping long-range views. The simple notion that history was most likely created by legendary figures such as Sevier and Tipton within the walls of this structure merits a look inside. It isn’t every day one encounters this caliber of rustic mountain luxury steeped in so much of the culture and history of Appalachia. n “The Old Log Mill” is located at 130 Spruce Hollow Road on Beech Mountain and is currently available for viewing by contacting Premier Sotheby’s International Realty in Banner Elk, N.C.



A College Continues to Climb: Reflections on Progress during President Barry M. Buxton’s Tenure By Nina Mastandrea


ees-McRae College, a historic institution nestled within the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains, has always worked to deliver a quality education. The students, faculty and staff are dedicated to the surrounding community and strive daily to enhance the overall experience. Especially within the last decade, LeesMcRae has grown in leaps and bounds under the guidance of President Barry M. Buxton. His start as 15th president of the 118-year-old institution on June 1, 2010, marked a new chapter for the college as a whole. Almost all of campus witnessed a transformation—from its academic buildings and residence halls, to its grounds, academic programming and even its technology infrastructure. In his professional career spanning over 35 years, Buxton has been a teacher, researcher, author, and community leader throughout the South. Born in nearby Blowing Rock, North Carolina, the High Country native brought a new perspective to a college that had struggled in the past. At first, turning the college around would prove to be an uphill battle. Tack-


ling accrued debts accumulated over the years was a top priority before the college could work on improving much of anything else. However, it was important to Buxton, faculty and staff to move quickly towards a more modern, state-of-the-art campus. “We needed to give our students, faculty and staff the best chance at success,” Buxton said. “We also needed to create a place everyone could be proud of well after their time at the college.” In the following years, the campus saw numerous physical changes including renovation of the former library into the Dotti M. Shelton Learning Commons, the construction of the May School of Nursing and Health Sciences, as well as the addition of the Dan and Diane May Wildlife Rehabilitation Center. Both the campus and external communities can enjoy Theatre Arts performances in the newly renovated Hayes Auditorium and Broyhill Theatre or grab a cup of coffee and a good read at the brand new bookstore featuring Einstein Bros. Bagels. Much of the exterior spaces also underwent a beautification process; brick pavers replaced most asphalt walkways and new landscaping accentuated the college’s natural backdrop and historic stone buildings. Even the campus technological infrastructure experienced massive renovations. Work was completed to shift the college from obsolete hardware to modern fiber optics and greater wireless capabilities. Buxton also wanted to improve the daily life of faculty, staff and most importantly, students during their time here. To do that, Lees-McRae returned to its roots as a residential campus, meaning almost all enrolled students live on campus. The college became a pet-friendly campus, giving students and employees the opportunity to bring along their four-

legged friends. For students, becoming pet-friendly meant their beloved dog could live with them in most residence halls and even join them in class. “The reason why I do what I do is in the name of education and providing the best education we can to our students so they can go out in the world and follow their passions,” Buxton said. “We have such an incredible team here of faculty and staff that work every day to ensure our students get what they need.” Lees-McRae has long had a legacy for cycling. Since 2001, the cycling team has won 10 national titles and 57 individual national championships with several of its alumni going on to compete in the Tour De France, the Summer Olympics and World Championships. With support from driven faculty and staff, the college became the first rural institution to be named a Bicycle Friendly University by The League of American Bicyclists. With its optimal location for training, it only made sense to add a Cycling Studies minor to the academic repertoire. During Buxton’s time, the college added several other new academic programs. Students can now pursue a degree in nursing, emergency medical services and management, health and wellness science, and outdoor recreation management. An array of online degree completion programs was also introduced for working and nontraditional students. Lees-McRae continues its commitment to continuous improvement. The institution’s accomplishments over the last eight years laid the groundwork for generations to come. Even though Buxton will retire effective May 31, the college will continue to climb and achieve even higher goals in the years ahead under a new president. n Nina Mastandrea is the content manager at Lees-McRae College and an award-winning journalist. When she is not writing, she’s riding her bike through the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Behind the Scenes with Banner Elk Advocate Allen Bolick By Tamara Seymour

Allen and Rebecca Bolick


oll into the quaint town of Banner Elk this spring and what will you notice? Perhaps the new brick sidewalk safely connecting pedestrians to the town’s greenway. Or the public space evolving at the corner on Main Street. You’ll likely detect infrastructure improvements, as well as new shops, galleries and restaurants. You’ll see tourists and residents alike flocking to explore this bustling mountain enclave. But what you won’t immediately notice are the people behind the scenes making it all happen— including Allen Bolick, one of the town’s most active movers and shakers. Caught off guard at a recent Banner Elk Chamber of Commerce dinner, Bolick received the coveted “Person of the Year” award for 2017. While he may have been shocked at receiving this special recognition, it came as no surprise to all of those packing the house at the Cornerstone Cabins event barn that night. “Each year the Banner Elk Chamber of Commerce selects a member of the community to receive the ‘Person of the Year’ award,” explains Jo-Ann McMurray, President of the Banner Elk Chamber. “This year

the selection of an individual who demonstrated their love and devotion to the town of Banner Elk was a no brainer! Allen Bolick’s name was the unanimous choice of the Chamber Board.” In addition to his many roles with the Chamber, Bolick also holds a seat on Banner Elk’s Town Council. Anywhere you see revitalization and renewal throughout the town, Councilman Bolick has likely played a part. “I’m excited about what the town is doing… about the Corner on Main, with its new clock and flagpole—all of these projects coming to fruition,” says Bolick. “There’s so much we want to do here.” The Road to Banner Elk Born in Lenoir, N.C., a young Bolick attended Catawba Valley Technical Institute, and shortly after joined the Navy. In between studies and service, he found time to woo his wife Rebecca, sweeping her off her feet and flying her to Athens, Greece where they wed in front of an Australian minister 49 years ago. Returning to Caldwell County, they raised a family, and each dedicated thirty or more years to their professions: Rebecca as an

early elementary teacher in the Caldwell County School System, and Allen in a number of management roles with Merchant Distributors, Inc. (MDI), a familyowned company that began in Hickory in 1931. Once the nest was empty and retirement became imminent, the couple began looking for coastal property, but quickly shifted their sights to the opposite side of the state. Their search stretched from West Jefferson to Beech Mountain to Newland, and they finally found their new corner of the world in the Crooked Creek neighborhood of Banner Elk. Bolick knew right away that he wanted to be involved in his new community, and ended up on the town’s Planning Board. He then ran for and secured his first term on the Banner Elk Town Council in 2011; he is currently serving the third year of his second term. Back to School The old Banner Elk Elementary School in the heart of Banner Elk was constructed in 1939 as a WPApublic works project. A more modern



Historic Banner Elk School, built in 1939

elementary school opened down the street in 2010, at which time Avery County began seeking buyers for the old schoolhouse. A developer came calling with plans to tear down the historic stone structure to make way for a hotel. That’s about the time Bolick heard his new calling. “My heart almost broke when they thought about tearing this building down,” recalls Bolick. “But I began to realize how much support was coming from the community to keep it—all out of love for the school and town.” The Town of Banner Elk purchased the Historic Banner Elk School (HBES) in 2014, and Bolick, together with Town Manager Rick Owen, have been overseeing its transformation ever since. With help from wife Rebecca, Bolick has dedicated the past three years to raising funds and orchestrating renovations in support of the HBES and its place in the community. “We started a discussion with several former librarians, and began looking for donors who supported the idea of having a library in town,” says Bolick, who conceived the very first HBES project, the Book Exchange. “We opened the Book Exchange in late 2015, with no expense to the town.” Once the Book Exchange was in place, interest in the school grew. Mayland Community College jumped on board, running its Community Learning Center from the back building of the old school. In 2017 the Town began dialogue with Ensemble


Stage, formerly the community theatre of the town of Blowing Rock. Town Manager Owen and Bolick supervised the process of helping the theatre relocate, with both moral and financial support coming from the greater community. The old gym was quietly transformed in time for the summer 2017 season, and Ensemble Stage sold out nearly every show. Other cultural and arts organizations followed suit, including Carolina Mountain Life Magazine, Buckhead Banner Photography Studio, Rev. Ted Henry’s Common Ground, and BE Artists Gallery, which has recently expanded into a second classroom. New signage is now in place, branding the school as the ‘Cultural Arts Center of Banner Elk.’ Both inside and outside the school, wheels are in motion. “We’ve renovated the hallways, replaced gutters, and added two community conference rooms that can be rented by the day or week,” Bolick explains. Plumbing is being updated, parking is being expanded, and grants are being written to renovate the old cafeteria area. Project by project, he has worked with donors to secure the funds, conscious of completing modifications without taxpayer money. “We have a one, three, five and ten year plan for the school,” claims Bolick, “And I’ve always got a wish list of things we need help with, every step of the way.” He has applied for and received grants from a variety of organizations, and has attained charitable donations through

well-organized annual fundraising activities, with help from Robert and Kimberly Tufts, including Art on the Greene (May 26-27, July 7-8, Sept. 1-2), and the HBES Golf Classic, to be sponsored this year by Eagles Nest and a group of co-sponsors on September 24 at the Beech Mountain Club. Also supporting the school’s mission are the building’s tenants. “I am so excited about the people inside the school who share the same vision as the Town, not only to keep the school vital to the community, but to attract people coming from all over the country.” In fact, one couple recently traveled to Banner Elk from Missouri, specifically to witness the transformation of the old school. Considering a similar project in their own hometown, the two toured the building and set up a meeting with Bolick to glean from his success with the HBES project. In simple terms, he told them to make a solid plan and publicly express their enthusiasm. “Surround yourself with people who share your vision and excitement, and the funding will follow, coming from people who are as excited as you.” Preservation through Perseverance In September of 2017, the Historic Banner Elk School was officially listed on the National Registry of Historic Places, which lists sites “deemed worthy of preservation.” Bolick, who continues to spearhead the ongoing preservation efforts, was bolstered by the designation. When asked about his long-term vision, he considers not just the school, but the entire town. “I want to see Banner Elk continue to grow, to see businesses revitalize, remodel and expand facilities.” He notes the many achievements of Jo-Ann McMurray, President of the Banner Elk Chamber. “And,” he continues, “I want to see Lees-McRae College continue to grow and prosper under the new president, Dr. King.” While Bolick couldn’t yet reveal all of the latest plans for his favorite pet project, he did reveal an enthusiastic I-know-something-you-don’t-know grin, adding, “This is going to be a really big year for the school.” n “ Allen never rests until his mission, no matter how difficult, is complete.” –Jo-Ann McMurray, President, Banner Elk Chamber of Commerce

Helping Prevent Homelessness By Pan McCaslin

“From an economic standpoint, preventing homelessness is a more cost-effective option for local communities. Stable, continuous housing is often the only thing keeping people living in poverty from falling into homelessness.” —Graham Doege, WeCAN Program Coordinator.


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

oused at Hospitality House of Boone, WeCAN, the Watauga Crisis Assistance Network, assists with households who are facing eviction, utility cutoffs, heating fuel shortages and prescription medication needs. First created in 2002 as a collaborative clearinghouse for benevolent funds from area churches, WeCAN has provided, or arranged for, almost $1.75 million in assistance. Watauga County currently has one of the highest rates of poverty in North Carolina—32.1 percent—resulting in ever increasing need for crisis assistance. Faith communities, civic groups, United Way and individuals contribute to funds that are used for assistance. Grants underwrite the cost of the WeCAN coordinator’s position, allowing 100 percent of funds donated to be returned to the community in assistance. In addition, WeCAN administers Blue Ridge Electric’s Operation RoundUp and Round Up-Plus, New River Light and Power’s Good Neighbor Round-Up program, and HUD’s Rapid Rehousing Program. Round-Up programs encourage community members to round up their bills to the next dollar, or in the case of Round-Up Plus, to add $5.00 to their payment each month. The funds are then transferred to the WeCAN budget at Hospitality House for administration. Walk in appointments are taken Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. at Hospitality House, located at

338 Brook Hollow Road, Boone, NC. The Coordinator, or one of her trained volunteers, interviews clients to fully assess their housing situation and other needs, often providing guidance and referrals for other services in the area. Clients can be assisted one time each year and often need guidance to prevent recurring shortfalls. In 2017, 324 new clients received assistance. $11,200 was disbursed for security deposits and rent, $54,000 paid to utility companies for heating and electricity, and $25,000 in Round-Up funds was received and reallocated. Additionally, WeCAN partners with other referral sources to obtain help for issues which are not covered by WeCAN. The Mission and Outreach Committee (MOC) of The Church of the Holy Cross in Valle Crucis frequently collaborates with WeCAN to help provide assistance for car repairs, gas cards, or further assistance with housing costs. “When Graham calls MOC asking to partner with WeCAN to help a client, MOC knows that the client has already been approved to receive help, thus the client gets speedier assistance. Also, the client is able to pay a much larger bill than if one of the agencies was working alone,” shared Ann Gerber, former chair and member of MOC. Due to the severity of winter in the High Country, many homes require a second tank of heating fuel. Companies often require a minimum of 100 gallons at a time, which can cost between $300 and $400. Those desiring to help WeCAN can notify their utility companies and participate in the Round-Up, Round Up-Plus, or Good Neighbor program. In addition, they may make direct donations to the program through the DONATE button on the WeCAN section of the Hospitality House website. n

For more information, visit, or call (828)264-1237, ext. 2. CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Spring 2018 —


Local Tidbits Playground Improvements! On April 14, Banner Elk Kiwanians, Blue Ridge Young Professionals, Avery High Key Clubbers, Town of Banner Elk employees, Boy Scouts from Troop 807 and interested community volunteers will work together to add new playground equipment for young children, including the new “woolly worm wiggle crawl,” and improve Tate-Evans Park in Banner Elk. Visit the park this spring and bring your kids! For more information on the volunteer workday, email

Kudos to Watauga Medical Center Watauga Medical Center recently received an above average 4-star rating for its quality of patient care services from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. To view Watauga Medical Center’s rating, visit For more information about Appalachian Regional Healthcare System visit Looking for a Great Summer Camp? Holston Camp and Retreat Center in Banner Elk has 150 acres of forest, lakes and streams nestled in the mountains. Check out the new summer camp schedule at Considering a family reunion, business meeting, wedding, or church group event in 2018? When Holston isn’t hosting summer camps, they offer rustic accommodations and outdoor/indoor event spaces for big groups, including its new ‘Upper Meadows Cabin’ with seven bedrooms. Learn more at


Lees-McRae College ‘Outdoor Legends’ Event On Thursday, April 19, from 6–9 p.m. meet a group of individuals who have contributed significantly to the High Country outdoors through education, service, scholarship, and development. Celebrate the 2018 outdoor legends—Gil Adams, Bob Benner, Jerry Cantwell, Randy Johnson, and Lisa Loveday—at The Apple Barn in Valle Crucis. Tickets (includes admission, food and beverage) are available to the public for $25 per person, and proceeds help sponsor attendance of Outdoor Recreation Management students. Learn more at April 21: Healthy Kids Day at the Williams YMCA of Avery County It’s back! Healthy Kids Day is a free community event to inspire more kids to keep their minds and bodies active. YMCA’s Healthy Kids Day®, the Y’s national initiative to improve families’ health and well-being, features games, healthy cooking demonstrations, arts and crafts and more. Attendees can get a free pass to all YMCA facilities for the day. Where: John Blackburn Indoor Athletic Facility | When: 11:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. Learn more at Wine for a Reason The fifth annual Wine for a Reason event will be held from noon to 6 p.m., Saturday, April 28 at Linville Falls Winery in Linville Falls, NC. The day will include live music with The Johnson Brothers Band, food trucks, a silent auction, and local vendors. All donations, proceeds from auction items, and a portion of the sales that day will benefit the Autism Society of NC. For more information, to donate online, or to donate items to the silent auction, go to

WHS Theatre in the News The North Carolina Theatre Conference (NCTC) announced Sarah Miller and Zach Walker of Watauga High School as the recipients of the 2017 K-12 Theatre Arts Educator Award. Each year, the NCTC Board of Directors recognizes companies, schools and individuals that are active members and have exhibited leadership roles in their community. The award will be presented on April 21 prior to the WHS performance of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Cinderella: The Enchanted Edition.” For more information, email To read the CML feature article on the WHS Theatre program, go to the back issues section of our website at

Grandfather Presents... Grandfather Mountain opens its gates to High Country residents, employees and their guests for only $3 each throughout April as part of “Dollar Days.” The Linville, N.C.-based nonprofit nature preserve and attraction will also continue its ‘Grandfather Presents’ evening lecture series this spring. “With our Grandfather Presents series, guests can enjoy presentations from some of the country’s foremost experts on conservation,” said Frank Ruggiero, director of marketing and communications. On Thursday, June 21, Tom Butler of the Foundation for Deep Ecology will describe the evolving arguments for wilderness protection in American conservation history and offer a vision for rewilding the landscape and human communities in the coming century and beyond. Learn more at

MerleFest April 26-29, 2018 MerleFest, held on the grounds of Wilkes Community College in Wilkesboro, was founded in 1988 in memory of Eddy Merle Watson as a fundraiser for Wilkes Community College and to celebrate ‘traditional plus’ music. This year’s lineup includes Steep Canyon Rangers and friends, with Steve Martin; Jamey Johnson; Kris Kristofferson; The Mavericks; Bela Fleck and Abigail Washburn; and many other acts. Visit for information and tickets! April is Beer Month! N.C. Beer Month is a statewide celebration of craft beers. Stop by local breweries in Avery County, Ashe County, Boone, Blowing Rock, Morganton and surrounding areas to find your favorites. Visit NCBeerMonth. com for a complete listing of participating breweries and related events throughout the month.

Turchin Center Celebrates 15 Years! The Turchin Center for the Visual Arts will be showcasing five new exhibitions this spring, including “Appalachian Mountain Photography Competition”; “Pieces of the Puzzle: Community Outreach”; “Art Department Faculty Biennial”; “Creative Democracy: The Legacy of Black Mountain College”; and “High Country Herbarium: Preserving Plants & Plant Communities in the Southern Appalachians.” Visit the Turchin Center on Friday, May 4 for a special birthday celebration! For details on each exhibition and other happenings this spring, visit The Turchin Center is located at 423 West King St., in Boone. Chetola Corkscrew on May 5 The Corkscrew & Brew 5K, in conjunction with SAVOR Blowing Rock: A Celebration of Food & Drink, combines running with wine and beer.

For the 5th annual event, organizers have partnered with local brewery AMB to include their popular brews in the festivities and make this year’s race better than ever. The race begins at 9 a.m. at Chetola Resort at Blowing Rock. Learn more at chetola. com/corkscrew-5k/. Globe Gravel Challenge Join fellow bikers on May 5 at 7:30 a.m. for the inaugural Globe Travel Challenge! Ride the challenging route as a competitor or take your time and enjoy the scenery. The ride will start and finish in downtown Blowing Rock, and takes place in conjunction with the annual SAVOR event. All proceeds will benefit the Middle Fork Greenway, a project led by Blue Ridge Conservancy and High Country Pathways to build a greenway from Blowing Rock to Boone. Register at Sip and Celebrate at Villa Nove Vineyards Watauga Lake Winery in Johnson County, Tennessee will have its grand opening of Villa Nove Vineyards and Winery, a new farm winery and tasting room adjacent to its vineyards and overlooking Watauga Lake. The grand opening will be Saturday, May 12 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Visitors will be able to relax and enjoy estate grown wines, food, live music, lawn games and vineyard tours, while taking in a panoramic view of Doe, Stone and Roan Mountains. Location: 1877 Dry Hill Road, Butler, TN. Phone: 423-768-3633.

Old Hampton Store & Barbeque Ramp Festival 2018 Old Hampton Store & Barbeque will host its second annual Ramp Festival on May 12 as they celebrate the Appalachian heritage of a mountain leek known as the wild ramp. Local music is scheduled throughout the day and evening. Check out their Facebook page at

Traveling the Blue Ridge Parkway this Season? The Linn Cove viaduct will be closed until May 24 as it undergoes surface repaving and bridge maintenance—the first time since its initial construction more than three decades ago. Crews will remove and replace the asphalt pavement, waterproofing membrane and joints on the bridge, in addition to repairing the supporting structure, stone curb, railing and drainage features. During this time, all access to the viaduct, including the trail areas beneath it, will be closed to the public. Grandfather Mountain will remain open during viaduct closing. Alternate routes including U.S. 221 will offer scenic detours, as the iconic roadway undergoes maintenance. Learn more at Photo by Hugh

Morton | Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation

What’s New at BRAHM Experience the Blowing Rock Art & History Museum’s (BRAHM) latest exhibitions during their Summer Exhibition Celebration on Thursday, May 24th from 5 - 7 p.m. Featured exhibitions include a selection of North Carolina pottery, guest curated by renowned potter Herb Cohen, and a private collection of early twentieth century etchings comparing and contrasting rural and urban life in America. BRAHM also presents The Way Watauga Works (above), an exhibition exploring the rich history of work in Watauga County alongside Continued...



contemporary photographs of members across the community living and working a broad range of jobs. Visit or call (828) 295-9099.

Some Spring Music Options:

4Sugar Mountain Concert Series May 28 Smokin’ Joe Band June 6 The Collective June 13 The Rockabillys June 20 Shelby Rae Moore June 27 Foscoe Four July 4 King Bees Learn more at Shelby Rae Moore

Mast Store Hosts Land Trust Day This year marks the 16th year that the Mast Store is hosting land trust organizations in each of its home communities for a day of fundraising and education. On June 2, a percentage of sales from every Mast Store will be donated to these organizations to help them continue their important land conservation efforts. Local land trust partners include the Blue Ridge Conservancy and the New River Conservancy.

Blowing Rock Charity Horse Show Don’t miss this year’s Show with the Saddlebred Division kicking off the annual event lineup on June 6 - June 10. Show events take place at the L.M. Tate Showgrounds at the Broyhill Equestrian Preserve, 1500 Laurel Ln in Blowing Rock, NC. Purchase tickets and check out the full list of 2018 events at Mayland Community College Spring and Summer Classes Mayland Community College offers members of our community a variety of opportunities to explore new hobbies and advance work skills. Check out their offerings, many of which are held at the Community Learning Center at the Historic Banner Elk School, at


4Live Music in Blowing Rock: -Thursdays 6-8 p.m. | Speckled Trout -Thursday-Saturday | Chetola, with bonfires on Fridays -Fridays | Town Tavern -Fridays | Music on the Lawn at the Inn at Ragged Gardens -Friday & Saturday | Twigs -Nightly | Woodland’s BBQ -Friday & Saturday | Charlie Ellis at Green Park, Locals Night on Sundays -Sundays following Blowing Rock’s Art in the Park 4 - 6 p.m. | Concerts in the Park 4Beech Mountain Summer Concert Series -June 16 | Wood Brothers, with opening act Sean McConnell -July 14 | Trampled by Turtles, with opening acts Sarah Siskind and Travis Book Visit

Also check out free music events at town parks in Newland, Banner Elk, and Valle Crucis beginning in late June! Annual Warehouse Sale at Charleston Forge “Made in America” isn’t just a phrase at Charleston Forge; it’s a passion. Visit Charleston Forge’s Boone, NC factory for its Annual Warehouse Sale on June 23. You’ll find amazing prices on your favorite Charleston Forge furniture—showroom samples, factory seconds, and first quality discontinued items. Check out their factory, meet the staff, and take a look at everything they have to offer. Call 828.264.0100 or email for more details.

North Carolina Rhododendron Festival Celebrates 72 Years On June 15 and 16, the Town of Bakersville, “Gateway to the Roan and Home to the Arts,” will host its 72nd North Carolina Rhododendron Festival. Enjoy live music all day on Friday and Saturday; a special children’s interactive play on Saturday; food vendors; regional arts and crafts people; commercial vendors; inflatables and train rides for the kids; nonprofit exhibits; and the famous Ducky Derby. A classic car show will be held on Saturday, as well as a 10K run and street dancing both Friday and Saturday nights until midnight. The Festival will feature the Rhododendron Festival Pageant on Friday and Saturday evenings. Learn more at

Carlton Gallery, Celebrating 36 Years Art lovers, don’t miss the Spring Group Exhibition & Contemporary Cubist Charisma in Paintings and Sculpture by Warren Dennis (above) and Mary-Ann Prack, May 26 through July 15 at the Carlton Gallery. Opening Reception will be held May 26, 2-5 p.m. The Gallery is located at 10360 Hwy 105 S, Banner Elk. BE Artists Gallery Reopens this Spring Following a winter expansion and renovation project, the BE Artists Gallery at the Historic Banner Elk School will re-open on Saturday April 14. Stop in between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. to see new work from the art co-op’s members and a variety of consignment artists. Find up-to-date information and gallery hours at BEartistsgallery. com

High Country Local First High Country Local First is a nonprofit organization that seeks to strengthen our community and local economy by supporting locally owned, independent businesses and farmers through education, promotion and networking. The organization is a great resource for learning more about local CSAs, farms, community gardens, farmers’ markets, and restaurants that support High Country agriculture. Find out more at

Blowing Rock’s 56th Annual Art in the Park Peruse the works of over 90 juried artists at this year’s Art in the Park, taking place six Saturdays throughout the year, including May 26, June 16 and July 14. Come to Park Avenue in downtown Blowing Rock from 10 am. to 5 p.m. and see a variety of creations: wood, clay, jewelry, metal, glass, fiber, painting, photography and more. Sponsored by the Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce. Learn more at

Avery County Wine & Beer Festival Head over to Sorrento’s Dining Complex in Banner Elk on June 30 for a day of special wine and beer tastings from the High Country and surrounding areas! Your admission, which includes a complimentary glass, will allow you a “flight of tastings” per wine and beer participant. This year’s particpants will include Linville Falls Winery, Banner Elk Winery, Grandfather Vineyard Winery, Lake James Cellars Winery, Beech Mountain Brewing Company, Flat Top Mountain Brewery, and others.

Skip the Straw Small steps make a big difference when it comes to helping the planet. In the U.S. and the U.K. nearly 550 million beverage straws are discarded every day, and plastic straws can take 200+ years to break down into tiny particles (many of which end up in our waterways). Diners and restaurants are choosing to say “no” to straws, including several High Country restaurants that are replacing plastic straws with paper straws.

Give Your Postal Carrier A Hand Last year, the United States Postal Service employees incurred 6,432 dog bites nationwide. Protect your carrier from dog bites by being a responsible pet owner. When accepting mail or packages at your door, please place your dog in a separate room and close the door. In delivery situations where a dog is running loose and a carrier may feel threatened, your mail delivery may be impacted. Note that leash laws exist in many areas. Please consider the safety of your postal carrier and other people around you.

Spring at the Book Exchange The Book Exchange at the Historic Banner Elk School in downtown Banner Elk invites you to peruse the shelves and take a book home with you. You can also access free wi-fi, join a book discussion group, attend a lecture, join a jam session, participate in children’s readings and activities, and more. Hours through May 31 are Tuesday–Friday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., with expanded hours beginning the first week in June to include Thursday 5 – 7 p.m., and Saturday 1 – 4 p.m. Visit for a complete calendar of events. ATLAS: Achievement Through Liberal Arts & Sciences For first-generation students, it can feel like they have the weight of the world on their shoulders. Boone-based ATLAS is a partnership program that helps high-achieving, low-income, first generation students prepare for college. The organization pairs high schools with local colleges to help high school students supplement their education with college-entrance exam preparation, essay writing, and identification of funding sources. Learn more at

Let Us Hear from You! Have an event or tidbit you’d like to share with CML readers? Send your information to the editor at tamara@ If you’re just returning to the High Country and missed seeing the winter issue of Carolina Mountain Life Magazine, stop by our office at the Historic Banner Elk School and pick up your copy today!



Breathe Easier with Clean & Dry Environmental Solutions

Kiwanis Club Presents 2018 Grants

This time of year, the rains are coming down in the High Country. It’s a good time to start preparing your home for high humidity. Or perhaps you recently purchased a house and have heard about the increased levels of radon, a harmful gas that can naturally be found in this region. It may be time to consider a free consultation with locally owned Clean & Dry Environmental Solutions (formerly Radon Control Services). John Hastings and his crew have been serving homeowners and commercial businesses in NW North Carolina, E. Tennessee and SW Virginia for more than 25 years. They specialize in solutions that make homes healthier, including radon mitigation, crawl space encapsulation, basement waterproofing, mold remediation, and foundation repair. Owner John Hastings started his first real estate services company in 1989. “I saw radon as a serious problem for residents of western North Carolina and wanted to focus my efforts on helping people deal with this dangerous issue,” says Hastings. Radon is a cancer-causing natural radioactive gas that you can’t see, smell or taste. Its presence in homes, especially at high levels, can pose a health risk. Clean & Dry Environmental Solutions is known by many as the leading local expert in radon detection and remediation, having installed thousands of radon mitigation systems in both homes and commercial properties, including multi-family dwellings, office buildings and shopping centers. “Radon mitigations can be challenging and we do not recommend using someone who is not properly certified or experienced,” adds Hastings. In addition to certified radon testing and mitigation, Clean & Dry Environmental Solutions specializes in addressing a multitude of problems related to crawl spaces and basements, including poor indoor air quality, mold and mildew growth, and structural damage. If you have a nasty, damp crawl space, wet basement, foundation problems, or would like your home tested for radon, you can contact John Hastings and his team for a free consultation and estimate at 828-265-9534. •

Some $85,000 will go a long way this year, as the Kiwanis Club of Banner Elk spends fundraising earnings on projects across Avery County. The club launched its Golden Jubilee year of 2018 by sending out approximately $22,000 to support classroom grants written by teachers. More than 60 projects were requested across the county. At the same time, four significant grants went out to food projects run by area nonprofits: Feeding Avery Families, Reaching Avery Ministry, Volunteer Avery and the children’s weekend food Backpack Program. Thanks to funds raised from work at the Woolly Worm Festival, the Fourth of July Party in the Park, Highland Games program sales, and private donations, Cameron Serafim of Banner Elk Elementary will purchase iPad headphones for second and third grade math students. Missy Waycaster of Newland Elementary will buy second grade Rooted In Reading classroom books. Her colleague Sharayah Webb will now have a Sphero robot ball to use in computer coding exercises. Kelsey Sullivan will advance the new hiking trail at Avery Middle. Robert Tufts at Cranberry Middle will have equipment for his rocket project. Anna Jarrell will have STEM learning material for Crossnore Elementary students. Joelle Poore of Freedom Trail Elementary will purchase library books for reluctant readers. Riverside Elementary girls will become more physically fit thanks to teacher Regina Tipton and her “Girls on the Run” program. Avery High FFA and Beta Club students will receive leadership training because of teachers Dewayne Krege and Penny Ward. Also at the high school, Principal Todd Griffin will buy microwaves for use in the cafeteria by students who bring their lunches from home. And Kiwanis didn’t forget the Scottie Bus, funding supplies for that Pre-K program. Thanks to an additional $18,000, the Town of Banner Elk has funding for new playground equipment for 2-5 year-olds. Other grants gave the Avery YMCA extra funds for summer camp scholarships, and Blue Ridge Partnership for Children will expand the Imagination Library book distribution for the very young in Avery County. Additional grant monies were used for free books for pre-K through fifth grade students, distributed to all Avery County elementary schools as part of the club’s 27-year-long Reading is Fundamental program. As the year progresses, additional scout programs, scholarship and leadership training programs will receive support. • •

Front Porch Antiques: Welcoming New Friends Front Porch Antique Market is making a name for itself in Foscoe, NC. Located on Hwy 105 is one of the area’s largest antique markets in the High Country—a fresh coat of red paint and charming yellow planter boxes draw your attention to a building and business that you may not have noticed until recently. New owners Todd and Karen Kight, with the help of their children Molly and sonin-law Trent, Garrett, and Grant, along with dedicated staff and numerous friends have given the building more than just a new look and a new name. When they took over the business in May of 2017, Todd and Karen set out with a three-year vision to turn the antique store into a destination location and drive more business into the store for the vendors. The antique market has over 45 vendors, each carrying a wide assortment of items. A quick walk through the market and you will see antiques delivered straight from France and England, as well as items you would find in grandma’s kitchen and grandpa’s barn. Todd and Karen have recently completed the addition of a small coffee shop area. The shop boasts internet and a television for those who want to sit while their significant others browse the store. On a warm day, guests can also sit on the front porch or the newly added picnic area. The coffee shop offers a specially blended house flavor, a French Roast blend as well as various teas. For now, they are KISSing it —Keeping It Simple Silly! The coffee shop also offers an array of local goods including Ashe County Cheese, local honey from Faith Family Farms and Whole Hive Honey, baked goods from Cove Creek Bakery and Faith Family Farms, as well as Farmer’s Wife apple and cherry pies. You’ll want to top these items off with some nostalgic sodas in glass bottles. The kids are not left out as the coffee shop has nostalgic candy items and hot chocolate as well. Without a doubt, there is something here for everyone. •


LOCAL BUSINESS NEWS Dreaming of a Place to Escape? Get to Know the Lodge at River Run

Avery County: A Place to Call Home for a Season or a Lifetime Quality of Life. If that what’s you’re seeking, Avery County is for you. Residents and visitors alike appreciate the clean air, pristine streams, rivers and waterfalls, lack of traffic, magnificent resorts, iconic attractions, a wide array of recreational opportunities (including a newly expanded YMCA), quaint mountain towns, low taxes, a large variety of culinary options, legendary festivals, four seasons of breathtaking beauty, friendly and caring people.....a place where you can still see the milky way on a clear and moonless night. Visitors and seasonal residents come from all over the world to hike, fish, play golf and tennis, mountain bike, go whitewater rafting, ski, snowboard, and to choose and cut their Christmas tree for the holidays. Wildflowers, rhododendron, and mountain laurel bloom in the spring and summer; one of the most spectacular displays of fall color in the world literally lights up the High Country in September and October. Bring the kids and grandkids to see the bears and otters at Grandfather Mountain or cross the legendary mile high swinging bridge with its sweeping 360-degree vistas. Follow your fantasy to the yellow brick road at the Land of Oz or race a worm at the Woolly Worm Festival in mid-October. Take a stroll on the Riverwalk, kick back at the breweries and vineyards to sample their artisan beverages, rock out at the multiple outdoor weekly summertime concerts— and the list goes on and on. Wouldn’t you love to live in a place where there are more golf courses than stoplights? Check out the High Country! • •

Need a place for quiet introspection, peaceful solitude and restoration for your soul? Along the banks of the Elk River in Banner Elk, NC, is a sanctuary located in an idyllic setting. Ten years ago, owners Laura and Ray Ball built their modern log home as a family vacation getaway. Attention to every detail went into the design and furnishing of their home. When guests visited the lodge they would often lament about the need for rest and relaxation from the hustle and bustle of the world. At the Lodge they found solace, peace and contentment in their surroundings. So the Balls decided to share their home, not only with friends and family, but with others seeking an escape in a peaceful setting. Today, the Lodge at River Run is a Bed & Breakfast where guests can relax to the sound of a rolling river and take in the beauty around them. Read a book by the outside fireplace, relax in the hot tub, converse with other guests by the fire pit, or take a nap outside on the swinging bed. Try fly fishing along the banks of the river for mountain trout, and play a game of ping pong or corn hole on the lawn. The Lodge at River Run offers five beautifully decorated bedrooms facing the river, all with private baths and modern amenities. Manager Bobbie Parks is present around the clock to cater to guests. Breakfast is her specialty, serving guests a variety of her culinary creations each morning. Hors d’oeuvres and wine are served in the afternoon. If you’re looking for a relaxing vacation in a small part of paradise, get to know the Lodge at River Run. •

Make Plans for Christmas in July The Christmas in July Festival is one of the best, old fashioned summer festivals in the South drawing thousands to historic West Jefferson, NC each July. The Festival began in 1987 as a celebration of the Ashe County, NC Christmas tree industry. The 2018 festival marks the 32nd annual event, which will be held in Downtown West Jefferson, NC on Saturday, July 7th, from 9 a.m. to 7p.m. Enjoy live traditional mountain music, over 100 handmade arts & crafts vendors, and numerous food vendors featuring a variety of delicious festival foods. Civil War reenactments will be held throughout the day at the West Jefferson Municipal Park. These include demonstrations, battles, meet & greet with the Generals and a tour of their campsites. Children’s activities, roving performers, non-profits, and the Farmers’ Market are also part of this year’s festival. A Community Stage representing talent from local community groups and individuals include 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 for festival goers to vote for their favorite. On Friday, July 6, kickoff events will include live music from 3-10pm, food vendors from 4-10pm and a special farmers market. This event will be held rain or shine. •



High Country SCORE Keeps Growing High Country SCORE (www.score. org) based in Boone has again seen the number of clients grow and needs more volunteers and mentors to help with this growth. The Boone office services individuals and small businesses in the counties of Watauga, Avery, Ashe, Wilkes, Alleghany, and Catawba, as well as eastern Tennessee and western Virginia. High Country SCORE is part of the Asheville SCORE Chapter (, which has more than 30 mentors with broad experience in a wide range of businesses. Herman Metzler manages the Boone office, and he and four local SCORE volunteers assist clients involved with manufacturing, lodging, tourism, retail stores, restaurants, building and repair trades, technology, professional services, agriculture, etc. The current number of clients requires additional volunteers to service the local demand. According to Metzler, “Our work with clients is confidential and complimentary; we assist them with their current needs, for example creating business plans, finding funds and managing cash flow, recommending sales and marketing strategies, recruiting and training employees, and more.” SCORE volunteers may work with clients on an ongoing basis, some for many years, and as one Boone client recently remarked, “I would not be here if not for SCORE.” Local businesses are invited to contact Metzler and discuss how they, too, might benefit from working with SCORE. Nationally, there are over 10,000 SCORE mentors, both retired and working women and men, who volunteer some of their time to help people who want to start a small business, or coach people who have an existing business that requires assistance. This is done through one-on-one meetings, hosted workshops and seminars, and increasingly through online counseling from their homes and offices. Many clients access the SCORE national website ( and obtain information directly from that source. “Business in the High Country is expanding rapidly and we need help,” says Metzler. He asks that you call him at 919280-6123 or email him at hgpmetzler@ if you have questions about how to get involved. “Volunteering with SCORE is a great way to experience the satisfaction of contributing to the success of others.” —Herman Metzler, High Country SCORE


The Baker Center By Koren Gillespie

Charles E. Baker, MD


ith multiple providers and flexible office hours, the Baker Center in Linville, NC offers healthcare services for all ages. Feeling ill or suddenly injured? Head on over to the Baker Center for convenient walk-in clinic care—no appointment required. Or, if you’re looking for an all-around family practice, the center offers traditional primary care, plus pediatric and OB/GYN services. Walk-in clinics are typically a popular choice with consumers because they do not require an appointment, or an established history with the medical practice, and they usually cost less than an Emergency Department or Urgent Care visit. At the Baker Center, patients also appreciate the added bonus of a true family practice atmosphere. “I bring my own daughter to the clinic because of the compassion that each one of the providers and staff have towards their patients,” says Crystal Blankenship, Practice Administrator, Avery County Offices, Appalachian Regional Medical Associates. When she has been sick, I was able to bring her in, and it was great to not have to call and make an appointment. I was able to walk in with her, and she was provided with excellent care. The providers connect with each of their patients on a personal level and are able to care for the whole being—not just the current problem the patient presents to them.” Blankenship continues, “We have received feedback that the walk-in clinic has saved patients time and money from going to the Emergency Department. We have also received great feedback from our skiing population that it was great to be able to walk in and see a provider. The main compliment I receive about the Baker Center is the compassion that our providers show. We have many staff that have been with the practice for over 10 years. This level of commitment provides consistency for the patients, and they are able to form relationships with them.” The Baker Center is designed to provide for short-term care issues through the clinic, as well as to give people the option to become long-term established patients through the primary care office. One major goal of the Baker Center is to be a true family practice where they offer quality care to patients from birth to end of life. Additionally, the Baker Center, in partnership with Harmony Center for Women, offers full women’s OB/GYN services. “I am so proud of the services that the Baker Center is able to provide for our patients. We have grown and expanded over the past few years. I look forward to seeing the Baker Center grow as we continue to add providers. We are committed to providing excellent care, and we are focused on providing an exceptional experience with every patient,” concludes Blankenship.

Current Providers Include: Dr. Charles Baker, MD • Dr. Amy Chidester, MD • Dr. Jason Crawford, MD • Dr. Julia Sherrill, MD • David Johnson, NP Donna Tate, FNP • Ginger Warren, FNP, DNP • Jessica Storer, NP-C • Nancy Griffith, FNP, CNM (also with Harmony) Heather Jordan, CNM (also with Harmony) Located at 436 Hospital Drive, Suite 230 in Linville, the center serves all of Avery County, as well as Ashe, Burke, Mitchell, and more. The walk-in clinic operates Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. The clinic is also open on Saturdays from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., but appointments are required for this day. The primary care office is also available for appointments Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and these can be made by calling (828) 737-7711 or emailing

The Key to Unlocking Your Financial Affairs By Katherine S. Newton, CFP®, ChFC™


very spring clients ask this question: “How do I organize my financial and estate planning records so that my family can find what they need in case something happens to me?”  For you this question may arise out of love and concern for family or friends left in charge of your affairs. My experience with settling my father’s estate was one of immense gratitude for the gift he left of ease of management and careful instructions, right down to the hymn he wanted sung at his memorial service. Ideally what you need is a way to “point to” where everything already is so that you don’t need to move anything. What you need is a “Key” to unlock the door into your affairs. This Key is simply one file containing a list of where your documents and items are. Your Key should be placed in an easily found location such as a desk drawer (or possibly your computer...a topic for another day). Then you should show the “Key” to a trusted person, for example a spouse or adult child. A more detailed but very effective “Key” involves making three lists, cross-referenced with one another of what your documents and items are, the locations where these can be found, and who can have access to what. In this case your three lists will be (1) the Items List to name the documents and items; (2) the Locations of the items; and (3) the Persons to contact in an emergency. For example, your Items List might be: 1. My Will; 2. My insurance policies; 3. Birth and Marriage Certificates, and so on. Your Location List could be: A. My lower right desk drawer; B. My safe deposit box; C. My attorney’s office, and so on. Your Persons List: I. My financial advisor; II. My insurance agent; III. My minister, and so on. Then the lists are cross-referenced using a method created by Mark H. Kaizerman with his ‘”Beneficiary Directory” system. I have used this system on many occasions with my clients, explaining carefully to them how to use it. Bottom Line: Regardless of how much detail you believe is necessary, the key point is that you need a Key File to guide a trusted person to the essential elements of your plan. As always, let me know how I can help. You can find a related article here mfscom/heritageplanning/infosheets/hp_fborg_flye.pdf  n 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 Waite Financial, LLC, 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. | Before investing, the investor should consider whether the investor’s or beneficiary’s home state offers any state tax or other benefits available only from that state’s 529 Plan. CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Spring 2018 —


Fitness, Family, and Fun!

New Buildings and New Opportunities Abound at The Williams YMCA By Elizabeth Baird Hardy O’Connell Field House


arly in the morning, before sunrise, the Williams YMCA of Avery County is already alive with members using fitness equipment in its wellness center, spinning on bikes in a highenergy class, or swimming laps in its expansive pool. Throughout the day, children, youth, adults, and seniors come here to exercise, learn, and grow. While the facility has long served as an incredibly valuable resource for the community, it continues to expand its offerings, providing members and visitors with a host of services and opportunities that address nearly every aspect of wellness. In addition to the well-known offerings that the Y has provided in the past, there are a host of new and little-known facets to this gem in Linville. One of the most exciting new areas at the Y is literally a new area. The John M. Blackburn Indoor Athletic Facility, nestled behind Cannon Memorial Hospital, includes over 26,000 square feet of year-round, climate-controlled space for a wide variety of recreational pursuits. There are two high-school size gymnasiums that can host everything from a friendly game of basketball to a regional sports tournament. Dance, wrestling, gymnastics, soccer, volleyball, and the new sports sensation of pickleball are just a few of the activities that can be accommodated in the new gyms. While there is a schedule of events going on in the gyms, there are also open gym times available. These beautiful, modern playing areas provide space for sports even when the High Country weather makes it difficult to shoot some hoops or just get outside and toss a ball. Use of the Blackburn Athletic facility is included with YMCA membership, with the exception of special events. For those whose recreational inclinations are more comfortable on the golf course or baseball diamond than on the courts, the O’Connell Field House, right beside the Blackburn Facility, has the answers for year-round practice and fun. With state-ofthe-art golf simulators and batting cages, the Field House can allow players to improve their games or pick up new techniques and skills. There is also a weight training area in the Field House to improve strength and to condition muscles for any activity. Use of the Field House resources is free to YMCA members, but reservations are requested, as these exciting venues are already very popular. In addition to using the simulators and batting cages to practice, visitors may want to look into registering for individual personal training with professionals who are avail-


Chronic Disease Prevention and Management programs

able to teach athletes at a variety of levels. The YMCA continues to provide a host of programs and services that help improve the whole person. Dennis Betz, of Fund Development and Accountability (although his daughter has altered his name tag to read “Fun Development”) is eager to share the many ways in which the Y meets its mission “to put Christian principles into practice through programs that build a healthy spirit, mind and body for all.” For children, the Y has a thriving after-school program that offers quality tutoring, recreation, and transportation to afterschool practices and activities, under the supervision of certified teachers and support staff. The program is available on holidays and snow days in addition to being provided after school. In 2017, the program served 110 children, who reported stronger commitments to their school, improved academic performances, and positive relationships with staff and fellow students. The parents of these children were overwhelmingly happy with their physical, academic, and social growth. “We are hoping to get in 150-160 kids this year,” Betz says. As part of the three-year program the Y is offering, the only cost to the parents of these children is a $25 registration fee per child, and even that can be offset by a scholarship for families who need it. The Y’s partnerships with local schools help deliver meals for children who may only have regular meals when they are in school, and the Y transports children to Newland elementary for breakfast and lunch when school is not in session, helping to ensure that some of our most vulnerable residents are provided at least two meals a day. Younger children are served at the YMCA through the Martha Guy Child Development Center, Pre-K Child Development program, and Pre-K Summer Camp, while youth programs such as the XArcade, Leadership Program, and social events reach older children. Youth athletics, including basketball, soccer, and swimming, provide recreation and sports experience for hundreds of area children. The Y is also invested in the lifelong safety of the youngest members of our community through its SPLASH drowning prevention program, which ensures that every kindergartner and second-grader is taught water safety and swimming. In 2017, over 300 children participated and finished the program with an array of water safety skills from entering the water safely to

Paul H. Broyhill Wellness Center Offerings By Koren Gillespie

Children’s programs

passing the swim test. The 2018 SPLASH season kicks off in March, and Betz anticipates another strong year of providing young swimmers with invaluable lifetime skills. The Y trains lifeguards who serve both on-site and throughout the community, and training and certification will be conducted in May. Betz is also enthusiastic about the opportunities the Y provides to the community’s senior members. The Y’s Outreach helps seniors prevent falls through the Moving for Better Balance training, supplies meals and socialization to homebound senior adults, and refers seniors to needed services. Both seniors and other community members can benefit from the YMCA’s Chronic Disease Prevention and Management programs. Currently there are four programs available: Blood Pressure Self-Monitoring, Enhanced Fitness for the Elderly, Delay the Disease for those with Parkinson’s, and the Live Strong at the Y for Cancer Survivors. Participants in all of these programs showed improvement in a wide variety of areas, so the YMCA staff is eager to see similar results with the new Diabetes Prevention program beginning in May 2108. “It’s a CDC approved curriculum,” Betz says, and will be taught in partnership with local doctors who will help with referrals. In addition to these valuable, even life-changing opportunities, 2018 at the Williams YMCA promises a host of fun and games for everyone. Registration is on-going for spring youth soccer and for April’s cheerleading clinic and adult dodgeball tournament. New fitness equipment in the wellness center and throughout the facility provides both new and veteran YMCA members with great opportunities in 2018 and beyond. Because the Y is for everyone, scholarships and subsidies are available for those who might not be able to join otherwise, and in March, members who refer a friend will earn a free month’s membership. There is never a bad time to be part of the Y, but 2018 will a particularly good time for everyone to experience all the Williams YMCA has to offer. n To find out more about these and the many other resources and opportunities, contact the Williams YMCA of Avery County at (828) 737-5500 or check out the website at for information and schedules.


o matter your interest or current fitness level, the Paul H. Broyhill Wellness Center offers multiple opportunities to get active and healthy. Here’s a quick glance: General Fitness Amenities and Equipment The center’s upper level contains stationary bicycles, elliptical machines, treadmills, stair climbers, rowers, and more. There is also an indoor track upstairs. The lower level contains a weight room, basketball/volleyball court, and an area for racquetball. Staff members are always present to explain what all exercise machines are used for and how they work. They can also suggest work out routines unique to you—just ask! Aquatics With a large lap pool and smaller therapy pool, the center offers: Lane swimming / walking; Water Fitness – low impact or basic aerobics; Aquatic programs for specific groups such as prenatal, arthritis, and more; Family swim (during certain hours) and children’s pool birthday parties; and Swim Lessons Classes With highly trained instructors, the center’s current fitness class schedule includes Cycling (spin), Kickboxing, Yoga (basic, beginner’s, and chair), and Zumba. Additionally, they offer specialized classes such as Body Challenge, which is a total body workout in one hour, as well as QuickFit, RowFit, Stretch-N-Flex, Triple Threat, Postnatal Fitness, CardioSculpt, CX Works, and Silver Sneakers. Personal Training Anyone can access personal training services at the Wellness Center – membership is not required. This service is also available for individuals or small groups. Online personal training is another option through Trainerize software. For youth ages 12 to 18, the center’s Youth Strength and Development program focuses on strength and conditioning for athletic enhancement and to improve their overall fitness level. So Much More In addition to the above listed services, the center is home to CrossFit Boone. On a more clinical level, this facility also houses Thrive (a program for chronic disease management through wellness), Parkinson’s Boxing Class, Blood Pressure Clinic, Prevent Type 2 Diabetes, Cooking School, Tai Chi and nutrition consultations with registered dietitians. For more details, including pricing or available hours, visit:, call (828) 266-1060, or stop by the front desk at 232 Boone Heights Drive in Boone. CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Spring 2018 —


Your one-stop-shop for property management and rentals.

Inset: Men’s Basketball “Mountaineers” at NC Senior Games State Finals, Photo by Main: Pickleball, Photo by

Let the (Senior) Games Begin!


By Elizabeth Baird Hardy


his spring and summer, across all 100 North Carolina counties, an array of talented individuals will showcase their athletic prowess. They will compete for medals for their families and communities, and for themselves. They will share much with other athletes who participate in similar competitions, but they will have something that many of those athletes do not: more birthdays. One of the wonderful things about physical activity is that it can be part of life for people of any age. The Senior Games celebrate the value of sport throughout life with competitions featuring athletes 50 and older (or better). The North Carolina Senior Games is the largest Senior Olympic Program in the United States. Established in 1982, the Games encompass regional events that take place in spring and early summer, leading up to the statewide competition in the fall. Qualifiers from the state competition can advance to the National Event in 2019, which will be held in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The High Country Senior Games will take place May 1-June 15, and will welcome competitors from Avery, Ashe, Caldwell, Watauga, and Yancey counties. Participants must be at least 50 years old and must be residents for at least three consecutive months of the year. Competitors are grouped by age in five-year age increments and men and women compete in their own categories as well. Both team and individual events are featured. The Senior Games include a wide variety of sports familiar in high school, college, and Olympic athletics: track and field, basketball, tennis, and swimming, just to name a few. But athletes can also enter in events like shuffleboard, croquet, cornhole, horseshoes, and the popular pickleball. In addition to athletic feats of skill, the Senior Games events include SilverArts to celebrate the creative spirit. Categories for SilverArts are cheerleading, literary arts, visual arts, performing arts, and heritage arts. Like athletic activities, these events help seniors to stay physically, mentally, and socially active. All of the events in the Senior Games aim toward the program’s goal of keeping the body, mind and spirit fit while enjoying the company of friends, family, spectators and volunteers. To find out more about the North Carolina Senior Games, contact your local Senior Center, or visit the official website at The website features the official rule book, information on all 53 regional events around the state, and much more to help potential athletes and spectators take part in this year’s games. n



Peace of Mind

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Highfield Joins Sugar Mountain Tennis Staff


harged with a mandate to enhance the teaching offerings at the Sugar Mountain Tennis Club, longtime professional Gene Highfield has spent a lifetime preparing for just such an opportunity. And the public and municipally run complex of six Har-Tru clay tennis courts looks like a perfect fit. Born and raised in St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands, Highfield grew up with a racquet in his hands. “I started playing tennis when I was three years old,” he said, “and I haven’t stopped playing since.” Highfield was competing seemingly from the get-go, rising to a national ranking at the juniors’ level. His path eventually led to a tennis scholarship at the University of Oklahoma, where he earned his Bachelor of Arts Degree. Representing the U.S. Virgin Islands, Highfield played 10 years in international Davis Cup competition. Highfield, a self-proclaimed doubles specialist, won the United States Tennis Association Doubles Championship three times in the Open division as the number one ranked player in the country. He won two more “Gold Balls” competing in the Men’s “Thirties” later in his career.

“I know a thing or two about Tennis Doubles, so if you would like to become a better doubles player, I am the guy to come to,” he said without reservation. His game and competitive philosophy were shaped by many people over his formative years. “I just loved all the different styles of play from most tennis professionals of my era,” he said. “The clay court players style to the grass court player—both very different styles of tennis and fun to watch. The end goal is to win and they both had different ways to reach that goal, and that is winning the match.” Highfield brings valuable club experience to Sugar Mountain, including stints as tennis director at the Heron Bay Club in Coral Springs and Hawks Landing, both in Florida. Locally, Highfield recently served as director of tennis at the Yonahlossee Club. His hopes and goals as teaching director at Sugar Mountain are clear cut. “I want every player that comes in my path to reach their full potential,” he said. “We’re here to promote the game of tennis and to take beginner, intermediate, and advanced players to the next level.” Highfield will offer private lessons by appointment, but group clinics will be the linchpin of his teaching schedule. “I will be giving Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced Clinics to offer all the different levels of tennis to the Sugar Mountain community and the public at

large,” he assured with an emphasis on making his students more competitive. “I want to make sure all players can transition their tennis game from the baseline to the net to finish off the point. Tennis players need a game plan to construct and win a point. They need to do this over and over to win a tennis match. This is how tennis matches are won.” In addition to a full slate of clinics, Highfield will host a number of sanctioned tournament events at Sugar Mountain. The Sugar Mountain Junior Summer Championships are scheduled for June 29th through July 1st. The Sugar Mountain Adult Sweet Summer Slam is slated a month later August 3rd through August 5th. And the popular Senior Mountain Cup will be held at Sugar Friday, July 20. The date and location of the Mountain Cup Finals will be announced later this spring.” “We think Gene is just the professional to complete the offerings of the Sugar Mountain Tennis Club,” said Susan Phillips, village manager of the village that incorporated back in 1995. “We want everyone to know that our facilities, whether for tennis or golf, are here for everyone to enjoy.” Highfield is a resident of Valle Crucis, where he’s raising three children with his wife Rachel. n

Stop by for great allergy remedies!

Tom’s Custom Golf Home to Titleist & Footjoy 828.260.3107 107 Estatoa Ave. Newland / 828-733-0061 CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Spring 2018 —



Call of the Corn: Family Legacy in Whiskey By Jim Leggett

Left: Eighth generation whiskey family pro Austin samples master distiller dad Brian Call's mash. Right: Austin Call and dad Brian Call pay tribute to their kinfolk's portrait in front of "The Bull," a custom 2,100 gallon still designed by Brian


ention Wilkes County, North Carolina, and images of moonshiners tending copper kettles in hideaway leafy hollows, of fast cars hauling ‘shine down dirt roads at a hundred miles an hour—the law, ever hot on their tails—come to mind. Small wonder folks hereabouts know so much on the legends and lore of Prohibition era illicit distillation of whiskey. Many veteran residents trace ‘shine tales and memories back to their grandparents, whose grandparents before them made whiskey in times when whiskey was about the only available legal tender. Splendidly mountainous Wilkes County is still revered as the “Moonshine Capital of the World,” a land of cool springs threaded by backroads nicknamed Thunder Roads, known to local boys Junior Johnson and Willie Clay Call (related to famous Tennessee distiller Reverend Daniel Call) who were proclaimed “uncatchable” by the law. Fast Cars An’ Prison Bars Former U.S. Treasury ATF agent Joseph E. Carter (1928-2018)—the same agent who arrested Junior Johnson at his daddy’s still, not in his car—tried many

a time to catch Willie Clay Call in the 1950s and ‘60s. But Government Issued cars were no match for moonshiners’ rigs, some concealing highly modified Cadillac V8 ex-ambulance motors under the hood. Carter rants in his thrilling memoir Shortcuts to Justice (1999), “You know I couldn’t catch him in his souped-up hot rod liquor car and me driving that . . . government purchased Mickey Mouse mechanical miscarriage called an automobile.” Willie Clay’s baby blue ‘61 Chrysler New Yorker, on display at Call Family Distillers, was good for 180 MPH; bullet holes verify a colorful history. Asked to find period cars for a reenactment moonshine movie, agent Carter stopped by to visit the former moonshiner. “Willie Call was very friendly and extremely cooperative,” Carter writes. “Something about him seemed familiar and I mentioned this fact to him.” “By God,”  Willie Call had said, “I ought to look familiar to you. I went to prison . . . and you’re the son-of-a-bitch who sent me . . .” Carter continues, “I had seized his brand new 1960 Dodge liquor car with all kinds of stuff on it including the fastest

racing engine I had ever driven. Oh, yes! I loved that car! After I seized it and it was forfeited to the U.S. Government it was assigned to me as an official investigative car. It was the fastest car I have even seen. So hot that hell wouldn’t hold it.” Bygones soon forgotten the former adversaries became friends, so Willie Call said he’d arrange a reunion with legendary race car driver Junior Johnson. “I had not seen Junior since I arrested him for running a monster still many years ago,” Carter reminisced. As a peace offering Carter took along a little model copper distillery to give to Junior, telling him it was to replace the one he blew up when he was arrested, and asking if Junior remembered him. “I won’t ever forget, I thought of you every night I was in prison!” Junior quipped before escorting his guests around his Ingle Hollow home and racing headquarters—the exact area where Junior was arrested. A reunion photograph shows Willie Clay, Joe Carter and Junior Johnson— shows a jar of clear moonshine perched atop cases of Ball Regular ½ Gallon Mason Jars, a brace of sleek 1940 Ford “liquor” cars in the background. CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Spring 2018 —


Left: Master Distiller Brian Call pours a tasting dram of The Willie Clay Call UNCATCHABLE 70 proof Apple Pie Sour Mash Moonshine. Center: Brian Call’s father Willie Clay Call proved UNCATCHABLE in this Chrysler New Yorker fitted with heavy duty suspension, a switch to kill taillights and super tuned engine. Right: 500-gallon copper still that Brian’s grandpa ran, destroyed by revenuers in the woods, capable of making 80 gallons a day.

Dan Call and Jack Daniel During the 1800s the boy Jasper “Jack” Daniel, runt of the family, fed up with teasing from older siblings and stepmother of questionable affections, ran away from home, finding sanctuary at the nearby Call Farm, home of Rev. Daniel Call and his teetotaler wife Mary Jane whose farm sits on the outskirts of Lynchburg, TN. Jack began working at Daniel Call’s general store behind which the Lutheran minister ran a still, one of hundreds dotting the rolling countryside back then. It was here that Dan Call instructed Jack on the art of turning corn into whiskey. Rev. Call’s style and substance have influenced numerous generations of distillers. But it is Willie Clay Call’s characteristic recipes that have found their way into today’s Call Family creations.  Seventh Generation I’m sipping a dram from a Mason jar labeled Willie Clay Call’s THE UNCATCHABLE Apple Pie sour mash moonshine – 70 Proof.  An etching of the late Willie Clay’s face graces the screw cap seal. Call Family Distillers – 7 Generations – Batch 6 proclaims a side label.  Now here’s a honey colored delight, smooth and mellow, and made right next door in “The Bull,” a 2,100 gallon direct steam injection still custom designed by


Willie Clay’s son Brian, a seventh generation distiller, so you know he knows the craft. As a boy Brian relished helping his dad deliver illicit brandy, likely in one of three liquor cars kept polished and displayed in the distillery mash room. “I was helping make a delivery one morning, lifting cases from the trunk, but I came up too quick, gashed my head open on the trunk lid,” Brian remembers. “Pop looks at me and he says ‘son, one thing you gotta remember, never get excited.’” Seductive aromas of gently fermenting mash fill the air as Brian nods toward an old-fashioned copper pot still. “My grandpa ran that one way back deep in the woods, until revenuers found it and took axes to bust it up. This ol’ 500-gallon beauty could make 70 to 80 gallons of moonshine a day!” Brian relates how young Jack Daniel was already making whiskey with Reverend Dan Call during the 1860s, “But when the temperance movement swept through America—saying a preacher shouldn’t be making whiskey—Reverend Dan chose to stay with the ministry, selling his stake in the distillery to Jack Daniel.” Climbing a step ladder I dip a finger into a bubbling fermenting vat, tasting the sweet mash. Sampling too, Austin, Brian’s 20-year-old son, tells me he’s

headed to college to learn distilling! “Most people ask me why I’m going to school to learn to make alcohol when my dad already knows how. Yes, my dad does make great liquor, but there is so much more to it… so many different varieties of alcohol to make… and I want to bring those back to the distillery.” He nods approvingly. “Sure I’ve helped my father run the still, but I’ve never ran it by myself. “The main reason I want  to pursue this degree is to provide more knowledge about alcohol and to provide different types such as bourbon, whiskey, and gin. I hope with the knowledge I’ll be able to expand our product inventory, provide a wider selection for our customers and preserve our Call Family Heritage.” Assorted photographs line the walls: 1940s Ford liquor cars, Willie Clay, moonshiner Junior Johnson and more. From an antique portrait over the bar, stern-faced Reverend Dan and Mary Jane Call keep disapproving eyes over an otherwise welcoming gift shop and whiskey tasting room. As Brian and I saluted both over an “Uncatchable” toast, I do suspect I saw them smile. n Call Family Distillers’ distillery and tasting room is located at 1611 Industrial Dr. Wilkesboro, NC 28697. Visit for hours of operation and directions, or to book a tour or event.

Tuscan-style Villa Nove Winery & Vineyards of Watauga Lake Winery

W I N E High Country Wines: Taste the Difference By Steve York


ey wine lovers! Here’s a quick quiz for you: What do Tuscany, Bordeaux, Finger Lakes, Barcelona, Napa Valley, Yadkin Valley, the High Country and many other wine producing regions all have in common…besides wine, of course? Answer: The thing they have in common is the thing that makes them different. Some of these wine regions are legendary. Some have earned acclaim within the past few decades. And some—like our own High Country wine region— are only recently emerging onto the scene; still honing their craft, gaining respect, winning regional awards and winning hearts. But one distinction they all share is…they are all distinctive. They all have their own distinctive geographies, elevations, climates, soils and seasons— growing conditions collectively known in winemaking parlance as their own terroir. In fact, some U.S. wine regions are so geographically distinctive that they qualify for an exclusive AVA (American Viticulture Area) designation. But there’s another important distinction when comparing wines and wine regions. There are “estate grown” wines and there are non-estate grown wines. Estate grown wines are made from grapes actually grown onsite or nearby a winery, that are owned or controlled by that winery, and that are produced and bottled ex-

clusively onsite by that winery. There are also “single-vineyard” wines. These are wines made from local grapes not grown, owned or managed by the winery. However, they are produced onsite and are estate-bottled. There are also blends that may include a mix of estate, single-vineyard and/or grapes from within a state or outside of that region. And then there are many wineries around the country that predominantly buy their grapes or juices from other regions and then produce and bottle their wines onsite. So, when you’re visiting wineries or tasting new wines, you may want to check the labels for these distinctions. Here in North Carolina, there are three primary viticulture regions: the eastern/coastal area, the central/Yadkin Valley area and the western mountains. And many of these wineries produce either some or all estate grown wines. Eastern and coastal wineries will often feature the sweeter and very unique native Muscadine and Scuppernong grape blends along with other traditional wines. Yadkin Valley wineries have achieved notable success with wines such as their Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Viognier, and Chambourcin. Biltmore Estates in Asheville is a premier mountain winemaker following the vision of the estate’s founder, George Vanderbilt. Its first commercial bottling was in 1984

with the unveiling of their estate grown Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon wines. Newest on the scene is our own High Country AVA group of wineries which connects three regions of northwestern North Carolina, northeastern Tennessee and southwest Virginia at elevations of 2,000 feet and above. Within that AVA are four wineries who are enjoying a growing acclaim and following. They are Grandfather Mountain Winery & Vineyards, Linville Falls Winery and Vineyards, and Banner Elk Winery & Villa; all on the Watauga/Avery, North Carolina side. And in neighboring Butler, Tennessee is Watauga Lake Winery & Villa Nove Vineyards. These four wineries also make up the branded High Country Wine Trail, a winetasting roadtrip designed for those who love visiting beautiful mountain destinations and trying new wines while enjoying a variety of music and entertainment events at each stop. And, all along that Wine Trail, you’ll be introduced to distinctive High Country wines. So, let’s look at some key elements that help make these wines uniquely identifiable from those produced “off the mountain” and elsewhere. One obvious factor is our mineral-rich soils. Depending on the exact location, some soil chemistries here can be far superior to lowland soils, and even more like those CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Spring 2018 —


A proud estate grown red blend wine from Linville Falls Winery

Grandfather Mountain Vineyard’s special Zinfandel & Malbec blend

Picturesque Villa & Winery setting of Banner Elk Winery

found in the rich Napa Valley region. Another contributor is our dramatic and variable elevations. Steep hillside slopes allow for better drainage, deeper roots and hardier vines that can withstand harsher mountain winter weather conditions while consistently producing healthy grapes. Add to that our cooler nights. Lower nighttime temperatures help lock in the grape’s inherent vibrant flavor, allowing it to ripen to a fullerbodied grape over a slower period of time. In fact, at some higher elevations where overnight lows can actually dip to freezing or below, savvy winemakers can harvest those frozen grapes to produce a highly-prized “ice wine.” Ice wines tend to be much sweeter because the grape’s natural sugars are truly frozen-in. Although our growing season is shorter than at lower elevations, area grape growers and winemakers have identified those grapes that grow and mature very well here in the mountains. Some of the red hybrids which have proven to thrive at our higher elevations include Marechal Foch, Marquette and Noiret. Notably successful whites include Riesling and Seyval Blanc. You’ll

see these and many other grapes noted and blended in the rich and wide varieties of specialty and traditional wines featured at our highland wineries. What else helps distinguish wine selection at our High Country wineries? How about fruits, berries and spices? Yes, apples, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and even mulberries are common in these mountains. And some of them have either become standalone wines and spirits or are blended into other grape-based wines. Blueberry wines are featured at several of our local wineries. Both cherry and strawberry wines are popular choices, along with incredible sangria mixes featured at some wineries on Saturdays. Hard apple ciders or apple blends are also available. And then there are the fortified wines which often feature a brandy mix that gives the wine a little more kick. So, while you’re enjoying your next local wine tasting, be sure to include those specialty grape and fruit wines on the menu. These tasty treats are just some of what makes High Country wines so unique. Climate, soil, sunlight, elevation, select grapes and the craft of winemak-

ing...these are factors common to all wine regions. But it’s the regional differences which make for the distinctive differences in wines. And, nowhere is that more notable than here in our High Country AVA region. Whether from estate grown grapes or other blends, High Country wines are inherently, necessarily and deliciously distinctive from wines anywhere else. That distinction is one that is capturing increasing attention from the wine industry and wine lovers across all regions. It is also capturing more travel and tourism dollars as those wine lovers are attracted to our local wineries in increasing numbers each year. With more tourism come more visitors who become seasonal or permanent residents. And that gives another boost to our real estate, building and overall economies. So, any way you serve them, High Country wines are making a big difference in our region. A difference you can taste. n



Collecting Color from the Vine with High Country Native Bethany Kimmel By Julie Farthing


hen Bethany Kimmel graduated from Avery County High School, she dusted the High Country dirt from her shoes and headed west for an internship opportunity with Alpinist Magazine in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. While there, she spent four years working at a wine shop and learning about world wine regions. Intrigued by the nuances of the Oregon Pinot Noirs, she enrolled in a two-year degree program in winemaking at Chemeketa Community College and then apprenticed at a number of wine producers, including Oregon’s Soter Vineyards in Carlton and Chapter 24 in the Willamette Valley; at Kosta Browne in Sonoma; and at Hunters in Marlborough, New Zealand. Kimmel then did what very few women do: she fell in love with a grape. No, not a noble grape like Merlot, Syrah, or Viognier—Kimmel fell head over heels for a grape that the Duke of Burgundy banned in 1935 because its vines were so prolific that they were displacing ground dedicated to its more favored cousin, Pinot Noir. The culprit? The gorgeous Gamay grape. “I was immediately in love with its freshness, acidity, and purity of fruit,” says Kimmel. Although Gamay is

grown extensively in Beaujolais and the Loire valley in France, in 1988, it was introduced into a small vineyard in Oregon. Thirty years later Kimmel is at the helm of creating her own Gamay wine. Although Kimmel realizes the science in winemaking, she understands its poetry as well. She sees the ebb and flow of the fruit’s connection to nature and the human spirit. Her webpage is named in honor of the original color collector, a mouse named Frederick who lives in a children’s book by Leo Lionni. “While all the other mice gather corn, nuts and wheat for winter, Frederick sits quietly staring at the meadow. He is gathering sun rays and colors and words. He is stocking up for the long, grey winter too. When food runs scarce for the mice in their hideout in the stones, it is ultimately Frederick’s supplies that sustain them. This is the essence of wine. It is the intangible beauty of a season gathered and shared to enhance life’s richness,” says Kimmel. Similar to the story, when the vigorous grape vine is stressed, resulting in high levels of acidity, Kimmel comes to the rescue pampering each cluster by hand, which helps to produce a wine

with gorgeous fruity and floral notes. Think cherry and raspberry, violets and peonies. I’m sparing you the science part of wine making because this ultimately is a love story about collecting the beauty around us. Kimmel’s first commercial vintage was in 2015, and she has been producing 100 cases every year since. In a recent blog, Matt Franco of MFW Rare Wine Ltd. in NYC had nothing but glowing remarks about Kimmel’s Color Collector Gamay Noir: “The Color Collector Gamay Noir: “The Most Exciting Oregon Wine I’ve Tasted This Year. A race car of a Gamay Noir with blazingly bright aromas and flawless, finely detailed red fruits that is as persistent as it is elegant.” Kimmel is ready for her next adventure in winemaking. “Because the heart and soul of winemaking is in the vineyard, I am looking for the right piece of land on which to grow. Someday I hope to be able to care for every detail of my wine from spring bud break to bottling.” Color Collector Gamay Noir is available for purchase from her webpage and specialty wine stores. n CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Spring 2018 —


n style with a gourmet flair souther

Banner Elk Location:

Boone Location:

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



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visit: 116— Spring 2018 CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE

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(Served on our homemade bread)

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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 –




Proceeds support the Avery County Humane Society

Visit our tasting room Wine by the glass Visit our Craft Beer Cave

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

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We are excited to introduce new menu selections & preparations Music on the Veranda is back beginning May 13! Ask us about special holiday events, and theme and wine dinners! Like us on Facebook  Follow us on Instagram & Twitter: @TheGreenParkInn  828.414.9230  9329 Valley Boulevard, Blowing Rock


Monday-Saturday: 5-Close Amazing Magic Night every Thursday, all Winter! 161 Howard Street, Boone 828-386-1201 |


WINE Mother Nature’s Assault on Wine W

hen my wife and I bought our house on Beech Mountain in 2003, we wore out our snow shovel clearing our drive of the more than 100 inches of snow the region typically received, and average February temperatures were in the 20s. Ray’s Weather Almanac reports that snowfall on Beech this year dropped to 35 inches through February, and the average temperature this February was 38.8 degrees. While the plot of metrics over time shows ups and downs from one year to the next, the general direction of the changes is unmistakable. Globally, 2016 and 2017 were among the hottest years on record and are projected by different scientists to steadily increase by 1.8 to 6.6 degrees F by the end of the century. Without getting into the nittygritty of the causes of global warming, the impact of climate change on wine production is irrefutable. Warmer daytime and nighttime temperatures, increased atmospheric carbon dioxide, thinner ozone layers and dramatic changes in weather have had, and will increasingly have, a profound effect on what wines can be produced where, the quality and characteristics of those wines and what it will cost to produce those wines. These impacts occur all throughout the production cycle. Warmer winters and springs produce earlier bud breaks, which are susceptible to killing frosts that curtail vineyard yields. Hotter summer days are drier days, as normal rainy episodes move further north. Furthermore, hot temperatures dry out the soil and dehydrate the vines, causing hydric stress that can result in “stuck” photosynthesis and stunted grape development. Hot, dry summers cause uneven growth spurts, and harvests have to be advanced before pH levels and sugars go through the roof and acidity disappears. Pick too early and grape tannins may not be mature and wines will be unbalanced; pick too late and wines can lack

freshness, be unstable and susceptible to spoiled aromas. Varietal nuances can also be victims of vineyard heat stroke. While bell pepper aromas are suppressed (a good thing for the most part), certain other desirable olfactory impressions may decrease as vineyard temperature increases, such as peppery aromas of Syrah wines, and unwelcome and atypical aromas such as figs and coconut may be introduced. Parched landscape introduces the risk of catastrophic fires. Over the past several years, devastating fires took their toll on vineyards and wineries in Chile, Australia, Spain, Portugal, California and Oregon. What wasn’t destroyed by fire was tainted by smoke. Hotter atmosphere and recordbreaking ocean temperatures create a witch’s brew for increasing frequency and strength not only of tropical storms, but floods and hailstorms, which last year wiped out 50-100 percent of many Burgundy vineyards as weather systems circled clockwise back over Europe. Over the past several decades, radiation has been increasing, thanks to changes in the ozone layer. This increase has averaged about one to two percent per decade but up to eight percent at higher altitudes. While this exposure to grapes enhances aromatic and flavor nuances of red grapes, its effects negatively impact white grape flavors and their wines’ aging ability. Studies have modeled future vineyard impacts to the end of the century and show that if the current and anticipated trends continue, flowering in Bordeaux will be advanced by 15 days in the near future and by a month at the end of the century, producing harvests in early September by 2050 and by mid-August at the end of the century. Already, harvests in Bordeaux and Châteauneuf du Pape occur about two and four weeks earlier than in the past, respectively. Such accelerated cycles are challenging for the production of quality terroir wines. The first and most obvious impact that we will all see is that wines will cost more because volumes are down

By Ren Manning

around the globe. In 2017, France, Italy and Spain produced their smallest crops in more than 50 years, down by about 25 percent. Around half of the world’s wine is produced in those three countries. Lower volumes lead inexorably to higher prices. California and other wine regions are raising their prices, too, under cover of those price increases. Still, wine producers are being hit on their bottom line and so are looking to agricultural science for ways to mitigate the adverse effects of climate change. Grafting vines onto different rootstocks that elongate the growing cycle and choosing variety clones that mature more slowly without changing wine typicity are solutions that can delay ripeness by 7-10 days and require less water. Including different, later maturing varieties with higher acidic characteristics into grape blends will have positive impacts. Some producers in Rioja and Toro are blending Portuguese varieties into their wines with good results. Other vineyard practices, such as later pruning, better canopy management and training vines into bush (gobelet) rather than trellised configurations can decrease hydric stress, delay maturation and shield grapes from sunburn. Higher latitude and higher altitude locations can be cultivated to extend the vegetative cycle and preserve freshness in grapes. Even if climate change continues unabated as scientific models project, growers have many options they can pursue. New vineyards at higher latitudes and altitudes will have to be established, plant material will need to be modified and vineyard practices will have to change. By 2050, Germany may be the new Burgundy, British Columbia may be the new Napa Valley, and Banner Elk may be the new Tuscany. One thing is for sure—wine prices are going up, so buy now! n

Ren Manning is co-owner of Erick’s Cheese and Wine in Banner Elk, and has a Level 2 diploma from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust. He organizes the wine education program and teaches summer wine classes at Erick’s. CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Spring 2018 —


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Located in the heart of Banner Elk, the Sorrento’s dining complex offers authentic Italian, farm-to-table, and international cuisine. Enjoy indoor and outdoor entertainment, stocked bars, a cigar lounge, sports viewing, private dining, art galleries, a family-friendly arcade and so much more! Call us for all your catering and event needs.

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828-898-5214 120 — Spring 2018 CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE

The Homegrown Talent Behind Stonewalls By Kim S. Davis

Scott Garland’s first culinary instructor Penny VonCanon is grateful to Scott for making teaching special.


t is satisfying to get as much as you give. It is inspirational to get back more than you ever anticipated. That is what Avery County has received from one of our most focused and dedicated students, and the many teachers who impacted him along the way. Scott Garland, owner of Stonewalls in Banner Elk with partner Tim Heschke, was able to not only achieve his dreams, but to come home, share his experience, and give back to those who are just embarking on their career journeys. Many students do not enter high school knowing exactly which classes they need to take to accomplish their career goals, but Scott entered Avery County High School as a sophomore knowing his career direction. He began cooking as a child and after receiving Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking book at the age of twelve, he knew he was going to be a chef. One of the reasons for choosing to move back to Linville when he was a high school sophomore was the strong Avery High Home Economics Department that focused on the culinary arts. Avery High School’s Career Technical Education (CTE) program provided

Scott with internships and career awareness activities after he completed all possible courses offered in culinary arts. Additionally, he knew he would need to be familiar with French, specifically culinary terminology. One of Scott’s greatest mentors was his Avery High French teacher, Dean Taylor. Mr. Taylor co-owned a restaurant in Montezuma, Le Pierrefonds, providing Scott with an opportunity to work with a chef in an enterprise that was co-run by students. Additionally, Scott gained real world experience as he worked his way up from washing dishes to line cook at his cousin’s restaurant in Linville, The Tartan. In the classroom, Mr. Taylor provided Scott with an individualized learning experience that aligned with his need to understand and read Culinary French while Culinary teacher Penny VonCanon supported his creativity and leadership in the kitchen. Scott took full advantage of the differentiated learning offered by the CTE department and was accepted to the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in Hyde Park, NY at the end of his junior year in high school. He spent his senior year working and taking classes that would prepare him for suc-

cess in the very competitive program at the CIA. Scott was the first graduate of Avery High School to attend the CIA where he was the youngest student in the program at the time. While at the CIA, Scott continued coming back to Avery County and working at The Eseeola Lodge during the summers where another influential mentor, John Blackburn encouraged him to learn the business side of the culinary industry. So, after graduating from the CIA, Scott earned a degree in Hotel/Restaurant Management from the University of New Haven, CT, with a double major in Club and Resort Administration. Scott continued to work while in school to learn as much as he could about the culinary arena (back of the house), and the service and business end of the food and beverage industry (front of the house). After college, he worked at Westlake Country Club in Augusta, GA where he met another influential advisor, Martha May, who brought him back to his family and southern roots as the first chef at Westglow Spa. Two years later he accepted a position at the Biltmore Forest Country Club in Asheville to hone his




Left: Scott Garland inspires the Avery High Culinary Arts students during a work-based learning luncheon he hosted for them at Stonewalls. Right: Teacher Penny VonCanon and student Scott Garland in the culinary classroom

front of the house skills. While there, Scott was introduced to the Cecil family (owners of the Biltmore Estate) and they brought him over as a member of the team that opened the Inn on Biltmore Estate. He quickly moved up the ladder from Director of Banquet Promotion to Director of Food and Beverage Outlets. He remained a part of the Biltmore brand for twelve years before a brief stint at Caesars, Horseshoe Casino in Cincinnati, OH. While in Ohio, he felt a strong pull to return closer to his home in Avery County. So he came back and started looking for business opportunities in the Asheville and Blowing Rock areas before realizing his greatest prospect was even closer to home. The renowned restaurant where he went to dinner before his senior prom was on the market. After many hours of research and discussion, and a six-week transition period that allowed regular customers to get comfortable with the conversion, Scott became the new owner of Stonewalls Restaurant. Once the restaurant was his, he was given a six-month provisional license to operate but he had to bring three pages worth of violations up to code. Everything in the kitchen had to be redone—floors, ceilings, walls, plumbing and equipment. But, as is Scott’s way, he did not just bring it to code, he ex-


ceeded requirements to ensure energy efficiency, and sanitation and safety. The new floor and integrated baseboards are made of an industrial silicon epoxy with no seems. The stove was updated from propane to natural gas. All lighting was updated to LED, and a new energy efficient dishwashing system, tankless hot water heater, and walk-in cooler were added. The bar has been transformed with the help of a professional design firm and now offers wine on tap. This innovation is nitrogen driven and allows the first and last glasses to be just as fresh. The attention to detail continues with separate refrigeration areas for white wine and for red wine. A CO2 driven chiller ensures glasses are at the appropriate temperature, a cutting-edge glass rinsing system guarantees clean glassware, and a full array of wine, craft beer and spirits are available, including a large selection of bourbon by the glass. Scott has been able to keep the original charm of the traditional menu selections while embracing the local fresh movement. To ensure customers are provided with the freshest ingredients available, all specials are made in small batches; Scott would rather run out than have ingredients sit on the shelves. During the season, he purchases the produce for all weekend specials from the Ban-

ner Elk Farmers Market vendors across the street and their flowers for the front desk. This practice not only delights the customer, but it helps the local farmers and growers. In addition to purchasing local ingredients, Stonewalls supports community organizations through participation in events such as the Chili Cook-Off to benefit the Avery County Humane Society (taking first place both years in the professional category). They support the school system, the summer theater, and the Williams YMCA through advertising, sponsorship and promotional activities, and are members of the LeesMcRae College Presidents Circle. More directly, Scott has led workshops for high school career technical students and recently hosted the current Culinary Arts and Hospitality students from Avery High School for a four-course meal to provide them with career awareness and some of the skills enhancement that inspired him to reach his culinary goals. By now you have probably guessed that more is to come from Scott Garland and Stonewalls. As he says, “You have to keep reinventing yourself, and inspiring the customer.” n Kim Seymour-Davis is the Director of Career Technical Education for Avery County Schools and an avid food enthusiast.



Gideon Ridge Inn Starting with fresh quality ingredients is the key to enjoyable cuisine. The local food movement helps the supplier and the customer because the results are better fare. Although not all ingredients can come from close by, they can still be the freshest available, resulting in a better dining experience. Olive trees for example, need a subtropical climate with mild winters and long dry summers. That definitely does not describe Banner Elk. However, sourcing Olive Oil from importers with growers in both hemispheres allows for the freshest oil since it begins to age as soon as it is crushed. Quality olive oil is imported from the different hemispheres every six months depending on their growing seasons and is stored short term using proper methods. Like fine wine, exposure to light and warm temperatures deteriorate both the flavor and health benefits of olive oil, as does exposure to the air. Additionally, high quality olive oil can be used to not only fight cancer and heart disease with high levels of polyphenols (antioxidants), but is better to cook with than bulk grocery store versions because it has a higher smoke point. Stonewalls Restaurant has a very close relationship with their supplier of fresh olive oils and vinegars as Banner Elk Olive Oil and Balsamics was once a part of the restaurant. After Scott Garland and Tim Heschke took ownership, they sold the business to Erika Siegel. The shop is now located in a charming house just a stone’s throw from the restaurant and run by another alumnus of the Avery High School Culinary Arts program, Amanda Siegel. Visit Banner Elk Olive Oil and Balsamics and taste for yourself the difference in olive oil that arrives fresh from the growers and is stored in temperature controlled all stainless-steel light and oxygen free containers. Fresh and healthy extra virgin and infused, there is an oil for every taste and recipe at this locally owned purveyor of fine oils and vinegars. n

10 wonderfully comfortable bedrooms with evening turndown service Serving Dinner Tuesday - Saturday from 5:30pm - 8pm Reservations Required Dining & Cocktails Alfresco and the view... 202 Gideon Ridge Road, Blowing Rock, NC, 28605 / 828-295-3644


Lunch: 11 AM to 3 PM. | Dinner: 5 PM to 10 PM. Sunday Brunch: 11 AM to 3 PM. 143 Wonderland Trail, Blowing Rock, NC 28605 / 828-295-4008 CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Spring 2018 —


A boutique bed & breakfast in historic downtown Blowing Rock, serving breakfast every day, lunch Saturday, brunch Sunday, and dinner Tuesday thru Saturday with fresh, locally sourced, New American Cuisine.

The High Country’s Premier | 828.295.3487 239 Sunset Drive, Blowing Rock NC 28604

Our 6th generation family farm makes farm- fresh cheese on site from our own happy dairy cows. Our farm store also offers other local goods! 828-756-8166 Fri-Sat, 10am-6pm, year-round 19456 US 221 North (.5 miles south of Linville Caverns) Steak & Seafood Restaurant Marion, NC 28752

The High Country’s Premier Steak & Seafood Restaurant The High Country’s Premier Steak & Seafood Restaurant

STEAKS PRIME RIB SEAFOOD Dinner Nightly from 5pm Brunch 10am-2pm Friday, Saturday & Sunday



344Dinner Shawneehaw Ave South Nightly from 5pm Dinner Nightly from 5pm 828-898-5550 Brunch 10am-2pm Brunch 10am-2pm Friday,Sunday Saturday & Sunday

Martini & Meatloaf Mondays $7 House Martinis Comfort Food Specials


Tasting Tuesdays Complimentary Wine Tasting 4:30pm–5:30pm

828-898-5550 Shawneehaw Ave South

828-898-5550 124 — Spring 2018 CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE

Wine-Down Wednesdays 25% off Bottles of Wine Live Entertainment Fridays & Saturdays

Highest Quality • Premium Selections Crafted by Nationwide Producers High Protein, Low Fat, Low Sodium No Nitrates, No MSG Gourmet Salts, Hot Sauces, Popcorn and Deep Fried Peanuts

100+ Varieties Alligator Wild Boar Salmon Kangaroo

Elk Venison Pork Ostrich

2107 Broadstone Rd in Historic Valle Crucis 828-260-6221 |

Be Well A Different, Yet Necessary Approach to Detox By Samantha Stephens


eady to do some spring cleaning? Let’s talk about how to cleanse one of the most important systems in your body—the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system is a complex network of tissues and organs consisting of the thymus, spleen, tonsils, adenoids, bone marrow and lymphatic fluid that is primarily responsible for balancing fluids, fighting disease, and absorbing fats. Here’s how the lymphatic system works: Circulation and fluid balance: Have you ever struggled with excess water weight evidenced by swelling? Perhaps your lymphatic system was sluggish. A properly functioning lymphatic system regularly sweeps up excess fluids that have accumulated beyond the bloodstream and returns these fluids back to the circulatory system where they can be eliminated. Combating disease: One of the first signs of infection may be swollen lymphatic nodes, a reaction that occurs when lymphatic fluid and lymphocytes build up in our glands. The lymphatic system is responsible for transporting lymphatic fluid with lymphocytes throughout the body to capture and filter out bacteria, viruses, and other unfavorable substances for disposal. Lymphocytes are special cells that are very effective at attacking unwanted bacteria, toxins and damaged cells. Fat absorption: Special lymphatic capillaries, called lacteals, are located within tiny villi that line the small intestine. Lacteals are responsible for absorbing fats and fat-soluble vitamins and transporting them to the bloodstream where they are used as needed.

How can you effectively stimulate your lymphatic system for excellent health? Try these methods: Exercise: Try rebounding on a mini trampoline. A simple routine of jumping jacks and running in place for 10-20 minutes is the best way to gently stimulate all of your lymphatic system, facilitating detoxification. Alternatively, walking or running at a steady pace is very effective as well. Try to work up a sweat. Perspiring is an effective way to flush out toxins. Lymphatic Massage: This type of therapeutic treatment stimulates the lymphatic system, which will encourage fluid flow from the connective tissues towards the bloodstream, reducing swelling as well as facilitating cell regeneration. Dry brushing: Start with a stiff brush that is designed for this purpose. Use long, firm strokes or short, quick strokes and brush all areas of the body towards the heart. Spend at least 10 minutes with this routine. Avoid sensitive areas of the body. This will effectively move lymphatic fluid, increase circulation and remove dry skin from the surface, which encourages cell regeneration. Diet: Consume raw, whole vegetable juices during a multi-day fast or at least once weekly during the spring to cleanse your body from toxin build-up over the winter. I prefer to blend whole vegetables in my Vitamix rather than juicing, which removes the fiber-rich pulp. Blend cucumber, clover sprouts, lemons, spinach and parsley for a very refreshing snack or meal replacement. Also try drinking at least 12 ounces of warm or room temperature lemon water at bedtime or

first thing in the morning. You may also choose from a variety of detox teas found at your local health food store. Remember how important it is to consume plenty of filtered water every day. Shoot for at least half your body weight in fluid ounces of pure water daily. A hot bath: Baths may seem merely luxurious, but they are also very health promoting! Try taking a hot bath, soaking for at least 20 minutes before you get out. Add one or more of the following to aid in detox: one cup of apple cider vinegar, magnesium salts, baking soda or bentonite clay. Finish the bath by rubbing down moist skin with whipped coconut oil mixed with a little bit of lavender essential oil and you will feel like a new person! Managing the lymphatic system is very similar to keeping your household drains clear and trash emptied. When there is backup in these areas of your home, you begin to notice all sorts of symptoms of spoilage and rottenness. The same goes for your lymphatic system. A poorly functioning lymphatic system results in poor skin tone, acne breakouts, intestinal trouble and foul-smelling body odors. So why not give your lymphatic system a tune up? Try incorporating these practices into your routine and you will see a definite benefit in your overall health. n Samantha Stephens is a nutritionist, food scientist and herbalist who loves spending time outside foraging for wild foods while appreciating the abundance of God’s creation. Contact her at



Photo by Meagan Goheen

A perfect chicken dinner...

From CML’s Kitchen By Brennan Ford

In this issue of CML Kitchen we’ll be talking to my close friend Meagan Brown from Devorah chocolate, and she’ll be sharing the secrets behind one of her many amazing treats. We will also be doing some traditional Southern favorites in a not so traditional way. I know that my grandma made the BEST fried chicken ever; I also know that many of you out there have similar boasts. Know that I’m going to give you one of my favorite riffs on the classic, which perhaps even borders on sacrilegious, because yes….we are going to par-cook our chicken! The other dish we’ll be doing this issue is a nice light field pea and leek salad. This will balance well with the intense and rich flavor of the chicken. Another plus to this salad is you can serve it hot as soon as it’s cooked and ready, or cold for several days.




8 bone-in chicken thighs 2 cups apple cider vinegar 1/2 cup soy sauce 4 cloves of garlic 1 bay leaf 3 cups all-purpose flour 1 1/2 cups corn starch Salt and pepper to taste 1 tbsp Old Bay seasoning 1 quart buttermilk Water to cover 1 quart peanut oil

2 Tbsp. butter 2 Tbsp. honey Handful of thyme sprigs

• In a large pot combine chicken, vinegar, soy, bay leaf, garlic and enough water to cover all the thighs. Bring to a low simmer, let it roll about 20 minutes or until chicken is fully cooked. Remove chicken and place on a rack. Pour buttermilk into a large bowl, in another large bowl mix flour, corn starch, Old Bay, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Place all thighs into buttermilk making sure they are coated. Dredge thighs into dry flour mix making sure to let excess liquid drain. Using a fair bit of pressure pack the dry mix into the thighs (you want to make sure that you get it into all those nooks and crannies). Let chicken sit on a rack for 20 minutes. Add the oil to a large, deep frying pan and heat to 350 degrees. Add thighs to frying pan and cook until golden brown; remove thighs, place on rack and lightly season with salt and pepper.

• Combine all into medium sauce pan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, remove from heat and drizzle over fried chicken (try to strain out the larger bits of thyme sprigs). FIELD PEA AND LEEK SALAD 1 pound of fresh field peas 1/3 pound bacon chopped fine 1 medium shallot chopped fine 4 Tbsp minced garlic 1 large bunch of leeks, washed and julienned 1/2 cup white wine 1/4 cup rice vinegar 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil Salt and pepper to taste • In a medium sized pot over medium heat add ingredients in this order, allowing 1-2 minutes in-between: bacon, shallot, garlic, leeks, white wine, field peas and rice vinegar. Make sure peas are covered with water and cook uncovered on medium until they are fully cooked. This takes approximately 30 minutes. Test doneness of peas by pulling one out and smashing between your fingers. When done place mixture into a large bowl and toss in olive oil and salt and pepper. Enjoy!     

And then there’s chocolate...

And yeast rolls!

Strawberry Lemon Curd-Stuffed Brownie Bites Gluten & dairy free / Makes 24 brownie bites Strawberry Lemon Curd 1 tablespoon lemon zest ½ cup lemon juice 2/3 cup strawberry puree 14 ounces coconut cream 4 tablespoons arrowroot 1 teaspoon vanilla extract dash sea salt Fresh strawberries to decorate

Brownie Batter 4 ½ oz dark chocolate (60-80%) ¾ cup coconut oil 4 eggs 1 cup coconut sugar (or sugar of choice) 7 tablespoons almond meal 4 tablespoons cocoa powder, sifted dash of sea salt

Preheat oven to 325 F. • Line a mini muffin pan (for 24 total brownie bites) with paper liners or oil lightly. Make Brownie Batter • Chop the chocolate and melt with coconut oil over a bain-marie until smooth.

Mildred’s Yeast Rolls

• In a separate bowl beat the eggs and sugar until light and creamy. Add chocolate mixture and mix to combine. Fold in almond meal, cocoa powder, and salt.

4 c. Scalded milk 2 c. Lukewarm milk 6 Tbsp. Yeast 12 oz. Oil 4 oz. Sugar Self-rising flour*

• Fill a pastry bag with the batter (or fill a gallon size zip-lock bag and cut one corner off ). Pipe the batter in to fill your muffin tins. Be careful not to overfill as you will need room to add about 2 teaspoons of the lemon curd mixture.

Makes 100 rolls

Make Strawberry Lemon Curd • Combine lemon zest, coconut cream, and strawberry puree in a small saucepan.

• Add yeast to lukewarm milk to dissolve.

• Dissolve arrowroot in the lemon juice in a separate dish. Add lemon juice mixture to the saucepan and heat on medium heat until mixture comes to a low boil stirring frequently. Turn heat to low continuing to stir until it thickens and is slightly jiggly. Remove from heat and add vanilla and sea salt.

• Cool to lukewarm, then add yeast mixture.

• Fill a pastry bag or zip-lock with the mixture. Insert the bag into the center of each brownie bite and squeeze to fill until batter reaches the top of the cup. Repeat until all cups are full. • Bake for 10-18 minutes checking frequently. Brownies should puff up slightly but still be slightly jiggly in the center. Let cool and top with fresh strawberries. Enjoy! Devorah Artisan Chocolate works with ethically sourced cacao from Peru to bring handcrafted chocolate and cacao products to the High Country. From pure cacao nibs and dark baking chocolate to fine truffles and confections, Devorah Artisan Chocolate is your local source for all things chocolate. Find them every Saturday at the Watauga County Farmers Market and online at

• Add oil and sugar to scalded milk.

• Mix in enough self-rising flour to make soft dough. • Pour into a buttered bowl or pan, then let rise in a warm place for 2 hours. • Knead down and cut with a biscuit cutter. • Stretch out oblong and dip one end in melted butter. • Fold over and place in pan. • Let rise for 2 more hours. • Bake at 450° for about 10-12 minutes, or until golden-brown. For 50 rolls, use 1 pint or 2 cups of scalded milk; 1 cup of lukewarm milk; 3 Tbsp. of yeast; 6 oz. oil and 2 oz. sugar. For 25 rolls, use 1 cup scalded milk; ½ cup lukewarm milk; 1 ½ Tbsp. yeast; 3 oz. oil, and 1 oz. sugar. *Mildred doesn’t specify how much flour to use. Somewhere between not enough and too much, we imagine. (See page 89 for the article, Mildred Tester at 90) CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Spring 2018 —


Experience Wine with a View... Banner Elk Winery | (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 Tuscaninspired Villa. A private retreat with luxury accommodation, beautiful scenery, and warm hospitality in an idyllic setting.

Grandfather Vineyard & Winery | (828)-963-2400 225 Vineyard Lane, Banner Elk, NC 28604 Our terraced mountain vineyard and 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.

Linville Falls Winery | (828)765-1400 9557 Linville Falls Highway, Linville Falls, NC 28647 Linville Falls Winery is part of a 40-acre family owned and operated farm in the Blue Ridge mountains. Just off of the Blue Ridge Parkway, the winery is in a great location to enjoy the outdoors while sipping on mountain-grown wine. Elevate your taste with us!

Villa Nove Vineyards & Winery | (423)768-3633 1877 Dry Hill Road, Butler, TN 37640 Experience Tuscany in Tennessee! Enjoy the 360-degree majestic mountain views while you sit and sip on our estate wines. Perfect location for your upcoming wedding or special event.

Watauga Lake Winery | (423)768-0345 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 “wood-fired” pizza and Sangria on Saturdays or enjoy a bottle of wine with our Boar’s Head deli items out on the deck or inside our event room. Appalachian High Country — Spring 2018 CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE 128The American Viticulture Area

Cut out the Passport above and explore the High Country Wine Trail!

See the beauty. Taste the tradition. Feel at home. SUNSET DRIVE • BLOWING ROCK (One Block Off Main Street) Restaurant: 828-295-3466 Serving Dinner – Call us for all your catering needs – Inn: 828-295-9703 12 Rooms & Suites + 2 Cottages

Celebrating 22 Years!



OUR SPONSORS: 57............. A to Z Auto Detailing 57............. Amy Brown, CPA 84............. Andrews & Andrews Insurance 20............. An Appalachian Summer Festival 58............. Antiques on Howard 7............... Appalachian Blind and Closet 88............. Appalachian Elder Law Center 58............. Appalachian Voices 30............. Apple Hill Farm 38............. Ashe County Arts Council 42............. Ashe County Chamber of Commerce 72............. Avery Animal Hospital 35,57........ Avery County Chamber of Commerce 24............. Bailey Drapery and Design 30............. Banner Elk Book Exchange 40............. Banner Elk Consignment Cottage 72............. Banner Elk Realty 10............. 72............. Banner Elk Olive Oil and Balsamics 12............. Banner Elk Winery 29............. Banner House Museum 120........... Barra 20............. Barter Theater 38............. Bayou Smokehouse & Grill 57............. BB&T 64............. BE Artists Gallery 60............. Beech Mountain Club/ Beech Mountain TDA 117........... Bella’s Italian Restaurant 82............. Best Western Mountain Lodge 123........... Bistro Roco 23............. BJ’s Resort Wear 116........... Blowing Rock Ale House Restaurant/ Brewing Co 55............. Blowing Rock Farmer’s Market 55............. Blowing Rock Pages 58............. Blue Blaze Bicycle & Shuttle Service 30............. Blue Mountain Metalworks 56............. Blue Ridge Energy 108........... Blue Ridge Professional Services 6............... Blue Ridge Propane 58............. Blue Ridge Realty & Investments 108........... Boone High Country Rentals 21............. BRAHM 82............. Brinkley Hardware 21............. Call Family Distillery 38............. Carlton Gallery 70............. Carolina BBQ 35............. Charleston Forge Home & Outlet 120........... Chef’s Table

118........... Chestnut Grille 84............. Children’s Hope Alliance 6............... Classic Stone 41............. Clean and Dry 58............. Compu-Doc 118........... CoBo Sushi Bistro & Bar 57............. Creative Interiors by Darlene Parker 41............. Creative Printing 26............. Crossnore School for Children 2............... Dewoolfson 8............... Distinctive Cabinetry of the HC 20............. Doe Ridge Pottery 82............. Drexel Grapevine Antiques 117........... Eat Crow Café 74............. Echota 11............. Elk River Club 62............. Encore Travel 124........... English Farmstead Cheese 20............. Ensemble Stage 118........... Ericks Cheese and Wine 85............. Eseeola Lodge 82............. F.A.R.M. Café 41............. Footsloggers 88............. Fortner Insurance 29............. FORUM at Lees-McRae 68............. Foscoe Fishing 44............. Fred’s General Mercantile 21............. Front Porch Antiques 8............... Fuller & Fuller 82............. Gadabouts Catering 117........... Gamekeeper 66............. Gardens of the Blue Ridge 123........... Gideon Ridge Inn 131........... Grandfather Mountain 14............. Grandfather Mountain Highland Games 48............. Grandfather Vineyard 55............. Green Park Inn 85............. Gregory Alan’s Gifts 55............. Handtiques 23............. Hardin Jewelers 57............. Headquarters Bike & Outdoor 97............. High Country Animal Clinic 108........... High Country Resort Rentals 128........... High Country Wine Trail 68............. Highland Outfitters 64............. Highland Forestry Land & Timber 64............. Hunter’s Tree Service 24............. Incredible Toy Company 23............. Inn at Crestwood

129........... Italian Restaurant 34............. Jack’s 128 Pecan 124........... Jerky Outpost 39............. Kevin Beck Gallery 24............. Leatherwood Mountains Resort 44............. Lees McRae College 62............. Libby’s 44............. Liberty Mountain 46............. Linville Caverns 46............. Linville Falls Winery 67............. Linville Land Harbor 3............... Lodges at Eagles Nest 118........... Lost Province Brewing Company 56............. Lucky Lilly 129........... Macados Restaurant OBC.......... Mast General Store 24............. Mayland Community College Foundation 70............. Mountain Dog and Friends 35............. Mountain Jewelers 39............. Mountaineer Landscaping 62............. My Best Friend’s Barkery 55............. Mystery Hill 57............. Nick’s Restaurant & Pub 30............. Organic Hair Design 117........... Painted Fish Café 41,57........ Peak Real Estate 116........... Peddlin’ Pig BBQ 109........... Premier Pharmacy 62............. Premier Sotheby’s 97............. Ram’s Rack Thrift Shop 50............. Red White and Bluegrass Festival 70............. Reeves DiVenere Wright Attorneys at Law 116........... Reid’s Café & Catering 39............. Reinert Fine Art 50............. Resort Real Estate & Rentals 57............. Rite Aid Pharmacy 34............. Rivercross 68............. Root Down 34............. Rustik 21............. Sally Nooney Art Studio Gallery 129........... SAVOR 5............... 30............. Seven Devils TDA 57............. Shooz and Shiraz 50............. Shoppes at Farmers

57............. Shoppes 0f Tynecastle 55............. Six Pence Pub 72............. Skyline Emporium 120........... Sorrento’s Italian Bistro 39............. Southern Highland Craft Guild 124........... Stick Boy Bread Co. 54............. Stone Cavern 124........... Stonewalls Restaurant 31............. Sugar Mountain Golf and Tennis 30............. Sugar Ski and Country Club 14............. Summit Group 56............. Sunset Tee’s 48............. Tatum Gallery 129........... The Best Cellar 31............. The Blowing Rock 66............. The Cabin Store 72............. The Consignment Cottage Warehouse 57............. The Dande Lion 105........... The Foley Center at Chestnut Ridge 84............. The Happy Shack 129........... The Inn at Ragged Gardens 85............. The Lodge at River Run 124........... The New Public House & Hotel 116........... The Spice & Tea Exchange 5............... The Village of Sugar Mountain 4............... Tom Eggers Construction 109........... Tom’s Custom Golf 58............. Tracy Brewer Photography 38............. Turchin Center for the Visual Arts 57............. Tynecastle Builders 57............. Tynecastle Realty 116........... Ultimate Kitchens Direct 57............. Valle de Bravo Mexican Grill 88............. Vaughn’s Nursery 120........... Villa Nove Vineyards Winery 66............. Village Jewelers 88............. Waite Financial 82............. Watauga County Farmers Market 120........... Watauga Lake Winery 41............. West Jefferson Christmas in July 110........... Wilkes TDA 55............. Woodlands Barbecue 68............. YMCA of Avery Co

thank you! 130 — Spring 2018 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


Carolinamountainlife spring2018  

A Regional magazine featuring the heart and should of North Carolina's High Country (and neighboring counties) ... "A wonderful read for 21...

Carolinamountainlife spring2018  

A Regional magazine featuring the heart and should of North Carolina's High Country (and neighboring counties) ... "A wonderful read for 21...