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carolina mountain life

read us online at cmlmagazine.online


Here Comes the Sun . . . ...a wonderful read for 24 years!

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Summit Elevation 5,300 ft.

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Ice Skating


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Lowes Foods ABC Liquor Store

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Entrance Gem Mining Elevation 4,000 ft.

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Stay on the Mountain! Find vacation rentals of all sizes, including these condo communities. For info, go to SeeSugar.com/lodging.




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Blowing Rock 28605 | MLS #228781 J.B. Lawrence | 828-434-5054

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Obtain the Property Report required by Federal law and read it before signing anything. No Federal agency has judged the merits or value, if any, of this property. This information shall not constitute a valid offer in any state where prior registration is required. © 2021 Blowing Rock Resort Venture, LLC.

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What’s Inside... COVER PHOTO: Photography by Shawn Mitchell. Raised in the mountains of North Carolina, Shawn Mitchell has always had an explorative and creative nature. He found his niche by combining the two through photography, opening his small business Shawn Mitchell Photo and spending the next decade producing fine art and commercial imagery. While chasing down the new growth during summers in the Appalachian Mountains, Shawn discovered a passion for capturing the flora, like the sunflower field on our Summer cover. This photograph was taken during Shawn’s treks through the game lands of western North Carolina.

18.......... Regional Happenings | By CML Staff

22.......... A Hunger for the Games | By Steve York

30.......... Behind the Scenes with An Appalachian Summer Festival | By Keith Martin 39.......... The Mighty Oaks | By Keith Martin

42.......... Where the Music Is | By CML Staff

51.......... A Yummy Mud Puddle Life | By LouAnn Morehouse 54.......... The DNA of Denim | By Gail Greco

74.......... Splash Mountains | By Frank Ruggiero

76.......... The Profile of an Appalachian Adventure | By Juan Sebastian Restrepo 81.......... Highfield Home Again on Sugar | By Tom McAuliffe

85.......... The Blue Ridge Boutique Hotel | By Elizabeth Baird Hardy 88.......... Avery County Community Center | By Steve York 90.......... The Town that Wouldn’t Drown | By Edwin Ansel 92.......... A New Normal Community | By Jason Reagan 118........ High Country Care Givers | By Pan McCaslin 135........ Straight to the Source | By Julie Farthing 136........ Brews are Back | By Steve York

Cultural Calendar with Keith Martin . . . 26

The Big Picture Show with Elizabeth Baird Hardy . . . 57

Blue Ridge Explorers with Tamara S. Randolph . . . 62

Notes from Grandfather Mountain . . . 61

Birding with Curtis Smalling . . . 63

Resource Circle with Tamara S. Randolph . . . 66


Blue Ridge Parkway Update with Rita Larkin . . . 67

Trail Reports . . . 68

Golf Guide with Tom McAuliffe . . . 79

History on a Stick with Michael C. Hardy . . . 89

Fishing with Andrew Corpening . . . 71

Wisdom and Ways with Jim Casada . . . 86

Local Tidbits . . . 98

Be Well with Samantha Steele . . . page 124

In the CML Kitchen with Meagan Goheen . . . page 142

Community and Local Business News . . . page 104 Summer Food Guide . . . page 130



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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, engagements, elopements, rehearsal dinners, or special events...it’s the perfect place to relax, re-inspire, and rejuvenate – both inside and out.

A publication of Carolina Mountain Life, Inc. ©2021 by Carolina Mountain Life Magazine, Inc. All rights reserved. Contents may not be reproduced in whole or in part without written permission from the Publisher. Babette McAuliffe, Publisher & Editor in Chief Deborah Mayhall-Bradshaw, Design Director Kathy Griewisch, Account Manager Meagan Goheen, Marketing Manager Tamara S. Randolph, Editor Keith Martin, Cultural Arts Editor Contributors: Edwin Ansel, Natalie Brunner, Jim Casada, Deanna Corin, Andrew Corpening, Montana Eck, Julie Farthing, Nina Fischesser, Brennan Ford, Morgan Ford, Meagan Goheen, Gail Greco, Elizabeth Baird Hardy, Michael C. Hardy, Angela Hessenius, Annie Hoskins, Lauren Hutchins, Rita Larkin, Tom McAuliffe, Pan McCaslin, Amy Millette, Shawn Mitchell, LouAnn Morehouse, Katherine S. Newton, Joanna Parkman, Jason Reagan, Juan Sebastian Restrepo, Frank Ruggiero, Curtis Smalling, Samantha Steele, Emily Webb, Doug Winbon, and Steve York Share us with a friend! CML is published 4 times a year and is available by subscription for $35.00 a year (continental US) Send check or money order to: Carolina Mountain Life, PO Box 976, Linville, NC 28646

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1970 dy, Circa lo e M & d Mom, Da


he was grand, in more ways than one, and boy could she belt out the tunes. Her name was Melody and she had grown up with a child named Mary since the tender age of seven. She became a life-long friend and entertained Mary for almost 80 years. She was there when Mary started piano lessons and learned the old traditional tunes from “Home on the Range” to “Oh Dear! What Can the Matter Be?” You see, Mary grew up in Casper, Wyoming, and her father owned one of the biggest sheep ranches in Teapot Dome—so she loved playing the old western tunes and showing her daddy when he came home off the range how she could dance her fingers on the ivory keys. Melody soon became an integral part of the family and when Mary got married to John, Melody was there listening to John sing as Mary played the tunes. Melody always had a way of inserting encouraging notes and nudged Mary and John to come join her to sing and play. She even pulled up roots and moved to their new home in Toledo, Ohio, and then followed them to Charlotte, NC. She became friends with Mary and John’s children, who also were encouraged by Melody to take piano lessons and sing in choirs. Soon, singing groups gathered at their home to do what Melody did best—belt out the tunes of the day and sing spiritual hymns that still resonate deep within Mary’s heart.

Melody even encouraged Mary and John to join local theatrical groups and take their talents beyond the home. John joined the church choir. Melody was always there like a fixture—even on those early Sunday mornings when Mary would help prep John for his cantering task at the morning service. She carried books of music with her in her special bench and would encourage Mary and John to sing and for Mary to tap out new chords. This past Spring, Melody decided that she had played her part with Mary and John’s family and that it was time for her to start a new life bringing music and joy to a place in the mountains of North Carolina. You see, Melody is a Steinway Baby Grand piano, and after my father John had gone to sing with the choir of angels, my mother Mary said goodbye to Melody and watched as she was carefully wrapped and secured for the trip up to Appalachian State University. There, she will reside with the students and faculty in the Broyhill Music Center and encourage her love of music for years and years to come. Thank you, Melody, for always being a fixture in all three of our family homes and forever in my heart. I can close my eyes and hear you sing, and I am eternally grateful for the gift you have been to our family. I will always hold dearest in my mind when mom played, “It Is Well with My Soul,” and dad, with drops of tears, would sing like he deeply knew the meaning of those words. I wish I could play like my mother—but my dad did instill in me a love for singing. Melody, whenever I have extra time to come visit you at the Hayes School of Music, I will stop by and we can reminisce. Maybe before I come, I will learn a tune and we can play together. Love,



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Avery Fine Art &

Master Crafts Festival Sugar Mountain Resort July 16-18 | August 13-15 Unique hand-crafted wares from regional fine artists and master crafters

44th Annual

Woolly Worm Worm Races Cash Prizes . Crafts Food . Rides Saturday 9am-5pm Sunday 9am-4pm

Avery County Chamber of Commerce 4501 Tynecastle Hwy, Unit 2 Banner NC 28604 Summer 2021 CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE 16 —Elk, 828-898-5605


Downtown Banner Elk October 16 & 17 www.WoollyWorm.com


10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Historic Banner Elk School • 828.898.5398

Art Greene Greene Greene Art BannerElk.com

ON Sept. 4-5 ON THE THE

All shows will operate with 50% booth space • Please follow NC protocols for Covid safety

July 3-4

Aug. 7-8

from select local and regional artisans. Master Craft Events Craft Events Handmade arts and crafts in Banner Elk, NC, Handmade arts and andcrafts craftsininBanner BannerElk, Elk,NC, NC, Handmade arts Master Craft Events from select select local localand andregional regionalartisans. artisans.

July 3-4 3-4 July

Aug. Aug.7-8 7-8

THE ON Sept. Sept.4-5 4-5

All shows will operate with 50% booth space • Please follow NC protocols for Covid safety All shows will operate with 50% booth space • Please follow NC protocols for Covid safety

BannerElk.com BannerElk.com 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Historic Banner Elk School • 828.898.5398

10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Historic Banner Elk School • 828.898.5398 17 CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Summer 2021 —

Avery County Fine Art & Master Crafts Festival

Summer is here, and so are the myriad events and gatherings we’ve long awaited! Please continue to check online resources for COVID-related guidelines, reservation requirements, and additional information as it relates to the establishments and events mentioned within the pages of CML Magazine.

Summer ‘21

Gravity Mountain Bike Camp Sugar Mountain

Regional Happenings & Featured Events AVERY COUNTY

Art and Stars in Downtown Banner Elk Looking for Independence Day fun? Head to downtown Banner Elk for the summertime Art on the Greene show, taking place July 3-4. This fine art show is one in a series of four shows taking place this year on the grounds of the Historic Banner Elk School. Additional shows will be held August 7-8 and September 4-5. Art on the Greene highlights works from local and regional artists representing a variety of media, such as ceramics, glass, metal, wood, watercolor, acrylics and oil. “The focus is on embracing our Appalachian heritage and really highlighting things in the hand-crafted Appalachian tradition,” says show director Kimberly Tufts. Shoppers can not only add to their art collections, but also support historic preservation. Booth rental proceeds are donated to the Town of Banner Elk to support the Historic Banner Elk School’s role as a center for visual and performing arts. The 1939 rock building was a Works Progress Administration (WPA) project during the Great Depression. The former elementary school is now home to BE Artists Gallery, Ensemble Stage professional theater, the Banner Elk Book Exchange, and the offices of CML Magazine, among other organizations. Art on the Greene hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, and there is no admission fee. For more information, visit www.BannerElk. com or call 828-387-0581. Also in downtown Banner Elk on Saturday, July 3, enjoy a Star Spangled Banner Elk Fourth. The Banner Elk Chamber of Commerce’s Saturday parade runs from 11 a.m until noon and features decorated vehicles, colorful characters and adorable


animals parading down Main Street and ending in the Tate-Evans Town Park. From noon until 3 p.m. on Saturday, participate in the popular Duck Race and party at the park. Hundreds of rubber ducks race down Shawneehaw Creek to the finish line, and the park party includes old-fashioned games and food vendors. For more information, visit BannerElk.com. Summer is Sweet at Sugar Mountain Spinning chairlift bull wheels, mountain bikers lapping miles of downhill terrain, summer sunning, toe-tapping to small town bands with big-time talent, camping kids, fireworks, food trucks, and festivals are just some of the things you will find at Sugar Mountain Resort this summer. The bike park and the Summit Express and Easy Street chairlifts operate Friday through Sunday beginning July 2 until September 6. Mountain bike tours and lessons will be available each weekend. Magic Cycles, located in the snowsports school building, offers helmet, body armor, and bike rentals, bicycle repairs, and a selection of items to get bikers started and keep ‘em rolling. For outerwear, footwear and souvenirs, visit the Sugar Mountain Sports Shop, located in the base lodge. And for a boost of energy, the popular Caddyshack cafe, located at the Sugar Mountain Golf and Tennis clubhouse, is open seven days a week. The start whistle blows Sunday, July 4, at 9 a.m. to kick off the fifth annual Summit Crawl competition. The Sugar Mountain Resort Summit Crawl is a fun and competitive event via foot to Sugar Mountain’s 5,300’ peak by way of the Easy Street, Gunther’s Way, and Northridge

slopes. The Crawl covers a distance of approximately 6,500 ft., or 1.2 miles. Also that day from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. The Rockabillys will liven up the airwaves with a classic country and rock & roll performance. Later from 6 until 9 p.m. the Typical Mountain Boys will bring to the stage a unique blend of bluegrass, old time mountain and contemporary music. Food and beverages will be available at the mountain’s base and summit. A bigger-and-better-than-ever mountaintop Fireworks Show, sponsored by the Village of Sugar Mountain Tourism Development Authority, will kick off around 9:15 p.m. Sugar’s Gravity Mountain Bike Camp for tweens and teens ages 11-16 will be held July 9-11. And the downhill action will continue July 31 and August 1 when racers from around the U.S. do battle on Sugar’s classic downhill tracks during the Downhill Southeast Mountain Bike Race Series finals. For all the details, visit www.skisugar. com or call 800-SUGAR-MT. Fine Art & Master Crafts Festival Rub shoulders with a diverse group of fine artists and master crafters during the Avery County Fine Art & Master Crafts Festival, July 16-18 and August 13-15, at Sugar Mountain Resort. The juried festivals feature an eclectic gathering of unique hand-crafted wares from select artists and crafters. Examples include photography, paintings, jewelry, sculpture, pottery, weaving, glass art, wood crafts, wood furniture, specialty candles, body care and soaps, and more. The Avery Fine Art & Master Crafts Festival benefits the Avery County Chamber of Commerce. Festival hours are Friday,

Beech Summer Concert Series

Blue Ridge Brutal Banner

Elk Fou rt

1-5 p.m., Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., and Sunday, 10 a.m.- 4 p.m. This annual event is sponsored by the Avery County Chamber of Commerce. Learn more at averycounty.com. Special lodging discounts are available for Avery Fine Art & Master Crafts Festival participants; visit www. staysugarmountain.com or call 800-4384555 for more information. Beech Mountain’s Big Summer The Town of Beech Mountain continues to celebrate its 40th anniversary this summer and all year long with special events each month. In 1981, Beech Mountain incorporated to become Eastern America’s Highest Town. In the 40 years to follow the town flourished to become a year-round outdoor playground for residents and visitors alike. Your family can help the Town celebrate turning 40 by participating in a wide variety of programs and activities to experience the beauty of the mountain, designed for all ages.  Visit beechmtn. com/40th/ for a month-by-month guide to activities. While at Beech Mountain, check out all that Beech Mountain Resort has to offer through the summer months, including mountain biking, disc golf, scenic lift rides, yoga, live music, and its popular Skybar. Hours are Thursday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. In August, enjoy Beech Mountain Resort’s Summer Concert Series—the concert stage sits at the base of the slopes and seating is positioned up the slopes to create a natural amphitheater. Food, crafts, and beer vendors will be positioned in the Play yard (old concert space). For performance information, see “Where the Music Is,” elsewhere in this issue of CML.

h of July


works Beech Fire n my Morriso Photo by A

Beech Mountain Brewing Company’s summer hours are Thursday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. For a peek at the menu and beers on tap, visit www. beechmountainbrewingco.com. For more information on all the happenings at Beech Mountain, including the famous 4th of July Fireworks Shows, visit beechmtn.com and www.beechmountainresort.com. Mark Your Calendar for the 44th Annual Woolly Worm Festival It won’t be long before this area will burst forth with beautiful fall foliage and the annual Woolly Worm Festival will return to downtown Banner Elk. Always the third weekend of October, this year’s event takes place October 16-17. During the festival, attendees can race their fuzzy woolly worm friends. The winner on Saturday takes away a $1,000 prize and the winning woolly will get to predict the winter weather. This special event, sponsored by the Banner Elk Kiwanis and the Avery Chamber of Commerce, gives back the total proceeds to the community, children and schools. Visit www.woollyworm.com to find out more about this fun-filled weekend.

WATAUGA COUNTY Symphony by the Lake at Chetola Symphony by the Lake returns to Chetola Resort for a centerpiece event of the summer on Friday, July 23. The theme, Music from Around the World, will be reflected in the musical selections as well as the décor of some of the 20 patron tents that line the lake. The much-loved Symphony of the

Mountains, directed by Conductor Cornelia Laemmli Orth, will be featured once again this year. Symphony of the Mountains consists of professional musicians that call a great many places home, including the Tri-Cities, TN/VA; Knoxville, TN; Asheville, NC; Winston Salem, NC; and beyond. Attendees to this year’s performance will be delighted by musical arrangements inspired by musical traditions from across the globe. As always, the Symphony will perform the last musical selections during the thrilling fireworks finale! The Symphony by the Lake also welcomes an opening act, performing from 5:45 to 7 p.m., with the Symphony beginning at 7:30 p.m.. For tickets, go online at symphonybythelake.com, or visit the Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce at 132 Park Avenue in downtown Blowing Rock. All tickets are advance Will Call only. At the website, you’ll also find more event details, including COVID considerations. Art in the Park Blowing Rock’s Art in the Park offers open-air gallery experiences for art lovers, collectors, and craft enthusiasts each year. The six-show series, one presented each month from May through October, sets up downtown on Park Avenue. The show is adjacent to Main Street and central shops and restaurants in Blowing Rock, creating an enjoyable stroll-andshop experience that always features fresh art. “Artists spent a lot of time this past year in the studio creating, and I am really continued on next page CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Summer 2021 —


Summer ‘21 Symphony by the Lake Blowing Rock

Merlefest Wilkesboro Merriweather & the Sugar Bears Sugar Mountain excited to see their new work,” said Suzy Barker, Art in the Park Director. “We had a lot of new applicants this year, too.” Some show favorites will be returning for 2021, including painter Marcus Thomas and woodworker Andy Costine. Art in the Park artists are jury-selected and each show features a different set of artists, curated to present a wide variety of mediums. Attendees can meet artists and purchase art directly from creators. The remaining 2021 Art in the Park dates are July 17, August 14, September 11, and October 2. Show hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., with continuous free trolley service providing transportation during show hours from the Tanger Outlets parking lot to the park. A Concert in the Park is paired with each show, presented each Sunday following Art in the Park. Art in the Park is a Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce event. For more information, call 828-295-7851 or visit blowingrock. com/ArtinthePark. Blowing Rock hosts additional visual arts programs throughout the summer, like Artists in Residence and the Plein Air Festival. For a complete listing of events, see the calendar at blowingrock.com. Artists in Residence at Edgewood Cottage is Back Take a three-minute walk south of Blowing Rock’s Memorial Park and you’ll discover a unique cultural corner where art and history meet. Here you’ll find the Blowing Rock Art and History Museum (BRAHM) and its well-known neighbor, Edgewood Cottage, the circa 1890 home and studio of renowned American artist Elliott Daingerfield. Elliott Daingerfield (1859-1932) became one of Blowing Rock’s most notable


summer residents. He painted images of the local landscape and instructed the “painting ladies” who came to Blowing Rock to study with him. His legacy lives on at BRAHM’s exhibition through August 3. The exhibition features paintings by these remarkable women who became members of the renowned Philadelphia Ten. Daingerfield’s legacy of encouraging artists in the High Country also lives on in the Artists in Residence Program at Edgewood Cottage. Presented by The Blowing Rock Historical Society, this year’s Artists in Residence series runs through September 19. During the program the cottage becomes home to 25 artists representing a variety of outstanding, original two and threedimensional pieces. The series takes place Monday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. with different artists each week. Art lovers of all interests and budgets are welcomed to these free open studio events to meet the artists, see them create new art and purchase their works. You’ll find a variety of creations by potters, painters, nature photographers, wood carvers, and fiber artists. Half of the net proceeds will go towards turning Edgewood Cottage into a museum during the months that are not occupied by Artists in Residence. Learn more at www. artistsatedgewood.org.

ALLEGHANY COUNTY Mountaintop Stop Literary Gathering During the fourth week of September, Alleghany Writers brings visiting authors to Sparta, NC, for the Mountaintop Stop Literary Gathering, featuring book signings, readings, and other activities for readers and writers.

On Thursday, September 23, at 2 p.m., Annette Saunooke Clapsaddle discusses her novel, Even As We Breathe. Annette Saunooke Clapsaddle is the first enrolled member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians to publish a novel. Charles Frazier, bestselling author of Cold Mountain, calls the book, “a fresh, welcome, and much needed addition to the fiction of the Appalachian South and its neglected people and places.” Renowned southern novelist Lee Smith says, “Annette Saunooke Clapsaddle lifts the curtain to show us a South we do not know.” The event, free and open to the public, will be held at Alleghany County Library, with a book signing to follow; books will be available for purchase. The Library is located at 115 Atwood Street, Sparta, NC (Phone: 336-372-5573).  And save the date! On Saturday, November 6, Alleghany Writers welcomes Mitchell James Kaplan and his acclaimed novel, Rhapsody, to Sparta for a Jazz Age journey through the life of George Gershwin and the woman he loved, Kay Swift. A  501c3 non-profit arts organization, Alleghany Writers supports local writers, focuses on outreach in county schools, and presents free public events that feature nationally bestselling authors. Follow Alleghany Writers on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, and at alleghanywriters.com for details on other activities for readers and writers, including a Writers Market at the Alleghany Historical Society during Mountaintop Stop featuring books from members of Alleghany Writers.

Art in the Park, Blowing Rock

Greene Art On The r Elk Banne

Alleghany Writers

For additional happenings and events around the High Country and beyond, see the “Tidbits” section starting on page 98...


ASHE COUNTY Blue Ridge Brutal Grab your gear and get ready to ride! The popular Blue Ridge Brutal Bike Ride is scheduled for August 21, 2021, and registration is open now (with an early-bird special until July 15). The Brutal began in 1989 as a fundraiser for the Ashe Civic Center and has long been a favorite summer event. All of the rides—102, 72 or 56 miles—begin at the Ashe Civic Center in West Jefferson and take you onto the Blue Ridge Parkway and over numerous hills. Route elevation gains are 8,800 feet, 6,300 feet and 4,700 feet respectively. As such, all these rides can be considered challenging to strenuous. However, you can mix the pain with the joy of riding through some of the most beautiful scenery in North Carolina. In 2020, the Ashe Chamber of Commerce became the organizer of the event, partnering with the Civic Center, but the event was cancelled due to COVID.  Proceeds of the 2021 event will benefit the Ashe Advantage Project (501c3) to fund scholarships for high school seniors, as well as the Ashe Civic Center. Riders come from all over the country to participate in the ride, and many take on the optional finish challenge called the Assault on Mt. Jefferson. Those riders will ride up to the top of Mt. Jefferson State Natural Area, nearly a 1,500-ft elevation gain over 3.4 miles!  This event is made possible through the cooperation of local business sponsors, first responders, ham radio operators, and volunteers.  Registration and information at www.blueridgebrutal.org and on the event’s Facebook page. 


Live Music at Ashe County Park Enjoy a summer outdoor concert at the Ashe County Park in Jefferson, NC. This series of concerts is free to the public, but registration is required. Gather a group of friends and family and reserve your own designated space at the park where you can set up a picnic and enjoy some of the best traditional music in the region. The Burnett Sisters Band appears on July 16, and Wayne Henderson performs on August 20. Ashe County Park is located at 527 Ashe Park Road, Jefferson, NC 28640. All events are hosted by the Ashe County Arts Council. Learn more about these live music events, as well as all the 2021 visual arts and literary events offered by the Ashe County Arts Council, at AsheCountyArts.org. Please note that the Bluegrass and Old Time Fiddlers Convention will return in 2022.

WILKES COUNTY Merlefest Returns in September! MerleFest, considered one of the premier music festivals in the country, serves as an annual homecoming for musicians and music fans. Held on the campus of Wilkes Community College in Wilkesboro, NC, MerleFest was founded in 1988 in memory of the late Eddy Merle Watson, son of American music legend Doc Watson. MerleFest is a celebration of ‘traditional plus’ music, a unique mix of music based on the traditional, roots-oriented sounds of the Appalachian region, including bluegrass and old-time music, and expanded to include Americana, country, blues, rock and many other styles. The music of MerleFest was best explained by Doc himself: “When Merle and I started out we called our music ‘traditional plus,’ meaning the traditional music

of the Appalachian region plus whatever other styles  we were in the mood to play. Since the beginning, the people of the college and I have agreed that the music of MerleFest is ‘traditional plus.’” The festival hosts numerous artists performing on 13 stages during the course of the four-day event. The 2021 lineup includes Tedeschi Trucks, Melissa Etheridge, Mavis Staples, Sturgill Simpson, LeAnn Rimes, Balsam Range, Donna the Buffalo, and dozens more! Visit merlefest.org to see the full lineup and download the MerleFest App to help you plan and manage your MerleFest experience. The annual event is the primary fundraiser for the Wilkes Community College Foundation, funding scholarships, capital projects and other educational needs. More information at www.wilkescc.edu. ADD TO YOUR SUMMER CALENDAR Many other events will take place here in the High Country throughout the season. Some of the best resources for event listings, updates and changes are our local Chambers of Commerce and Tourism Development Associations. n n n n n n n n n n n n n n

ashechamber.com/ averycounty.com www.bannerelk.org/ beechmtn.com blowingrockncchamber.com/home www.boonechamber.com/ www.yanceychamber.com/ www.caldwellchambernc.com/ www.downtownmorganton.com/ www.johnsoncountytn.org/ mitchellcountychamber.org/ seesugar.com/ www.wilkeschamber.com/ www.yanceychamber.com/ CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Summer 2021 —


A Hunger for the Games

The 2021 Return to Grandfather Mountain By Steve York


or well over a year, loyal fans of the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games (GMHG) were left longing for their annual July gathering. That pent-up hunger actually began in the spring of 2020 when—like most other mass gathering outdoor events—the Grandfather Games were cancelled due to Covid. And, over the next twelve months, fans, organizers and participants were anxiously awaiting word on the fate of the 2021 Games. After all, our Grandfather Mountain Highland Games and Gathering O’ Scottish Clans is the largest and most revered gathering of Clans anywhere—including Scotland—attracting nearly 40,000 people from around the world. So, when the GMHG Board proclaimed the return of the 66th annual Games from July 8 through 11, Scotts and spirit-kin everywhere raised their glasses and roared, “Sla’inte Mhath!” (Good Health! a.k.a. Cheers!) Despite the 2020 hiatus, GMHG’s Board, Stewardship Foundation, Music Director and program contributors provided an impressive online version of the Games last year that garnered 83,000 views. And their 2021 virtual “Raising of the Clans” presentation this April attracted 16,000. Those numbers illustrate the incredible pent-up hunger for, and phenomenal spirit behind, our Grandfather Games. So…when did that hunger first arise and how was that spirit ignited? A WEE BIT OF HISTORY It all started in 1954 with Donald MacDonald and Agnes MacRae Morton. MacDonald (who passed away this past April) was a journalist for the Charlotte Observer. He had become inspired for creating a North Carolina version of the legendary Scottish games after visiting the renowned Braemar Highland Gathering


in Scotland. Meanwhile, Morton had her own vision for establishing an event based around the ancient gatherings of the Scottish Highland clans. Both Morton and MacDonald were active in helping promote authentic Scottish culture in North Carolina. And Morton, with her family ties to Grandfather Mountain, thought there could be no more perfect place for clan gatherings than on her beloved mountain. Through the marrying of those two visions, the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games were born. But…who knew whether their fledgling event would be successful or even draw a substantial crowd? Their first gathering was held on Sunday, August 19, 1956 on MacRae Meadows, (see The Ghostly Legend of MacRae Meadows) which rests serenely in the lap of Grandfather Mountain’s ruggedly majestic 5,946-foot peak. The August 19 date was chosen because it marked the 211th anniversary of the first “Raising of the Clans” held back in 1745 at the onset of the Jacobite Rebellion in Scotland. Tragically, on April 16, 1746, the Scots, under the banner of “Bonnie Prince Charlie,” were defeated by the British at the Battle of Culloden. With that defeat, many Scottish customs—including bagpipes, Clan colors, Scottish dances, land ownership and even speaking their native Gaelic language—were literally outlawed by the Act of Proscription in an attempt to purge Scottish culture from the land. Suffering from British oppression, thousands of Scottish highlanders fled their homeland and immigrated to the States, with a great majority landing along the North Carolina coast around Wilmington. Many settled there and many more traveled west to our Blue Ridge Mountains in search of a setting more akin to

their Scottish Highlands. And, over the next couple centuries, enthusiasm for reviving and celebrating their culture here in western North Carolina had grown strong enough to support an official Scottish gathering. With their first Games event in 1956, Morton and MacDonald expected only a couple hundred people to show up. But to their great satisfaction, about 1,500 devoted Scottish heritage enthusiasts made the trek up to Grandfather Mountain. And with that, “the Games were on!” In 1958, the one-day Grandfather Games were moved back to the second full weekend of July. By 1961, it had grown to a two-day event. And, eventually, the official Thursday through Sunday schedule was permanently established. With the exception of 2020, attendance at the Games has grown steadily, reaching between 30,000 and 40,000, with an estimated 38,000 in 2019. TODAY’S GAMES For those who’ve yet to attend, it is a truly spectacular celebration with all the color and rich culture you’d expect from a Scottish tradition dating back to the Braemar competitions under King Malcolm III in 1031. Beginning with the MacRae Meadows opening festivities, the Bear Run uphill foot race and Torchlight ceremonies on Thursday—to the Parade of Tartans and closing ceremonies on Sunday afternoon— the four-day festival is filled with colorful pageantry, traditional and contemporary Celtic music, athletic field events, sheepherding demonstrations, plus Scottish dress, souvenirs, food vendors and more. Given the pent-up hunger for these Games since 2019, organizers carefully prepared for a strong turnout this year. And, if onsite camping reservations were

any measure of that pent-up desire, campsites were already fully booked as of early 2021. One of those veteran campers is David MacDougall of Charleston, South Carolina. He and his wife, Carol, have been making their 300+ mile journey to Grandfather and camping onsite for the past 25 years. MacDougall—or “Monkey Man,” as he’s fondly referred to because of the purple monkey attached to his Games golf cart—is Canadian born and first came to the Grandfather Games as a teen with his Toronto aunt in the early 1960s. “After a career change moved me to Charleston from Ontario, my wife and I began our annual trek to Grandfather in the early 1990s. We started with a humble pop-up tent but have since upgraded to a fully accessorized ‘glamping’ setup (luxury camper),” MacDougall quipped. Upon his return to the Grandfather Games, MacDougall became a regular volunteer running the Torchlight Ceremonies and transporting Games participants around MacRae Meadows in his purple monkey-adorned golf cart. “We are truly thrilled for the 2021 return of the Games and happy to reconnect with the many friends we’ve made there over the years.” MacDougall added. A one-time drummer in a bagpipe band, he also attends other regional Games including his hometown Charleston Scottish Highland Games in November. Speaking of bagpipes and bands, one of the financially hardest hit groups during the past year’s Scottish/Celtic festival drought has been those global traveling minstrels who perform each year in the Groves, on the Alex Beaton stage and at the Friday and Saturday night Celtic music concerts. Fortunately, the GMHG Board generously offered financial help in 2020.

“All our musicians were breathless with gratitude at how we were treated last year,” noted E.J. Jones, Director of Groves Music and leader of the Piper Jones Band. “The Games donated grants which helped many of us keep our careers alive. It was such a meaningful gesture that provided a muchneeded boost to morale during the hardships of 2020. So, unlike other festivals, who’ve had to cut back or cancel music for 2021, we were able to book a full lineup this year. “Along with the return of many Grandfather favorites, some new groups include the Will MacMorran Project from nearby Tennessee,” Jones added. “Will, a multitalented musician and producer, has accompanied other groups here previously and now has his own band. Also new are the Reel Sisters, a smallpipes and harp duo featuring Rosalind Buda from Asheville and Kelly Brzozowski from Atlanta. Plus, we were really excited to welcome a Texas band called Jiggernaut featuring Richard Kean, a piper and composer from the Grade I World Champion St. Thomas Alumni Pipe Band. Their sound is Southern Celtic Rock and a perfect new band for Grandfather. That’s an important part of our ongoing goal…to continue finding great new musical performers; especially when we can draw from this region,” Jones added. Kirk McLeod, founder and leader of world renowned Seven Nations Celtic Rock band, echoed the excitement of all musicians able to perform again at Grandfather. “The Grandfather Games really stepped up with their financial grant support last year, and we couldn’t be more grateful,” said McLeod. “It’s been a challenging situation both financially and logistically for every musical performer who counts on festivals and live music venues

to help sustain their livelihood. Since virtually all major Scottish/Celtic gatherings were cancelled in 2020 and early this year, many musicians were driven to social media as the only way to promote their music and stay connected with their fans. So, our return to Grandfather re-enlivens that special personal connection, enabling us to do what we love most…perform for our fans,” added McLeod. With the loosening of State Covidrelated guidelines, only a few events were scaled back or modified for 2021. But, as GMHG Board of Trustees President, Stephen Quillin, noted, “Everyone came together to make sure that this year’s event was carefully planned so that visitors would feel safe while having a great time. Our commitment for this year was to provide the same traditionally rich and rewarding experience as always. That included our core attractions of piping, dancing, athletics and band concerts. And our key message for this year has been for everyone to try getting vaccinated in advance, practice safe gathering and enjoy the return of our Games. Or, as our traditional Scottish Gaelic greeting roars, ‘Ceud mile failte! (100,000 Welcomes!)’” Games event schedules and health guidelines are available at www.gmhg.org. Photos courtesy of GMHG.



The Ghostly Legend of MacRae Meadows By Steve York


Alexander “Alick” MacRae playing bagpipes

MacRae Meadows , Photo courtesy of Grandfather Mountain


n the still, twilight hours, late Sunday evening, after all the jubilant echoes of the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games’ closing ceremonies have long since faded…legends say that, from out of the evening mist, a faint and haunting melody from distant Scottish bagpipes can be heard drifting gently upon the air over MacRae Meadows. On such an evening, beneath the canopy of stars above Grandfather Mountain, if you linger and listen in reverent silence the ethereal call of an ancient Scottish piper may arise to stir the breath of night… and your very soul. Herein unfolds the legend of Alexander MacRae. Born in 1843 on the northeast coast of Inverness Shire in the Scottish Highlands, Alexander “Alick” MacRae was a shepherd and bagpiper. In the 1860s he migrated to America and made his way to western North Carolina around Linville and Grandfather Mountain. Shortly after the Civil War, Captain Walter W. Lenoir (former owner of Grandfather Mountain) hired MacRae to manage his sheep farm up on the mountain’s meadows. Later, MacRae was employed to oversee construction of the Yonahlossee Road (now Highway 221) between Linville and Blowing Rock. Eventually, MacRae built and ran a boarding house on the meadows for tourists called the “MacRae House,” thus the true origin of the MacRae Meadows name. Many may assume it was named for Agnes MacRae Morton, co-founder with Donald MacDonald of the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games. Ironically, however, while Alick shared the same name and Inverness Scottish homeland as Agnes’s kin, the two families were not actually related. As the story goes, just around twilight each evening, Alick MacRae would step outside his boarding house and entertain his house guests and neighbors by playing ancient Highland tunes on his bagpipes. The enchanting sound of MacRae’s pipes echoing across and beyond the meadows became a welcomed tradition up until the time of his death in 1929. Although he had passed decades before the first Grandfather Highland Games in 1956, Alexander “Alick” MacRae’s ghostly spirit is said to linger there still, in the soft twilight hours, playing his ethereal bagpipes on the Sunday evening following each year’s Games. And, who knows? Perhaps it was his spirit that once whispered to the hearts of Agnes Morton and Donald MacDonald to, “Gather yee Clans and let the Games begin!”

The Bears are Back!




& Gathering of the Scottish Clans July 8 -11, 2021 MacRae Meadows, Linville NC Come join the fun and excitement of the Games. There will be highland dance, 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.


revised by gmhg for 1/3 page ad to run in CML’s Spring 2021 issue

It’s not uncommon to encounter black bears this time of year, as they are actively pursuing food wherever they can. For most wildlife fans a bear sighting is a real treat, especially in light of the huge challenges this species has faced for more than a century. Frequent bear encounters today are actually a sign of yesterday’s successes in wildlife management. A shift in human attitudes has also contributed to their recovery. According to the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, black bears now inhabit nearly 60 percent of North Carolina, with the biggest populations in our mountains and the coastal plain. As bear-human interactions increase, education will likely be the key to a healthy coexistence. Bears are quite good at locating natural food sources on their own; unfortunately, they’re also good at finding food that humans provide, whether intentionally or accidentally. People have the power to protect their property AND help bears by removing or adequately securing all outdoor food sources, including bird feeders, household garbage and pet food. During “grilling season,” you’ll also want to make sure you clean grills after each use, removing all grease, fat and food particles. By taking these steps, you’ll not only discourage bears, you’ll prevent raccoons and other pesky wildlife from making unwanted visits. If you see bears in the area or evidence of bear activity, tell your neighbors and share information on how to avoid bear conflicts. Bears have adapted to living near people— it’s up to us to adapt to living near bears. Learn more at www.ncwildlife.org/bear.



On with the Show!

“The last time the theater industry opened from a pandemic, Shakespeare was still writing new plays.”


By Keith Martin


ictoria Bailey is executive director of the nonprofit Theatre Development Fund in New York City and a leader in the cultural sector. She brilliantly summed up the complexities that her beloved performing arts industry is facing as it resumes operations after COVID-19: “The last time the theater industry opened from a pandemic, Shakespeare was still writing new plays.” This year, performing arts organizations have announced their 2021 summer seasons with equal parts optimism and uncertainty, knowing that the guidelines and restrictions change with each gubernatorial proclamation. Still, the mountains are a favorite destination for tourists and seasonal residents whose generous patronage and support have enabled professional summer arts to flourish here in the High Country for the last 70 years, providing hundreds of performances May through September. Here is an overview of offerings on the current schedule for summer 2021, but PLEASE NOTE that all performances, dates and times are subject to change; you are strongly encouraged to contact the box office for the most current information. See you at the theatre! The expansive schedule for the annual AN APPALACHIAN SUMMER FESTIVAL is featured elsewhere in this issue, including a listing of all 28 events being produced and presented in July. Don’t miss it… or them. AppSummer.org THE APPALACHIAN THEATRE OF THE HIGH COUNTRY (for the second year in a row!) has been selected for the Southern Circuit Tour of Independent Filmmakers, a program of South Arts in Atlanta. Since its inception in 1975, Southern Circuit has brought some of the best independent filmmakers and their films from around the country to communities throughout the South. The program is supported by




the National Endowment for the Arts. The Southern Circuit Tour will be a part of the Appalachian Theatre’s popular BOONE DOCS documentary film festival. Dates, times, and titles for each film will soon be available on the theatre’s website: AppTheatre.org

ENSEMBLE STAGE, in their now-familiar home at the Historic Banner Elk School, has announced a summer slate of three productions, plus two popular children’s theatre offerings, a staged radio play, and a cabaret concert. On July 17 and 18, a special benefit concert features South Florida’s Carbonell Award winner Laura Hodos in a cabaret tribute to four musical theatre icons of Broadway, Julie and Mary and Ethel and Babs! The theatre promises “songs that you know, and some you don’t, along with anecdotes and fun trivia tidbits” about Julie Andrews, Mary Martin, Ethel Merman, and Barbra Streisand. Their subscription season begins on July 30 with Sean Grennan’s comedy Beer for Breakfast, running through August 7. The plot follows four middle-aged buddies who reunite for a “guys’ weekend” complete with old music, cheap beer and enough cholesterol to stop Superman’s heart. These guys are out to prove they’ve still got it and party like it’s 1979. From August 20 through 28, The Business of Murder, a suspensethriller by Richard Harris, centers on the interlocking triangular relationship between a successful television playwright, a detective superintendent, and a humorless dour man. Founding Artistic Director Gary Smith is adapting L. Frank Baum’s The Wizard of Oz into a staged radio play which will have a three-performance run from September 10 through 12. Smith and his theatre company deserve credit for keeping the historic radio drama genre alive and well here in the High Country. The summer concludes with Wendy MacLeod’s “delicious comedy” Slow Food with performances from September 24 through October 3. Developed at the prestigious National Playwrights Conference at the O’Neill Theater Center, the plot follows a vacationing couple celebrating their anniversary at a Greek restaurant in

Over in the quaint town of Abingdon, Virginia, the venerable BARTER THEATRE acquired the abandoned Moonlite Drive-In theater during the pandemic and has lovingly converted it into a live, outdoor performance venue. This successful endeavor has been reported nationwide, including a feature article in American Theatre. They are producing four shows on their summer “Barter at the Moonlight” series, with Ted Swindley’s Always… Patsy Cline running from now through July 10. Starring the dynamic Kim Morgan Dean in the title role, the musical is based on the true story of the legendary singer’s friendship with a Houston, TX, housewife, and features nearly all of Cline’s hit songs. From July 16 through 24, Doo-Wop at the Moonlight Drive In features “hit songs from the 1950s, ‘60s, and beyond, combined with laughter and nostalgia!” Barter invites you to “tap your toes and honk your horn as they transport you back to the golden age of girl groups.” The series concludes with Barter Sings Broadway from July 30 through August 7 showcasing Barter’s favorite performers singing their favorite hits from some of the best known musicals of all time. The line-up features songs from Grease, The King and I, The Phantom of the Opera, Cats, and Guys & Dolls, as well as more recent shows like Wicked and Frozen. For more information, and to take a virtual tour of the historic “State Theatre of Virginia,” visit Barter’s website at BarterTheatre.com.

Barter Theatre Always Patsy Cline


The fine folks at the JONES HOUSE CULTURAL AND COMMUNITY CENTER invite you to join the Town of Boone and the Appalachian Theatre on Friday, June 18 at 7 p.m. as they celebrate Doc Watson Day 2021. This year’s event will be a free, livestreamed concert from the App Theatre. It will feature hosts Patrick and Kay Crouch, a video montage with greetings and prerecorded performances from some of Doc’s friends and protégés, and a live concert from The Burnett Sisters Band & Colin Ray, followed by Liam Purcell & Cane Mill Road. For more info, visit JonesHouse.org or call 828-268-6280.

Mountaintop: The Edgar Tufts Story and The Denim King: The Moses Cone Story. With music and lyrics by the father and son team of Tommy and John Thomas (J. T.) Oaks and book by Speer, it brings to life the work of Rockwell, the iconic American artist. Performances run from July 25 through August 1. For more about this talented duo, look elsewhere in this edition of CML. LMST’s other show is the PG-13 rated, Tony Award-winning musical The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee by Willian Finn and Rachel Sheinkin, with performances from July 19 through 27. The action follows an eclectic group of six students as they vie for the spelling championship of a lifetime. While candidly disclosing hilarious and touching stories from their lives, the contestants spell their way through a series of words, hoping never to hear the soulcrushing “ding” of the bell that signals the end of the road for them. For tickets or information, visit lmc.edu/summertheatre or call 828-898-8709. The summer theatre tradition in the High Country started around 1950 when visionary members of the Southern Appalachian Historical Association (SAHA) began planning for a new outdoor drama to further their mission of celebrating and preserving “the diverse cultural heritage of the Blue Ridge Mountain region by engaging individuals in historical education and cultural entertainment centered around Daniel Boone and our fight for American Independence.” HORN IN THE WEST has welcomed over one-and-a-half million audience members since it opened in 1952 as the nation’s third oldest outdoor drama. Now celebrating its 69th season, the show is directed by Boone native Shauna Godwin with choral direction by local legend Billy Ralph Winkler. This Revolutionary War drama brings to life the famous

frontiersman Daniel Boone and the hardy mountain settlers of this region in their struggle to preserve their freedom during the turbulent years before and during the war for independence. Each July 4, they celebrate our nation’s independence in the style typical of the 1780s by reading aloud The Declaration of Independence along with a eulogy for King George III while his dummy is burned in effigy. There will also be a military salute to the new nation by firing 13 volleys from the black powder rifles, one shot for each of the original American colonies. Information at 828-264-2120 or at HornInTheWest.com. Performances in 2021 will run June 25 through August 7 in Boone, NC. TWEETSIE RAILROAD is North Carolina’s first theme park, opening on the Fourth of July in 1957. Known primarily as a Wild West adventure park with amusement rides and a petting zoo, Tweetsie features stunning three-mile long train rides aboard a historic, coal-fired, narrow gauge steam locomotive. From a performing arts perspective, Tweetsie is a major employer of professional talent and produces 21 performances of a half-dozen live entertainment and stage shows each day. A sampling of offerings includes the Can-Can Dancers, Country Clogging Jamboree, Hopper and Porter’s Musical Celebration, The Magic Show and the everpopular Sunset Show. Just as the cowboys ride off into the sunset at the end of the movie, Tweetsie’s entertainers mosey into the Palace for one last show at the end of the day, featuring performers from every show at Tweetsie Railroad together on one stage. The 2021 season runs through November 1, with varying dates and schedules; for more information, please visit Tweetsie.com or call 800-526-5740.


Palm Springs… but will the marriage survive the service? Ensemble’s first children’s show is adapted from the German fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm, The Fisherman and His Wife by Larry and Vivian Snipes, recent inductees into the Southeastern Theatre Conference Hall of Fame. Performances are a familyfriendly one hour in length and take place at 11 a.m. on the Saturday mornings of June 19, July 10, and August 14. It is followed by The Commedia Princess and the Pea on June 26 and July 24. This production, by Rebecca L. Byars and Lane Riosley, models the Italian commedia dell’arte style of comedy that began in Italy in the 15th century and is a favorite of young audiences. For ticket information, visit EnsembleStage.com or call 828-414-1844.


LEES-McRAE SUMMER THEATRE (LMST) has brought high caliber productions to the region since 1985. Under the direction of founder Dr. Janet Barton Speer, they will produce two musicals this season including a highly-anticipated world premiere production of America’s Artist: The Norman Rockwell Story, the newest work by the creators of both From the



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About “CML’s Keith Martin”...


ML magazine is blessed to have a treasure trove of talented writers. Folks tell us over and over that they read us from cover to cover. We will highlight our writers in the coming issues and wanted to share a beautiful quote from Denise Ringler of An Appalachian Summer Fest about our theatre editor, KEITH MARTIN. He also was just awarded the 2021 Governor’s Volunteer Service Award by Governor Cooper (see page 106). “Keith’s extensive familiarity with the regional arts scene has led him to play another critical role, in promoting music, theatre, and dance programming across our region. In recent years, he earned a stellar reputation for showcasing the people and places that make living in western North Carolina so special. Keith’s writing is fresh and original, creative, insightful, and effectively tells stories of the arts to readers across our region, providing a behindthe-scenes glimpse of what makes the arts so central to the quality of life and cultural landscape of the High Country. His stories are personal, heartfelt, and derived from what he knows and loves best: arts programming that inspires us, expands our worldview, and elevates us.” n




Boone, NC

828.268.6280 | www.joneshouse.org CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Summer 2021 —



An Appalachian Summer Festival 2021 Behind the Scenes Personnel Deserve Recognition This Season By Keith Martin


ince 1984, Appalachian State University in Boone has provided an incredible gift to local residents and visitors to our region: AN APPALACHIAN SUMMER FESTIVAL (AASF). Consistently listed as one of the top destinations in the southeast with no fewer than 28 events from July 2 to 31, 2021, this “month-long whirlwind of music, dance, theatre, visual arts and film programming has emerged as one of the nation’s leading regional arts festivals,” bringing over 27,000 people to the High Country each summer to experience world-class entertainment. For all but ten of those 37 years, AASF has been guided in various capacities by the steadying hand of Denise Ringler, the



Director of Arts Engagement and Cultural Resources at Appalachian. In announcing the upcoming season, Ringler said, “Feedback from our audiences and supporters in recent months has been tremendously helpful in determining how best to safely gather and celebrate the festival’s broad array of arts programming, while also creating the safe and protected atmosphere they are seeking.” Proactively addressing the concerns that audience members might have about returning to AASF in the aftermath of the pandemic, Ringler assured patrons by saying, “Measures such as reduced capacity, socially distanced pod seating, enhanced cleaning protocols in our venues, elimination of intermissions and indoor concessions, touch-free ticketing, and digital communications are all designed to provide the health and safety assurances that are consistent with the university’s protocols, and which are so important to our audiences.” Festival Advisory Board Chair Kent Tarbutton is ecstatic about the upcoming season: “I could not be more excited to join the 2021 Appalachian Summer Festival and celebrate getting back together with friends and family at these cherished annual artistic events. The arts at the Turchin Center, live performances of music, dance, theater, and film bring us back together this summer. There is nothing like the camaraderie and fellowship of gathering safely once again in outdoor and indoor venues with limited seating to enjoy the

fabulous artists and programing her team has put together for the whole month of July.” The 28 performances and exhibitions this summer will consist of 17 live/ in-person events, 11 all-virtual programs, and seven hybrid activities that will combine live and virtual options. It is a model of planning and organization about which AASF patrons should be exceedingly grateful. Lynn Brenner Eisenberg is Past Chair of Festival Advisory Board and raved about AASF during a Memorial Day weekend social gathering: “I can’t say enough about the inexhaustible Denise Ringler and her talented team. They are unsung heroes of AASF who have worked mightily throughout the course of this pandemic, first to pull off last summer’s remarkable virtual season and, more recently, to piece together the Rubik’s cube that is the upcoming slate of events for 2021. Most noteworthy is the incredible effort it took to replace a major program artist on very short notice, a daunting  task that they pulled off with aplomb  and professionalism.  We are so lucky to have them leading our festival.” Tarbutton agreed, saying, “We are grateful for the Appalachian team and their enduring love of the arts that adds inspiration, joy, and wonder to life each summer in these Blue Ridge Mountains.” The season will be staged across two outdoor venues, including Kidd Brewer Stadium and the State Farm Road Concert


Lot, a university-owned space adjacent to the Boone Greenway Trail, which will be outfitted as an outdoor theatrical stage with pod seating to ensure a fun, festive and safe concert setting. The Schaefer Center will host several limited-attendance events, including performances that offer two different show times and livestream options.. AASF 2021 will kick off on July 2 with their  Summer Exhibition Celebration  and conclude on  July 31  with the  Charleston, SC-based band  Ranky Tanky.  In between, the  Schaefer Popular  Series  will include  comedienne and Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me favorite Paula Poundstone on July  3, and the “wildly popular Americana band”  Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit performing live at Kidd Brewer Stadium on July 10. Tony Award-winner  Alan Cumming  and NPR’s  Ari Shapiro  team up for  Och & Oy! A Considered Cabaret  on July 24, along with Tony and Obie Awardwinning playwright and performer Sarah Jones, most notable for the multi-character, one-person shows for which she has been called “a master of the genre” on July 29. The newly-added event to which Eisenberg alluded previously is a return engagement by Brian Stokes Mitchell, performing with Megan Hilty on July 17. Mitchell is a four-time Tony nominee for Man of La Mancha, King Hedley II, Ragtime, and Kiss Me, Kate, for which he won the Tony Award. While TV audiences will remember him for his appearances in


Roots, Trapper John, M.D. and Glee, among others, it is Mitchell’s mellifluous baritone that will wow theatregoers. Hilty starred on the television musical-drama series Smash and, most recently, starred in the Lifetime movie Patsy and Loretta, for which she received a Critics Choice nomination and won a Women’s Image Award for her portrayal of the country music legend Patsy Cline. Her Broadway performances include Glinda the Good Witch in Wicked, creating the role of Doralee Rhodes in 9 to 5 the Musical, and her Tony-nominated turn as Brooke Ashton in Noises Off. The festival’s classical music programming will feature favorites such as the Emerson String Quartet on July 6, Canadian Brass on July 11, Tessa Lark and Michael Thurber on July 16, Tesla Quartet on July 20, Rosen-Schaffel Competition: 10th Anniversary Celebration, featuring Andrew Rene and Morgan Short on July 25, and Julian Gargiulo, “the pianist with the hair,” on July 30. Visual arts programming, a cornerstone of festival programming, will consist of the Summer Exhibition Celebration on July 2, the Educator Workshop on July 9, and the 35th Annual Rosen Sculpture Walk on July 10. The popular Lunch & Learn Series will be enjoyed virtually this season with free events scheduled at 12 noon; the dates and program topics are as follows: July 12, Where are the birds? Retracing Audubon: Artwork by Krista Elrick; July 19, Dulatown: Documentary Film Screening and

Panel Discussion; July 22, Testimony — Indonesian Lullaby: Surviving the Shoah in the Netherlands, Dr. Alfred Münzer; and July 26, Ruminations: Cheryl Prisco — From Studio to Gallery. A festival favorite, Parsons Dance, returns to Boone for an evening of contemporary dance on July 8 immediately following the successful conclusion of their New York season at the famed Joyce Theatre. The North Carolina Black Repertory Company returns for their fourth summer with their production of Freedom Summer on July 15. That production will be preceded on July 13 with a “Meet the Artist” program featuring Artistic Director Jackie Alexander. The Helene and Stephen Weicholz Global Film Series will again offer awardwinning international film programming, along with compelling pre-film lectures providing a historical context for films in the series, as well as interesting background about the making of each film. The 2021 line-up includes Quo Vidis, Aida? on July 7, The Road to Mandalay on July 14, Transit on July 21, and Complicity on July 28.


Tickets for festival events are available online and at the Schaefer Center for the Performing Arts box office. For more information, visit www.appsummer.org or call the box office at 828-262-4046.



AASF Stars Give Back By Playing Forward By Keith Martin


ossip magazines and pseudo-entertainment programs attract readers and viewers with tidbits, rumors, and innuendo about stars of stage and screen who they frequently portray as “divas” or “prima-damn-donnas” for their behindthe-scenes, backstage, or off-camera antics. While this might be true for a very small percentage of the celebrities they cover, it is anything but the case with the kind and generous artists who will grace the stages of AASF this summer. Please allow me to cite a few examples from personal experience to illustrate this point. Appalachian State University owns a beautiful Loft on the lower East Side of Manhattan in New York City, located in the Flat Iron district just a short walk from Madison Park and just two subway stops away from Times Square. It can accommodate 20 students and four faculty, plus a resident director who serves as a concierge to events and activities in “The Big Apple.” The Department of Theatre and Dance utilizes this tremendous asset for as many as four week-long trips for students in their program. On January 6, 2016, graduating theatre students on their annual senior trip attended a Broadway performance of Michael Frayn’s comic farce Noises Off! produced by the Roundabout Theatre Company and featuring an Appalachian graduate, David Furr, in the cast. The students knew that David would be meeting them after the final curtain call, but he surprised all of us by inviting the entire cast to join him for an extended conversation. Among Furr’s fellow co-stars was Megan Hilty of television’s Smash. In fact, she was the first to arrive and the last to leave the Q&A session, providing words of wisdom, advice, and the lessons learned from her personal journey to our students, posing for pictures, signing Playbills, and continuing the conversation privately with young actresses in the group while providing encouragement to their professional aspirations. Coincidentally, both Furr and Hilty would receive Tony Award nominations that season for their respective roles in Noises Off! Appalachian dance students snapped up all of the $10 partial-view seats in the front row of the Joyce Theatre in Chelsea in May 2018 to see a performance by Parsons Dance. A random “is there any chance to meet you” request via the

Joyce resulted in an immediate response from Co-Founder and Artistic Director David Parsons himself. He was incredibly gracious to invite our dance students not only to observe company class, but encouraged them to dress out and TAKE class with his professional artists before their performance; Parsons even arranged for his dancers to meet with our students for an informative and inspirational post show discussion. CML asked him about their upcoming AASF performance: “Returning to perform at An Appalachian Summer Festival will be a highlight of this summer’s schedule,” said Parsons. “Boone is a beautiful community to visit, the audiences are enthusiastic and knowledgeable about dance, and the Festival team is a joy with whom to work. We are thrilled to be going back.” Brian Stokes Mitchell was one of the most prominent Broadway stars to be diagnosed with COVID-19, which was announced on April 1, 2020. After his recovery, he sang nightly from a window of his Upper West Side apartment in Manhattan to thank first responders and medical workers. It was a ritual widely reported in the media as his rendition of “The Impossible Dream” from Man of La Mancha became an anthem for a city struggling during the pandemic and hoping for the effective vaccine that was soon to follow. In 2016, Mitchell was awarded his second Tony Award, the prestigious Isabelle Stevenson Award, for his charitable work with The Actors Fund. That same year, “Stokes” was inducted into the Theatre Hall of Fame. Mitchell is married to actress Allyson Tucker who met with Appalachian theatre students in January 2019 in her role as a councilor on the governing body of Actors’ Equity Association, the union of professional actors and stage managers. She could not have been more gracious in patiently explaining the complexities of performing arts unions, the pros and cons of membership, collective bargaining agreements, and “right to work states,” all while providing invaluable career advice. So, as you watch these artists perform onstage at AASF, remember to applaud their altruism when not in the limelight as they unselfishly give back to their beloved art forms by playing forward to the next generation of theatre and dance artists. PARSONS DANCE, PHOTO BY LOIS GREENFIELD


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7990 Hickory Nut Gap Road, Banner Elk 11-3 Wed-Sat | June-Sept BannerHouseMuseum.org


Greater Banner Elk Heritage Foundation




2021 Offerings Historic Downtown Banner Elk Guided Walking Tours

Meet us at the Banner House at noon and our docents will lead you on a tour of our lovely town and maybe even tell you a few extra secrets! $10 per person.

Porch Talks

For those who prefer less of a hike, or in case of inclement weather, join us on our covered porch for a chat about Banner Elk history. Check our website for dates of special guest presenters! Free with donation.

Year-round Virtual Offerings Historic Downtown Banner Elk Cellphone App Walking Tours

Download the free Pocket Sights app and let your phone lead you on a walking tour any time! Available through Apple and Google Play stores. Tips on our website.

History Trunks Online

Downloadable pdf activity lesson plans feature fun activities to connect kids with history.

Bike Park & Scenic Chairlift Rides July 2 - September 6 & October 15 - 17

Summit Crawl & Fireworks on Top of Sugar Mountain July 4

Gravity Mountain Bike Camp July 9 - 11

Avery County Fine Art & Master Crafts Festival July 16 - 18

August 13 - 15

Downhill Southeast Series Finals July 31 & August 1


October 9 & 10

located within the village of Sugar Mountain




Gather for a Good Time!

Cheryl Prisco

Summer Exhibition Celebration

July 2


Turchin Center for the Visual Arts

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

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ADVOCATES for the Care of

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Speak Out Take Action

Learn about the ways in which you can take action by calling 828-783-9143 38 — Summer 2021 CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE

Tommy and John Thomas Oaks: Father/Son Duo Behind Fresh, New, Original Musicals

“The Mighty Oaks” M

ost writers have a fondness for particular subjects in the beats on which they report. My affinity is for fresh, new, original works in any performing arts medium: dance, music, or theatre. This highest praise is reserved for those companies who believe in reforesting the American theatre by planting a few new trees rather than harvesting the same old chestnuts… over and over again. Alas, the honor roll of organizations that do so on a consistent basis is very small, less than a handful, and includes the likes of Barter Theatre, In/Visible Theatre and, for new musicals, Lees-McRae Summer Theatre (LMST). That last company may be a surprise to some readers, because the creative challenges and financial risks inherent in producing the world premiere of a new musical are daunting in any season, much less for a summer theatre that lives or dies from box office revenue. Fortunately, for the last 36 years, LeesMcRae Summer Theatre’s founder and artistic director has been the indefatigable Dr. Janet Barton Speer. This dynamo is responsible for commissioning, producing, directing, and choreographing some of the most creative and innovative new musicals in our region, and her most frequent collaborators have been the father-son composer/lyricist team of Tommy and John Thomas ( J.T.) Oaks, often serving as book writers as well. J. T. has also served as musical director, music arranger, and pianist for numerous LMST productions.

Together this prolific trio has been responsible for mainstage productions, such as From The Mountaintop: The Edgar Tufts Story (2019), a historical musical based on the life of the founder of Lees-McRae Institute, Canon Memorial Hospital, and Grandfather Mountain Orphanage; The Denim King (2007 and 2015), based on the story of Moses Cone and commissioned by the Blue Ridge Parkway Association; and children’s musicals, including A Whale of a Tale (2019), a swashbuckling, high-seas adventure version of the Biblical story of Jonah, Screen Test (2018), a musical exploring the problems associated with too much technology and social media, Passport, Please (2017), a musical journey around the world to discover what true wealth really is, and Davey Crockett: A Night at the Alamo, which is planned for production in the summer of 2022. This summer, the trio combine for yet another world premiere, America’s Artist: The Norman Rockwell Story about the prolific painter and illustrator whose works found popular appeal in the United States for their reflection of American culture. Rockwell is most famous for the cover illustrations of everyday life he created for The Saturday Evening Post magazine over nearly five decades. Creating more than 4,000 pieces of iconic art in his lifetime, Rockwell captured the essence of America with each paint stroke, from “Rosie the Riveter” to “The Four

Dr. Janet Barton Speer

By Keith Martin Freedoms,” with his paintings and illustrations reflecting America as we wish it to be. “After the success of From The Mountaintop,” said J.T., “Dr. Speer approached us about writing another historical musical. We landed on Norman Rockwell, and immediately gravitated to a jazzy, ragtime style score that hopefully makes the show resonate with a solid American nostalgia. Once we decided on that particular musical direction, it was great fun putting the music and lyrics together.” The Oaks live in Knoxville, TN, and have been performing together for 30 years. Tommy (the elder Oaks) says he was “the first person in the world to graduate with a Master’s Degree in Storytelling from East Tennessee State University” and calls himself “a preacher and a storyteller.” Dr. Oaks—he has a Pd.D. from the University of Tennessee—has been preaching for over fifty of his 74 years, with a variety of experiences in the ministry, including in youth ministry, as a pulpit preacher, in campus ministry, and for years as a full time traveling evangelist. “Thirty-plus years… and countin’!” he said. The resume for John Thomas (the younger Oaks) lists extensive credits from the Broadway production of Annie Get Your Gun to “The Rosie O’Donnell Show” to Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus, along with over a dozen recordings, radio, film and television work, and over continued on next page CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Summer 2021 —


fifty stage productions in various capacities. Speer says her friendship with the Oaks dates back to 1997 and a production of their two-man show, Star Queen. “I was so taken with the music and storytelling that I asked John Thomas to join the LeesMcRae Summer Theatre company. Since that time, we have written four shows together. “We got into biographical musicals,” Speer said, “when the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation asked me to write a play on the Moses Cone story, The Denim King.  It is pure joy to research these stories then see what genius J.T. and Tommy could bring to them. Because of the distance between our homes, we seldom get to meet so we communicate electronically until the piece is ready to go to the actors.  “I think what makes it all work is our ability to set our egos aside and adjust. We give one another feedback, and of course that may not always be met with a change,

but most frequently it is. What a joy it has been to work with these two men. They are not only amazing in their talent, but they are the best of human beings.  They like telling stories that boost the soul, and I have ‘so been boosted’ for many years.” John Thomas said that in addition to being a great friend and advocate, Speer has been essential to the success of their musicals. “She came to Heaton Christian Church to see our first musical… and invited us to be part of the summer theatre season at Lees-McRae. Dr. Speer is a brilliant director. I have watched in amazement at countless rehearsals as she has taught choreography and helped a cast grasp her vision for the show. She is compassionate and funny, but also firm and laser-focused. She also brought a cast of LMC students to New York City for a live reading of a King David musical on which we were working.” The family’s faith tradition informs their work with original works such as

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Mark… My Words, featuring the entire text of the Gospel of Mark, Ruthie and Bo, a 1950s doo-wop update of the story of Ruth from the Bible, True to You about the life of King David, Star Queen, based on the life of Queen Esther, Sunny, based on “The Prodigal Son” parable, and Moses: The Musical. “Many of our shows are versions of Biblical stories,” said J.T. “We believe the Bible is full of wonderful stories that translate well to theatrical settings. That doesn’t mean we believe the Bible is a book of fairy tales. The stories in the Bible help define who we are and what we believe about God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, life here on earth, and life ever after. “If not for Dr. Speer, we would likely not still be writing today,” J.T. continued. “When writing a show, it becomes necessary at some point to realize the script and score onstage with a live cast. I am not exaggerating when I say that Dr. Speer has helped to make our dreams come true. There is nothing like sitting in an orchestra pit or audience and watching a musical come together the way Dr. Speer puts it together. We don’t have the words to adequately thank her.” There is no shortage of ideas in the Oaks household. Current projects on which the duo are working include a musical prequel to the Cinderella fairytale called Ella, writing a sci-fi novel, a television show based on Don Quixote, an epic poem based on the life of King David, and Way Back When, a folk musical from the first five chapters of the book of Genesis. Those projects are in addition to several unproduced shows that are waiting for the right theatre company to come along. These include Point of an Arrow, String of a Bow, an original Robin Hood musical, and Mars Needs Bikinis, a campy musical that is a love letter to the cheesy sci-fi and beach blanket films of the ‘50s and ‘60s. At the moment, however, rehearsals are underway for America’s Artist: The Norman Rockwell Story with performances scheduled from July 25 to August 1 in Hayes Auditorium on the Lees-McRae College campus in Banner Elk, NC. For more information or to purchase tickets online, visit their website at lmc.edu/ community/summer-theatre or call the box office at 828-898-8709.

Saturday, August 21 West



56, 72, or 102 Miles plus The Assault on Mt. Jefferson



Fri. Sept. 17 1-8 p.m. Sat. Sept. 18 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Antiques, Primitives, Collectibles, Food Downtown West Jefferson For applications: email debmoe@skybest.com, pick up at Antiques on Main, or call 336-977-9165

Live Music & Food Truck Starting in May





Where the Music is... Jones House Music

At the Wineries and Vineyards

Linville Falls Winery – Located near Linville Falls and the spectacular Linville Gorge, the steepest gorge east of the Mississippi River, Linville Falls Winery hosts music every Friday, Saturday and Sunday afternoons beginning at 3 p.m. | 9557 Linville Falls Hwy (Hwy 221) Linville Falls, NC Blue Ridge Parkway Mile 317, 828-765-1400, linvillefallswinery.com Banner Elk Winery – The High Country’s original winery is just minutes from downtown Banner Elk and hosts music on Saturdays and Sundays, 1-5 p.m. and most Fridays 3-6 p.m. | 60 Deer Run Lane, Banner Elk, NC, 828-898-9090, bannerelkwinery.com

Grandfather Vineyard and Winery – Music in the vineyard hosts a season full of live music on Thursday, Friday and Saturday starting at 2 p.m. and Sunday afternoons starting at 1 p.m. through the third week in October. Food truck available. | 225 Vineyard Lane, off N.C. 105 between Boone and Banner Elk, 828-963-2400, grandfathervineyard.com

At Restaurants and Bars Old Hampton Barbecue and The Tavern at the Old Hampton Store – Live outdoor music on select Thursdays, Fridays or Saturdays from 5:30-8:30 p.m. (weather dependent). Go to Old Hampton Store Facebook page for the latest updates, additions, and changes. | 77 Ruffin Street in Linville, 828-733-5213 Live Bands at Banner Elk Café – Fridays and Saturdays throughout the year, 6 -10 p.m. | 324 Shawneehaw Ave. S. Banner Elk, 828-898-4040, bannerelkcafe.com Live Music at Lost Province Brewery – Every Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings, 7:30-10 p.m. | 130 N. Depot Street, Boone, 828-265-3506, lostprovince.com


Inn at Ragged Gardens Music on the Lawn

Chef’s Table – Live Wednesday night jazz with Shane Chalke at 7 p.m. Additional live music on Friday and Saturday nights starting at 7 p.m. | 140 Azalea Circle, Banner Elk, 828-898-5214, bannerelkvillage.com Barra Sports Bar – Karaoke Saturday nights starting at 9 p.m. | 140 Azalea Circle, Banner Elk, 828-898-5214, bannerelkvillage.com

Bayou Concerts in the Courtyard – Tuesday evenings in Banner Elk, the Bayou Smokehouse and Grill features music on the lawn beginning at 6 p.m., rain or shine. Check their Facebook page for full listings. | 130 Main Street E, Banner Elk, 828-898-8952 Famous Brick Oven Pizzeria – Live music every Thursday 6-8:30 p.m., | 402 Beech Mountain Parkway, Beech Mountain, 828-387-4000, famousbrickoven.com Booneshine Brewing Company Summer in the Garden – Thursday evenings at Booneshine Brewing Company in East Boone from 6:30-9 p.m. through August. | 465 Industrial Park Drive, Boone, 828-278-8006, booneshine.beer Highlanders Grill & Tavern – Check for dates and lineup on their Facebook page at facebook.com/highlandersbannerelk | 4527 Tynecastle Hwy., Banner Elk, 828-898-9613 Summer Music Series at the Table at Crestwood – Every Thursday night through mid-August, 5:30-8 p.m. at The Inn at Crestwood, Blowing Rock. Reservations advised. | 3236 Shulls Mill Rd., Boone, 828-963-6646, crestwoodnc.com Timberlake’s Restaurant – at the Chetola Resort features live music in the Pub, on the Patio or by the Bonfire, depending on weather and special events, Wednesday through Saturday 6-9 p.m. | 185 Chetola Lake Dr., Blowing Rock, 828-295-5505, chetola.com/dining/

At Inns and Resorts 5506’ Skybar at Beech Mountain Ski Resort – Take the ski lift to the top—the Skybar at the peak of the mountain offers live music on Saturdays from 2:30-5:30 p.m. | 1007 Beech Mountain Parkway, Beech Mountain, 800-438-2093, beechmountainresort.com Music on the Lawn at The Inn at Ragged Gardens – Friday evenings May through midOctober, 5:30-8:30 p.m., weather permitting. Bring your own seating; outdoor bar and lawn menu available. Sorry, no coolers, pets, or outside food or beverages. | 203 Sunset Dr., Blowing Rock, 828-295-9703, ragged-gardens.com Symphony by the Lake – One night only, Friday July 23. Dinner, fireworks, and the Symphony of the Mountains. Chetola Resort, Blowing Rock. $50 advance tickets only. Gates open at 5:30 p.m., music at 7:30 p.m. Info and tickets: symphonybythelake.com, 828-295-7851 Grillin & Chillin Concert and Dinner Series at Sugar Mountain – Wednesdays, May through Labor Day, 6-9 p.m. on the Golf and Tennis Clubhouse Deck, hosted by CaddyShack Café, dinner available for $12$14. | 1054 Sugar Mountain Dr., Banner Elk, 828-898-1025, seesugar.com/ summer-concerts/ Music on the Veranda at Green Park Inn – Sundays, 5-8 p.m. Bring your own chairs. | 9239 Valley Blvd., Blowing Rock, 828-4149230, GreenParkInn.com Beech Alpen Pavilion Summer Concerts – Sundays, 5 p.m., at Beech Alpen Inn, weather permitting, Memorial Day through Labor Day. | 700 Beech Mountain Parkway, Beech Mountain, 828-387-2252, BeechAlpen.com

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

Music at Grandfather Vineyard Summer Concert Series at the Beech Mountain Resort – August 6 & 7, August 14, and August 21, 7-11 p.m. Tickets available online at Beechmountainresort.com. | 1007 Beech Mountain Parkway, Beech Mountain, 828-387-2011, beechmountainresort.com

Todd Summer Concert Series – Free live concerts will be held outdoors at Cook Memorial Park in downtown Todd from 6-8 p.m., June through mid-August. Bring a chair or blanket | 3977 Todd Railroad Grade Rd, Todd, facebook.com/ToddNC28684/

At Parks


Concerts in the Park, Banner Elk – Every Thursday, July through August 26, 6:30 p.m., Tate Evans Town Park next to Town Hall on Hwy 194. | 210 Park Ave., Banner Elk, 828-898-8395, BannerElk.org

An Appalachian Summer Festival – Annual summer arts attraction from July 2-31. This monthlong cultural event includes live music concerts in Boone, NC. For information and tickets: 800-841-2787, appsummer.org

Concerts in the Park, Blowing Rock – Sundays at 4 p.m. following Art in The Park. | Memorial Park, 1036 Main Street, Blowing Rock, NC, 828-295-7851, blowingrock.com/ concertinthepark/

FloydFest’21 “Odyssey” – July 21-25 in Floyd, VA. For complete information, floydfest.com

Blowing Rock Town Concert Series – A variety of free music concerts at the gazebo in Broyhill Park (rain location - The Blowing Rock American Legion Hall) on Monday nights, July-August at 7 p.m. Bring a chair or blanket | amymarieproductions.com Fridays in the Park Concert Series – Every third Friday during the summer at Ashe County Park, 7-9 p.m. | Ashe Park Rd., Jefferson, 336-846-2787 Backstreet Park Summer Concerts – 5:30-7 p.m. on Fridays in July and August, downtown West Jefferson on the Backstreet. Bring your own seating. | 888-343-2743, ashechamber.com Concerts in the Commons – The second Saturday of the month at 6 p.m., now through October at Carolina West Wireless Community Commons. | 102 West Main St., Wilkesboro, 336-838-3951, wilkesboronc.org/ visitors/concerts-in-the-commons

Virginia Highlands Festival – July 21-August 1. Annual event includes live music concerts. | Abingdon, VA, vahighlandsfestival.org Bristol Rhythm and Roots Reunion – September 10-12 in downtown Bristol, VA/TN | State Street. For tickets and more information: 423-573-1927, birthplaceofcountrymusic.org

And Everywhere Else FORUM at Lees-McRae College – Mondays, 5 and 7:30 p.m. through August 2 at Hayes Auditorium on the campus of LeesMcRae College. | 191 Main St., Banner Elk; information and tickets: 828-898-8748, lmc.edu/forum Concerts on the Deck – Bring a chair and your dancing shoes to the Yadkin Valley Marketplace the third Saturday of each month, now through October, starting at 6 p.m. | 842 CBD Loop, North Wilkesboro, 336-667-7129, downtownnorthwilkesboro.com

music! summer ‘21

MerleFest – Considered one of the premier music festivals in the country, MerleFest is an annual homecoming of musicians and music fans held on the Campus of Wilkes Community College in Wilkesboro. The festival hosts a diverse mix of artists on 13 stages September 16-19 starting at 9 a.m. | 1328 S. Collegiate Dr., Wilkesboro, 800-343-7857, merlefest.org

At stores

& 5, 1-4 p.m.; Saturday, July 3, 11 a.m.-6 p.m.; September 3, 5 & 6, 1-4 p.m. and September 4, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Bring a lawn chair and your friends and family! All events are FREE. | 278 Shoppes on the Parkway Road, Blowing Rock, NC 28605, 828-295-4444, tangeroutlet.com/ blowingrock  

Concerts in The Courtyard at Tanger Outlets/Blowing Rock – Enjoy live concerts on the July 4th and Labor Day Weekends at the Tanger Outlets Courtyard Stage: July 2, 4

The Orchard at Altapass – Free live music in the outdoor pavilion from May through September on Saturday and Sunday, 2:304:30 p.m. | 1025 Orchard Rd., Spruce Pine, 828-765-9531, altapassorchard.org

Crossnore Jam – Free live jam sessions. Bring an instrument if you would like to join in! Town Meeting House on the first Friday of the month at 6 p.m. | Crossnore Drive, Crossnore, 828-733-0360.

Be sure to check with each venue or search online for any changes to dates, times, locations, and restrictions.



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Come tour the Grandfather Home

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Located on the historic campus in Banner Elk, NC, in the building previously known as the “director’s house.”

Blue Ridge Heritage Trail Map Courtesy of blueridgeheritage.com

JAM-Program —Courtesy of Stecoah Valley Arts

Student at Penland weaving class —Photo by Robin Dreyer

Quilt trails painting —Courtesy of Ashe County Arts Council

Fill Your Summer with Blue Ridge Culture T

he Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina are among the oldest mountains on Earth. The landscape is full of superlatives: the highest mountain (Mount Mitchell), deepest gorge (Linville Gorge), and highest waterfall (Whitewater Falls) in the eastern United States; the oldest river in North America (the New River); and the two most visited National Park lands in the country (the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park). The region has been blessed with a stunning diversity of plant and animal life—more, in fact, than the whole of Europe. Throughout history, our mountains have proved a fertile meeting ground for European and African music traditions, and over time these traditions melded to create the unique music of Appalachia. The area has also become the center of handmade art and craft in America, with a rich legacy of both traditional and contemporary craft schools and over 4,000 working craftspeople. A land of mountain wilderness, waterfalls, Native American traditions, string bands, and craft studios, the heritage of western North Carolina is like no other. AN INVITATION TO EXPLORE The Blue Ridge National Heritage Area (BRNHA), in partnership with the National Park Service, is the regional steward of living Appalachian traditions in North Carolina, with a mission to “honor

our elders and invite new generations to explore music, craft, foodways, the outdoors, and the native wisdom that all have their home in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina.” Several popular websites have been created by the BRNHA to provide real-time information and interactive maps that help tourists plan a day, weekend or week-long trip exploring the rich culture of the Blue Ridge Mountains. BlueRidgeHeritage.com – A good starting point for planning a cultural adventure, this website provides an overview of the National Heritage Area, as well as a great summary of all the “heritage adventures” in the region, based on your available time and interests. It also provides access to two invaluable online portals: Blue Ridge Craft Trails and Blue Ridge Music Trails. Blue Ridge Craft Trails (www.blueridgeheritage.com/blue-ridge-crafttrails/) – If arts and crafts are your main interest, you are undeniably in a region rich in craft traditions and brimming with craft artists. Travel along the Blue Ridge Craft Trails to visit with artists in their studios, shop galleries full of local, handmade artwork, and discover scenic treasures and cultural gems along the way. The Blue Ridge Craft Trails organizers welcome new Trail sites regularly, with plans to add an estimated 200 craft artists, galleries and sites to the Trails over the next year. Check the website regularly to see added locations.

By CML Staff

Blue Ridge Music Trails (www.blueridgemusicnc.com) - Consider this your all-in-one guide to the traditional music of the North Carolina mountains and foothills. Here you’ll find all the details on regional festivals, concerts and performances, jam sessions and community dances. You can also access a variety of recordings, podcasts, and videos from featured artists and various music genres. BlueRidgeHeritageTrail.com – This website provides a digital map of the entire region, and highlights and categorizes the many heritage treasures of North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Equipped with this excellent resource, you can create a driving tour that is ideal for you. Put together a mix of your favorite things, including history, natural wonders, outdoor adventure, arts and crafts, and music-related experiences. Or, select one of many suggested itineraries. You can pick up a printed Driving Trail Map at any regional welcome center or Chamber of Commerce. PLAN YOUR TOUR OF THE TRAILS Start the planning process by going to BlueRidgeHeritage.com to get familiar with the region. Check out the site’s easy-touse interactive tools and filters to create the perfect getaway for your visit. You’re sure to find all the information you need to inspire and entertain the whole family, whether it’s enjoying local music, original art or the natural beauty of the area. Time to hit the Trails! CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Summer 2021 —


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John Richards, Artist Rooster Lamp

A Yummy Mud Puddle Life By LouAnn Morehouse


ust outside the town of Burnsville, NC, on a road that takes a few curves and then climbs right up a small mountain, is a house with a pretty southern exposure and a tree-shaded oval pond. The pond was muddied by spring rains when I last visited, which called to mind the name of this property: Yummy Mud Puddle Gallery, Studios, and Vacation Rental. This is the home of artists John D. Richards and Claudia Dunaway. Although the pond is much too large to qualify as a mud puddle, its watery presence must serve as a constant reminder to John Richards, the self-described “extremely mixed media art machine,” of his first artistic efforts. At the tender age of three, young John set about drawing a picture using mud from a puddle in his yard. His mother approved of both effort and medium, and so an artist set his course. He’s left mud drawing behind, but never gave up the practice of making art from pretty much anything at hand. Aside from the standard art supplies of paper, paint, and clay, he makes free use of bottle caps, shiny wrappers, pop tops, wire, and so much more—the assortment of odd stuff fairly boggles the mind. And while the materials alone are usually pretty mundane, John’s bounteous imagination transforms them into one of a kind, never before seen, objects that amuse and delight. When I ask John where he finds his materials, he snorts and says, “I live in America,” perhaps to say that in the land of plenty, there are plenty of things he can use. And he has helpers who donate to the

cause. He says just about every week he gets a box of odds and ends from someone. A couple of local watering holes save their bottle caps for John—bottle caps figure heavily in his work. The Hispanic proprietor of one bodega was surprised to be asked the favor in impeccable Spanish. John remains fluent in the language thanks to a childhood spent in Puerto Rico, where his stepfather, a lay missionary, founded a school for boys. Later on, at Union College in upstate New York, John took his degree in Spanish. He spent some years teaching English and Spanish, but his creative energies could not be denied. Eventually, he found his way to the Pratt Institute, where he reveled in the freedom and variety of the prestigious school’s art, architecture, and design curricula. Throughout his college years he had made art and taken on design jobs to earn some extra cash, but it was a bare bones existence. As John explains, he was a poor boy, a missionary’s kid. Although he aspired to be an architect or interior designer, reality intervened, so he took what he had learned from Pratt and resolved to make his way as a full fledged artist. John has been what he describes as “creatively unemployed” for decades now, and his imagination shows no sign of depletion. A recent design initiative is “collards,” his word (naturally) for card-sized collages that combine images such as reproductions of classic artwork with pictures cut from advertisements. He sells them complete with envelopes that have been embellished with his own calligraphic messages; each

collard a proper original. They’re frequently beautiful, usually funny, and sometimes a bit disturbing—which, truth to tell, is true of all of John Richards’ vast oeuvre. Just next door to his large, well organized studio, with its drawers of shiny bits and boxes labeled “extra art,” his gallery at Yummy Mud Puddle displays a fantastic array of jewelry, sculptures large and small, hanging and standing, and lamps in animal shapes with glowing shades. It takes a lot of looking to see everything. Fortunately, Yummy Mud Puddle gallery is not the only place to see John’s work; he has collections at sixteen galleries regionally. In the High Country, John is at Toe River Art Gallery in Spruce Pine, 87 Ruffin Street Gallery in Linville, and Boonies in Boone. A member of the Southern Highland Craftsmen Guild, John Richards is a skilled craftsman who works in cast off and unappreciated junk. He is furthermore a highly articulate person who infuses his creations with personality and attitude, often by writing or drawing all over them. Not only are some of his most ornate pieces covered with commentary and doodles, his many assorted booklets, hand drawn and lettered, then photocopied and stapled together, share his wit and wisdom with all. Certain pieces, such as the Alien Women sculptures, have their own booklets that provide back stories on the totem-like, foot-high statuettes, such as: “Alien women eat fruits and vegetables with attractive labels.” Who knew? John did. Continued on next page CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Summer 2021 —


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And if sculpting and drawing and writing weren’t enough, there’s Hot Duck Soup, the “novelty jazz band,” in which John plays banjo. When I express surprise at yet another creative aspect of this multimedia artist, he quips modestly, “Well you know what they say—not all banjo players are musicians.” Maybe some of them are artists. John works at Yummy Mud Puddle with fellow artists, Claudia Dunaway and Kathryn Lynch. He and Claudia have been married for thirty years. They met when each were on the art festival circuit, plying their wares at big events up and down the east coast. It was a whirlwind courtship and when they decided to settle down in 1991, they opened the “Temple of Great Art No Spitting,” a gallery, in St. Augustine, FL. By the early 2000s, Claudia fell homesick for her native land, North Carolina, and they started looking for a home in the mountains. John says it took innumerable house reviews before they found the perfect one. I wonder if it was the pond that sold them. Or maybe the fact that there’s room for several studios as well as a vacation rental. Or maybe it’s just that picture perfect view across the sunny valley to the Black Mountains. My guess is it’s all of the above. Happily settled on a mountainside, with a pond for reverie (and ducks), John Richards makes art, writes stories, and plays music. He says he still gets up in the morning, ready to start on something new. One thing to be sure of, it won’t be like anything ever seen before. And chances are, it will amaze and delight! Visit www.yummymudpuddle.com, or call 828-682-6567. The gallery/studio is located at 264 Clear View Lane, Burnsville, NC 28714. The work of Claudia Dunaway is also available at the Mica gallery in Bakersville, NC, www.micagallerync.com.

Let the M u s i c P l a y 52 — Summer 2021 CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE 44

Bottlecap Fish / John Richards, Artist


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45 53


High Country Denim ‘Jean-eology’ Calms our COVID Blues By Gail Greco Funky Tulip


e’re going above the fray this summer, the pandemic having woven a silver lining into our beloved denim jeans. They’re flared at the bottom with a dramatic swinging bell shape or just a hintof-kick at the ankle and with a higher give at the rise. And, that’s not all. Displayed in store windows and beckoning fashionably on sidewalk mannequins all over the High Country, this season’s new relaxed jeans are responding to our needs, walking us back to serenity, hope, and the promise of fun again! “The change is subtle and friendly, with looser jeans maybe even more flattering and even cooler to wear now in the hotter weather,” informs Lisa Ireland, owner of Funky Tulip women’s boutique in Blowing Rock. The state of our jeans is particularly near-and-dear to our hearts here. Denim is in our DNA, a High Country “jeaneology” that began with textile giant Moses Cone, known as the Denim King. So, it’s metaphoric that his Cone Manor, located on the Blue Ridge Parkway near Blowing Rock, is also taking on a fresh new look. From doorknobs to rooftop, an exciting structural facelift at the historic 1901 home is underway at the now National Park Service property, scraped down to the bare wood, looking like—well—the distressed rips on some trendy jeans... carpenters and artisans diligently repairing years of the manor’s


At Boone Belles

Mountains of Denim by David Westwood

peeling skin with putty, paint, and passion. Right now you can’t get into Moses’s and wife Bertha’s summer home to visit the rooms during renovations, but you can ease “in” to your roomier new jeans that are literally hanging out at Funky Tulips’ The Denim Bar. Step up to that bar and try on a charming wide-legged pair, for example, with a floral fabric calf-to-ankle inset for everyday wear—but still chic enough for the Denim Ball, the annual fundraiser that the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation hopes to hold again. Denim worn to a ball in the High Country is our glass slipper, but one we find easily. Take Watsonatta Western Wear in Boone, and wow, jeans are stacked practically from floor to ceiling. Same at Mo’s Boots where buyer/manager Kelly Hardy pulls out a pair of the popular Carhartt men’s work jeans, always baggie, but maybe even more so now. He shows us a 34-inch waist you think’s gotta be a 42-incher and he can’t keep them in stock. He’s not surprised: “The working class never stopped during the pandemic,” he beams. “The reason, the stimulus...more than quadrupling our sales.” Hardy’s wife, Michelle, manages the so-called Mosey’s women’s department at Mo’s West Jefferson. “We started seeing the ‘widees’ in fall, and now for summer the capris are flared, too!” she says. “At the Atlanta Apparel (buyer’s) Mart I attended

Rachel O'Hare at Lililu

this year, anyone selling jeans at all had the wide-legs. So you’ll be finding them now wherever you shop.” That includes Mast General Store in Valle Crucis, already in full supply of relaxed Levi’s just as the jeans giant’s CEO Chip Berg had promised in spring: “We have rushed to respond to customers searching now for more comfortable jeans,” and he forecasts: “We believe this option in jeans is here to stay. It’s not a trend.” He’s probably right. From subtly distressed to more tailored but dazzling prints cuffed, cropped or full length, the new look “adds fun and possibilities, expanding your jeans wardrobe,” explains LeAnn Gregory, a manager at Lililu on King women’s clothing shop in Boone. “Any age can wear these jeans, and we help them find the right fit for their body type so they can dress with confidence. Tops also complement the look either tucked, cropped or long and tied at the waist,” she adds. “Initially, older women were hesitant, but once they try them on, and with our chunky wedges, they feel so light and comfortable, they go for it. Definitely a wardrobe addition that’s catching on fast!” Jeans brands at Mast General Store are coming in traditional true-blue indigo but washed lighter, reports Sheri Moretz, “and some with decorative hems like eyelet are versatile enough for a football game

The word jeans is from the cotton corduroy jeans in Genoa, Italy and the term denim from serge de Nimes, meaning a sturdy fabric (woven with blue indigo and white thread) from Nimes, France. Kelly Hardy at Mo's

or a fancy dinner party.” She jokes that the loosey-goosey jeans also address “the weight we’ve gained during the pandemic. Customers feel better about the fit and themselves in these new styles—especially working from home.” True, tapered jeans can make it hard to do business at a desk or cross-legged on the floor cradling a laptop. It’s one example of why Scott Baxter, CEO of Kontoor brands (Wrangler and Lee, Greensboro headquarters), told The Associated Press last month that the pandemic has, “accelerated casual dressing. Shoppers are going out again and want to be as comfortable as they have been at home.” Appalachian State University graduate Sarah Anderson agrees. “We millennials are all-in with comfort-focused clothing, loving a good vintage look freshened up,” she told CML when we bumped into her at Stick Boy Bread Company Kitchen. The Art Education major did look comfy in a pair of wanna-be-jeans in the so-called ‘boyfriend jeans’ style, billowy from the hips, bunching at the ankle Greta Garboish, above a pair of fresh, spin-on-retro designer sneakers! Wider-leg jeans—do we dare call them bell-bottoms again—have been trying to replace the skinnies for a few years without success “until the pandemic caused the tipping point,” notes Leigh Ann Pless, at Boone Belles. The shop owner cites

Sarah Anderson

comfort as key, as long as we look chic and sassy, which she thinks we can certainly count on with a classic straight-leg jean, not so skin-tight and with fun accents like embroidery designs down the legs and flirty frayed edges at the break. Newland resident Tracy Trice loves a good look but needs to move around easily in her work in personal healthcare. “Let’s not forget these jeans are also high-waisted—the feel of the old ‘Mom jeans.’ Unlike the low-risers, I don’t have to be pulling them up all the time...makes me feel free and normal again.” We treasure our jeans for everything they do for us, even after they don’t fit anymore, passing them down, sending them to the attic, or as artist David Westwood does, upcycling them. A commercial illustrator, Westwood scours thrift shops and cuts up jeans into the curvy iconic shapes of mountain ridge silhouettes, sewing the denim cutouts artfully onto a canvas. It’s an idea the Hayesville resident conceived while one morning observing the mountains reflective of the colors and textures of his jeans. So he mused to himself, “Hmmm... denim, like the mountains... tough; it just won’t quit,” and neither does he, producing his life-imitating art for those who send along their jeans, or their child’s, parent’s or granddad’s jeans, to create a unique keepsake (www.davidwestwood.com/blueridge).

The new look – in denim...and the manor

Whether denim is art on our walls or hugging our hips, we wondered what Moses Cone might have to say about all these ingenious, or shall we say inJeanious uses of denim. So, we put the question to Appalachian State University’s Dr. Beth Davison, producer of the documentary The Denim Dynasty (https://vimeo.com/356676305). “Proud,” was the word she landed on, adding, “Cone was such a successful businessman, that we not only got denim, but the entire Cone property to enjoy every day.” And I bet he would toast to that with a “Bell-bottoms Up,” a summertime concoction created exclusively for CML by Stonewalls Restaurant in Banner Elk. See our recipe on the next page to craft one at home this season, or visit Stonewalls Restaurant and request a fresh batch for the table. CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Summer 2021 —


Levi Strauss patented the first working jeans in 1873, and turned to Cone Mills to produce the denim fabric for the company’s dungarees and overalls, and over time, for the everyday jeans we know today. This made Moses Cone the world leader in the manufacture and supply of denim by the early 20th century. In 2021, Stonewall’s Restaurant in Banner Elk pays homage to this famous fabric. Stay trendy with Lysse . Gigi Moda . Driftwood Denim . . . and great jewelry lines such French Kande and VSA Designs

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The Big Picture Show

“Soul-Searching”: Pixar Film Asks the Big Questions with Plenty of Heart By Elizabeth Baird Hardy

nimated films, at least the good ones, have never been aimed solely at children. While the younger crowd certainly enjoys many of the great stories that have been told with the art form, viewers of all ages can find something both entertaining and engaging in a well-crafted animated film. Pixar Animation Studios films have amazed viewers for decades, dazzling with impressive technical achievements in animation that create realistic worlds populated by battered toys, talking cars, scarecollecting monsters, emotionally complicated tropical fish, and superheroes with real-life problems. Since the release of Toy Story in 1995, Pixar, in partnership with Disney, has delivered feature films with artistic achievement, but, even more importantly, Pixar’s films frequently have much more to offer than sight gags and cutting-edge computer artistry. They often encourage viewers to consider sophisticated concepts and questions. That is certainly the case with Soul, which, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, was released unconventionally, rather than as a planned summer 2020 theatrical blockbuster. Instead, it premiered on Christmas 2020 on the Disney+ streaming service. This “Christmas gift” is an unconventional film telling the story of Joe Gardner, a sometime jazz musician who pays the bills by teaching middle-school band. Presented with two possible future paths—the opportunity to teach fulltime with benefits and security or the chance to play professionally with one of his favorite musicians—a

our unique, individual personalities. It also posits questions about how we can best live our lives. Remarkably, Soul does this without being preachy or rigidly endorsing specific belief systems. The depictions of the Great Beyond and the Great Before do support the idea of the soul as independent of the body, as the true identity of each individual, but these abstract locations leave plenty to the imagination and to the viewer’s own beliefs. Interestingly, the kindly figures who direct matters in the Great Before are all named “Jerry,” while the obnoxious bean-counter who ensures the accuracy of the “count” of souls passing to the Great Beyond is “Terry.” The names appear cute, especially as they apply to whole groups, yet they actually reflect the roles of these bookend figures: “Jerry” alludes to “germination” or the beginning of life, just as “Terry” is connected to “termination,” or the end of life. Beyond philosophical questions about our origins and destinations, Soul also invites us to think about our everyday decisions and experiences, from the beauty of being “in the zone” doing what we love to the dangers of becoming a “lost soul” whose purpose is lost in meaningless drudgery or despair. We are also urged to see that life is a beautiful gift, even as the film challenges its own ideas about the necessity of finding the “spark” to make life meaningful. Rather than trying to find the one “thing” that makes us who we are and determines our lives, we are encouraged to see all of life as a joyful journey in which happiness is a choice we can make regardless of what path we select. The film leaves many questions unresolved, allowing viewers to make their own choices, just as Joe and 22 must make theirs. This approach means the film can inspire meaningful conversations. While parents, or other adults, might have some interesting questions and discussions with younger viewers, those are opportunities to explore important ideas. The film is rated PG, so parents may want to pre-screen and consider their own children’s possible responses. Even those who only enjoy Soul for its charming humor and wonderful music will find this a journey worth taking. Soul is streaming on Disney+ and available on Blu-Ray, DVD, and Digital formats. CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Summer 2021 —




distracted Joe takes a wrong step and finds himself on the way to “the Great Beyond.“ He manages to take a detour into “the Great Before,” a region populated with souls being shaped before their birth. As he tries to get back to earth and to his big-break performance, Joe joins forces with 22, a soul who has resisted completing her personality and taking the journey to earth. Comfortable with a non-corporeal existence, 22 has no interest in leaving the Great Beyond, but her experiences with Joe, as he struggles to return to life, give them both different perspectives. Viewers, too, may find their perspectives expanded by this charming, unusual film that asks us to consider what life is and what makes it worth living. Like most of Pixar’s films, Soul is technically superior. The animation is stunning, with brilliant characterizations, ranging from human characters who look remarkably like real people to the whimsically abstract inhabitants of the Great Before and the Great Beyond. The music is fantastic, with original jazz pieces composed by Jon Batiste, familiar to television viewers as the band leader and musical director on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, from Nine Inch Nails, composed the other music in the film, especially the haunting auditory landscape of the liminal world which 22 longs to continuing inhabiting as desperately as Joe wants to leave it. The actors who lend their voices to the film include Jamie Foxx as Joe and Tina Fey as 22, with an array of other talented contributors, all of whom bring to life these delightful characters. The dialogue and plot are clever, with plenty of jokes, from hilarious situational sight gags to hilarious depictions of well-known historical figures who have failed to inspire 22 to make the leap into mortality. These artistic achievements are, in no small part, responsible for the film’s success, including both the Academy Award and Golden Globe Awards for Best Animated Feature and for Musical Score. However, Soul is more than a wellcrafted work of animation art. It is also a thoughtful exploration of serious themes. Like Inside Out, another recent Pixar masterpiece, much of Soul takes place in a nonrealistic realm, and just as Inside Out considers the inner workings of our minds and hearts, Soul ponders the very formation of

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134 Morris Street


Come spend the day!

Amy Brown, CPA Certified Public Accountant 828.898.7607 Avery County Chamber of Commerce 828.898.5605 / www.averycounty.com BB&T 888.BBT-ONLINE / www.BBandT.com Creative Interiors by Darlene Parker 828.898.9636 Encore Travel 828.719.6955 www.encoretravelltc.com Highlanders Grill & Tavern Open 7 Days a Week 828.898.9613 Peak Real Estate 828.898.1880 www.peakrealestatenc.com Salon Suites at Tynecastle • SALON M 828.260.3791 Shooz & Shiraz A Shoe & Wine Salon at The Dande Lion Sky Mountain Nail Bar 828-783-9393 Opening July 2021 The Dande Lion Ladies Apparel, Shoes, & Accessories 866.222.2050 and 828.898.3566 Tynecastle Builders 828.387.1222 / tynecastlebuilders.com Tynecastle Realty 828.898.7777 / tynecastlerealty.com Valle de Bravo Mexican Grill valledebravomexicangrill.net 828.898.4949 Walgreens Pharmacy 828.898.8971


For Leasing Information Please Call 828.898.6246

SHOPPING • DINING • BUSINESS • At the Corner of Hwy 105 & 184 Tynecastle Hwy. • Banner Elk CAROLINAMOUNTAIN MOUNTAINLIFE LIFESummer Spring 2021 — CAROLINA

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Have you seen the invasive spotted lanternfly? Spotted lanternfly (SLF) is an invasive planthopper native to China that was first detected in the United States in Pennsylvania in 2014. SLF feeds on over 70+ plant species including fruit, ornamental and woody trees with tree-of-heaven as its preferred host. This pest is a threat to multi-billion dollar industries including grapes and hops and even tourism. Considered a homeowner nuisance, SLF can cause large amounts of sooty mold to grow on people’s homes as well as attract stinging insects due to their production of honeydew. Spotted lanternfly is a hitchhiker and can easily be moved long distances through human assisted movement.

Actual Size: ~1”

Egg Mass (overwinter)

SLF photos by Lawrence Barringer, PDA

Spotted Lanternfly Life Stages Actual Size: ¼”

Early Nymph (April-June)

Actual Size: ½”

Actual Size: ~1”

Late Nymph (June-September)

Adult (July-December)

Spotted lanternfly has not yet been found alive in North Carolina but we need you to be on the lookout.

See It

Snap It

Report It

If you think you have seen Spotted Lanternfly please contact the North Carolina Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services at: badbug@ncagr.gov  1-800-206-9333 Please visit https://www.ncagr.gov/SLF for more information Steve Troxler, Commissioner of Agriculture



As summer takes hold in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Grandfather Mountain invites guests to celebrate the season with special mile-high activities. With a mission to inspire conservation of the natural world by helping guests explore, understand and value the wonders of Grandfather Mountain, the nonprofit nature park and its staff are readying for a fun and eventful summer. “At Grandfather Mountain, we like to bridge outdoor fun with education,” said Frank Ruggiero, director of marketing and communications for the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation, the nonprofit organization that owns and operates the Linville, N.C., nature park. “Our 2021 slate of events offers folks mountains of opportunities to have fun while exploring our unique classroom in the clouds.” With a few exceptions where noted, most special events are included with park admission. This schedule is subject to change, and additional events will be announced and posted on www.grandfather. com. Educator Workshop Project Growing Up WILD Wed, July 21, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Limit 12 Growing up WILD is an early childhood program that builds on children’s sense of wonder about nature and invites them to explore wildlife and their habitats. While the workshop is primarily oriented toward educators that work with children ages 3-7, many of the activities in the guide can be adapted to a wider age range. Registration is required at www.grandfather.com. Grandfather Presents: David Sibley Thurs, August 12 , 6-7:30 p.m. Author, illustrator and avid birdwatcher David Sibley will open the 2021 Grandfather Presents lecture series. With his father

an ornithologist, Sibley said birding has been a major part of his life ever since he was a child. He merged his encyclopedic knowledge with his skills as a self-taught artist to become one of America’s bestknown field guide authors. The Grandfather Presents lecture series offers presentations from some of the country’s foremost experts on conservation. Advanced registration is required at www.grandfather.com. Grandfather Mountain Camera Clinic August 14-15, $100 Take your photography skills to the next level—5,280 feet above sea level, to be exact—at the Grandfather Mountain Photography Weekend. Participants will be able to participate in a series of field courses presented by professional photographers, including Tommy White  (www.tommywhitephotography. com) and Vinny Colucci (www.vinnycolucci. com), while photographing spectacular scenery and native animals before and after regular business hours, meaning opportunities for sunrise and sunset photography will also be offered. The annual Nature Photography Weekend photo contest will also return. Registration is required at www.grandfather.com and begins at 9 a.m. on July 5.

HawkWatch September All throughout September, guests are invited to join the mountain’s naturalists as they count and celebrate the annual spectacle of the fall raptor migration. Participants can meet daily across the Mile High Swinging Bridge on Linville Peak, weather permitting.


Grandfather Mountain Hosts Summertime Fun

51st Annual Girl Scout Day September 18, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Girl Scouts are invited to join the park’s education staff for a fun-filled learning adventure on Grandfather Mountain. Participants can enjoy special scout activities and presentations. Plus, all Girl Scouts and troop leaders are admitted free with proof of membership, and family members will receive discounted admission. Reservations are required by calling 828-733-2013. And More Grandfather Mountain may offer additional events throughout the year, including adult field courses, daily programs and more. Registration for certain events may not open until the event date draws nearer. To learn more or register, visit www. grandfather.com or call 828-733-2013.

mountain notes

Educator Workshop - Project WILD: Elk Thurs, August 19, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Limit 12 Project WILD is a K-12 interdisciplinary conservation and environmental education program emphasizing wildlife. All participants will receive the Project WILD activity guide and earn six hours of Criteria II or III credits toward their N.C. Environmental Education Certification (or 0.6 CEUs). A homework option is available to earn up to 10 hours or 1.0 CEU. Registration is required at www.grandfather.com.

The nonprofit Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation strives to inspire conservation of the natural world by helping guests explore, understand and value the wonders of Grandfather Mountain. For more information, call 800-468-7325, or visit www. grandfather.com to plan a trip. Photos courtesy of the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation.



Blue Ridge Explorers


Spotted Lanternfly adult and nymphs | Photo by Stephen Ausmus-USDA-ARS

Be On the Lookout By Tamara S. Randolph

Sometimes exploring leads you to discoveries you’d rather not find. Such is the case with non-native invasive plants and animals—unwanted organisms from afar that have found their way into our landscape, usually with help from humans. These “invaders” compete with native organisms for habitat and food, and can wreak havoc on natural ecosystems and agricultural zones. Take, for instance, the Burmese python, an enormous snake native to parts of Asia that is now widespread in south Florida. It has disrupted the ecological balance in swamplands and continues to pose big problems for wildlife and humans. On the plant side, consider kudzu—once thought to be a beneficial import, this non-native invasive can grow nearly a foot per day, covering and smothering everything in its path. Not all non-natives are bad. Many have “naturalized” in their new home, and some non-natives are even beneficial. One of the best examples is the European honeybee. Non-native plants and animals only become “invasive” when they aggressively outcompete native species and begin to damage their new environs.


BAD BUG ALERT Alien insects can be especially destructive. Good examples of “bad bugs” here in N.C. are the hemlock woolly adelgid, which has laid waste to much of the eastern hemlock forests, and the emerald ash borer, a beetle that can destroy ash trees. However, with early action and cooperation, we can identify and locate a “bad bug” and stop it from becoming a runaway pest. Right now a number of scientists, agencies and organizations here in NC are working hard to ward off one very bad bug, the spotted lanternfly (SLF). Spotted lanternfly, Lycorma delicatula, is an invasive planthopper that was first detected in the U.S. in 2014. It likely made landfall in Pennsylvania as a “hitchhiker” on imported stone tile products. SLF is native to parts of Asia, and its spread to other countries has become problematic in recent decades. Here in the U.S., the pest has been detected in over 12 of our states, including four detections (all dead adults) in NC. The bit of good news is that live populations of spotted lanternfly have not been found in North Carolina...yet. That said, the time has come to be vigilant. “It is a matter of when it arrives as opposed to if it arrives,” says Whitney Swink, an entomologist with the North Carolina Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services. “We want to get as many people educated as possible so that we can hopefully tackle it and do ‘spot eradications’ when it does show up.” Spotted lanternfly is a piercing-sucking insect that produces copius amounts of honeydew while feeding. “In addition to reducing home values because of black sooty mold growth, and the honeydew dropping on people, is the sheer amount of sugar water that is basically attracting a ton of sting-

ing insects, and so people unfortunately are being stung by ants and wasps.” SLFs also do harm to many of the beneficial plants they feed on. “One of the really key characteristics of spotted lanternfly and why it is such a problem is because it has a VERY broad host range,” explains Swink. She says that they are known to feed on more than 70 species of woody plants, including grapes, stone fruits, apples, maple, oak, walnut, willow, and the SLF’s favorite plant, tree of heaven, a highly aggressive non-native tree that is already well established in NC. “The spotted lanternfly, despite having this broad host range, seems to LOVE tree of heaven. It is its favorite food in the world,” says Swink. She adds that one of the characteristics of tree of heaven is that it is an allelopathic plant. “Basically it produces chemicals that will kill off other plants around it; it is incredibly prolific. So when you realize it’s a favorite food for spotted lanternfly and their favorite food is all over the state, you realize how quickly this can get out of control.”

SEE IT, SNAP IT, REPORT IT Spotted lanternfly overwinters in the egg stage, hatching into nymphs during late-Spring to early-Summer. There are four nymphal (instar) stages prior to becoming adults in late summer. The 4th nymphal stage (late instar) and adults are fairly easy to identify (see photos above) and are active this time of year. This is where you, as a citizen scientist, can help. Early detection will be critical in stopping the spread of SLF and minimizing the devastating effects it could have on landscapes, communities, businesses and agricultural crops, particularly grapevines, fruit trees, and a wide range of hard-

The State of Our Birds By Curtis Smalling Ailanthus altissima (tree of heaven)

Tamara Randolph is a N.C. Certified Environmental Educator and Blue Ridge Naturalist. She is the founder of Carolina Explorers: Adventures in Nature, a monthly educational program offered through the Banner Elk Book Exchange. You can reach Tamara at tamara@ NCexplorers.com.


ne of the most frequently asked questions I get is, “How are our birds doing?” That is, of course, a complicated question, but one that does have some answers. Fortunately, many folks, agencies, and volunteers spend a lot of time counting birds and we know a great deal about some and a little less about others. It might be interesting to summarize some of the current State of NC’s Birds for you. Most often, we tend to think of the birds we see during the breeding or nesting season as the species we can help the most through our management actions or how we maintain our habitats on which they depend. Fortunately, for a majority of our nesting species, we have some long running data sets that can help tell us how populations of most species are faring. These “Breeding Bird Surveys,” as they are known, have been conducted on established twenty-five-mile routes for almost sixty years in some cases. This is a national effort, and here in NC about 170 species have enough data to estimate their long term trends and their annual rates of decline or increase. Of these, about a fourth of species (23%) are considered stable (those are species whose annual trend numbers are less than one-half of one percent change per year), 43% are increasing, and 33% are declining. As you might expect, the species that are doing the best tend to be those that like what we do to the environment as we build or fragment the forest, and include species like our biggest winner, Canada Goose. But some others you might notice as increasing include House Finch, Tree Swallow, and Wild Turkey. Some coastal species have done well, including Brown Pelican, White Ibis, Laughing Gull, and Osprey. Bald Eagles, Wood Storks, and Mississippi Kites are also improving. A few of the stable species include some of our most common birds like Carolina Chickadee, Eastern Phoebe, and Downy Woodpecker. Some of our woodland birds, also in this more or less stable group, include Ovenbird, Ruffed Grouse, and Acadian Flycatcher. For the declining species, the biggest losses have been some that we often hear about from folks voicing their concerns over their declines. Once common and now rare birds include Northern Bobwhite, Eastern Whip-poor-will, and Common Tern. Even some birds that are still fairly widespread and common are experiencing big declines, including Eastern Meadowlark, House Sparrow, and Wood Thrush. As a group, the declining species are found in all major habitats, suggesting that each has its own set of challenges that may be habitat related, but could also include other reasons, as well, like competition, climate change, or other factors. The good news is that a large number of people and agencies are working hard to help these declining birds and to keep others stable. The US Fish and Wildlife Service, NC Wildlife Resources Commission, and Audubon and its partners have numerous projects and initiatives to help birds. Visit nc.audubon.org for ways you can help and to learn more about bird conservation in North Carolina. You can make a difference for birds in your own yards and woods and fields. With your help, we can keep moving more and more species from declining to stable or increasing! Curtis Smalling is a Boone resident and the Director of Conservation for Audubon North Carolina. CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Summer 2021 —



wood trees. “We want as many people to be engaged in this pest, looking for it,” says Swink. She shares some examples of recent efforts to reach the public: “Posters are in rest areas, and we have coasters that we’ve taken to breweries and vineyards that really focus on the fact that hops and grapes are two key hosts for the SLF and major threats to those commodities. We basically want this message spread as far and wide as possible.” What should you do if you’re out exploring in the woods or gardening on your property and you spot a spotted lanternfly? Remember these three phrases: See It, Snap It, Report It. “Please take a photo and try to include a size reference such as a quarter or pen,” Swink requests. Then send your photos to badbug@ncagr.gov. When submitting a photo be sure to include the location of the sighting, the date, and your contact information. If you have questions about this invader, contact the NC Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services at badbug@ncagr. gov or 1-800-206-9333. You can learn much more about the spotted lanternfly at www. ncagr.gov/SLF and https://gardening.ces. ncsu.edu/spotted-lanternfly-resource-page/. Here, you can also view an expansive gallery of images that will help you discern whether the insect you’re seeing is the bad bug or if it is a harmless look-alike. You’ll also find information on identifying its favorite food source, tree of heaven.

Wild Turkey – Photo:Ryan O’Keven | Rose-breasted Grosbeak – Photo: Sandra Rothenberg.

Mountain Living and the Importance of Local Information Outlets for Severe Weather By Angela Hessenius, Joanna Parkman, Deanna Corin, and Montana Eck Valle Crucis flooding / Photo by Jaybird Aerial Photography, www.jaybirdaerials.com


hether you have been here all your life, or just enjoy visiting the mountains, you have likely experienced some sort of severe weather or natural hazard in the mountains of western North Carolina. Between the Horton Fire in 2016, Hurricane Florence in 2018, and an ice storm just months ago, mountain communities of the Old North State are well acquainted with a variety of natural hazards. The impacts of these events can affect the regional economy and pose significant risks to public health and safety. Moreover, these events are predicted to grow in frequency and intensity over the coming years due to a changing climate. Native Appalachians and frequent visitors know how volatile the weather can be in these ancient hills, but it is not always clear where residents can turn for trusted information in moments of crisis or uncertainty. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted information challenges as communities have had to navigate conflicting information from various sources to keep themselves safe. As the number of potential sources continues to grow in this technological age, what makes an information source, such as social media or your local news station, a trustworthy place to turn to when getting information on severe weather events? That’s one of the questions a group of researchers at Duke and UNC-Chapel Hill set out to investigate this year as part of an interdisciplinary Bass Connections (https://bassconnections.duke.edu/) research project focused on wildfires and public trust.* Initially, the team intended to conduct in-person interviews in Ashe and Watauga counties to hear firsthand accounts of unpredictable weather events in the information age, but public health concerns required an alternative approach for the research. Students created an online survey to ask questions within these


communities about trust, risk perceptions, and where people get information in order to understand how individuals make choices when preparing for hazards or severe weather. Drawing from the insights and networks of local organizations, the team partnered with the New River Conservancy Citizen Science Program and North Carolina Cooperative Extension Centers in Watauga and Ashe Counties to connect with residents. With nearly 80 survey responses from Ashe, Watauga, and Rockingham Counties, we began to uncover some of the factors that influence trust and information-seeking in the High Country and the upper Piedmont region. One of the key findings from these survey responses is that there is some discrepancy between the types of sources that people trust the most and the sources that people nonetheless use regularly. For example, the sources that were ranked as most trusted included local online weather sources (such as Ray’s Weather Center) as well as state officials, county health departments, and county emergency response agencies. When asked which sources people turned to the most often for information during a natural hazard or severe weather event, residents again ranked local online weather sources as the most frequently used source. However, the next most frequently used source was social media, which ranked last in terms of sources that survey respondents trusted generally. The next most often-used information sources were local news stations, local newspapers, and neighbors or family members. While there is still a lot to learn, one important reason for this mismatch could be that the sources that are most trusted are not the same as the sources that provide the most easily-accessed and widely available information. Trusted sources might not provide new information at the same rate as a person’s social media feed does.

From COVID-19 to natural hazards such as wildfires, communities in the southern Appalachian mountains—like communities across the country—will continue to face risks to public health and safety. One of the most important ways to prepare for and adapt to these uncertainties is to have trusted sources of information that people can rely on. During a hazard or disaster, access to accurate and trusted information can save lives. We all face the challenges of navigating a world where information is everywhere, but we may not completely trust whether that information is accurate, reliable, or truthful. “Even though we are seemingly awash in information,” says Dr. Brian Southwell, co-director of the project at Duke, “people nonetheless sometimes struggle to make sense of information or to find relevant information to their specific needs.” The collaborative Duke-UNC research project suggested some key takeaway messages for both consumers and communication professionals serving the High Country. Having a go-to source of trusted information during an extreme weather event can be a key part of disaster preparedness and resilience. Some residents in western North Carolina might not currently have a regular source of information about extreme weather and weather-related hazards that they rely on, so there are opportunities for future initiatives. Government officials and news media can work to provide accessible information and build trust with constituencies, but importantly being a trusted source alone does not guarantee information access for residents. For example, research results showed that county and state governments are highly trusted but not as frequently turned to for information. This indicates an opportunity for improving channels of communication from these local levels to

communities, especially during an emergency. Local media sources may also consider building trust within their communities by seeking to further understand and respond to local needs. Access to trusted information is an essential part of building resilient and adaptive communities, and our High Country communities are positioned to face this challenge directly. Whether it be heavier precipitation events, higher nighttime temperatures, or more variable winter weather, those who live and frequent the mountains of western North Carolina are already experiencing the impacts of a changing climate. With 2018 being the wettest year on record in NC and 2019 being the warmest, there have been an increasing number of hazards in the mountains, whether it be flooding or heavy rain causing unsafe road conditions, power outages, or property damage. Continued research is needed to further develop our understanding of the local communication strategies that aim to keep residents safe during these events. In the meantime, we believe that strengthening reliance on the already existing local assets and capitalizing on the importance of trust are key strategies to increase Western North Carolina residents’ safety and resilience during future extreme events. *Note: The 2020-2021 Bass Connections team included Brian Southwell1,2,3, Shane Stansbury2, Deanna Corin3, Montana Eck3, Angela Hessenius2, Joanna Parkman2, Rebecca Sauer2, Yunfei (Leslie) Li2, Audrey Magnuson2, Callie Turner2, Alana Baker4, Jason Snyder5, Mary Clare Hano6, Debbie Crane7, and Andrew Olson2. [1] RTI International [2] Duke University [3] University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill [4] Rockingham Community College [5] Appalachian State University [6] U.S. Environmental Protection Agency [7] The Nature Conservancy

Wildlife Ambassadors as Partners in Education By Nina Fischesser, Director, May Wildlife Rehabilitation Center at Lees-McRae College

In normal times hundreds of people come to see the wonderful wildlife who are presented at the May Wildlife Rehabilitation classroom. What most people don’t see is all the training and relationship development with the animals and their trainers. In rehabilitation, the goal is to stay detached so that the animal will stay wild in preparation for successful release back to the wild habitat from which he or she came. In education, the goal is to gain the trust of the animals so they are comfortable in teaching settings of all kinds. Every spring semester the Lees-McRae College wildlife rehabilitation students are enrolled in a course called BIO 282: Wildlife as Partners in Education, in which they start the adventure of developing trust and working with two or three individual ambassadors (non-releasable animals who represent their species). Pairing a student with the right animal for them is a task that takes time. We employ a training technique called positive reinforcement, which is a concept in behavioral psychology that is used to help strengthen and teach desired behaviors. In the case of training wildlife, we use food as the reward stimulus. This method combined with gaining trust is the most effective method for us to train our animals. What you might see at a presentation, for example, is our opossum ‘Opal’ using her keen sense of smell to find a grape or favorite food. Opossums have poor vision but incredible sense of smell to find food in the wild. She knows that being on the table in front of an audience means that she will seek out that treat food item. A hawk eats mice, so we might not use that as a demonstration in front of an audience, but we have used mice in training to teach them to step up on a glove, or to step back into their travel box prior to being in front of an audience. Before a student actually holds an ambassador on a glove, they might just sit and read to the animal, getting them used to their voice and presence near them. The student would observe all the subtle training techniques a mentor uses with their ambassador that helps with each individual’s success. Some hawks don’t like going through doorways, some get nervous on a windy day, some are fearful of a ceiling fan in a room. Turtles and snakes must get used to the public touching them, so we handle them at every chance to help them get used to being touched by people at presentations. Touching is especially effective in teaching kids about reptiles, allowing them to feel their scaly skin or shell. Ultimately, these wild ambassadors have a very important job. They inspire people to want to protect the very homes and ecosystems that these animals live in, and support the important work that we do to heal the ones who need a second chance. Come learn more by attending free public presentations on Fridays and Saturdays at 1 p.m. at the Banner Elk Town Park Pavilion, Banner Elk, NC 28604. You can also contact us for off-site presentations (fee required). Call us at 828-898-2568. No dogs near wildlife presentations, please. CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Summer 2021 —



Kara Bush and Sealy doing virtual program

Resource Circle:

Renew Your Blues By Tamara S. Randolph




ashion is integral to our lives. Yet, the fashion industry uses an abundance of resources, produces high volumes of tangible goods, and emits a great deal of carbon in the manufacturing and shipping of products. In general, fashion is a big polluter. For years, scientists, consumers, educators, business leaders and manufacturers have been exchanging ideas and looking for solutions to what has become a global problem. How do we reduce the negative impacts of producing so many new materials from finite raw materials? What do we do with garments once they no longer are purposeful or wanted? How can we make the fashion industry more sustainable, in general? Partnerships have been forming in all sectors within the fashion world to address a host of issues that affect our planet. The good news is that when concerned parties come together, progress is made. Innovations are introduced into the free market that give a growing consumer base the ability to make responsible choices while also fulfilling their desire for “new” and trendy products. DENIM TRANSFORMED Blue jeans are a staple of life. Nearly every human owns at least one pair of jeans, and many of us have a pair for every occasion, from heavy duty work jeans to “dinner” jeans. They’re comfortable, casual, rugged, reusable—and, since most jeans are made of cotton, they’re also recyclable. Yet while the majority of old clothing, including denim, is reusable and recyclable, an estimated 85 percent ends up in landfills—that’s 16 million tons of textile waste discarded each year. Let’s say you have a favorite pair of jeans that have become threadbare in


all the wrong places. Taking them to the thrift store doesn’t seem prudent. So they sit in a closet or corner taking up space, or eventually are mixed in with the kitchen garbage. With new innovations in place today, you can have those holey jeans remade into new clothing, or even transformed into an entirely different product—like building materials. BLUE JEANS GO GREEN Cotton Incorporated, the research and promotion company for cotton, created the Blue Jeans Go Green™ denim recycling program in 2006 to promote awareness for cotton sustainability. It’s important to note that cotton textile production is not without its own environmental drawbacks. However, in recent years the industry has made progress toward making cotton manufacturing more sustainable. The Blue Jeans Go Green program is a great example of how profitable big business can give back through effective not-for-profit programs that benefit both people and the planet. Since the creation of Blue Jeans Go Green, retailers, colleges, organizations and individuals throughout the U.S. have contributed nearly 4 million pieces of denim garments to be recycled, and that denim has been transformed into 7 million square ft. of housing insulation. As part of their program, Blue Jeans Go Green donates some of that insulation to community housing programs, including Habitat for Humanity. According to a Habitat for Humanity chapter in Virginia, denim insulation is “extremely effective in sound absorption and thermal performance. Not only is the insulation environmentally friendly, but it is just as effective as traditional fiberglass insulation and much easier to install.”

SMALL DEEDS (AND DUDS) CAN MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE Each of us can contribute to a more sustainable future in both big and small ways. One small way is to recycle your old clothing. If you have a pair of jeans that are no longer wearable, Blue Jeans Go Green is ready to collect them and any other denim product you may have—jackets, shirts, skirts and more… colored, embellished and/or printed. Furthermore, your denim can be in any condition—ripped, stained, even in “scrap” form. You can drop off your denim at participating clothing retailers all over the country. Visit bluejeansgogreen.org for participating retailers (and if you’re a High Country retailer, get in on the “green” and provide a convenient recycling drop-off point for your summer patrons). You can also mail in your denim; it’s free and easy, thanks to ‘Zappos for Good’ (https://www.zappos.com/about/ zappos-for-good). Simply box up your old denim, first making certain that it’s 90 percent cotton or greater and doesn’t have any hangers, tags, stickers or plastic attached. Next, create or log in to your Zappos or Amazon account, print a shipping label, and send it off by dropping it at a local UPS store. If you’re looking for bigger ways to get more involved in clothing recycling, consider starting your own denim drive. Students, campus groups, organizations and individuals all over the state have been collecting denim and raising awareness—it’s the latest trend and you, too, can dress the part! Find out more about recycling your denim and how you can start your own denim drive at bluejeansgogreen.org.


View Clearing Comparison

Find Your Parkway Passion Project

Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation Announces Latest Initiatives By Rita Larkin

Doughton Park Trail

Each year, the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation works with the National Park Service to determine where donors can make the greatest impact on the Blue Ridge Parkway. The nonprofit just announced its 2021 Parkway Project List, which outlines the ways donors can transform this amazing national park unit. Here are just a few examples of the projects charitable contributions can accomplish: BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) Conservation Corps Trail Crew: With donor support, eight young adults will receive a once-in-a-lifetime outdoor experience. Through a collaboration with the Conservation Corps of North Carolina (CCNC), gifts will provide trail restoration training and additional support for the crew. The team will spend 14 weeks rehabilitating the Tanawha Trail near Julian Price Memorial Park. The project is designed to give young adults the opportunity to work side by side with National Park Service employees and be part of a personally and professionally empowering adventure. Participants will also receive college credit and preferred hiring status with federal land management agencies. Viewshed Restoration: As part of the Trails & Views Forever program, arborist crews will continue to restore the Parkway’s famous overlooks. A highly trained team is slated to clear overgrown vegetation at designated vistas this fall to reveal gorgeous mountain views. Webcams: Webcams can keep visitors connected to the Parkway long after their journey along the scenic route. To provide year-round views of the park online, the Foundation is asking for support to fund the installation of state-of-the-art web cameras at key locations along the scenic route. Doughton Park Map: To help share information about Doughton Park Recreation Area’s history, trails, and amenities, a new map will be designed and provided free for visitors. The recreation area is at milepost 241 on the Parkway in Laurel Springs, NC. One of the distribution sites will be The Bluffs Restaurant, which is once again serving hungry travelers. Kids in Parks: Inspiring the next generation of park lovers is critical for the future of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Kids in Parks is reaching budding stewards by expanding its network of family-friendly TRACK Trails and creating new activity guides to engage kids with the natural, cultural, and historical resources at parks. Contributions to the program introduce families to the outdoors in fresh ways, and provide for the installation of three new TRACK Trails along the Parkway corridor. Chetola Resort & Spa in Blowing Rock is one of the latest TRACK Trail sites! Every gift, regardless of the amount, supports remarkable places and programs on the Parkway. For additional projects and programs, go to BRPFoundation.org and visit the Your Gifts at Work page. CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Summer 2021 —


Courtesy of the Middlefork Greenway


Trail Reports: Summer 2021 Roan Highlands Receives a Rare Gift

The Greater Roan Highlands landscape is a 60,000 acre complex of summits and ridgelines tracing the North Carolina-Tennessee border in the north and stretching southward to the outskirts of Spruce Pine, NC. The Appalachian Trail crosses a series of grassy balds along the northern peaks of the landscape. The area has drawn scientists from around the world since the 1700s when word of its botanical riches reached European explorers. The landscape supports over 1,500 native plant species making it a global hotspot for biodiversity. Earlier this year, Asheville-based Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy (SAHC) signed a letter of intent to accept the donation of approximately 7,500 acres in the Roan Highlands from conservation philanthropist Tim Sweeney (CEO of Epic Games). The donation consists of dozens of separate-but-contiguous land holdings rising to 5,300 feet in elevation and straddling the border of Avery and Mitchell counties in NC. This land supports numerous threatened and endangered plant and animal species and features some of the most extraordinary scenery in the eastern U.S. The property also includes the largest American Chestnut restoration project in the country, extensive boulder fields, rich coves, old growth forests, six waterfalls, and a system of rare heath-balds. Once the transfer is complete, SAHC will own the land and manage it as a nature preserve. SAHC staff will continue ongoing use of the land for scientific study in collaboration with the donor. “This is the largest single gift in SAHC’s


By CML Staff

history, and the largest gift of land to a land trust that I’m aware of,” said Carl Silverstein, executive director of the land trust. “These parcels include some of the most sought-after conservation acres in the eastern United States, including over 100 miles of pristine creeks and streams. We really are honored to be entrusted with the responsibility to steward this vast mountain complex,” Silverstein added. SAHC Senior Advisor Jay Leutze is excited about the benefits the donated land will provide for surrounding communities. “I can’t wait to take local scout troops and church groups on hikes here and to invite school kids out to learn about how healthy forests clean our drinking water for free and how migratory songbirds fly between the Roan Highlands and Central America each year,” Leutze said. “This property is the back yard for a lot of people who treasure it for the clear air and scenic views it provides. In a world that is constantly changing, our commitment is to keep this place functioning as a healthy ecosystem forever.”

“Round Up” for the Middle Fork Greenway

The Middle Fork Greenway is a Blue Ridge Conservancy project in partnership with Watauga County, the Town of Blowing Rock, the Town of Boone, and many community partners. Following the headwaters of the New River, this greenway for pedestrians and bikers will provide a beautiful preserved corridor while also serving as protection to the river it parallels.

Some sections are already finished, and fundraising and volunteer efforts will continue until all sections of this 6.5-mile greenway are complete. The Middlefork Greenway will connect with the existing Boone Greenway, creating almost 12 miles of contiguous trail. One way that residents of our area can help with the project’s progress is by “rounding up” on their Skyline/Skybest bills. SkyChange is a customer-funded program that helps local charitable organizations throughout the SkyLine/ SkyBest service area. Customers simply round up their bill to the next whole dollar amount each month. It’s easy to enroll in SkyChange at www.skybest.com. And this July, SkyChange will support the Middle Fork Greenway. When thousands of people contribute a small amount by rounding up on their bills, substantial funds can be raised for good causes, including helping the Middle Fork Greenway with the next section of trail construction. Learn more about the Middlefork Greenway at middleforkgreenway.org, and stay up to date in real-time with a visit to the organization’s Facebook page @ middleforkgreenway. Learn more about the work of the Blue Ridge Conservancy at blueridgeconservancy.org.

Share the Trails: A Guide to Trail Etiquette

The DuPont State Recreational Forest, located in Brevard, NC, about a two-hour drive from the High Country, is a beautiful destination with numerous trails, waterfalls and natural resources. After seeing a record-breaking number of visitors

Roan Mountain / Photo by Tim Sweeney

out a stream system provide habitat to many aquatic organisms that you may or may not be able to see. Many animals rely on their “home” rocks for protection or substrate. Moving rocks in streams and pools can do harm to these animals’ and their habitats. As part of the Friends campaign, graphics (seen here) have been created to remind hikers, bikers and equestrians to be respectful of one another. To plan a day trip to Dupont Forest in Brevard, NC, or to learn more about Friends of Dupont and how you can help protect its natural beauty, visit www.dupontforest.com.

A “River” Reopens

Aquatic animals, including fish and salamanders, love their “trails,” too! In a huge win for local aquatic wildlife, the Ward Mill Dam on the Watauga River, just a few miles from Boone, was recently removed. The first dam was constructed at the location in 1890 and improved upon over the years. The mill complex served the community for generations providing electricity, jobs, firewood and building materials. The dam had been an obstacle for local aquatic wildlife for the past 130 years. Now, native fish such as the tangerine darter and threatened salamanders like the hellbender will be reunited and benefit from a reconnected and improved cold-water aquatic habitat. The Ward Mill Dam Removal project has been a partnership between American Rivers, Blue Ridge Resource Conservation and Development, MountainTrue, the Watauga County Soil and Water Conservation District and the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service. The dam removal was a

high priority for experts and biologists and was ranked a top priority among projects by the Southeast Aquatic Resource Partnership and “tier one, priority one” by the North Carolina Aquatic Barrier Assessment Tool. MountainTrue’s Watauga Riverkeeper, Andy Hill, is excited about the environmental benefits and the opportunity to connect this section of Watauga River to create more recreational opportunities. “We’ve greatly improved aquatic habitat and river health, and promoted safe river recreation while honoring the historical and community cultural value of the Ward Mill.” The Ward family continues their generations-long environmental stewardship by removing this aquatic barrier; the iconic sawmill, historic buildings and complex have been preserved in partnership with the State Historic Preservation Office. For more information on this project, visit mountaintrue.org.

Does your family enjoy hiking and exploring our local forests, parks and trails? Follow our “Trail Reports” in each issue for some of the latest developments on trails and public lands, and to learn about opportunities to discover our region’s rugged mountain beauty.




in 2020, Friends of DuPont Forest saw a need to reach out to the public with some trail etiquette guidelines. The “Share the Trails Campaign,” introduced this summer, is an outreach campaign that serves to communicate ways for all visitors to enjoy the trails. “There appears to be a lot of confusion over trail etiquette in the outdoor community,” says Sara Landry, Executive Director of Friends of DuPont Forest. “Our hope with the Share the Trails campaign is that all trail users will educate themselves so that everyone can enjoy themselves and treat each other and the Forest with respect and kindness.” While residents and visitors here in the High Country may be busy exploring our own nearby trail systems, the information that Friends of DuPont Forest have developed provides universally sound advice on how we can better share and maintain our own local public trails and waterways. Some important outdoor principles to keep in mind: Pack it in/Pack it out - please don’t leave your trash on the trails. These are public lands – help protect wildlife and waterways from trash by coming prepared to take all of your trash home with you. Keep dogs on a leash, no matter how obedient your dog may be. Wandering dogs can be stressful for wildlife (and some humans), and may damage fragile ecosystems. Stay off the waterfalls (and don’t move the river rocks) - waterfalls are aweinspiring, but they are also dangerous. The rocks below waterfalls and through-

Ward Dam Removal / Photo courtesy of MountainTrue

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Location, Location, Location By Andrew Corpening

s the old joke points out, location is a main concern when buying or selling real estate. A good neighborhood, a quiet street, and proximity to schools and/or work are all concerns when making decisions about property. Even though trout are not looking for a quiet street, location is a major concern for successful summer time trout fishing. As the area streams and rivers warm up, the water temperature can get above the trout’s comfort level. This happens because warm water holds less oxygen than cold water. The trout are still there but less active. They still feed but are a little more difficult to catch. To be successful this time of year, you need to know the location where the trout are holding. The most obvious place to look for summer trout is in the headwaters. The trout may move upstream to the small water where the creek has had less time to warm up. When fishing these smaller streams and creeks it is very important to keep a low profile. Since you are going to be closer to the fish and making shorter casts, the trout are more likely to see you. It is not that they fear you but it is your movement that spooks them. Since nearly all of their predators come from above, they seek cover when seeing movement above the water. The one positive thing about fishing the small streams is that the trout are less selective about what they eat. Since small streams hold fewer food sources, the trout usually try anything that looks like food. Fly selection, or “matching the hatch,” becomes less important on the smaller streams. If small stream fishing is not your cup of tea, look for places on the larger streams that provide cooler or more oxygenated water. Trout will hold in a deep

pool where the water is cooler on the bottom. When fishing this deep water use a long leader with a weighted nymph. This will get the nymph to the bottom where the trout are holding. Cast upstream of the pool to allow the nymph time to sink to the trout’s level. Adding a little weight with small split shot sinkers can also help get the fly down faster. Remember that when using a nymph, if you don’t sometimes hit the bottom with it, then it is not deep enough. In addition to these deeper pools, look for places where the water is cascading over boulders or is stirred up by an uneven stream bottom. Water captures oxygen when it falls through the air and trout are likely to be in these locations. There is another plus to fishing these types of locations: since the water is faster, the trout have less time to look at your offering. There is a good chance that if the fly even remotely looks like food to the trout, they will try it. Yet another place to find summer trout is at the confluence of a small stream with a larger river. The small stream is most likely cooler and more oxygenated so the trout move to these locations. Even though it may seem to be more difficult to catch trout this time of year, fly selection becomes easier. Aquatic insect hatches start to slow down and when a hatch occurs it is usually in the early morning or at dusk. Because of less aquatic insect activity trout turn to terrestrial insects for food. Terrestrial insects are land-based bugs that fall in the water accidentally. These include ants, beetles, inchworms, crickets, and grasshoppers. Terrestrial flies are most effective when fished under over-hanging bushes or trees. Remember that these insects are not supposed to be in the water so they

fall in when the wind dislodges them. Also, the shade from this foliage keeps the water cooler so the trout are more likely to be in these locations. Another plus with terrestrials is that your presentation becomes less critical. Where a delicate cast is usually required when fishing dry flies, the land-based insects literally splash into the water. A little “plop” when your beetle or ant fly hits the water can sometimes entice a trout to eat it. Even though these types of flies are usually fished on the surface as dry flies, they can still be effective when they sink. This is especially true for ant flies. One final option to catch summer trout is to fish where the water never warms up much. Tailwater rivers are perfect for this. Tailwaters are rivers below hydroelectric dams. Since the water comes off the bottom of lakes it stays at a nearly constant temperature all year. Fortunately, it is the perfect temperature for trout. High Country fly-fishers are lucky to have two such rivers nearby in Tennessee. The Watauga and South Holston rivers of Tennessee are true blue-ribbon trout fisheries with literally thousands of fish per mile. These rivers can be a little tricky to get to and find access points. If you have a fishing buddy who can take you, you’re in luck. The only thing you need is a Tennessee fishing license. If you don’t have a friend who knows these rivers your best option is to hire a guide. If you think like a trout and fish the locations favorable for trout you can still have successful summer fishing. Even though the water is warmer the fishing can still be hot in the right High Country locations.





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Splash Mountains: Watersports abound in the High Country By Frank Ruggiero

Price Lake / Photo by Harold Blackwood, courtesy of NPS.gov


n the Western North Carolina High Country, time doesn’t just fly when you’re having fun; it flows. Since 1988, Banner Elk’s High Mountain Expeditions has been organizing, outfitting and leading adventures on practically any local body of water that’ll have them, from white-knuckle whitewater to tranquil tubing and most boats in between. “People go to the mountains for a variety of reasons,” said Bill Leonard, owner of High Mountain Expeditions. “One is to find some kind of recreation they can’t necessarily do in their hometown, like tubing, canoeing or whitewater rafting. We’re just a huge destination with an awful lot to do.” Following suit—or wetsuit, in this case—High Mountain has an awful lot of offerings, such as whitewater rafting on the Nolichucky River, canoeing, kayaking or tubing on the New River, and rafting on the Watauga River, for starters. “The Nolichucky is more aggressive, featuring Class III and IV rapids, while the Watauga River is more family-oriented, more so focused on fun and having a good time than serious whitewater,” Leonard said. “On the other hand, tubing is just a nice, lazy time on the river, enjoying the scenery and chilling out. So, it really just depends on what you want to do—floating, a little rafting with the family, or something a little more high-energy.” For the latter, High Mountain offers one- to two-day trips on the Nolichucky, as well as inflatable kayaking on Wilson Creek. Leonard noted that High Moun-


Photo courtesy of High Mountain Expeditions

tain’s Nolichucky trips run exclusively through national forestland, starting in Pisgah and ending up in Cherokee. “There aren’t many places where you can go 11 miles on the river without seeing a single manmade structure out there,” he said. “And it’s a deep, narrow gorge, so the scenery is wonderful, rich with wildlife and foliage.” Conversely, the Watauga River offers more family-friendly options, and if that’s not fun enough, Leonard and company are more than happy to up the ante. “We’ll even put water guns and buckets in the boats, so guests can have water fights and splash around,” he said. “It’s more about having a good time out there.” Rivers Run Through It Most visitors to the High Country know that watersports are an option. It’s the volume of those options, however, that are surprising. “I think they’re surprised to find out that we have several major rivers running right through the Boone area,” said Wright Tilley, director of the Boone Tourism Development Authority. If people have their own tubes, canoes or kayaks, the area offers numerous free access points, such as Green Valley Community Park near Boone, which is situated along the South Fork of the New River. There, people can launch their canoes or tubes and float to the nearby community of Todd, Tilley said. “When people ask about watersports,

Watauga Lake

a lot of them have heard about the New River and have always wanted to visit, with it actually being the oldest river in the United States,” said Candice Cook, executive director of the High Country Host, a regional visitor center and tourism marketing organization. “Also, we’ve found that a lot of people are interested in watersports not necessarily because of the water, but because of the birding they can do from the water.” Those looking for water adjacent activities, or even just getting their feet wet with the kids, might consider a visit to Valle Crucis Community Park in Valle Crucis, which offers access to some lazy stretches of the Watauga River. “That’s a great resource, too, for folks who just want to splash around, fish and play,” Tilley added. “And then there are the lakes, some of which you can find off the Blue Ridge Parkway, like Price Lake.” The 47-acre Price Lake is one of the most popular features of Julian Price Memorial Park (milepost 296.7 on the Blue Ridge Parkway) and even offers canoe, kayak and paddleboard rentals. Meanwhile, the Price Park Picnic Area boasts a bevy of shallow areas courtesy of Boone Fork Creek, a tributary of the Watauga River, in which visitors can splash, play and fish (preferably before or after the splashing and playing). Cook also directs visitors to Banner Elk, specifically the wading pools at TateEvans Park downtown, as well as Wildcat Lake. Spanning 13 acres, Wildcat Lake

Photo courtesy of High Mountain Expeditions

Make a Splash

Price Lake / Photo by Harold Blackwood, courtesy of NPS.gov

offers swimming, a beach area, fishing, canoeing, kayaking and picnicking. Great Lakes “If people are looking for that larger lake experience, we’ll direct them to Watauga Lake,” Tilley said. Located east of Elizabethton, TN, and approximately 45 minutes from Boone, Watauga Lake is surrounded by picturesque mountain scenery and covers some 6,430 acres (at “full pool”). The lake is actually a reservoir created by the Tennessee Valley Authority and home to the original town of Butler, TN, which sits deep below the lake’s surface. The current town of Butler can be found along Watauga Lake’s northern shore. Watauga Lake features numerous marinas that offer boat rentals, including pontoons and speed boats, making it an ideal location for water-skiing, wakeboarding, Jet-Skiing, paddle-boarding, canoeing, kayaking, fishing and more. Approximately 40 minutes from Boone, folks can find W. Kerr Scott Lake in Wilkesboro. Kerr Scott is also a reservoir, with its 1,475 acres of surface area open to the public for fishing, boating and all of the above. Several marinas and outfitters provide rentals, gear and all one requires to soak up the summertime fun. But as High Mountain’s Leonard said, “Really, it just depends on what you want to do.”

Green Valley Community Park 3896 Big Hill Rd, Todd, NC 28684 828-278-8002 | www.greenvalleypark.org

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Price Lake Boat Rentals Inc. 3636 Blue Ridge Pkwy, Blowing Rock, NC 28605 828-963-2292 www.pricelakeboatrentals.com Watauga Lake Marinas Fish Springs Marina 191 Fish Springs Rd, Hampton, TN 37658 423-768-2336 | www.fishspringsmarina.com Lakeshore Marina 2285 U.S. 321, Hampton, Tenn. 37658 -423-725-2201 | www.lakeshore-resort.com Kerr Scott Lake Marinas Foothills Outdoor Adventures 2618 NC 268, Wilkesboro, NC 28697 336-990-0000 www.foothillsoutdooradventures.com Skyline Marina 4008 NC 268, Wilkesboro, NC 28697 336-921-3783 www.skylinemarina.net/marina/ Outfitting Stores Footsloggers 139 Depot St., Boone, NC 28607 828-355-9984 921 Main St., Blowing Rock, NC 28605 828-295-4453 www.footsloggersnc.com Mountain Outfitters 102 S. Jefferson Ave.. West Jefferson, NC 28694 336-246-9133 Waypoint Outfitters 240 Shadowline Dr, Boone, NC 28607 828-865-1100 www.waypointoutfittersboone.com



The Profile Trail An Appalachian Adventure By Juan Sebastian Restrepo (Lees-McRae College graduate, Class of 2021)


itting at the edge of Calloway Peak, with one’s  feet hanging over the rock  outcrop,  it is hard to  believe  that Lees-McRae College  is  less than nine miles away down the mountain.   “This is gorgeous,” commented Laura Ocampo, a freshman  Biology  and Athletic Coaching  student from Bogota, Colombia. Back in May, Ocampo joined me on a hike along the Profile Trail to Calloway Peak.  That evening, when we reached the peak, it  felt as if  we had  been teleported to a dreamlike world out of a movie.  An  evergreen tapestry of spruces covered the mountain ridge as far as the eyes could see. At nearly 6,000 feet (1,828 meters) of altitude, a dense silence dominated over Grandfather Mountain, only interrupted by the song of robins, blue warblers, and wrens hidden in the thick forest.  This hiking trip was Ocampo’s first visit to the Profile Trail. The Colombian, who had enrolled in Lees-McRae in spring 2021, had few opportunities to  discover the different outdoor experiences around the college during the academic semester.  “I never imagined that a place like this existed in the middle of these mountains,” said Ocampo, who throughout the twohour hike to Calloway Peak continued to express amazement at the scenery.   


Making the Trip to the Profile Trail The head of the Profile Trail is just a 10-minute drive from Banner Elk. Taking NC-184 S / Shawneehaw Avenue S towards Grandfather Mountain and turning left onto NC-105 N, the entrance is located half a mile away on the right-hand side.  There is no entry fee for hiking the Profile Trail. However, hikers must fill out a permit form found at the front building and carry the permit with them. At the entrance building, hikers can also find maps and pamphlets with other helpful information.  Once we completed  our permit  form, we were ready to start our adventure. We had 3.8 miles (6.1 kilometers) and 2,300 feet (701 meters) of climbing ahead of us to reach Calloway Peak. From the parking lot, Ocampo and I descended to the old trail. In less than one mile, we arrived at the bank of Watauga Creek. The shallow, crystalline stream induces  visitors to remove their shoes and  step into  its cold waters.   Leaving the rocky shores of Watauga Creek behind, we began to ascend Grandfather Mountain. Mud and ankle-twisting tree roots covered this section of the trail. A kaleidoscope of colorful wildflowers

decorated the surrounding hardwood forest. As we advanced, we encountered large as tall as 16 feet (5 meters).   Profile Trail has never stopped amazing me. Since the first time I hiked the trail with the cycling team at Lees-McRae back in fall 2019, no two visits have been alike. Either in the green summer or the yellow mid-fall, Grandfather Mountain will always find a way to surprise visitors with its scenery. Ocampo could  not  refrain from  stopping every few  hundred feet to take a picture of the surrounding wildflowers and the tall beech trees. “I love this; I love breathing the forest and the flowers and walking along the creek bank,” said Ocampo.   Halfway to Calloway Peak, we reached Foscoe View. From this overlook, we had a panoramic view of the valley below to the northeast. Despite the thin fog mantle covering the mountain that evening, the  Amphibolite Mountains  were clearly visible on the far horizon. We could observe Snake Mountain, Elk Knob,  The Peak, Whitetop Mountain, and even see as far as Mount Rogers, the highest peak in Virginia, located more than 60 miles away.   From this point, the trail turns rocky. The upper side of the Profile Trail is outlined by hundreds of large flat stones

forming a walkway  up the mountain. It was impossible not to wonder how these huge boulders had been transported to this location. “This is probably the work of giants,” I joked as we hopped from rock to rock.  This section of the trail, named “Peregrine’s Flight,” was initially constructed between 1985 and 1989 by High Country locals Kinney Baughman and Jim Morton. Morton, who died in 2017, was one of the founders of the Woolly Worm Festival and chairman of the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation.  With the help of  Baughman,  his  long-time  friend and  a  local brewer, Morton  constructed this section of the trail in the  ’80s  using shovels, iron rods, and pulleys. At this point, the vegetation began to change. As we moved into higher elevations, evergreen spruce trees started to dominate, replacing the beech trees and other hardwoods found at the bottom of the mountain. Rhododendron  buds  also prevailed on the upper side of the trail.  A mile away from Calloway Peak, we reached Profile View. Between two spruce trees, it was possible to see the outline of an old man’s face over the mountain. Appropriately, we could not walk any further without taking a picture of this iconic view of the cliff, which gives the trail its name. 

As we continued our way up the mountain, we arrived at Shanty Spring. This spot is the last water source before Calloway Peak. The spring flows through a pipe on the ground. Spring water also drips from the massive boulders on the side of the mountain. We could not resist the temptation of drinking from the cold water pouring from the rocks above. “I never imagined drinking water straight from a mountain spring,” said Ocampo as she recorded herself drinking. Reaching the intersection of Grandfather Trail at 0.4 miles from the peak, we turned left.  As we approached the  summit, we passed by the Cliffside campsite on the right. Camping at this spot to watch the sunset has been on my bucket list for the past few months. Campers can reserve this site and other campsites at Grandfather  Mountain State Park  at  www.reserveamerica.com.  Finally, we reached the last distance marker announcing that we were 0.1  miles  from  the summit.  In this final section of the Profile Trail, we had to climb sets of wooden stairs to surpass the large boulders lining the rocky summit ridge. As we made our way along the ridgeline, we had a taste of the views awaiting us at Calloway Peak. Turning right and climbing over one

last boulder, a blue “X” spray-painted at the edge of the rock announced that we had arrived at our final destination. After two hours and 20 minutes of hiking, including stops, we summited Calloway Peak.  We sat at the edge of the flat rock and opened a celebratory  Pop-Tart. The views over Calloway Peak invited us to pause from the rush of daily life  and enjoy the peacefulness of the mountain.   It’s  my last summer in Banner Elk  and  I  knew I  could not leave the mountains of North Carolina without a final trip to Calloway Peak. For Ocampo, this hiking trip was the first of many future Appalachian adventures. “I need to do this kind of adventure more often; I want to bring my parents here next time they visit me on campus,” said Ocampo.   Ocampo is excited to explore the almost unending list of other outdoor experiences around the Banner Elk area. In her upcoming years at Lees-McRae, Ocampo has the desire to live by the college’s motto—In the Mountains, Of the Mountains, For the Mountains.  One benefit of a Lees-McRae education is access to outdoor adventures that are mere minutes from campus. Find out more about the college’s outdoor experiential learning programs at lmc.edu.   CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Summer 2021 —


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The Guide:

Mountain Golf Courses By Tom McAuliffe

# 9 at Linville Land Harbor fter a year of Covid-19 protocols that included not touching flagsticks, or greens crews storing away the sand rakes, one rider per cart, and longer gaps on the starters’ tee sheets, things are taking a turn to normal. But last year was anything but normal in the golf industry. While many businesses suffered, conditions proved a boon to the game of golf. Implementing safety measures helped golf courses remain open, and folks flocked to the diversion and recreation so sorely needed in a world disrupted by the pandemic and the fears it wrought. Golf rounds played were up significantly, attracting players who had given up the game, and bringing with them beginners seeking relief from the restrictions applied to other sectors of society. While there’s much to do before we return to the ‘old normal,’ the men and women of the High Country Golf industry welcome you back to the mountains. Stay safe and play more golf. We’ll leave the light on for you. Below find our local offerings.

PUBLIC COURSES: Boone Golf Club – Boone, NC Tom Adams, PGA | Architect Ellis Maples, Revision Rick Robbins ‘Must play’ Mountain Standard in 62nd season. Tom’s big brother eft-hander Sam most heralded member. Casa Rustica’s Rick Pedroni i n the kitchen. 828-264-8760 | www.boonegolfclub.com Mountain Glen – Newland, NC David Burleson-Golf Director | Architect George Cobb One year after turning the pro shop reins over to David Burleson after a fifty year career at the 1965 mountain classic, you can still find Sam Foster striping the fairways albeit from the gold tees. Burleson keeping things familiar in Newland with everything you could want in your favorite public course and a little more. 828-733-5804 | mountainglengolfclub.com Sugar Mountain Golf Club – Sugar Mountain, NC Tom McAuliffe, Golf Director | Architect Frank Duane Crew still beaming with pride after Golf Advisor 2nd place designation for public courses in all of America under 6,000 yards. Dynamite par 64. Great value—perhaps finest condition ever. A little bit better every year and that says a lot. 828-898-6464 | www.seesugar.com Linville Falls Golf Club – North Cove, NC No Longer Exists—four ownership groups fought the good fight for 25 years but just couldn’t make this fine layout profitable. Gone but not forgotten. Thought we’d save you the trip if you went looking for it. New home to Disc Golf

Mt. Mitchell Golf Club – Burnsville, NC Jim Floyd, Golf Director | Architect Fred Hawtree Spectacular property just off the Blue Ridge Parkway at milepost 344 at Hwy. 80 to Burnsville. Group getaway lodging specialists. For the day or the week. Toe River trout fishing, food and beverage excellent. Opened 1975. 828-675-5454 | www.mountmitchellgolf.com Willow Valley – Boone, NC Architect Tom Jackson - nine holes. One of Jackson’s earlier creations, he’s now a member of the Carolinas Golf Hall-of-Fame The Little Green Monster is a fine par three course. | 828-963-6865 Grassy Creek Golf Club – Spruce Pine, NC Bruce Leverette, PGA | Architect/Committee Visit the Mitchell County mainstay and find out what all the locals love about Grassy Creek. What golf is all about. 828-765-7436 | www.grassycreek.com Mountain Aire Golf Club – West Jefferson, NC Architect/Committee, Revisions Dennis Lehmann Popular Ashe County stop, good range, good course, good folks in the pro shop. Philip Shepherd carrying bright torch in Hagel family tradition. 336-877-4716 | www.mountainaire.com

RESORT CLUBS WITH LODGING ACCESS TO GOLF: Hound Ears Club – Blowing Rock, NC Peter Rucker, PGA | Architect George Cobb | Revisions Tom Jackson Private club with golf available through rental with Inn Rooms & Home Rentals. A very special and playable golf course. New membership opportunities in the gorgeous Watauga River Valley. 828-963-4301 | www.houndears.com Beech Mountain Club – Beech Mountain, NC John Carrin, PGA | Architect Willard Byrd Eastern America’s Highest Town at 5506’. Ridge top layout with views of five states, even Kentucky when the Blue Moon is full. Diverse qualified lodging allows members to transfer membership short term to renters of members’ housing. Call for details. 828-387-4208 ext. 201 | www.beechmtnclub.org Jefferson Landing Country Club & Resort – Jefferson, NC Dan Stepnicka, PGA | Architect Larry Nelson/Dennis Lehmann Course access for members and on-site lodgers—great golf getaway for your group. Outside play welcome per space available. Call for tee times. Beautiful Ashe County classic. Clubhouse dining. 1-800-292-6274 | www.visitjeffersonlanding.com Linville Land Harbor – Linville, NC Michael Hayes-Operations manager Architects Tom Jackson—(A-9 Ernie Hayes) Long-time private enclave between Linville and Pineola opening to public play with stay and play offerings. Fabulous putting surfaces. 828-733-8325 | www.linvillelandharbor.com CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Summer 2021 —





The Guide (continued):

Mountain Golf Courses GOLF GUIDE

By Tom McAuliffe


(Some clubs below may offer short-term rental membership privileges with club or member sponsorship.) Grandfather Golf & Country Club – Linville, NC Chip King, PGA | Architect Ellis Maples 828-898-7533

Linville Ridge Club – Linville, NC Eastern America’s Highest Golf Course Kurt Thompson, PGA | Architect George Cobb | Revisions Bobby Weed 828-898-5151

Blowing Rock Country Club – Blowing Rock, NC Andrew Glover, PGA | Architect Donald Ross, Seth Raynor Revisions Tom Jackson and more recently BRCC revisions by Ross specialist Kris Spence a big hit. 828-295-3171

Linville Golf Club – Linville, NC Bill Stines, PGA | Architect Donald Ross— Revisions Robert Trent Jones, Sr.—Bobby Weed Longtime pro and 2019 Carolinas PGA Section Club Professional of the Year, Tom Dale, turns pro shop reins over to Mr. Stines and moves to Linville Resorts’ GM position. Longtime public access to historic Eseeola Lodge and golf course currently suspended. An experience that will be missed by many. 828-733-4311 | www.eseeola.com

Elk River Club – Banner Elk, NC Dave Ambrose, PGA | Architect Jack Nicklaus/Bob Cupp 828-898-9773 Diamond Creek – Banner Elk, NC Joe Humston, PGA | Architect Tom Fazio 828-898-1800

Sugar Mountain Golf Club Voted the #2 Short Course in the USA, this 18-hole public golf course features an immaculate putting surface that maximizes every mountain view. Pro shop and café. SeeSugar.com/golf | 828-898-6464


Sugar Mountain Tennis Club


Play at public tennis courts meticulously maintained of fast-dry, Har-tru clay. Men’s, women’s, and mixed play “friendlys’’ every day, along with lessons from tennis pro. SeeSugar.com/tennis | 828-898-6746

Gene Highfield

Highfield Home Again on Sugar


ince the four-seasons resort of Sugar Mountain opened more than fifty years ago, the public tennis complex has been an important offering during the warm weather months. And this spring, The Village of Sugar Mountain renewed its commitment to excellence with the reconstruction of all six clay courts. “Basically we just rebuilt the courts,” Director of Tennis Instruction Gene Highfield said. “We had rocks popping up through the clay before, but not anymore. The courts look beautiful.” The old clay was removed and 30 tons of new material was rolled onto each court. Laser technology assured the right pitch for efficient drainage, erosion reduction, unwanted indentations and “bird baths” forming after rains. “We straightened the fence posts and installed new black chain link mesh,” Highfield added. “It really pops out.” What “pops out” to most observers since Highfield joined long-time tennis director Leigh Morrison to handle the teaching duties three seasons ago is the new “energy” on display at the courts. Much of the credit for the elevated spirit at Sugar Mountain goes to the indefatigable Highfield, a 47-year-old career club professional and an accomplished tournament player. That he found his forever home in the High Country proved a compelling tale. Highfield was born and raised in Christiansted, St. Croix, in the U.S. Virgin Islands. His father Terry left southern Ohio after visiting his brother for “the

summer.” Terry Highfield married and put down roots on St. Croix—son Gene was raised an Islander, took to the game his dad played—tennis—and was on his way. Growing up on St. Croix, soccer and basketball were the school boy sports, but after the school day Gene gravitated to tennis clubs for their junior clinics and instruction. “There was a big tennis community on the island,” he said. “It was humongous and many of the kids I grew up with on the courts would move on to play in Division One programs in the States. I was younger than most of them and that made me a better player. My dad had me play his friends, too, the older men who taught me gamesmanship. They were always trying to get in my head and mess with my game.” When Gene was seven years old, the Highfield family visited an Islander friend who had just bought a home in Valle Crucis. That same summer the family would find their own summer home in the High Country and for the next decade Gene’s summers were spent in the mountains. Back on St. Croix, the young player, who had played since three years of age, was showing promise. The game became serious when the family sent Gene to New Braunfels, TX, to attend the John Newcombe Tennis Academy. Newcombe was an Australian tennis icon, a disciple of legendary Harry Hopman, and four-time winner of the Australian Open. Legends like Rod Laver, Cliff Drysdale, and Tony Roche colored Newcombe’s career that included seven major singles titles, 17 majors in doubles and five

By Tom McAuliffe

Davis Cup titles representing The Land Down Under. Newcombe’s Academy attracted the best international junior prospects, and the young Islander, Highfield, was headed for a reality check. The daily regimen included cardio vascular workouts at 5:30 each morning, followed by breakfast, then off to the local high school for classes. After school meant four hours of tennis with some of the best junior players in the world. And while students at New Braunfels High School, the academy kids were ineligible for the local tennis team, for good reason. “I had played in national tournaments,” Highfield said, “but in Texas these players were world class and beating me like a drum. But by my senior year, I knew I could play with anybody.” Even so, dreams of scholarship offers from schools like Miami, Clemson, Texas, or USC were unlikely, so Highfield enrolled at Midlands Junior College in Midland, TX. Even here the team was loaded with international players; he was the only American. But he had learned to hold his own. After his lone season at Midlands, he earned one of four at-large berths to play in the University of Texas Invitational, a singles, one-loss-and-you’re-out showcase of the finest collegiate tennis players in America. Gene tore through the field, whipping the best D-1 players in the land, an unlikely JUCO spoiler from St. Croix whose time had come. Continued on next page CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Summer 2021 —


Tennis at Sugar Mountain Resort

A recruiter from the University of Oklahoma, a Big 8 conference rival to Texas, watched Highfield’s title effort and offered him a scholarship. “It was probably the last place on my list but it was a great decision to play there,” he remembered. “In my junior year I had an undefeated season and was Big 8 Conference Champion. It was a great experience at OU… I mean we were flying to Hawaii, Las Vegas—it was a great program.” After college, Highfield would compete in ten Davis Cups, representing the U.S. Virgin Islands. A doubles specialist, he would go on to win three United States Tennis Association Doubles Championships in the Open Division as the number one ranked player in the country. “I know a thing or two about tennis doubles,” he said of the obvious. “If you would like to be a better doubles player, I am the guy to come to.” After college, given his lifelong affinity for the North Carolina High Country, Highfield returned to Watauga County and the Yonahlossee Tennis Club as assistant pro to Bob Lake, who also coached App State’s tennis team. It was 1998. But as many before have learned, it can be hard to make a living in a seasonal community that defines the mountain resort economy.


For the next 12 years, Highfield plied his trade as the club professional at Herron’s Bay in Fort Lauderdale. But as his family grew, as wife Rachel took care of three children, Gabriel, Logan and Riley, he looked north to the mountains where he spent many happy summers. “By the time we decided to come back, it took four years for the right opportunity,” Highfield remembered. When the head job at Yonahlossee opened up six years ago, “It was the best move we ever made,” he said. And in 2017 he played his first pro exhibition at Sugar Mountain, setting the stage for his current platform. Not long after, Highfield joined Morrison at the Sugar Mountain Tennis Club as Director of Instruction and hasn’t looked back. “I’ve had a lot of cool club jobs, but Sugar to me has the nicest group of people I‘ve ever been associated with.” His elevated profile did not go unnoticed. Last year Highfield was named director of the men’s and women’s programs at Lees-McRae College, where he was charged with recruiting new talent and nurturing their development on and off the court. “That was a game changer,” he said of the full-time position. “I was determined to stay here no matter what, but when Lees- McRae hired me, it gave me the opportunity to hone my craft and teach

the game year-round. I told my wife that now I get to do tennis 24 hours a day, and she looked at me like I had two heads. But I really have hit the jackpot.” So between lessons and clinics it’s not uncommon to see the new college coach ‘trying out’ new candidates for his college team. “I play ‘em all and that’s the best way to find out about a young player,” he said. Needless to say, each day of his summer season is physically demanding, but the pro from St. Croix has a secret to recharge his motor when 12-hour days on the court take their toll. “All I have to do is look around and see people playing tennis and even playing golf at Sugar,” he said. “People get excited when they arrive. It’s like they’re at summer camp. It’s great being part of that community—it’s a good vibe having all these people around every day. It’s my job to see that their worries fade away when they come to Sugar Mountain.” Recreation in the mountain summer has a way of doing just that, and Sugar Mountain’s Gene Highfield excels in playing his part. “It was obvious Gene had the talent to be a top player and a team leader,” Newcombe said from Australia. “It doesn’t surprise me he has made such a great success of his playing and coaching career.”

To learn more about this public and historic recreational facility, visit www.WildcatLake.org.

After Lost Summer, Wildcat Lake Opens to Delighted Public Special to CML Wildcat Star Trails / Photo by Will Mauney


n Friday, June 19, Wildcat Lake opened to the public after a year of closure due to the COVID pandemic. The lost summer season was a great disappointment to many, just as a return to normalcy brings great joy to all the friends of Wildcat Lake. The reopening includes the lake and sandy beach, picnic shelters, park, and surrounding property. Thousands of local visitors from the High Country and regional tourists have been eager to see opening day return. The iconic mountain swimming hole had already opened to fishing early this spring with blue gill, largemouth bass and trout thriving in the mountain water. The lake was created in 1933, a project of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal, to generate hydro-electric power for Banner Elk and the hospital and college Tufts helped to build. Last year’s closure was the second in a decade, the first when Wildcat was closed as the reservoir’s 90-year-old dam was rebuilt in 2014. The one million dollar project all but exhausted the cash principle of the Edgar Tufts Memorial Association (ETMA), but the successful rebuild insured the lake’s viability for generations to come. And while its role as an energy producer has long passed, the lake’s use as a recreational center is more popular than ever. More than 30,000 visitors will enjoy Edgar Tufts Memorial Park each summer season. Wildcat Lake’s govern-

ing ETMA Board of Directors is working hard to see that the popular recreation asset remains open, and with the support of the Grandfather Home for Children, is doing just that. “Our greatest challenge is funding a top-notch lifeguard corps,” said ETMA Chairman Tom McAuliffe. “After the dam was rebuilt, the foundation was essentially out of money and new state regulations called for more lifeguards, given the large numbers of swimmers at Wildcat Lake. Trey Oakley, Director of the Williams Avery YMCA, has trained these great young people. But it’s a recurring expense we have to meet each summer, and we have done it this year.” Community monetary support is growing. The Town of Banner Elk has been an annual supporter, as has the Village of Sugar Mountain, and this year, Avery County has stepped in to help. A year ago, a grant from the High Country Charitable Foundation funded the planting of large maple trees along the lake’s border with Hickory Nut Gap Road. An energized public relations campaign is set to launch in the community. Special events are planned at Wildcat Lake to involve more citizens and raise awareness of the value this recreational asset provides. Before COVID, the park was the site of its first mid-winter Polar Plunge, which drew a large crowd. Plans are in motion to host a

triathlon in late August and revive the successful Polar Plunge next winter. “We think it’s an important asset for the entire community, and not just our residents, but for our visitors, too,” said Jim Fitzpatrick, chairman of the Sugar Mountain Tourism Development Authority. “It’s a wonderful focal point of our community, where people can gather and get together in a beautiful mountain setting.” Nancy Owens, Director of Tourism for the Town of Banner Elk, echoes Fitzpatrick’s, and many others’ sentiments. “Wildcat Lake is valuable to our community. It’s the only swimming hole around with lifeguards,” she explained. It’s a nice free amenity we provide for residents and visitors alike. I love Wildcat Lake and it serves so many people no matter where you come from. And it’s just a breathtaking view.” Until more donors are found to recharge the ETMA Fund, a group of dedicated citizens will work each year to keep the lake a safe and well-maintained sanctuary. “At our last ETMA meeting we discussed operating on a limited basis this summer. The three-day weekend, a five-day option, were all considered to cut costs,” McAuliffe said. “But all of us on the Board felt getting back to normal—a seven-day operation—meant a lot to all of us to rebound from the lost year of Wildcat Lake. And on Friday, June 19, we did just that.” CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Summer 2021 —


Now Re-Opened for Community Viewing Nights Guests at the Bare Dark Sky Observatory, located at the Mayland Earth to Sky Park outside of Burnsville, can once again go on a two hour tour of the night sky. Led by the “space cowboys”, visitors can peer through the largest public telescope in NC. Stargazers are also welcome to bring their own telescopes to set up on one of eight telescope viewing stations located around the Observatory and have a chance to view the stars and planets at an International Dark Sky Association certified park. Private rentals of the Observatory are also available. For additional information and to purchase your tickets visit mayland.edu/observatory


Coming Soon: Blue Ridge Boutique Hotel

Located along the Toe River in downtown Spruce Pine, guests can stay in a newly renovated 100 year old school house. Maintaining its unique character, each guest room is themed on a local destination that provides information about the various places to visit within the area. Just 15 minutes away from the Mayland Earth to Sky Park, visitors will have the opportunity to stay close by after a night of stargazing at the Bare Dark Sky Observatory and enjoy a short walk across the Toe River Footbridge to restaurants and shopping in Spruce Pine.

A New Destination to Explore the Mountains and Reach for the Stars

The Blue Ridge Boutique Hotel, a restored 100-yearold building that was once a school, opens this summer

Margaret Earley-Thiele, Executive Director of the Mayland Community College Foundation, stands at the “entrance” of the new Glenn and Carol Arthur Planetarium

The Blue Ridge Boutique Hotel: M

ost High Country residents know that Mayland Community College is a wonderful resource for education, with a wide range of degrees, certificates, and training programs available for everyone from transfer students gaining required credits toward a degree to community members learning a new skill like photography or blacksmithing. Mayland, however, has even more to offer, and this summer, with the opening of the new Blue Ridge Boutique Hotel, Mayland is providing our region with a wonderful new resource for residents and visitors alike. When Spruce Pine’s Pine Bridge center complex, including the Coliseum and Inn, was donated to the college in 2015, it soon became apparent that there was an opportunity to create a new venue that could benefit the region. “Economic development has always been important to Mayland,” as Margaret Earley-Thiele, Executive Director of the college’s Foundation stresses. “Our duty as a community college is to build community”; that often means reaching outside the normal expectation of a community college in order to meet a need and expand opportunities. The Mayland Enterprise Corporation, a 501c3 that directs the college’s business entities, has undertaken the task of turning the site into a multi-use complex that will provide a wide variety of options and resources. One of those resources is the Blue Ridge Boutique Hotel, opening this summer. Located in a beautifully restored one-hundred-year-old school building, the hotel features modern amenities alongside vintage elements like restored wood floors. Each room is named for a regional destination site, like Grandfather Mountain, a theme that will invite visitors to explore the wonders of the area. Sixteen rooms will be open and ready to receive guests

this summer, as will the hotel’s library and conference room. Next year, the hotel will open the remaining sixteen rooms, along with a restaurant and bar. In addition to enjoying the amenities of the hotel itself, guests will be able to walk to the charming shops, restaurants, and events of downtown of Spruce Pine via the town’s footbridge, which will sport a facelift this year, thanks to the town and the North Carolina Department of Transportation. Of course, also at hand is the Three Peaks Enrichment Center, housed in the former Pine Bridge complex. The facility will include Mayland’s Cosmetology program and salon, providing a variety of services to the public, from styling to spa treatments. The Resource Center for Entrepreneurs will also be housed in the complex, providing resources from computer access to marketing tools for businesses receiving support from Mayland’s Small Business Center. In the future, the event space at the site will host concerts, performances, and other events, so the hotel will be the ideal destination for attendees. For the present, there are still plenty of attractions to entertain guests, both in Spruce Pine and at Mayland’s Earth to Sky Park, which is also boasting new changes this year. One of the rooms in the Blue Ridge Boutique Hotel is The Bare Dark Sky Observatory room, named for one of the principal attractions of the Earth to Sky Park. At the Bare Dark Sky Observatory, visitors can experience spectacular views of the heavens, by using their own telescopes to explore a night sky with minimal light pollution, or by gazing through either the Sam Scope, a custom-built Newtonian telescope, or through a Meade planetary telescope. This summer, the Earth to Sky Park

By Elizabeth Baird Hardy

is also opening the Glenn and Carol Arthur Planetarium, a 60-seat state-of-theart facility with programs for stargazing even when the weather doesn’t cooperate, so visitors will have plenty of opportunities to enjoy learning about the stars. They can also enjoy learning about the earth by visiting the pollinator gardens, outdoor classroom, visitors’ center, hydroponics and aquaponics labs and other educational and beautiful resources in the park. Staying at the Blue Ridge Boutique Hotel allows visitors to enjoy all the experiences at the Earth to Sky Park. The park does not have camping on site, but the new hotel will provide the perfect landing spot for stargazing visitors, and package deals will be available for guests to enjoy the beauties of the heavens. They will even have the opportunity to stay in the room named for the Observatory. Other package plans are available, including wedding packages, as the Earth to Sky Park is a magical wedding venue, and the new hotel is a romantic and unique location for receptions and accommodations. With the opening of the Blue Ridge Boutique Hotel, Mayland Community College continues to provide the community with opportunities for development and growth, while also welcoming visitors to learn more about our remarkable region, from the mountains beneath our feet to the stars over our heads. This summer, the Blue Ridge Boutique Hotel will hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony to officially welcome the community and visitors to enjoy this lovey new venue for the community. To learn more about the hotel and about the ribbon-cutting event, visit https://www.mayland.edu/foundation/blue-ridge-boutique/ or follow Mayland on social media. CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Summer 2021 —


Photo by Billy Humphries-1949

The Hillbilly Highway and the High Country WISDOM AND WAYS

By Jim Casada


he origins of the description “Hillbilly Highway” are obscure, although they probably date back to the 1960s when the massive exodus of residents out of the impoverished regions of Appalachia which began in the aftermath of World War II peaked. At that point in time the term hillbilly was used in a derogatory fashion although today many natives of the Appalachian High Country, including this writer, wear it as a badge of honor. The highway those migrants were traveling in search of a better life was U.S. Route 23, and it carried them from their highland homeland to the industrial cities of the upper Midwest. Michigan locations such as Detroit, Pontiac, and Flint offered good paying jobs in automobile factories, while other industries in Cleveland, Chicago, Milwaukee, and Cincinnati also beckoned. Poverty was rampant in the region from where the work-seeking refugees fled. The decades long timbering of the southern Appalachians had come and gone, leaving denuded slopes prone to erosion and far too steep for agriculture. Once pristine trout streams were fouled by silt and devoid of trout, while hard-working mountain folks could do little but figuratively shake their heads in dismay as available timber vanished, taking jobs with it. Worsening the impact of the inevitable bust which followed the logging boom was the deadly blight which wiped out the dominant tree of the Appalachian slopes, the American chestnut, in a period of only a few years. That disaster transpired at precisely the time of



ph in 1956


the Great Depression’s onset and the end of the great logging era and took with it the income available from cutting chestnuts for acid wood, marketing the nuts for vendors to roast and sell on city street corners, and what had seemed an inexhaustible source of material for fence rails, rough lumber, and other building purposes. Once plentiful jobs became scarce as hen’s teeth and subsistence farming offered partial relief at best. Proud mountain folks, never scared of work and always willing to pull themselves up by their boot straps, found themselves in desperate straits. As a high school classmate (I graduated in 1960) of mine put it, and her description of family economic circumstances would have been applicable to many, “we were destitute.” The options for many were stark—stay in their beloved hills and constantly fight starvation or take the Hillbilly Highway to find work. That’s why tens of thousands of folks from the country, small towns, and even the few cities scattered along the southern spine of the Appalachians took to the Hillbilly Highway. They desperately needed work, and soon neighbors and family members who had traveled U.S. Highway 23 ahead of them were sending back word of excellent pay and, in many instances, portions of that pay as well. They were transplanted in a physical sense, but almost without exception their hearts remained in the High Country. That was one of the more remarkable aspects of the whole work migration phenomenon and it speaks

volumes about the strength of a sense of place in the hearts and minds of mountain people. Each year vacation time would find those economic transplants back in the mountains, and after twenty-five or thirty years of work led to retirement, they moved right back to the land of their roots. Talented singer/songwriter Dwight Yoakam captures the poignant, gut-wrenching nature of the entire phenomenon in the lyrics of his powerful song which plays on the traditional three Rs of education. For him and his song title, the three Rs were “Readin’, Rightin’, Route 23.” As he suggests, coal-mining folks in his native Kentucky, just like loggers and farmers in the mountains of North Carolina and Tennessee, thought “roads to the north . . . would take them to the good life that they had never seen.” Sadly, what they didn’t realize was “that old highway could lead them to a world of misery.” In the course of a few telling lines Yoakam captures the pathos and trauma of the entire experience while likewise expressing the love of place which has always held highlanders in its thrall: Have you ever seen ‘em Put the kids in the car after work on a Friday night Pull up in a holler about 2 a. m. And see a light still shinin’ bright Those mountain folks sat up that late Just to hold those little grandkids In their arms, in their arms And I’m proud to say that I’ve been blessed And touched by their sweet hillbilly charm.

ation tnuts n Research St roasted ches Man selling Forest Service , Souther A Courtesy USD

That sort of weekend trip, while demanding, was possible from those hailing from the nearest fringes of Appalachia in Kentucky and West Virginia, but for those living farther southeast along Route 23 the distance was simply too great. They had to wait until vacation time, which often coincided with a family or church reunion or perhaps traditional summertime activities such as brush arbor revivals, week-long tent revivals, or all day singing with dinner on the grounds. Then those who had grown up in towns and the sprinkling of small cities along Route 23—Franklin, Sylva, Waynesville, Asheville, and Mars Hill in North Carolina and then on through Sam’s Gap into Tennessee and Flag Pond, Erwin, Unicoi, Kingsport, and Johnson City before crossing the state line and heading towards Gate City, Virginia—could return home for a blessed, soul soothing week or two in the embrace of their beloved mountains. Along with Yoakam, Steve Earle wrote about this patchwork quilt of regional history in another song, this one bearing the title “Hillbilly Highway.” It is less specific in terms of focusing on lifestyles and economic necessity, but the recurrent refrain, “that old hillbilly highway goes on and on” is catchy and reflective of what was indeed the case for much of the latter half of the last century. In recent decades things have changed, and in some cases dramatically. The locales where there were once enclaves of hillbillies working in factories while they dreamed of home have today become a region known

as the “Rust Belt.” The Hillbilly Highway, formerly what was in essence a one-way avenue of asphalt leading from the mountains to Motor City and similar environs, at least when it came to economic opportunity, has seen a remarkable reverse in travel direction. Today all roads seem to lead to the High Country as folks who visit and drive along Highway 23, not to mention other routes from all compass points, increasingly realize why the High Country held the souls of mountain folks so firmly in its grasp. Those simple people, accustomed to living close to the earth and keenly aware of the fact that there was more to life than earning a livelihood, understood that their roots ran deep in the backside of heaven. Today outlanders, increasingly appreciative of why there was such an entrenched love of place among those who had called the land of the Hillbilly Highway home for generations, are anxious to share this land of steep ridges, deep hollows, magic, and mystique. In a real sense that old Hillbilly Highway does indeed go on and on forever, but in the hearts of those who know and have long known it best, its final, fitting destination is where it began—in the Appalachian High Country. Jim Casada is a full-time freelance writer and an appreciable portion of his work touches on his Appalachian roots, with his most recent book, A Smoky Mountain Boyhood: Memories, Musings, and More being an example. To learn more about his writings, order a signed copy of this book, or sign up for his free monthly e-newsletter, visit his website at www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com. CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Summer 2021 —


Community Garden

In the Nick of Time

Avery County Community Center Today & Tomorrow By Steve York


hey say that “timing is everything if life.” Well, whoever they are, they sure pegged it right regarding the completion of the new Avery County Community Center, part of the greater Heritage Park complex in Newland, NC. As providence would have it, the opening of the Center’s doors to the public was perfectly timed. Why? COVID vaccinations! And we’ll get back to that shortly. But first… For those yet to visit, the new Avery Community Center is located behind Newland’s Ingles/Roses shopping center on the Avery County Fair Grounds at Heritage Park. It’s part of a 10,000-squarefoot combined facility that houses both the County Extension offices for the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Services and the newer Community Center. The two-phase architectural plans were developed by Boomerang Design in Charlotte and construction was by Garanco General Contractors out of Pilot Mountain. The 5,000-square-foot Extension Offices were completed in August of 2018 and the additional 5,000-square-foot Community Center was completed in November of 2020. The genesis for the full complex concept dates back to the early 2000s, with formal planning having begun in 2012. The long-term vision for the entire 51.63-acre Heritage Park development, as stated in their formal plan, is to “…incorporate the priorities and desires of Avery County residents in hopes of attracting new visitors and making the Avery County fairgrounds a destination for year-round programs and activities.” County Extension Director Jerry Moody detailed the big-picture vision this way: “We had six phases planned, of which only the equestrian center and the hiking trails are yet to be completed. The four


that are complete include the community gardens, with over 35 families participating, the Cooperative Extension Center, the Regional Agricultural Pesticide collection facility and the new Avery County Community Center.” Moody went on to add, “All of this could not have been accomplished if we hadn’t received input from as many citizens as possible.  We tried to get suggestions from everyone and work them into a plan to present to the Avery Board of Commissioners. And we are thankful for their leadership, as well as their decision to run with our ideas to fund this complex.” Of course, during those early planning days, no one expected that this new Community Center would be converted into a mass vaccination hub. “Ironically, we couldn’t have planned a better Grand Opening for the Community Center portion of the complex,” noted Phillip Barrier, Avery County Manager for the past four years. “Not that a pandemic was the most desirable way for us to open the Center’s doors to the community, of course. But, about the time we were considering how to conduct a formal opening, Avery County was tasked with providing a large, central location for COVID vaccinations. And, in the process of meeting that challenge, the new Community Center saw several thousand people streaming through our doors over just a few months, giving them a unique opportunity to really check the place out while getting their shots,” said Barrier. “I have to heap high praise on ‘Team Avery’ for the heroic job they’ve done,” continued Barrier. “And I’m talking about everybody, including the Extension staff, the Health Department, EMS, 911, Fire and Rescue, Parks & Recreation, DSS, all

Avery Towns, student nurses from Mayland Community College, the Sheriff ’s Department, the National Guard, the Senior Center, Avery Schools and more. They really stepped up, pulled together and provided a completely safe, coordinated and comfortable process for everyone coming for their first and second vaccinations. And special thanks to Paul Buchanan, Avery County’s Emergency Manager,” Barrier added. “Way back in March of 2020, he initiated our weekly emergency team meetings to help organize people and resources. The first shots were administered on January 12, 2021. As of early May, we had provided 5,000 vaccinations.” Post pandemic, the vision for the entire Heritage Park setting going forward only gets more exciting. County Extension Service capabilities have now been greatly enhanced by the new facility and grounds. Agri-Horticultural educational programs have modern onsite indoor and outdoor settings—complete with an outdoor amphitheater. 4-H and other youth development courses have an ideal central location to hold their activities. And all Avery County Extension Services staff have a well-designed facility from which to serve the community. The building’s exterior design was of special importance to community planners. “We wanted it to be very warm and welcoming, almost like a Cracker Barrel restaurant, where people could feel comfortable,” said Moody. “And we are very happy with how it turned out. For anyone wanting to use the facility for group events, they can contact us in person, by phone or at our website.” The Community Center was designed to be spacious and able to accommodate future demands. Its interior includes a giant indoor stage, plus a state-of-the-art

To keep up to date with news, events, services or vaccination plans visit www.avery.ces.ncsu.edu.

History on a Stick

Fort San Juan By Michael C. Hardy


n school, we once learned of Jamestown, the first permanent English settlement in the New World, founded in 1607. It is an important place and an important date. The history of European settlement in the New World actually goes back before that familiar date. The Vikings explored North America centuries earlier. The English attempted a colony on Roanoke Island, off the coast of North Carolina in 1585. Before the English, came the Spanish. Everyone should be familiar with Christopher Columbus, who explored the Bahamas in 1492, and Ponce de Leon, who visited Florida in 1513. They found a land full of strange flora and fauna, interesting foods, and people. The Indigenous peoples in North America had been here for millennia, although they too had once been explorers and colonizers. Other Spaniards followed over the next decades. Hernando de Soto explored much of the southern portions of the United States between 1539 and 1543, possibly even traveling through the Toe River Valley. Spain claimed much of the territory, calling it la Florida. In 1566, a Spanish fleet arrived off the coast of South Carolina. At present-day Parris Island, the Spanish expedition established the town of Santa Elena. Captain Juan Pardo was ordered to explore the interior, looking for an overland route to the Spanish silver mines in Mexico. In 1567, the expedition arrived at the Native American city of Joara. The Spanish constructed a fort, naming it Fort San Juan. Leaving behind a garrison of thirty soldiers, Pardo moved east, exploring the Catawba River area and building other garrisons, including one near present-day Salisbury. Left in charge of Fort San Juan was Hernando Moyano de Morales. Morales continued to explore the area, battling native peoples at Maniatique, near present-day Saltville, Virginia. Morales returned to Fort San Juan, as did Pardo for a short amount of time. Pardo returned to Santa Elena, leaving a garrison at Fort San Juan. Just what happened next is not entirely clear, but in May of the next year, the Natives laid siege to the fort, killed most of the garrison, and burned the structure to the ground. A ceremonial mound was later constructed over the site. The exact location of Fort San Juan was disputed for decades. Some believed it was in Knoxville, while others thought that it was near the Qualla Boundary in Swain County. In 2013, several archeologists officially announced that the site of the fort and of the town of Joara had been found. Commonly referred to as the “Berry Site,” the complex was just sixteen miles from Morganton. The Berry Site is an active archaeological dig, led by Warren Wilson College. There are summer camps and other educational opportunities devoted to the dig. In 2008, the North Carolina Highway Historical Marker Program erected a marker on NC181 at Bost Road in Morganton denoting the site of Fort San Juan, four miles to the northeast. CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Summer 2021 —



sound system with excellent acoustics. “This is an ideal setting for business or organizational meetings, trade shows, family gatherings, weddings, social events, live music concerts and more—all with an indoor seating capacity for 288 people,” noted County Manager Barrier. “Outside we have another giant stage attached to the far end of the building facing the actual fairgrounds with a capacity to accommodate up to 2,000 people for larger outdoor live events. And in the future we are hoping to add a large movie screen to host family movie nights for the community.” The first live music event for the Community Center was the all-day High Country Music Fest on June 12, hosted by the Avery County Fair Board. The next official large community event (as of this writing) is the annual Avery County Agricultural and Horticultural Fair to be held September 8 through 11 on the adjacent fairgrounds. Other summer events will be publicized once confirmed. With the equestrian center and 1.5mile walking trail on the horizon, the Avery County Cooperative Extension and Community Center is right on time towards fulfilling its six-phase vision of becoming a major destination point for County functions, community gatherings, special events and cultural happenings.

Old Butler: The Town that Wouldn’t Drown “Maaaaaatthew!” A woman leans out the back door of a small wooden house. “Naaaaaancy!” She has short dark hair. She’s wearing an apron. “Dinner!” She looks out to the west, to the fields on the other side of the Watauga River. The sky is gray. The days have gotten so short. About this time a big car, a Ford sedan, pauses at the curb out front. The wheels are caked with clay and the whole thing is gray from rock dust. A man climbs out and then turns back to the car and waves. He’s got a lunch pail in his left hand and a bundle of dusty work clothes tucked under his arm. The children dash across the street to greet him. Nancy jumps into his arms. Matthew takes the lunch pail and runs to the door. “Daddy’s home!” The woman comes out and they stand together on the narrow porch. “It’s done,” says the man. “All done.” One last time.



ettlers came to the bottomland that became Butler, Tennessee as early as 1769, the year Daniel Boone trekked through the area on his way to Kentucky. In about 1820, Ezekiel Smith built a grist mill near the confluence of the Watauga River and Roan Creek and a community grew around the mill. The turning point for this community came in 1902, when the Virginia & Southwestern Railroad arrived. The town was incorporated as Butler soon afterwards, in honor of Colonel Roderick R. Butler, who had served in the Union Army during the Civil War and who represented the people in that community in both the state and national governments. Over the next thirty years Butler grew and prospered. The railroad carried lumber and minerals away to market and came back with modern manufactured goods. Main Street was lined with shops housed in brick buildings. The Blue Bird Tea Room and bus station, across from Ritchie’s Hotel. The City Market. The Butler Confectionary, where the older kids gathered after school. Stout’s Barber Shop. The Central Service Station, repairing all makes and models. Ramsey’s Hotel. The Butler City Hall and the Jail, known affectionately as “the bughouse.” The most impressive buildings were the churches. The Butler Methodist Church had gothic windows and a tall, pointed steeple. The Butler Christian Church was simple but well-proportioned, with a straight, three story

bell tower. The Butler Baptist Church, which had been meeting since settlers first came to the valley, was simply large, having more than five hundred and fifty members. Life in town was slow and peaceful in a way that today we sometimes dream about. Thelma Eggers Cutshall was a child in Butler, and this is how she looked back on her childhood. “I remember best of all the rest times when we sat on the porch and watched people go down the street … from the Depot … on their way to … the R. N. McClain Store. I also remember lying in the sunny spots in early spring or late fall. We had a cow and a barn to house her, two hogs to fatten for the winter’s meat, … Oh, yes, we had a garden which I hated because we had to take a tin can with a bit of kerosene to pick off the bean and potato bugs … Only memories remain of the first day of May, when we were allowed to shed our shoes … the feel of that grass to my bare feet. It seems I can still feel that excitement.” R. N. McClain deserves a special mention. He ran a general store serving the families in Butler, but he knew that there were hundreds more up in the hills and hollows who could not make the trip to town to shop. To serve them, he created the Rolling Store. A Rolling Store was a truck that resembles a modern moving van and that was stocked with almost everything you might find in an old general store: groceries, hardware,

Watauga Lake today

cloth, kerosene, cane sugar, and so on. In other words, things folks needed but couldn’t grow or make for themselves, delivered to their door. Sound familiar? The trucks returned from the hills with eggs, butter, herbs, pelts, poults, just about anything the customers produced. “We Buy & Sell Everything” was McClain’s motto, and it said so right there on the driver’s door. So, by 1940, Butler had grown into a small town, an ideal small town. But then came a perfect storm. It had been brewing from the very beginning. In 1902, the same year that brought the railroad, Butler suffered a flood. And again in 1916. And again in 1924. And finally, in 1940, a flood that washed away much of that railroad, and thus, much of the foundation for Butler’s prosperity. About the time that Butler was incorporated, the Watauga Power Company built the Wilbur Dam on the Watauga River to provide electricity to nearby Elizabethton, and in the 1920s other companies began exploring the potential for more and larger hydropower dams on the Watauga. Butler was also a victim of its own industriousness. Cutting timber for far away markets was unsustainable. By 1940 they’d pretty much run out of trees. People started leaving Butler, looking for greener pastures. And finally, there was the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). An agency with immense power. The flood of 1940 and the need for electricity for national security

gave the agency just the rationale that it needed for a new dam. Butler was caught between the forces of nature, money and a bureaucracy. The Watauga Dam was authorized on December 17, 1941, just ten days after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Soon, agents for the TVA began knocking on doors. People were told they’d have to move. Reactions were mixed. Matthew and Nancy’s parents saw the dam as an opportunity, and their father helped to build it. Many more were dead set against it. But threats and petitions changed nothing. A few farmhouses were moved to higher ground. But the brick storefronts and the handsome churches were lost. But not all was lost. The community—the fellowship of the people—was not lost. Some of the neighbors stayed close, formed a new town of Butler on the shore of the new lake. They’ve remained close to this day, celebrating, for example, “Old Butler Days,” a festival to honor their old stomping grounds. They have built and furnished a delightful museum filled with thousands of the simple items that illustrate those times, and more powerfully, hundreds and hundreds of photographs of those neighbors. Something was even gained. Butler, called the “Town that Wouldn’t Drown,” is also this—The Town that is Forever Old. In 1948 the waters closed over it. That original town of Butler stopped growing and changing. It has been

By Edwin Ansel

spared the tumult of the last sixty years. Living on in their memories, Old Butler remains what it was when last those neighbors last saw it, an idyllic home town in a quiet highland valley. Photos courtesy of the Butler Museum. Note that the Museum is currently undergoing changes and may not be open during posted hours. Learn more about Old Butler and take a virtual tour of the museum through its expansive photo gallery at www.butlermuseumtn. com. For information on happenings and events taking place throughout the region, including Butler: www. johnsoncountytnchamber.org.



Blue Ridge Mountain Club: Building a “New-Normal” Community, One House at a Time By Jason Reagan


hile the High Country continues to see a boom in housing demand, with would-be buyers finding a new home hard to locate, Blue Ridge Mountain Club (BMRC) continues to do what they’ve always done best—build quality mountain homes amid a tranquil, active mountain community. Located near Boone and Blowing Rock, BRMC sits on more than 6,000 acres just off the Blue Ridge Parkway. In addition to offering move-in ready homes, new semi-custom builds or fully customized homes, BRMC offers a peak experience in High Country living. Amenities include fishing, UTV trails, hiking, dining, fitness center, live events and more. Unlike some real-estate developments that are scrambling to find available inventory during the recent buying surge, BRMC approaches things differently. Demand is not a problem because the community’s housing team is always building to meet demand, with no signs of slowing down.


All about Community

“I think any discussion about BRMC still starts with our mission,” said Jim Pitts, BRMC’s General Manager. “Our mission is to build community and it has always been our intent to nurture the spirit of community.” Nurturing that sense of community and mountain living has proven to be the right mission at the right time. It wasn’t always like that. Following the recession of 2008, which popped the luxury real estate bubble in the High Country, BRMC struggled, Pitts said. But by 2018, something changed. BRMC began adding year-round amenities that made the club unique, including a grill and a wellness center, as well as adding newly constructed homes, about five to seven in 2018. Pitts said his team expected to build no more than 15 homes in 2019. But effective marketing efforts and word of mouth changed their plans. “We went into 2019 expecting to build 12 to 15 homes to starting to build 20-25 homes.” And that number continued into 2020 despite the outbreak of COVID-19 and grew to a pace

of 30-35. In fact, a shift in the way people began to think about life, work and family during the pandemic continued to push growth and interest in BRMC. Today, BRMC is on pace to build about 50 new homes per year.

A New Paradigm

2020 changed everything, from our sense of community to what it means to balance work and family. As such, people began to realize they can break out of the pre-pandemic paradigm—living in a metro-adjacent suburb and commuting 30-60 minutes to an office building. Work can be wherever we live. And for many, it just makes sense to build a new life in the Blue Ridge Mountains at communities like BRMC. “I would say the culture of family and the culture of work has shifted dramatically, Pitts said. “And this is largely due to the pandemic. “So, what the pandemic taught us is that family is more important than we ever thought,” he added. “People found themselves having only family for social content

and connection—you saw the big shift of families figuring out how to enjoy themselves. We also saw a big shift of businesses learning new ways to conduct business.” And as residents of Charlotte, Atlanta and Greensboro discovered, pristine, active communities like BRMC are in perfect alignment with the values of the “newnormal” family. “What people learned for themselves is: ‘Why would I not live where I really want to be versus living where my job is?’” Pitts noted. Since BRMC offers highspeed fiber-optic Internet, a member’s office is virtually anywhere they are, on their custom-made balcony overlooking a breathtaking vista, at the clubhouse or on the grill patio. And unlike many mountain clubs, BRMC’s amenities are open yearround for a four-season experience. “BRMC is basically a completely contained community—not isolated, but certainly a completely contained community where you can pull in here and not really ever have to do much in order to satisfy all your needs,” Pitts said. And those needs go beyond housing and dining.

BRMC employs a recreation manager whose sole job is to figure out vibrant programs—rafting, hiking, biking, fireside chats, book clubs and music. A complete mountain experience.

The Trail Ahead

As to the future, BRMC is banking on the emergence of Millennials who are finding themselves new parents seeking a less hectic pace of life and work. “Millennials are much more technologically savvy,” Pitts said. “They have already been working in jobs where all they need to start is their computer and their cell phone. BRMC is the perfect place for people to be able to work remotely, enjoy nature and get back to family—so that’s where the trends are really going.” To meet the expected demand, BRMC is developing a new village called The Meadows within the club that will include its own restaurant, and field house that will sport an indoor pickleball court, a golfing simulator and a virtualreality experience. By continuing to respond to the wants and needs of a changing homebuyer,

BRMC is building a unique kind of value, Pitts said. “Value is not just about price value. Value has to do with the cachet of being adjacent to Blowing Rock and Boone, being the closest to the market, having a system for delivering homes to people who don’t have to worry about a thing other than bringing their toothbrush at the end of the day. “We’ve been really fortunate over all these years because we had a lot of really dedicated, loyal and committed members in the early years of Blue Ridge Mountain Club that all had an affinity for the same thing—enjoyment of nature and living in the mountains.” Learn more about Blue Ridge Mountain Club and view a virtual map of the property at blueridgemountainclub.com.




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The Rosen Competition Turns 35!

Broad-winged Hawk Release

A mile-high success story took to the air from Grandfather Mountain’s MacRae Meadows on May 21 as the May Wildlife Rehabilitation Center at Lees-McRae College (LMC) released two rehabilitated broad-winged hawks into the wild. Three LMC summer clinical students, Ashley Ellis, Caselyn Little and Megan Guess, handled the release, and each gave a short presentation about the birds. During the release, one hawk seemed slightly hesitant to fly away. Little had to gently tap and shake the carrier to encourage him to fly. After a few moments, he soared out of the box and directly into a nearby tree. “It’s absolutely amazing,” Guess said. “I love to see all of our patients be able to come out here, be released, and then live long and happy lives in the wild.” Learn more about the release at https://bit.ly/3hMiHHa. Photo by Judi Sawyer | Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation

Williams YMCA of Avery County – Kids’ Play

While the Y’s Kids Club Sports are paused for the summer, the facility is offering a variety of other opportunities for adults and kids to get out and play! Basketball Camp, Soccer Clinics, and Volleyball Club are just a few options. For more information about these and other Athletic programs visit https://www.ymcaavery.com/ programs/youth-and-young-adult-athletics.


The Rosen Sculpture Competition and Exhibition is an annual national juried competition presented by the Turchin Center for the Visual Arts on the campus of Appalachian State University and brings an astonishing array of contemporary sculpture to the campus and community each season. To celebrate the competition’s 35th anniversary, join juror Rachel Stevens on an educational outdoor tour of the nine sculpture finalists. The tour takes place on July 10, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. The event concludes with an outdoor lunchtime reception adjacent to the Schaefer Center, and will feature an awards presentation, a tribute to the Rosen family, a reflection on the 35th anniversary and a “look back” at some of the competition’s most memorable moments! Learn more at rosensculpture.org or tcva.org.

Planetarium Update

The dome construction is underway on the Glenn & Carol Arthur Planetarium at Mayland’s Earth to Sky Park. After months of wet weather, the walls are in place and the geodesic dome came together within a matter of days! The dome will be covered with a white TPO roofing membrane. Next up: the walls and roof of the connector building. Follow the progress of this exciting local project at www.mayland. edu/planetarium/.

Local Author and CML Contributor Receives Honor

Jim Casada’s book A Smoky Mountain Boyhood: Memories, Musings, and More, published in late 2020, was recipient of a bronze medal in the Non-Fiction category for the Southeast in the latest IPPY (Independent Publishers) Awards program. The competition, which draws thousands of entries each year, is the country’s largest. The entries which placed ahead of Casada’s book were from a former Pulitzer Prize winner and the wife of Wendell Berry, one of the bestknown voices of Appalachia. In Jim’s words, “I reckon that’s pretty heady company for a hillbilly like me.” Read Casada’s article, “The Hillbilly Highway,” on page 86.

A Scout Bee Has Landed

In our Spring issue of CML, we introduced readers to Matt Willey, the muralist behind “The Good of the Hive” project. In late May, Willey painted a scout bee on the wall of the Paul and Susie O’Connell Conference Center at the Earth to Sky Park, overlooking the large pollinator garden. The bee offers viewers a preview of the large mural that Willey will paint on the exterior of the Glenn and Carol Arthur Planetarium in October. Mayland’s Earth to Sky Park will offer numerous public events surrounding the mural throughout October! Find out more about “The Good of the Hive” project at www.thegoodofthehive.com.

Activities Galore at Seven Devils

A More Sustainable Boone

The Seven Devils community offers programming to the public through their parks and rec group. You’ll find a variety of Ranger Workshops, group hikes, book club events, music on the lawn, and much more. For information on all the summer activities at Seven Devils, visit www.sevendevils.net/summer-events. To register for an event email parksandrec@ sevendevils.net.

In recent years, the Town of Boone has worked on a number of sustainability initiatives to make Boone a safe, healthy and desirable place to live, work and study. With 169 acres of woodlands, Boone has been recognized as a Tree City USA for the past 27 years, and in November 2020 was designated as a Tree Cities of the World. The Town has also been an affiliate of Bee City USA for over two years. Recent goals have been set by the Town to transition municipal operations to 100% clean renewable energy by 2040, and transition the entire town of Boone to 100% clean renewable energy by 2050. Learn more at www.townofboone.net/sustainability/.

Check Out These Summer Day Camps for Kids!

Public Hikes Abound

Many communities and organizations in our area are dedicated to leading family friendly outdoor experiences and offering nature studies. Summer is a great time to explore our trails, flora, and fauna, and you’ll find a guided hike option nearly every week. While not a comprehensive list, following are some options to check out this summer: Beech Mountain at beechmtn.com/hiking/, Grandfather Mountain at grandfather.com, MountainTrue at mountaintrue.org/eventscalendar/, NC Native Plant Society, Blue Ridge Chapter, at ncwildflower.org/blue-ridge/, and our NC State Parks system at www.ncparks.gov.

Ensemble Stage “Theatre Outside the Box” Camp (pictured above) Ensemble Stage will hold two theatre camps for young people this summer— they’re totally safe, totally fun and… (don’t tell the kids) totally educational! On June 28 through July 2, the camp will be available for ages 7-10. On July 5 through July 9, ages 11-14 can participate. Each camp is limited to 15 participants and will take place at the Historic Banner Elk School. For more information, visit www.ensemblestage.com/TheatreClasses.html. Holston Day Camp Since 1959, Holston has conducted an “experiment in an outdoor Christian community.” Holston has a tradition of small group camping with the goal of providing youth unique opportunities to seek God while forming nurturing relationships and having fun outdoors. They encourage campers to “unplug” for the week and listen to the wisdom of the wind in the trees, the mountain birds, and the rushing creek. As campers play together and explore creation, they try new activities, build community, develop physical, social, psychological, and spiritual skills, and make memories to last a lifetime. Visit https://holstoncenter.org/ Camp Buckeye, Beech Mountain Camp Buckeye day camp includes a week of exploring the nature of Beech Mountain. Play in the creeks, hike the trails, learn about critters, craft with nature…plus games, movies, snacking and more. Learn more and register at BeechRecreation.RecDesk.com.

Apples and More at Orchard at Altapass

The Orchard at Altapass is now open five days a week, from Wednesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., with engaging orchard experiences and free, live music every weekend into October. All are invited to take a listen to great music and a twirl (if so inclined) on the pavilion’s wooden dance floor. Apple treats are a staple on the weekends with Bob’s donuts, the fried apple pies of the Farmer’s Wife, and the Orchard’s own hot apple pie, with or without ice cream. Located at 1025 Orchard Road near Spruce Pine at mile marker 328.3 on the Blue Ridge Parkway, the Orchard is a not-for-profit working orchard, music, and educational venue. Family- and pet-friendly, wheelchair accessible, buses welcome. For information, please visit www.altapassorchard. org or call 828-765-9531.

Orchard Co-founder Bill Carson practicing the corn hole

Continued... CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Summer 2021 —


Artisan Market at Tanger Outlets

On the first Friday and Saturday of each month through November 6, you can take home your own piece of High Country art from Tanger’s brand new outdoor Artisan Market. The Market runs from 10 a.m. - 5 p.m., plus Black Friday Weekend November 26 - 27. Tanger Outlets on the Parkway are located at 278 Shoppes on the Parkway Road, Blowing Rock, NC. Learn more at www.tangeroutlet.com/ blowingrock/events/.

heating/cooling costs. WAMY is accepting applications for the Weatherization program through September 1, 2021. There are a limited number of homes accepted into the program, so apply now. Learn more at www.wamycommunityaction.org.

42nd Annual Valle Country Fair

Cultural Arts Center at the Historic Banner Elk School Reopens to the Public

The historic 1939 stone building in downtown Banner Elk has officially reopened to the public! The old school is now home to the town’s Cultural Arts Center—one of the newest stops on the Blue Ridge Craft Trails (page 45)—which includes the Ensemble Stage Theater, the Banner Elk Book Exchange, BE Artists Gallery, a Yoga studio, and the offices of CML Magazine, along with several other organizations. Visit the BE Artists Gallery this summer and check out new artwork from local artists. The gallery is currently offering special pricing on fine wood furniture by Dick Larson and on hand-carved, hand-painted wood birds by Tony Bua. And don’t miss the Art on the Greene Master Craft Events taking place on the front lawn of the Historic Banner Elk School July 3-4, August 7-8, and September 4-5.

Listen to the Birds

Want to know how to identify some of the bird vocalizations you hear in your own backyard? Two websites can help you do just that. At www.dnr.state.mn.us/ mcvmagazine/bird_songs_interactive/, you can click on a bird within an illustration to hear its unique tune (note that while the page was created by the Minnesota Dept. of Natural Resources, many of the same birds are found right here in the High Country). For more advanced birding techniques, visit the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s website, allaboutbirds.org. Illustration by Bill Reynolds

Things are Lickin’ Up

MediaWise: Fact Checking Made Easy

The MediaWise project empowers people of all ages to become more critical consumers of content online. MediaWise is a nonpartisan, nonprofit initiative of The Poynter Institute that teaches people digital media literacy and fact-checking skills to spot misinformation and disinformation, with initiatives specifically designed to engage Gen Z, college students and older Americans. Their innovative, digital-first program works constantly to address the everchanging landscape of misinformation across the internet. Learn how you can put MediaWise to good use at www. poynter.org/mediawise/.


After more than four decades of celebrating community and raising funds to help neighbors, our community has never had more to celebrate than being able to host the Valle Country Fair IN PERSON in 2021. Save the date for Saturday, October 16! Shop for the region’s best hand-made crafts, pig out on hearty country cooking and tap your feet to local mountain music. All proceeds are used in service to families in need. Hours are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., with FREE admission, and $10 parking per vehicle. www.vallecountryfair.org, 828-9634609 | NC Highway 194, Valle Crucis, NC.

WAMY’s Weatherization Program

Stay cool this summer and warm this winter! WAMY’s weatherization program is available in Watauga, Avery, Mitchell and Yancey Counties with the goal of making homes more energy efficient, usually through the installation of insulation, air sealing and duct sealing. This program is available to both homeowners and renters with landlord permission. After receiving weatherization, families typically save 30-35% on their

Healthy treats frozen on a stick are hot at the Saturday Watauga Farmer’s Market and come in 16 flavors: Strawberry Basil, Chocolate Lavender, Blackberry Mint and kid-friendlies like Cookies ‘n Cream, handmade with local foods by farmer Maddie Warner. Market shoppers rally knee-deep at the bright yellow Poppies cart, their sticky-yummy cheeks dripping into muchneeded smiles. We’ll explain what’s behind the new year-round popsicle craze in our Autumn issue; report on the pops’ health benefits (served at hospitals too); get into Poppies’ just-revealed Fall flavors—Pumpkin Caramel, Apple Cider Frosty—and we’ll ‘taste’ their S’moresicle, created just for CML! (Poppies also at Anna’s Greenhouses, West Jefferson and private parties. Email madison.warner19@yahoo.com or call 828-773-983). Contributed by Gail Greco

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“read all&aLOCAL b outBUSINESS it!” NEWS COMMUNITY books and magazines, or those in poor condition can be taken to a recycling center. The Book Exchange also offers other programs to the community: • Book Discussion Groups • BE Readers • (Children’s book discussion) • Play & Learn Sessions   • Science/Nature Programs for Children • (NCexplorers.com) • Music Jams For a complete summer list of events, visit BannerElkBookExchange.com.

The Banner Elk Book Exchange Reopens to the Public The Banner Elk Book Exchange at the Historic Banner Elk School is back on its regular summer schedule through October: Tues.Fri. 10 a.m.–4 p.m., and Sat. 1-4 p.m. The Banner Elk Book Exchange is a community-based, volunteer-run book exchange for Banner Elk and Avery County, operating on a “bring a book, take a book” policy. There is no check-out or return of books. Simply bring a book or books and exchange them for the same number of different books. No books to trade-in? In lieu of a book to exchange, you may make a small donation to take a book home. “We are grateful for the donations that allow others to enjoy reading,” said Donna Dicks with the Book Exchange. “Many people have contributed the books in the Book Exchange that fill our shelves, and a year of being sequestered at home will probably produce an abundance of book donations.” Before bringing book donations to the Book Exchange, she asks that people consider these guidelines: The Book Exchange accepts hardback books, and paperbacks in good condition. “We keep the larger, high-quality ones on the shelves of the Book Exchange, and share those we cannot use with organizations like the V.A. hospital in Asheville. Some books also are sent to the correctional facility in Spruce Pine.” The Book Exchange cannot accept textbooks, reference books (dictionaries, thesaurus, etc.), outdated magazines or selfhelp books, or books that are damaged, mildewed, smelling of smoke, or otherwise unable to be placed on our shelves. When in doubt, ask yourself if you would like to take home the books you are donating. Outdated


Make Friends in Valle Crucis For 38 years, the local community has collaborated to preserve the Valle Crucis Community Park. What was originally slated for development instead became, and remains to be, a free local park filled with immeasurable opportunity for life to be explored through nature, environmental education, friendship, play, music, exercise, and much more. Walking paths throughout the park and wetlands meander between Dutch Creek and Watauga River. Trees, gardens, and native vegetation are living proof of abundant, loving preservation. Convenient picnic shelters remain popular destinations as people seek the refuge of outdoor assembly, particularly in efforts to maintain social distancing. Summer months naturally invite extended outdoor exploration. Fishing expeditions and leisure river fun soak up considerable public interest. The anticipated return of events, such as Music in the Valley, also promises to keep the community adoring of the park. The increase in public traffic, in addition to the growing tourism in the area, creates more need for support from the community and acts as a catalyst for the new suggestion for paying $5 for weekend parking. The Valle Crucis Community Park exists as a nonprofit organization. Eighty percent

of operational funding is composed of public donations, and the remaining percentage is supported by an endowment fund, invested and administered by the North Carolina Community Foundation. Every helping hand plays a part in preserving the park, as it requires $500 per day to maintain the park in its naturally beautiful condition. Patrons have ample opportunity to support the park. “Friends of the Park” donate monthly or annually and—in addition to facility rental discounts, local business coupons, and a parking hangtag—are allowed maximum tax deductions to the extent of state and federal law. Volunteer opportunities are available for all ages and skill levels. Individuals and businesses are invited to take part in donating items for the annual Park Auction. Memorial gifts and projects are always open for discussion with the park’s director. Additionally, park visitors can abide by the park rules, leave their leisure space better than they found it, and utilize the environmental education opportunities in an effort to further appreciate and maintain the value of the park. The founding board of directors envisioned the land to be preserved for every person to enjoy the natural resources, for all time. With this vision comes a need for respect and caretaking of the land as its needs evolve. The daily, monthly, and yearly conservation of the park’s features are prioritized in the annual strategic plan, created and carried out by the board of directors. Ashley Galleher, the park’s executive director, stated, “We [as humans] want what’s best for the people we love and for future generations.” vallecrucispark.org

Grandfather Home Visitors’ Center and Museum An important piece of Banner Elk history resides in a house on Hickory Nut Gap Road. This house, once known as the Grandfather Home for Children’s “director’s house,” opened last summer as the Grandfather Home Visitors’ Center and Museum.

Lost Province Center for the Cultural Arts Launches Summer Classes Lost Province Center for the Cultural Arts is a nonprofit craft school located in the historic Lansing School building in Lansing, NC (Ashe County). The organization’s

mission is to revitalize the historic Lansing School, celebrate and teach Southern Appalachian culture and skills, and support the local community. The stately Lansing School was constructed in 1938 under the Works Progress Administration (WPA) and is recognized by the National Register of Historic Places. It was the center of education in Ashe County from 1939 until the early 1990s, but has since had limited use. The preservation of the historic property will provide a spacious venue for classes, special events, sustainable multi-use housing, a signature farm-to-table restaurant and a showcase gallery. This summer, the Center is holding their first ever classes in Fiber Arts, Ceramics, and Fermentation, with various on-campus community events throughout the Summer. Lost Province Center for the Cultural Arts is expected to make a great impact on the High Country over the years, both financially and culturally. You can check out their 2021 course catalog and register at lostprovincearts.org. You can also subscribe to their newsletter to receive updates on the progress of the Lansing School renovations, as well as all public events.

Give Summer Flowers a Second Chance Have a yard or home full of live plants that you’re planning to leave behind at the end of the season? Give them to Flowers for Friends! Flowers for Friends was inspired in 1996 while Brent Atwater, an Elk River resident, was visiting her grandmother in a Continuing Care Community. For years Brent had watched gorgeous summer plants discarded at season’s end and wondered how they could be repurposed to bring joy to others. The rest of the story is on their Facebook page, ‘Flowers for Friends KNOW you are Special and Loved.’ Flowers for Friends was so successful in the High Country, they partnered with Lees-McRae’s lacrosse team,

directed by head coach Bradley Dunn. Even during COVID they delivered over 485 plants. This year they hope to collect and distribute many more. Here’s how it works: Call or email Flowers for Friends to let them know your organization wants to receive flowers/plants. Or, tell them about a person who needs cheering up. If you have plants to donate to the cause, or if you’d like to volunteer, your support is always welcome and needed. If donating, let Flowers for Friends know when your plants need to be picked up and the location. Or, you can drop them off at a designated location. For organizations and individuals receiving plants, the “repurposed” plants will be fertilized and prepped for delivery. Flowers for Friends will deliver your plant, which can be photographed with the recipient; the photo(s) will then be emailed to you. Where do the plants go? “We deliver them to regional and children’s hospitals, retirement communities, health care facilities, Meals on wheels, shut-ins and other individuals who need their day brightened,” says Brent Atwater. “If you want us to deliver to your organization, please make arrangements to get on our schedule as soon as possible.” If you know of a group or individual who would benefit from Flowers for Friends’ services, or would like to volunteer, please call 828-898-5557 or email Brent@ brentatwater.com.

Banner House Museum Offers Summer Walking Tours and Porch Talks The Banner House Museum’s 2020 season, according to Museum staff, was challenging, to say the least. The c. 1870 Banner House saw its second pandemic and waited silently for better times so that visitors could return. However, the Greater Banner Elk Heritage Foundation met the challenge of COVID precautions with technology. The Foundation unveiled a new cell phone-based Walking Tour to allow anyone CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Summer 2021 —



The Center highlights pieces of local history that focus on the children who resided at Grandfather Home for Children. The photos, artifacts, and stories honor more than a century of the lives of former residents and the displays feature the different aspects of the residents’ everyday lives: labor on the farm, education, celebrations, community support, and faith. “We are so excited to share our rich history. The Visitors’ Center and Museum is the perfect vehicle to tell yesterday’s stories and give anyone a glimpse into the past,” said Grandfather Home Development Officer Madison Cornwell. For anyone looking to learn about the history of Grandfather Home for Children and its mission and work being done today, as well as historical information about the legacy of Rev. Edgar Tufts and the foundation of Lees-McRae Institute, Grace Hospital, and Grandfather Orphans’ Home, this is a must-see. The Center also includes a space for small social events and information about the services provided on campus and across the High Country. The multipurpose space will have the capacity to host intimate social gatherings for supporters of the home, as well as birthday parties and celebrations for the youth and families being served by Grandfather Home for Children. And they are still looking to expand its collection. Anyone interested in donating or loaning artifacts or items related to the history of Grandfather Home for Children should contact the home to advance the progress of the museum and honor its past. The Visitors’ Center and Museum is open for private tours. Contact Madison Cornwell at 828-897-4527.



to stroll through town at their own pace using the free Pocket Sights app. The app displayed vintage photographs of some of the most iconic places in town and shared a few notes of history along the way. This summer, the Banner House Museum joyously announces its plans to once again share its history with visitors in person. In lieu of indoor museum tours, museum activity will be moved outdoors in the form of Guided Walking Tours of Historic Downtown Banner Elk. These fun and informative tours offer a leisurely stroll through town, as well a peek into the littleknown past lives of many familiar buildings and other sights. Tours will cover about 1.5 miles and last approximately one hour. Participants should plan to meet on the Banner House Museum front porch at noon any Wed. through Sat., June 16 through Sept. 18. No reservations are required, but tours will be limited to 10 participants. The cost is $10 per person and special arrangements should be made for large groups. Though the cellphone app introduced last year remains active, guides just might have extra secrets to share! An option is the newly designed “Porch Talks” offering informed conversations about Banner Elk’s history when volunteers are not out on Walking Tours. As with many activities, masks are a must for all interactions with volunteers. The porch talks are offered free of charge, but donations are appreciated. For more details/updates throughout the season, check ouot their website at BannerHouseMuseum.org. For group resvervations contact BannerHouseMuseum@ yahoo.com or 828-898-3664

More Merriment at Mystery Hill Mystery Hill in Blowing Rock has added even more family fun to its mountainside entertainment complex. In addition to the all-new Historic Farmyard, which was added last fall, Mystery Hill recently opened


Prospector Hill, a gem mining attraction with private indoor sluices for each family, and gemstones from around the world. Mystery Hill has also added the Bull Riding Challenge, a bucking bull with a range of speeds for everyone, from kids to adults. Plus, Mystery Hill recently expanded their offerings of Professor Finnegan’s Old Time Photos with all new scenes and a remodeled space. Be sure to stop by and see all of the new family fun features—and grab one of their Over the Top Mason Jar Milkshakes. Visit mysteryhill.com for a list of all Mystery Hill attractions and for directions and other information.

Keith Martin Receives 2021 Governor’s Volunteer Service Award The North Carolina Commission on Volunteerism and Community Service has presented the 2021 Governor’s Volunteer Service Award to Boone resident Keith Martin. The honor was announced on May 26 during the annual meeting of the Appalachian Theatre of the High Country and awarded to Martin by John Cooper, immediate past chair of the board of trustees. The Governor’s Volunteer Service Award honors the true spirit of volunteerism by recognizing individuals who make a significant contribution to their community through volunteer service. Since 1979, the award has been bestowed on North Carolina’s most dedicated volunteers, those who have shown concern and compassion for their neighbors by volunteering in their community. In addition to Martin’s work with the Appalachian Theatre, he has contributed time and effort in support of Holy Cross Episcopal Church, Hunger and Health Coalition, In/Visible Theatre, Valle Country Fair and the Valle Crucis Conference Center, among other organizations on the regional, state, national, and international levels.

John Cooper said that it was his privilege to serve as the primary nominator for the award. “Last year, Keith succeeded me as chair of the Appalachian Theatre and, from firsthand observation for over a decade, I can cite his dedication, ingenuity, and unique ability to guide our organization from its grassroots beginnings to becoming a fully-functioning non-profit agency, successfully reopening our region’s lone historic theatre, thus enhancing the lives of students, the university community, and local residents alike.” Co-nominator Margaret Love, Executive Director of the Valle Crucis Conference Center, recognizes Martin’s invaluable contributions as a volunteer. “His creativity and drive have introduced new ways of looking at fundraising, innovative approaches to capacity-building and ever-widening circles of community connections.” In accepting the award, Martin quoted lines from two plays by Shakespeare when he said, “Joy’s soul lies in the doing,” in explaining the satisfaction he derives from his volunteer activities, and that “strong reasons make strong actions” as the reason he dedicates his service to many worthy civic organizations. “I receive far more than I give, and applaud the efforts of thousands of local volunteers who make the High Country an ideal place to live, work, and create a vital and caring community.” Keith Martin is CML’s Cultural Arts editor.

Mica Gallery Presents New Work from Featured Member Artists Mica Gallery, the members-owned cooperative fine craft gallery in downtown Bakersville, NC, presents a monthly special “Featured Artist Spotlight” exhibiting the work of its member artists throughout the summer. In July, the spotlight is on Robbie Bell and Claudia Dunaway. Bell’s exhibit, “The Table is Set–A Feast of Dinnerware,” will

The Historic Reinhardt Building in Blowing Rock Gets a New Life Perched next to the Mellow Mushroom at 960 Main Street in Blowing Rock is the historic RS Reinhardt Building. Originally Blowing Rock’s first post office, this

one-time single story building was constructed for Lincolnton & Lenoir businessman RS Reinhardt in 1924. The beautiful stone structure operated as the Post Office until 1944, at which point the second floor was added and the building became the Parkway Hotel.  The hotel consisted of 10 rooms upstairs with a dining room and coffee shop downstairs. On the lower left side of the face of the old building,  passersby can still see a USGS marker identifying the official elevation of Blowing Rock as 3,400 feet. In the fall of 2020, after years of admiring this historic building and feeling optimistic of its potential, High Country natives Mike and Molly Northern purchased the building. After several months of renovation, the building was revitalized. Molly Northern, an interior designer and retail shop owner, recently opened her second location of The Bee & The Boxwood in the renovated building. She says, “‘The Blowing Rock Bee’ offers furnishings as well as gorgeous gifts and local specialties with an emphasis  on the southern lifestyle.”   Also in the building, at the lower right side of the property, is the latest location of Blue Deer Cookies. Blue Deer, owned by Austin and Callie Northern, is one of the High Country’s newest and most recognizable brands. Founded in 2018, Blue Deer is known for its delicious handcrafted Ice Cream-Cookie sandwiches. “‘Blue Deer on Main’ also operates as a full coffee bar with coffee furnished by Local Lion in Boone,” says Austin Northern. The second story of the renovated building will operate as “Reinhardt Rooms,” a luxury, short-term rental experience. The three one-bedroom apartments, each fitted to sleep up to four people, were designed and furnished by Molly Northern and will begin booking guests the weekend of July 4. For more information, email ReinhardtRooms@ gmail.com. Visit www.bluedeercookies. com and thebeeandtheboxwood.com.

“A mind stretched to a new idea, never returns to its original shape”

Big or Small, There’s No Place Like Camp Who likes vacations with beauty, nature and nice people? What about good food with plenty of wine and beer? And how about adventure … like ziplining, mountain tubing, rock climbing and hiking in the woods? Enjoy relaxing? Picture yourself floating in the lake or laying on the beach soaking up the rays (using sunscreen, of course). And old-fashioned fun… who doesn’t like races, games, campfire sing-alongs, arts ’n crafts and so much more? Wouldn’t it be great if you could find all this in one place? You can, at Camp Big! Nestled in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains, there’s no better getaway than Camp Big and Camp Big & Small. Camp Big is an allinclusive summer camp for adults only. It’s an adventure camp for grownups, offering endless summer activities, relaxation, great food and tons of fun. It’s a place where anyone over 21 can get away from the day-today and simply chill out and play. The best part? You get to be a kid again! Camp Big & Small, a new offering for 2021, is a 3-night/4-day, all-inclusive vacay for the whole family. Get away for the long, Labor Day weekend—parents and kids can play together out in the fresh mountain air. Located at the same beautiful site in Banner Elk, NC, this unique vacation offers many of the same indoor and outdoor activities, delicious food and awesome entertainment as Camp Big but with a child-friendly bent— by day. Then, when the little ones go to sleep (in the “Kids-only” cabins), grown-ups can let loose and have their own good time! Camp BIG & Small: Sept. 3 – 6, 2021 Camp BIG: September 17 – 20, 2021 Call 1-888-613-CAMP (2267) or visit CampBig.camp for more information, and to find out what “special surprise guest” will be coming to camp this year. continued on next page

–Oliver Wendell Holmes




showcase an assortment of his pottery: plates of all sizes, bowls, drinking vessels, serving vessels, flower vases, and candle sticks. Dunaway will present “Paper Work,” a series of new woodblock printmaking works-on-paper that she created this past winter and spring. In August, Mica members Vicki Essig and David Ross will be featured in the gallery. Essig’s exhibit, “Memento Mori,” will show how some of her work is a collaboration between silkworms and herself as the artist. “The silkworm process is fascinating and educational,” she noted. David Ross will exhibit a collection entitled, “Africa Dreaming.” Ross explained, “The Pandemic gave me time to read and reflect on the series of historical novels by Wilbur Smith set during African Colonization. This inspired me to create a series of pottery with African imagery.” For the month of September, the Featured Artist Exhibit presents “Weaves and Tapestries,” featuring new work by Bakersville’s Fyreglas Studio. Owned and operated for more than 20 years by artists Simona Rosasco and JJ Brown, Fyreglas Studio is noted for its work with a process of making kiln-formed glass art using colorful pattern bars that are cut, arranged, and repeatedly fired to achieve unique designs. Mica is located at 37 Mitchell Ave, Bakersville, NC, and is open daily, Mondays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays from 12–5 p.m. For more information call 828-688-6422 or visit micagallerync.com. Follow the gallery on Facebook at Mica Gallery NC, or on Instagram at micagallerync.

“read all a b out it!”


Community & Local Business News

Neil Schaffel and Nancy Rosen Schaffel

Schaffels Continue Their Support of App State’s Arts Programming With hopes of inspiring others’ philanthropy, Neil Schaffel and Nancy Rosen Schaffel and the Murar Foundation made a $1 million matching gift earlier this year to the endowment for Appalachian State University’s An Appalachian Summer Festival. The gift will support the annual festival’s programming of music, dance, theater, film and visual arts. “This generous gift builds on the legacy of a remarkable family who has strengthened our university arts programs in so many ways,” said App State Chancellor Sheri Everts. “This commitment establishes a strong foundation for An Appalachian Summer Festival that enables it to grow, flourish and enrich the cultural life of our campus and community for generations to come.” An Appalachian Summer Festival is presented each July by App State’s Office of Arts and Cultural Programs and annually attracts an audience of more than 27,000. “By designating this gift in support of all the arts disciplines that make the festival unique and distinctive,” the Schaffels said, “our hope is to sustain a wide range of programming geared to almost every artistic taste and preference—which has been key to the festival’s growth in recent years.” According to Denise Ringler, director of arts engagement and cultural resources at App State, the Schaffels’ gift will match every gift to the endowment fund over a five-year period, up to $1 million total. Ringler said the gift will not only inspire other festival supporters but will move the festival significantly closer to its endowment goal of $5 million. The gift reflects the Schaffels’ lifelong passion for the fine arts, she said, and encourages others to support university arts programming. Learn more about An Appalachian Summer Festival and this year’s lineup, found in the Arts section of this issue of CML, or visit appsummer.org.


The Manor in Blowing Rock The Manor is a locally owned, quaint inn soaked in modern indulgence and ready to welcome you to a pampered retreat. Between the southern hospitality and the storybook sophistication—spanning five luxury suite types and 20 rooms—your personal idea of rejuvenation is sure to be matched. Enjoy the fresh mountain air from your private balcony, and refresh in a spa quality bathroom equipped with a soaking tub and walk-in shower. Prepare your drink of choice at your suite’s wet bar and connect with the reliably quick Wi-Fi. Further concerns may melt away at your request with The Manor’s full service concierge. Once properly relaxed and recharged, step outside the lobby’s front door onto Main Street to find local beauty, shopping, and dining. The Manor provides inspiration for your getaway featuring local guides, reviews and advice. Inquire about the accommodation options for your next event. Accept the invitation to explore, escape and connect in the Blue Ridge Mountains and allow the newest boutique hotel in Blowing Rock to host and welcome your stay. The Manor is located at 567 Main St, Blowing Rock, NC 28605. Phone: 828-4142800, or Facebook: @theBRmanor

“We make a living “by what we get. “We make a life “by what we give.” ­—Winston Churchhill


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215 Hickory Court Beautiful home with fantastic views of Grandfather, Beech, Sugar and Hanging Rock. This home has been lovingly cared for, so much so that the owners want to recreate the same home at their new location.

129 Meadows Lane Breathtaking home for entertaining and overnight guests. Sleeps 13! Fully decked-out with spacious gourmet kitchen, fine cabinetry, steam shower, premium furnishings and lots more!

375 Summit Park Drive We’re calling this custom-built 5-bedroom, 7-bath home a mountain “retreat” with features galore! Walnut doors and floors, vaulted ceilings, 3-car garage, wine cellar and more!

7016/7015 Forrest Way 3.79 acres of the most beautiful wooded property the High Country has to offer. Nearby Elk River amenities including golf, fishing, swimming and equestrian. Come see!

61-R Raven Ridge Road 4.55 acres of prime wooded property at the tip-top of Raven Ridge. Nice gentle slope with a number of locations suitable to build. Never-ending views including Beech Mountain!

490 Clubhouse Drive G1 High Country condo living at its finest. Open and airy with just the right amounts of rustic design and sophistication. Jack Nicklaus signature course just out your door.

Lot 85 Wren Way One-acre, wooded and perfect for your new home. Close to the equestrian center, Robbins Sunset Park, Elk River Club amenities, airport, golf, hiking and more!

659 Clubhouse Drive F1 Spectacular furnished Elk River condo! Too much to list, but we’ll try: 2015 kitchen remodel, granite, hardwood floors, new AC, Jacuzzi, wallmounted TV and more!

901 Clubhouse Drive A1 Fully furnished, well-appointed, updated and move-in ready Elk River condo! Lovely custom cabinetry, Wolf brand gas range, granite countertops, tile floors and more!

Tricia Holloway . Engel & Völkers Banner Elk . 610 Banner Elk Highway Banner Elk . NC 28604 | Office: +1 828-898-3808 . Mobile: +1 561-202-5003 Learn more at bannerelk.evrealestate.com

©2020 Engel & Völkers. All rights reserved. Each brokerage independently owned and operated. Engel & Völkers and its

independent License Partners are Equal Opportunity Employers and fully support the principles of the Fair Housing Act. LIFE 110 — Summer 2021 CAROLINA MOUNTAIN

“I believe that if someone is going to put their hardearned money into their dream home, I am going to equally put my hard-earned time and effort into making sure their dreams come true.” —Mike Smith

Mike Smith Builders, LLC

17 Years of Quality Custom Home Building and Remodeling in the High Country 828-297-7528 | www.mikesmithbuildersllc.com | msbuilders2001@gmail.com

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Newland • Spruce Pine • Banner Elk • Burnsville www.fortnerinsurance.com

Sugar Mountain Nursery LANDSCAPE CONSULTING & DESIGN CENTER Residential & Commercial Licensed Contractor | 40 Years Experience Landscape design, installation, to include: garden, hardscapes, ponds, and trails. – 125 Varieties of plant material – Newland, NC | 828-733-2819 | www.sugarmtnnursery.com CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Summer 2021 —


The High Country’s Dog & Cat Destination

At the YMCA Strengthening Community is Our Cause!

High Quality Foods, Treats, Raw Diets Food & Nutrition Consultation Wellness & Health Products Outdoor & Travel Goods USA-Made Products

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Visit Our Pet Rest Area “Centrally located between Boone and Banner Elk. Easy to reach from anywhere in the High Country”

Highway 105 Foscoe • In the stone house • 828-963-2470 mountaindogandfriends.com

“Deliveries You can Count on for your Home and Business” www.BlueRidgePropaneNC.net for information and bill pay 828-733-3603 | blueridgepropanenc@gmail.com Avery County’s only locally owned full-service propane company Member of the Better Business Bureau Sales & Services | Firelogs | Space & Wall Heaters Tankless Water Heaters | Outdoor Fire Pits “Proudly serving the High Country since 1992”


Come find out how we serve everyone in our community by visiting us at: 436 Hospital Drive, Linville NC 28646

Williams YMCA Day Pass This pass entitles you to 1 free visit. Present this ad to the front desk staff at the Williams YMCA to redeem. Date Redeemed:


Chris Wotell, Broker-in-Charge: 828-260-1366 Jim Fitzpatrick: 828-898-3257 4501 Unit #6 Tynecastle Hwy. Banner Elk | www.peakrealestatenc.com

COMPU-DOC Computer Repair I.T. Consultant • Network Securities • Windows/Mac • Security Cameras • Phone Systems

We make and pour!

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Your source for fresh, handcrafted food to go! Email for more info!

“Famous Tomato Basil Pie of the High Country

Find us: Pixie Produce, Linville Grandfather Winery, Foscoe J&M Produce, Blowing Rock Erick’s Cheese and Wine, Banner Elk booneappetitnc@gmail.com

3221 Tynecastle Hwy. Banner Elk, NC 28604 Tel. 828.898.4006

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Seven easy tips

to lower your energy costs

Clean or change HVAC filters regularly to improve air flow and efficiency.

Use the microwave to cook food faster and reduce energy use. Or, grill outdoors in nice weather.

Adjust your ceiling fans to turn counterclockwise in summer. Then, bump up your thermostat setting to save on cooling costs.


Switch to energyefficient bulbs, like LEDs, to reduce lighting costs by as much as 80%.

Set your water heater temperature to 120° and choose showers over baths.

Wash clothes in cold water and do full loads.

Install a programmable thermostat to save up to 10% on cooling and heating costs.

Check out Usage Tracker, too! This FREE tool shows your usage and costs, even factoring in the weather. You can also set a daily usage level and receive notifications if your home exceeds it. You’ll find Usage Tracker under “My Account” at BlueRidgeEnergy.com or on the Blue Ridge Mobile App.

Visit BlueRidgeEnergy.com/101 for even more ways to save from your trusted energy advisors.


PURCHASE clothing, household goods, furniture, jewelry, and more today to help support the children of Crossnore.

100 DAR Drive | Crossnore, NC 28616 (828) 733-4228 | www.crossnore.org/sales-store





CMS 5-Star Rating Accepting new admissions for short-term and long-term care!

185 Norwood Hollow Rd. • Banner Elk, NC 28604 828.898.5136 • LifeCareCenterOfBannerElk.com


To us, care is personal. We are here to provide the skilled care and therapy services your loved one needs to have the quality of life they deserve.

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Baker Center for Primary Care (828) 737-7711 436 Hospital Drive • Linville Mon-Fri 8am-6pm Sat (walk-in) 8am-12pm

Elk River Medical Associates (828) 898-5177 150 Park Avenue • Banner Elk Mon-Fri 8am-5pm


Four Steps to a Pain-free Home Office By Lauren Hutchins, MS OTR/L, The Rehabilitation Center, Appalachian Regional Healthcare System


he COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted almost every aspect of our lives since early 2020, and work life is a significant part of that. Many who had previously commuted to an office location every day found themselves suddenly working from home in varying conditions. Although sitting on the comfy couch in your pajamas might sound like a more comfortable way to work, you are at risk for musculoskeletal strain or pain from awkward sitting postures. Following, we offer some tips for setting up a home office and preventing pain and injuries. Choose the Right Chair Your body will thank you for investing in a proper desk chair. Although a chair from the kitchen table can work for short term (1-2 weeks), it’s worth investing in an adjustable office chair if you will be working remotely for a longer time. An optimal office chair will have some adjustable features for height, seat pan depth, tilt, arm rests, and head rests.It will also provide support at your lumbar (low back), and allow for your feet to rest flat on the floor. If your feet do not touch the floor, a small stool or box can be used to allow for foot support. Additionally, there should not be any pressure from the edge of the chair on the backs of your knees. Set up Your Workstation or Desk An ideal workstation should be adjustable so that you can sit or stand throughout the day. It should also have a “waterfall” or smooth edge—sharp edges put pressure on your wrists; pipe insulation or other padding can be used to cover sharp edges if

necessary. It also needs to be large enough to accommodate a keyboard, mouse, document holder, and monitor; if you are working from a laptop, an external keyboard and mouse are recommended. The height of the workstation (keyboard and mouse) should allow for a neutral arm position with elbows at approximately 90 degrees. Measure from your elbow to the floor and subtract 2-3 inches for optimal placement. There are many options for an external keyboard and mouse; they are not onesize-fits-all. Find a keyboard and mouse that allow your wrists to sit in a neutral position and avoid extreme or awkward positions (bending the wrist too far in any direction). The size of the keyboard and mouse should be a good fit for the size of your hands. Properly Place Your Monitor or Computer Screen Your monitor or computer screen should be placed at the correct distance from your eyes to reduce eye strain and forced positioning of the head, and at the correct height to avoid neck pain.It should also be in a position that reduces glare from natural and artificial light. A monitor should be about arm’s length or 20-36 inches away from your body, depending on font size, number of screens, and your eyesight. If you find yourself constantly leaning forward to see the monitor, it is too far away; or you need to make the font size on the monitor larger. The height of the monitor should allow for a neutral head position to reduce strain on your neck. You don’t need a fancy solution; a stack of paper, books, or small box

is an easy way to adjust the monitor if it is too low. Reducing glare can help reduce eye strain or engaging in awkward postures to see the monitor more clearly. Monitors should be placed perpendicular to windows if possible, and indirect lighting is recommended to help reduce glare. If overhead light is the cause of glare on the monitor, consider using a task light as needed. To give your eyes a break, every 20 minutes take 20 seconds to look at an object at least 20 feet away. Considerations for dual monitors: If you use both monitors equally, center them in front of you. You may need to move the monitors further away so that both screens are within your central field of vision. You should not have to rotate your neck repeatedly to look between the two monitors. If you use one monitor primarily and the other monitor occasionally, center the monitor you use the most in front of you. Develop Healthy Work-from-home Habits Once you have your home office set up, remember to take breaks and change positions throughout the day. Small breaks, changing positions, and standing up for a stretch break can increase blood flow, reduce the risk of injury, and decrease fatigue. If you are experiencing discomfort, overuse injuries or muscle strains from your current work station set-up, the occupational therapists at The Rehabilitation Center can provide an assessment and recommendations specifically for you. Give them a call at 828-238-9043, or visit https://apprhs.org/rehabcenter/. CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Summer 2021 —


Supporting Families in Need

High Country Caregivers By Pan McCaslin

“It takes a village to raise a child”— words attributed to Maya Angelou who spoke of the love and support by her grandmother who stepped in to provide a safe, caring environment for Maya at a time when her own parents were not able to care for her due to their own life circumstances. Throughout history, grandparents and other relatives have served as mentors, nurturers and support to parents and grandchildren. Yet, as the stresses of society and family life have increased, along with substance abuse and mental health issues, grandparents are frequently becoming caregivers, or even guardians to their own grandchildren.


s of March 2021, in North Carolina alone, there are 237,976 children living in homes where a relative (other than a parent) is head of household and over 85,000 grandparents that are responsible for their grandchildren. “Yes, these are our current statistics for North Carolina. And these grandparents often have limited resources and are given no financial or educational support once they take on any children. That is when High Country Caregivers steps in,” shared Marty Wilson, Program Director. A stand-alone, not for profit organization founded in 2006 to provide advocacy, support and education for kinship caregivers (a term used to describe any relative assisting with raising a family member), High Country Caregivers serves families


in six counties—Watauga, Ashe, Avery, Yancey, Wilkes and Mitchell. Jacob Willis, Executive Director of the organization since 2019, states that the work of staff and volunteers supports the Kinship Navigation Model. “We empower kinship caregivers to raise their children/ grandchildren in a safe, stable, and loving environment, recognizing the need for a multi-dimensional program.” The Navigation Model includes community education, financial support for health-conscious youth activities and counseling support. Crisis funds for families who have exhausted their ability to meet basic needs are utilized to support the families while other community resources are accessed. Unexpectedly becoming a kinship caregiver for a grandchild can be overwhelming. Staff and volunteers from High Country Caregivers assess each family’s needs, helping the kinship caregiver with navigating the school systems, addressing legal issues, and obtaining necessary medical care for the grandchildren. Pisgah Legal Services offers pro-bono representation to families in Avery, Mitchell and Yancey counties. High Country Caregivers also partners with Rivenbark and Brooks, attorneys at law, for families in Watauga, Wilkes, and Ashe counties or for those who do not qualify for Pisgah Legal Services assistance. “We could not provide for our families’ unexpected legal needs without the generosity of the legal communities with which we work,” shared Willis. Current research highlights the effects

of early childhood trauma; therefore, one aspect of the Navigation Model addresses the counseling needs of the children who may be dealing with trauma, behavior issues or other mental health concerns. Funding for some legal fees and counseling are available. One aspect of improving mental health and trust issues for children is by supporting health-conscious youth activities. “Each family has an individualized needs assessment and plan of care. Financial support is given to kinship care families for activities which target the talents and interests of the children,” shared Wilson. “We have provided funding for piano lessons, recreation fees for camps, band instruments, educational field trips, prom dresses or tuxedos, karate lessons, and dance classes just to name a few. We want to help ensure improved self-esteem and relationship building. We want to give the kids a new perspective on their world and their own unlimited possibilities.” The individualized plans of care for the families also focus on the needs of the kinship caregiver who may have stepped in at a moment’s notice when their families needed help. Becoming a kinship caregiver brings a unique stress of its own. Many of the caregivers are older, have already raised one family, and have health issues of their own. “We provide several forms of education and support for our kinship caregivers,” reported Willis. Creating a Family curriculum, evidence-based and to be offered

Gifts for clients

monthly over a 10-month period, reinforces healthy aspects of family dynamics. Completion of the curriculum can be utilized by the caregivers towards training which can qualify them for financial support from the state. Monthly kinship caregiver groups which meet in each county help provide education, peer support, and networking, along with a meal. In some counties, childcare is also provided. The support groups “have served to nourish friendships and connections for caregivers even after their ties to High Country Caregivers end,” said Wilson. A nonprofit organization could not survive without caring volunteers, many of whom are grandparents themselves. The Children’s Wish List was created thanks to the generosity of two women who reside in Florida during the winter and call the High Country home in the summer. The Wish List fund has helped send kinship children to summer musicals, secure needed technology supplies, and provide some of the unexpected needs surrogate parents face on a daily basis. “Coach’s Kids” is a program sponsored by High Country Caregivers to provide camp opportunities for kinship caregivers and their children. This program is led by former Hall of Fame Appalachian State Head football coach, and current High Country Caregivers board member, Jerry Moore. Coach’s Kids camp provides a safe and engaging summer activity for kids, often when their primary caregivers are working full time.

And what happened to the kinship families when the COVID-19 pandemic halted many normal routines and activities, and many kinship caregiver families were deemed high risk? The staff and volunteers shifted “into overdrive to aid in delivering food, prescriptions, cleaning supplies and of course, toilet paper.” Wilson laughed as she recounted the numerous ways the staff and volunteers created innovative ways to get internet and computer support for caregivers who might have no idea how to homeschool the children in their care. In addition, access to tutors for additional student support was made possible. But none of these services are without cost. High Country Caregivers is supported through donations and grants. “A Night at Chetola,” an evening benefitting the children of the High Country, will be held, and is sponsored by the KennedyHerterich Foundation and Chetola Resort at Blowing Rock. For more information on date and time, contact HCC at 828-8326366 or www.highcountrycaregivers.com. In addition, scholarships for kinship children to attend Coach’s Kids are always needed. To donate to High Country Caregivers and to learn the myriad ways kinship children are helped by this organization,

see highcountrycaregivers.com or call the office at 828-832-6366. When asked about the primary needs for High Country Caregivers in the coming months, Willis replied without a pause, “Educating the community that we are here. We work every day with area agencies, the foster care system, education, and the legal system to help provide care and support for children whose homes and lives have been disrupted.” He continued, “The opioid crisis, which has overtaken our society in the last 20 years, is disrupting families and is the major cause today of children needing kinship caregivers.” The mission of High Country Caregivers is to help keep children in a home where there is a family member who can provide care, support and responsible decision making. But that cannot happen without a multidimensional support system for both the children and the kinship caregivers. “As of May 2021, we are serving 54 families and over 120 kids.” Willis shared that the program of High Country Caregivers is a unique non-profit in its mission and success with supporting families in need. “The closest program like ours is in Charleston, SC. We are proud to be a part of caring for families in the High Country.”


Kennedy-Herterich Sponsoring “A Night at Chetola” | Benefitting the children of the High Country CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Summer 2021 —


Serving Western NC with Excellence and Innovative Solutions Ask about 10% off your next repair call!


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AVERY COUNTY TRANSPORTATION 34 Pershing St, Newland NC 28657

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Locations In the High Country:

Bayou Smokehouse & Grill Restaurant



Proudly serving the area since 1981.

Celebrating 40 Years of Healthy Smiles!

Boone & North Wilkesboro, NC | www.opsmiles.com | 1-800-478-6058 “Downtown Boone has so much to celebrate when it comes to history and preservation in our little town...

The Heart of Texas The Soul of Louisiana in the

Come enjoy the cool mountain air, shopping and dining in our welcoming downtown”

High Country

of North Carolina


The Blowing Rock Farmers Market offers a great mid-week selection of local produce and goods from area farmers. Thursdays through Sept. 30, 3-6pm on Park Ave in front of the Chamber. We typically have fresh flowers, goat cheese, local meat, bread and more!

General Store

blowingrock.com/calendar/farmersmarket/ Thursdays from 4pm to 6pm on Park Avenue

Downtown Banner Elk (828) 898-TxLa (8952)




Caribbean Style Fare in a Unique Mountain Setting

The Woodlands Barbecue &Picken’ Parlor


Chopped & sliced pork & beef BBQ Homestyle Mexican Food Ribs & Chicken Imported & domestic beer, drafts, wine & mixed beverages

We Make Beautiful Kitchens Affordable! 828-260-2592 ultimatekitchendesign.com

Carry-out service

488 Main St. W. Banner Elk • 828-898-7773


HEALTHY ENERGY FROM PLANT POWERED NUTRITION PRODUCTS Contact me for a free consultation on how to incorporate clean products and clean eating into your lifestyle today.

Protein Bites: 3 Scoops of Arbonne Coffee Protein Powder 3/4 Cup of Almond Flour 1/2 Cup of Almond Milk 1/4 Cup of Nut Butter 1/4 Cup of Dairy Free Dark Chocolate Chips Mix together. Roll into balls. Refrigerate and enjoy a protein filled guilt free treat!


Allison Winkler Consultant ID 19257347 C: 704-779-6057 IG: MommyEatsClean E: AllisonWinklerVP@gmail.com


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                CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Summer 2021 —


Choosing Colors for Health and Overall Appeal

Be Well By Samantha Steele

What would it be like to live in a colorless world? Can you imagine looking outside, and all you see is black and white? Well many of us “older folks” can imagine that since TV back then was all black and white! Young or old, I think we can all agree that life is far more enjoyable with the vivid colors we enjoy in nature, and that includes our food. A colorful plate of food appeals to both the eye and the palate, but why is it so important to consume naturally colorful foods every day? It turns out that each color we see in the rainbow of colors in our garden and at farmer’s markets represents something very valuable to the health and wellbeing of humankind. BLUE & PURPLE Blue/Purple fruits and veggies derive their color from natural plant pigments, or phytochemicals called anthocyanins. Anthocyanins act as powerful antioxidants that protect cells from damage. According to Suchanda Guha from the All India Institute of Hygiene and Public Health, “Anthocyanins have been reported as having the capacity to lower blood pressure, improve visual acuity, reduce cancer cell proliferation, inhibit tumor formation, prevent diabetes, and lower the risk of Cardiovascular disease. (Anthocyanins) are also reported to have anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial activity.” Although many lighter blue/lavender fruits and vegetables are also rich in anthocyanins, generally speaking the darker the blue/purple hue, the higher the phytochemical concentration. This higher phytochemical concentration has been


proven to improve memory function, delay cellular aging, support the nervous system, improve motor skills, lower the risk of cancer, and help prevent bacteria from sticking to cells, such as in the lining of the urinary tract—one reason why unsweetened cranberry juice may be recommended for urinary tract infections. Blue/Purple foods with the most concentration of beneficial substances include: wild blueberries, huckleberries, blackberries, cherries, black elderberries, eggplant, plums, figs, prunes, purple cabbage, juneberries, and purple grapes. GREEN Green fruits and vegetables derive their color from the natural plant pigment that we call chlorophyll, and are rich in cancerblocking compounds like isothiocyanates and indoles. These phytochemicals inhibit the action of cancer-causing compounds called carcinogens. According to renowned biochemist Dr. Rhonda Patrick, the compound sulforaphane, an isothiocyanate which is found in green cruciferous veggies and is highly concentrated in broccoli, especially broccoli sprouts, “is a modern day super compound! It has been shown in studies to reduce gut and brain inflammation, possibly prevent cancer cell growth and even detoxify the body of air pollutants common in metropolitan cities.” Magnesium, which is also highly concentrated in naturally green foods, is very beneficial for the nervous system and stress/sleep related issues. Some green fruits and veggies, such as dark leafy greens, pistachios, and celery, also contain the phy-

tochemical lutein, which is important for eye health. Lutein works with zeaxanthin to help keep eyes healthy, reducing the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration. Other naturally occurring chemicals called “indoles” in broccoli, kale, cabbage and other cruciferous vegetables may help protect against some types of cancer. Many green plant foods are also rich in other isothiocyanates, and according to the US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, “Many isothiocyanates, both natural and synthetic, display anticarcinogenic (anti-cancer) activity because they reduce activation of carcinogens and increase their detoxification.” Leafy greens such as spinach, kale and broccoli are also excellent sources of folate, a B vitamin that helps reduce risk of birth defects, along with being an excellent source of potassium, carotenoids, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamin K, the latter being essential for blood clotting, which stops wounds from continuously bleeding so they can heal. Green foods with the most concentration of beneficial substances include: green herbs and leafy vegetables such as spinach, seaweed, kale, collards, turnip greens, bok choy, avocados, asparagus, artichokes, broccoli, brussels sprouts, kiwi fruit, green tea, artichokes, green onions, peas, and green pepper. RED Red fruits and vegetables derive their color from natural plant pigments, or phytochemicals called lycopene and anthocyanins. Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant and is a potent scavenger of gene-dam-

aging free radicals that seems to protect against cancer, most notably prostate cancer, as well as heart and lung disease. Red fruits and vegetables also contain certain flavonoids, which may reduce inflammation and have antioxidant properties. Many red fruits are high in vitamin C and folate and are also a good source of tannins, which prevent bacteria from attaching to cells. Red foods with the most concentration of beneficial substances include: tomatoes, cherries, beets, watermelon, red grapes, red peppers, red onions, red apples, red cabbage, cranberries, pomegranates, radishes, strawberries, cranberries, raspberries, rhubarb, strawberries, and guava. ORANGE & YELLOW Orange/yellow fruits and vegetables derive their coloring from the natural plant pigments (phytochemicals) called carotenoids. Beta-cryptoxanthin, beta-carotene, and alpha-carotene are all orange-hued carotenoids, which can be converted in the body to vitamin A. Carotenoids are integral for vision and immune function, as well as skin and bone health. Carotenoids also support intracellular communication and may help prevent heart disease. Scientists have reported that carotenoid-rich foods not only can reduce the risk of heart disease, but can reduce the risk of cancer, especially in the lungs, esophagus, and stomach, and can improve immune system function overall. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, “Dietary carotenoids are thought to provide health benefits in decreasing the risk of disease, particularly certain cancers and eye disease...

Furthermore, lutein and zeaxanthin may be protective in eye disease because they absorb damaging blue light that enters the eye.” Orange and yellow fruits are also often an excellent source of vitamin C, omega-3 fatty acids, and folate, which is essential for brain development and health. Orange/Yellow foods with the most concentration of beneficial substances include: carrots, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, acorn squash, yellow peppers, mango, apricots, persimmons, peaches, and leafy herbs and vegetables.  WHITE & BROWN  White fruits and vegetables derive their color from the phytochemicals called anthoxanthins. The onion family contains allicin, which has anti-tumor properties and which may also help lower cholesterol and blood pressure, as well as reduce the risk of stomach cancer and heart disease. Other foods in this group contain antioxidant flavonoids like quercetin and kaempferol. Some members of the white group, such as bananas and potatoes, are also a good source of potassium, which is important for the healthy functioning of our heart, kidneys and other vital organs. White/Brown foods with the most concentration of beneficial substances include: bananas, cauliflower, garlic, onions, ginger, jicama, mushrooms, onions, parsnips, potatoes, turnips, cauliflower, leeks, parsnips, and daikon radish.

My overall recommendation is to include a wide variety of colors, depth of color, and different types of plants within each color group. When you hit the farmers’ market or grocery, let your eye draw you in to the most richly colored, fresh vegetables and fruits you can find, and include them in your daily meal preparation. References: https://www.longdom.org/proceedings/health-benefitsof-anthocyanins https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov › articles › PMC4002831 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12134711/ https://uvitals.com/sulforaphane/ Samantha Steele is a nutritionist, food scientist and herbalist who loves spending time outside foraging for wild foods while appreciating the abundance of God’s creation. Samantha can be contacted at cmlmag3@gmail.com. The views are those of the author and should not be considered medical advice. Please consult your personal physician or healthcare professional before making changes to any treatments, regimens or diets.



Fresh Produce, Raw Honey, Jams and jellies, and much more. ...where everyday is a

Farmer’s Market!

THE FARMSTEAD MARKET at Trosly Farm Eggs, Produce, Meats, Breads, Chocolates, Flour, Grits & Pantry Items, Honey, Coffee, Tea, Soap, Candles & More! Open Thurs-Sat, 10am until 4pm 95 Peter Harding Lane, Elk Park, NC 28622 www.TroslyFarm.com 828.733.4938

fresh produce locally baked goods moravian pies • quiches boiled peanuts • pickles Fresh Seafood • Local Meat Jams • honey • cheese & crackers artisan crafts & unique gifts Open Daily 10am-6pm Yummy Weekly Specials 828.963.8254 Hwy 105 South, Foscoe NC

owned & operated by


Wholesale Supplier of Fine Produce Est. 1993 • Boone NC 828.963.7254

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

OPEN 7 DAYS A WEEK May-November 3979 Mitchell Ave, Linville NC

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!

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


Downtown West Jefferson 336-846-8327

828-756-8166 Fri-Sat, 10am-6pm, year-round 19456 US 221 North (.5 miles south of Linville Caverns) Marion, NC 28752

Photo courtesy of Avery County Chamber of Commerce


Regional Farmers’ Markets

Visiting the Farmers’ Market is a Trip to Bountiful By Julie Farthing

here is nothing quite like summer in the High Country. Locals emerge from cold weather doldrums, ready for warm sunshine and outdoor festivities. Tourists flock to the mountains for their lush, green beauty and refreshing breezes. There is one destination where both tourists and locals alike gather to enjoy everything the land and culture have to offer, and that’s the farmers’ market. While wonderful farmers’ markets can be found all over the region, the granddaddy of them all is the Watauga County Farmers’ Market, where a virtual garden blooms every Saturday in the heart of Boone. Known as “Boone’s Town Square since 1974,” the Watauga County Farmers’ Market (WCFM) on Horn in the West Drive began when the new farm-to-table concept was simply called “dinner.” The loss of farmlands to residential and commercial sprawl has changed forever how most of us live and eat. But you can reverse that trend with a visit to the market. Here you can bring ‘fresh’ back to your family’s kitchen table. At the market, you get to wander around brightly colored tents and tables loaded with local veggies and fruits freshly harvested; you also get to meet the farmers who rise early to tend to crops, check on the beehives, feed the livestock, and weed flower beds. Keeping trucks that carry produce picked hundreds of miles away off the highways helps the environment and keeps money in local economies. The aromas of fresh coffee and baked goods, the sounds of live music, and the tastes of sampled meats fresh off the grill, have made the market the hippest place to meet and mingle with your neighbors! It’s also empowering to know where your food comes from and to have the opportunity to ask questions about the goods brimming in your basket. Sustainable shoppers understand and expect to find produce that’s in season. Unless grown in commercial tunnels, or greenhouses, you won’t find the best but-

ternut squash in spring, or ramps in autumn. The cycle of seasons creates an appreciation of fresh food and learning to eat accordingly. In addition to local produce and meats, you will also find the area’s finest local jams, jellies, salsas, honey, eggs, breads and pastries. And don’t forget fresh herbs, fresh-cut and dried flowers, wreaths and handmade soaps. For gifts, you’ll find farm-based crafts including wool, birdhouses, jewelry, pottery, baskets, handcrafted yard art and garden furniture, all offered by our skilled local crafters. Craft vendors at the WCFM are selected by a jury and must be a home or cottage type industry using a personal type of technology rather than an industrial method of production. To be considered “handcrafted,” the item must show evidence of manual skills obtainable only through a significant period of experience and dedication. To ensure healthy produce and meats are available to the entire community, WCFM is again in partnership with Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture, offering the Double Bucks program for SNAP recipients, a supplemental food program. This program will double the amount of fresh local foods that participants take home. Individuals, families, farmers, and the community will all benefit by making these quality foods more affordable, which in turn enables and encourages families to make healthier food choices. Don’t miss out on the mountain morning gathering each Saturday in Boone. Come by for a cup of joe, partake of some yummy baked goods, listen to live music, and get to know your farmers. Arrive early for the best parking, and bring your baskets and boxes! The market is open each Saturday from May until October and is located in the Horn in the West Parking lot. Hours are 8 a.m. - 12 p.m. Don’t forget to check out the many markets in other communities and counties in our beautiful mountains!

Abingdon, VA Farmers Market Saturdays 8 a.m. - 1 p.m. April – October Tuesdays 3 – 6 p.m. April - September The corner of Remsburg Dr. and Cummings St. in downtown Abingdon Ashe County Farmers’ Market Saturdays 8 a.m. - 1 p.m. May 1 – late October 108 Backstreet, West Jefferson, NC Avery County Farmers’ Market Thursdays 4 - 6:30 p.m. Historic Banner Elk School Parking Lot 185 Azalea Circle, Banner Elk, NC Watauga County Farmers’ Market Saturdays 8 a.m. – Noon May through November 591 Horn in the West Dr, Boone King Street Farmers’ Market Tuesdays 4 - 7 p.m. May - October Poplar Grove Connector, Boone, NC Blowing Rock Farmers’ Market Thursdays 3 - 6 p.m. May 20 - September 30 132 Park Ave., Downtown Blowing Rock, NC Johnson County Farmers’ Market Saturdays 9 a.m. to Noon May 1 through October Ralph Stout Park Mountain City Mountain City, TN Wilkes County Farmers’ Market Saturdays 7:30 a.m. - Noon, Tuesdays 3:30 - 5:30 p.m. April - September Yadkin Valley Marketplace in downtown N. Wilkesboro Morganton Farmers’ Markets Saturdays 8 a.m. - Noon May 1 - October 30 300 Beach St., Morganton Wednesday Mini Market, Times TBD May 5 - October 27 111 North Green St. Morganton Please note that while these markets will be open this summer, the hours, locations and capacity may change. Patrons need to check with each market prior to scheduling a trip.



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Salads • Pasta • Hot Sandwiches Italian Pizza • Calzones • Desserts All ABC Permits – Carry out available – Intersection of Hwys 221 & 181 2855 Linville Falls Highway Pineola, NC 28662 (828) 733-1401 TheItalianRestaurantNC.com

Celebrating 26 Years!



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

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Fresh To-Go:

A Summer Food Guide

n Bayou General Store

n BE Natural Market

828.898.8953 130 East Main St, Village Shops Banner Elk, NC 28604

828.262.5592 273 Boone Heights Dr, Boone NC 28607 Benatural.storebyweb.com

Open the screen door of this general store, and you’ll find one of the largest selections of hot sauces in the High Country, along with Banner Elk souvenirs and locally made products. Bayou General Store is the place in downtown Banner Elk for vacation provisions.

Be Natural Market offers a variety of outdoor items, from bug spray to local produce and meats, to help your family enjoy a fun summer in the High Country! Plan your outdoor adventure ahead of time by searching “summerfun” on their website to see what they have to help make your trip the best one yet. Stop by to check out the selection of natural sunscreens, first aid solutions, locally brewed beers, kombucha, organic local meats, organic produce and more!

n Banner Elk Olive Oil & Balsamics 828.898.4441 155 Banner Rd, Banner Elk, NC 28604 beoliveoil.com At Banner Elk Olive Oil & Balsamics you’ll find a great selection of imported olive oils and vinegars, salts, exotic herb mixes and fabulous charcuterie boards that are available for “on the go” activities or a picnic in the park.

n Stick Boy

n Fred’s General Mercantile 828.387.4838 501 S Beech Mountain Pkwy, Beech Mountain NC 28604 www.fredsgeneral.com “If we don’t have it – you don’t need it.” They carry just about everything you need for your home or vacation. Fred’s is America’s highest general mercantile at an elevation of 5,049 feet and they’re celebrating 42 years of operating 365 days a year. Fred’s Deli is open early at 7:30 a.m. for breakfast and serves lunch through 3 p.m. They also offer outdoor clothing, and have a wide selection of birding supplies. You’ll find grilling supplies or items to make the best quick BBQ, or pick up prepared foods for a picnic on the parkway.


The Kitchen: 828.265.4141 211 Boone Heights Dr, Boone NC 28607 The Bakery: 828.268.9900 345 Hardin St, Boone NC 28607 www.stickboybread.com

n English Farmstead Cheese 828.756.8166 19456 US 221 North Marion, NC 28752 englishfarmsteadcheese.com This 6th generation family farm in the mountains of NC makes farm fresh cheese from their dairy cows on site. In fact, the milk from their cows travels only a stone’s throw to the farm store, where it is crafted into a variety of hard cheeses and soft cheese spreads. Pick up this great local treat for any party or casual picnic with your favorite bottle of wine.

Stop in at Stick Boy to enjoy the Summer Stollen! Blueberries, candied lemon peel, pecans, dried pineapple and cranberries are all baked together in a sweet dough, folded and finished with a delicious fresh blueberry juice and lemon glaze. That’s not all, pick up naturally fermented sourdough loaves, chocolate torte, cream cheese cinnamon rolls and a delicious frothy cappuccino. Head over to The Kitchen for breakfast plates, bagels, soups, sandwiches and salads. Baked goods, coffee and smoothies also avalable! Stop by and get some real food.  

Satisfy your appetite with local specialties and convenient cuisine

n Erick’s Cheese and Wine

n Pixie Produce

n The Spice and Tea Exchange

828.898.9424 4004 NC-105 Unit 10 Sugar Mountain NC 28604 www.erickscheeseandwine.com

828.640.6999 3979 Mitchell Ave, Linville NC 28646

828.372.7070 1087 Main Street #4 Blowing Rock NC 28605 www.spiceandtea.com

Erick’s Cheese & Wine has been the High Country’s premier destination for specialty wines and foods for 42 years. They carry over 100 different cheeses, wines for quaffing and collecting, chocolates, cigars, specialty cocktail mixers, gifts and more. Located in the Grandfather Center Shoppes on Hwy. 105 on your way to Banner Elk.

In the heart of Linville you’ll find Pixie Produce, open 7 days a week, offering fresh local produce, jams, honey, cheeses, pies, stone ground flour, local beef, eggs and handmade crafts. Fresh South Carolina Peaches and their blackberry jam have become favorites of locals and visitors.

Cooking at home tonight? Explore your inner chef and shop close to 100 hand-mixed seasonings and spice blends.  The Spice and Tea Exchange has blends for fish, chicken, pasta, veggies and curries, as well as a great selection of BBQ rubs. They also carry hundreds of loose-leaf teas, spices and herbs, gourmet salts, infused sugars and gourmet gifts. Located in downtown Blowing Rock and West Jefferson

n Peabody’s n Maw’s Produce 828.963.7254 7918 NC-105 Boone NC 28607 Since 1995, Maw’s Produce in Foscoe has been widely known for delicious local produce to include tomatoes and South Carolina peaches, baked goods, jams and jellies, Moravian chicken pies and handmade local crafts.

“I am not a glutton— I am an explorer of food.” —Erma Bombeck

828.264.9476 1104 NC-105 Boone NC 28607 www.peabodyswineandbeer.com Peabody’s Wine & Beer Merchants was established in 1978 and is the region’s— and one of the State’s—oldest and most comprehensive bottle shoppes. In addition to the thousands of wine and beer options, Peabody’s is proud to be an inviting, inclusive, and comfortable place to shop and socialize. Stay a while to sample the wine, cider or beer and grab a bite from one of the food trucks while socializing with friends. Collect summer memories in a bottle at Peabody’s.

n Whole Hive Honey 828.773.9284 www.wholehivehoney.com What could possibly be better on a freshly made-from-scratch buttermilk biscuit than a slab of butter? Well, we know what…. Whole Hive Honey Company’s “Better Than Butter Biscuit Honey.”  This pure, natural and raw honey variety will have your taste buds begging for more. Pour it on and enjoy! Don’t forget to try some of their other delicious varieties! Ask for it by name at your favorite area markets. CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Summer 2021 —



great dining options under one grand roof at the Green Park Inn

Fri–Sat, 6pm-9pm Reservations Recommended

Serving food & drinks seven nights a week! Doors open at 5pm

Ask about seasonal outdoor patio dining! Like us on Facebook • Follow us on Instagram & Twitter @TheGreenParkInn www.greenparkinn.com • 828.414.9230 • 9329 Valley Blvd, Blowing Rock

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SUSHI BISTRO AND BAR Monday-Saturday Dine-In: 4pm - 10pm | TOGO: 4pm - 8pm 161 Howard Street, Boone 828-386-1201 | www.cobosushi.com

The High Country’s Premier Steak & Seafood Restaurant

Dinner Nightly from 5pm

SUMMER SPECIALS Martini & Meatloaf Mondays


$7 House Martinis Comfort Food Specials

25% off Bottles of Wine




“Avery County Chamber Business of the Year”


344 Shawneehaw Ave. South | stonewallsrestaurant.com

100% producer only market with 60+ local vendors conveniently located in the heart of the High Country


Open Saturdays | May - Nov, 8 am-12 pm

– Best Prices In Town –

3390 Tynecastle Hwy (across from Food Lion) Sugar Mountain, NC 28604 | (828) 898-9746

591 Horn in the West Dr.


Boone, NC 28607




Owner, Chris Conner, in one of the many apiaries.

Offering a wide variety of premium small batch honey selections, in multiple packaging options.

Produced by nature and meant to be shared. All Pure, Natural & Raw Honey. www.wholehivehoney.com (828) 773-9284

Featuring: Appalachian Mountain Honey, Better Than Butter Biscuit Honey, Black Locust, Black Mangrove, Blueberry Blossom, Gallberry, Midwest Clover, Orange Blossom, Raspberry Blossom, Sweet Heat Hot Honey, Sourwood, Tupelo and Wildflower.

Ask for it by name at your favorite area markets. Angelina’s Teas, Ashe County Cheese, Benchmark Provisions, Blowing Rock Market, Boone Drugs, Cove Creek Store, Erick’s Wine & Cheese, Foster’s Market, Fred’s General Mercantile, Front Porch Market, Goober Peas, J&M Produce, Linville Falls General Store, Martha Mae’s Emporium, Midtown Market, Over Yonder, Pawleys Island Mercantile, Perry Lowe Orchard, Provisions on Sugar, Shiloh General Store, Stick Boy Bakery, Sunset Slush Lake Norman, Todd Mercantile and Wilderness Run Alpine Coaster



Straight to the Source

Trosly Farm: 2020 NC Small Farmers Award Winner When you leave the pavement of Hwy 19 E in Avery County, just before the Tennessee line, and slowly meander up the road towards Trosly Farm, your car wheels crunch against the gravel driveway, kicking up just enough dust to slow down a bit and enjoy the scenery. That might include a large group of cackling hens under the watchful eye of Apollo, the farm’s great pyrenees and gallant protector. Ease up the road a bit, pass by some sassy pigs and piglets, a flower bed, and milk cows, and finally come to a stop at the white 1900s farmhouse with a porch that begs for an hour or two of restful rocking. A real, small, farm, are the words Amos and Kaci Nidiffer use to describe their five acres of rural land they call home in the quiet community of Elk Park. The name “Trosly” derives from a little town in France which is the home of one of their heroes, Jean Vanier. Vanier is a proponent of belonging, celebration, and peace—all things the Nidiffer family strive to embody on the farm. The newest addition to Trosly Farm is the freshly painted farmstand with shelves teeming with fresh produce, jams and jellies, candles, soaps, and even beard oil. Customers were already ordering products online, and picking them up (contact free, due to the 2020 COVID restrictions), so adding a farmstand was a win-win for both the Nidiffers and customers looking for fresh produce, meats, and breads. “With the kids growing, not packing them up to go to the markets and staying

on the farm works better for us,” says Amos of the new building with its own parking area just before you get to the farmhouse. “We were mostly selling bread and vegetables at the markets, but with the stand we knew we could sell a lot more variety and offer our CSA members more variety as well,” added Amos. The freezer holds meats, while seasonal produce and eggs are in the glass cooler and open shelves. Fresh bread baked in the farm kitchen is always a popular item and sells out quickly. “We were baking mostly for the farmers’ market and that has evolved now to selling in the stand,” says Kaci of their popular whole wheat, sourdough, and rosemary breads. “We also have dry goods like granola and flour that we are using for our breads that are 100 percent organic from Linley Mills in Graham NC.” Another big accomplishment that “cropped up” in 2020 for the Nidiffers was being awarded the NC Small Farmers of the Year. The Cooperative Extension at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University presented the award to the Nidiffers on September 30, 2020, during an online ceremony, and were presented with a plaque, monogrammed jackets and $1,500. It is obvious why the Nidiffers were chosen for the award. They practice sustainability by using every bit of acreage, and utilizing their livestock to ensure the soil is the best quality for crops. “The goal is to work with the animals to improve the

By Julie Farthing

fertility and productivity of the farm,” says Amos. “I rotate the cows and chickens. The goats weed what the cows don’t graze and the chickens come in after the cows and fertilize the soil.” Since its beginning, Trosly Farm has become synonymous with the farm-to-table movement through their Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Program. Each week, April through November, CSA members receive a basket of artisanal breads, farm-raised meat, seasonal fruits, vegetables, and flowers. “CSA is a big part of where the vegetables have a home to go to,” says Amos. “CSA members who couldn’t commit to every week stop by the farmstand once or twice a month. They like being able to purchase items when they need them.” Trosly Farm also sells produce to several sustainable supporting restaurants in Avery and Watauga Counties, such as the Beacon Butcher Bar, Grandfather Country Club, LP on Main, and Reid’s Cafe and Catering Company. “You need some sort of agritourism to help support any actual farming activity, especially small farms,” says Amos. “The more diverse the better.” “Every year we reevaluate what we are doing and what we need to change,” added Kaci. “We absolutely love it. I can’t imagine doing anything else.” Visit www.troslyfarm.com for CSA information and farmstand hours. CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Summer 2021 —


Welcome Back! Your favorite pubs-breweries are open and in good cheer. By Steve York Lost Province Brewing Company



houses,” a term later shortened in the late 17th century to “pub.” This was the community hub for food, drink, song, dance, weddings, wakes, political debates and so on. Soon, pubs spread far and wide across what is now England, Ireland and Scotland. And, with every lift of their drink, whether in joy or sorrow, those Celtic kin toasted to good health and long life. A resounding, Gaelic “Sla’inte!” (slahn’-cha) was the common cheer. Today’s High Country pubs still play the same role of “community hub,” serving as a social gathering spot, creating a rich variety of distinctive craft beers, contributing to area economic growth and generously giving back to numerous community charities and causes. In Boone, two that come to mind are Booneshine Brewing Company and Lost Province Brewing Company.

heers! Salute e’ Cin Cin! Skol! No matter how you say it—whether in English, Italian, Scandinavian, or other language—the sentiment expressed when raising your glass in spirited toasting is the same worldwide. And, now that local pubs and breweries are welcoming you back to more normal operations, those salutations are more jubilant than ever. In almost every culture, the traditional toast is “to your health, long life and happiness.” Cheers, for example, is short for “Be of good cheer!” Salute e’ Cin Cin is an Italian phrase toasting, “To your health, and may you live 100 years!” Whatever the language, many of these toasts share a common theme, community setting and roots. Historians credit Rome for establishing the first tavern (“Tabernae” in Latin). As Rome conquered Gaelic-speaking Celtic Europe, they built roads to transport their armies and traders. Every 20 miles or so they constructed hostels to feed and shelter their legions. Naturally, their native drink was wine. But, during their northern European occupation they were introduced to local grain-based ales and began serving those to their tavern guests. Although the Romans were ultimately driven out, one favored institution that endured was the local tavern where proprietors brewed and served their own distinctive ales and lagers. Because those establishments were eventually opened to the full public, they became known as “public


Booneshine’s theme is in its name, as in “Boone truly shines!” Located at 465 Industrial Park Drive, they’re big on being local and friendly, and in honoring the area’s adventurous, creative and entrepreneurial spirit. They believe that the community thrives on celebrating mountain living and that sitting down and enjoying a beer with friends can be a sacred moment full of joy, laughter and camaraderie. As owner Tim Herdklotz puts it, “Our mission at Booneshine Brewing is to make the High Country a better place by making

Blowing Rock Brewing

and serving great approachable beers and great food with attentive service…all in a beautiful East Boone setting.” Their new tasting room and beer garden provide plenty of space inside and out for socializing and dining, plus a live summer music series and their Wednesday Trivia Nights. Distribution has expanded into both the NC Triad and Triangle areas. And their food truck is a big hit. Some favorite Booneshine seasonal brews include: East Boone Pils, Subtropic Pale Ale, and Palate Painter IPA. Lost Province Brewing Company’s name dates back to the late 1900s when Watauga, Ashe and Alleghany counties were known as The Lost Province due to the mountains and poor roads isolating the region from the rest of North Carolina. Lost Province Brewery warmly boasts of being a destination microbrewery featuring authentic and innovative craft beers and serving Neapolitan wood-fired pizza plus local farm-to-table foods. Owner Lynne Mason, when asked about recent changes at Lost Province, shared, “We actually decided not to increase  the number of seats except at the bar, as some distancing  between tables makes the dining experience more enjoyable. Instead, we have created more options for different size groups in order to seat more guests. We also added a rooftop deck over the porch with bar service, which offers a view of Howards Knob.” 

Beech Mountain Brewing Company

In addition to their original location at 130 North Depot Street, downtown Boone, Lost Province has a second taproom and production site at 289 Daniel Boone Drive, adding both indoor and outdoor covered porch space. It features 24 taps with their brand beers, several wines and the popular Molley  Chomper Cider, a hard cider made in Ashe County, NC, using heirloom apples grown here in the High Country. Live music Friday and Saturday nights, game nights, and their Beer 101 beer/food pairings round out their rich pub experience. Newer seasonal brews include: Boone Moon, A classic Belgian-style Witbier served with an orange slice; I Really Love Your Peaches, a peach and apricot infused cream ale; Honey Bear, a brown ale brewed with local honey and malt. The Blowing Rock Brewing Company incorporates the Blowing Rock Ale House and Inn in downtown Blowing Rock, featuring dining and lodging plus their local brewery. In addition, they opened a second location in Hickory featuring their Blowing Rock Draft House, brewery and distribution hub at Hickory’s historic Hollar Mill Plaza. Their Hickory venue features delicious appetizers, pub food, wood-fired pizza plus a large rustic Beer Garden for their live music series. Founding partners Todd Rice and Jeff Walker had an expansive vision from the

Taps at Blowing Rock Brewing

start to create a high-quality brand of craft beers that would authentically represent Blowing Rock and the North Carolina mountains, and to then spread that brand far and wide across the state. True to vision, they now have over1,200 retail accounts state-wide. “We’ve remodeled our historic Blowing Rock location and tripled the size of our bar so that we can now offer our beers to both local patrons and destination travelers,” noted Walker. “With full seating capacity restored, we’re able to present the elevated experience to all of our patrons.” Brewing Manager Rocky Justice added, “We’ve also cultivated a natural, landscaped space around our taproom for increased capacity. By focusing on simple appetizers and snacks in addition to using an outdoor pass-through bar service window, we’re able to encourage socially responsible groups to enjoy our beer garden and the mountains they love.” Seasonal favorites include: Plunge Pool Peach Wheat Ale, their classic IPA Cloud Rise Hazy IPA, and their first-ever sour ale, Gose to the Mountains watermelon Gose, served with a slice of fresh watermelon.

tivities and a summer concert series are all part of the mix. And, like other area pubs and breweries, the return to normalcy for the summer of 2021 means locals and visitors can come together again in that traditional spirit of recreation and celebration. “Our operation consists of two facilities,” notes Marketing Director Talia Freeman. “The Brewhouse offers a small setting, perfect for sampling beers, with windows overlooking the brewing area. It’s perfect for watching the brewers in action while sipping your favorite beer. The Taproom and Grill is our larger facility featuring a full bar and a variety of foods. Our beers are also available at other facilities around the resort, including  5506’. Patrons often grab to-go food from the Taproom for a picnic at the 5506’,” she added. Seasonal brew specials include their clear barley Beech Mountain Lager, their ‘hoppy’ Downhill IPA, a new Tropical Lager, plus a light bodied summer Saison. And look for their American Wheat Ale.

cheers! Beech Mountain Brewing Company over in Avery County is owned and operated by Beech Mountain Resorts and is perched amidst the year-round recreational attractions of Beech Mountain village. Live music, outdoor movies, holiday fes-

Now that group socializing has opened up, your local “public houses” are, once more, a center of community celebration and camaraderie. And, in any language, they extend their warmest greetings of “Welcome Back and Cheers!”



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

“ The Best Chicken Tenders Hands Down! “

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

Voted Best BBQ in the High Country 16 years running! 2020 Best Chicken Award in the High Country!

In Downtown Newland

"Inspiring your tastebuds for 10 years."



(Served on our homemade bread)

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


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


www.eatcrownc.com Fabulous British Chef/Owner

Dominic & Meryle Geraghty



Inspire Your Tastebuds

2941 Tynecastle Highway • Banner Elk (across from the entrance to Sugar Moutain)

828.898.6800 • paintedfishcafe.com Painted Salad


J E R KY • S E A S O N I N G S • H OT S AU C E S

Open Daily in Historic Valle Crucis & Tanger Outlets, Blowing Rock 828-260-6221 | www.JerkyOutpost.net

Open Tuesday-Saturday 10:30am-3:30pm Closed Sunday & Monday Lunch served 11:00 - 3:00 9872 Hwy. 105 S. in Foscoe (Across from Mountain Lumber)

828-278-8006 www.booneshine.beer Industrial Park Drive, Boone NC 28607 Tasting room and Restaurant Visit our new outdoor beer garden in East Boone.


The Region’s Largest & Finest Selection of


Let us Bring the Mountains to You!

Blowing Rock Ale House & Brewery

Blowing Rock Draft House & Brewery




Since 1978

1104 Hwy 105 • Boone, NC 828-264-9476 www.PeabodysWineAndBeer.com CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Summer 2021 —


“Where the Locals Go” OPEN 7 DAYS A WEEK!

astle At Shoppes of Tynec in Banner Elk, NC

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

• Daily lunch and dinner specials • Large selection of appetizers, burgers, salads, and wings • Children’s menu • Enjoy dancing, sports viewing, & and other entertainment • Full bar and daily drink specials, 14 beers on tap • To-Go orders available

4527 Tynecastle Hwy, at the Corner of Hwy 105 and 184 Tynecastle Hwy | 828.898.9613 | highlandersbannerelk.com

Country Style at Its Best! • Serving breakfast and lunch, country style • Breakfast served 7 - 11 a.m. • Lunch served 11 a.m. - 3 p.m. • Lunch entrees include meatloaf, pot roast, ham, and other country staples • Friday Special: All-day Fish Fry • Saturday Special: Barbecue Rib Dinner, 4 - 8 p.m. • To-Go orders available

Our Newest Restaurant in Elk Park, NC

— Summer 2021 CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE 140 Located in Elk Park at the corner of Banner Elk Highway 194 and 19E

6460 Banner Elk Hwy, Elk Park, NC 28622 | 828.742.1980 | Facebook @ elkriverdepot

- Award Winning -

Let Us Shop For You!urbside

Craft Beer

brewed in Downtown Boone, NC

Website C -Sat Pickup Mon 11am-6pm

with water from the headwaters of the New River 1ostprovince.com | 828.265.3506

Second Location Opening Spring 2021

Locally Sourced Food | Wood Fired Pizza | Live Music | All Season Porch | Special Events

Lost Province

at Hardin Creek Brewery & Taproom

“Just Be” Your LOCAL source for Organic & Fresh Foods, Bulk, Produce, Supplements and so much more!

273 Boone Heights Drive, Boone, NC 28607 Across from the Wellness Center 828-262-5592 • www.benaturalmarket.com

“El e va te Yo u r Ta s te” an d e njoy Win e Co un try in th e High Co un try 955 7 Li n vi lle Fa lls H wy L in v i lle Fa lls , N C 2 8 6 4 7 (828)765-1400 Mi lep o s t # 3 1 7 o n t h e B lu e R i d ge Pa r kwa y Vi s i t o u r Webs i t e:

li nvillefall s wi ne r y.co m t o s e e o u r s c he d u l e o f Ev e n t s , L i v e M u s i c , & Fo o d Tr u c ks ! CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Summer 2021 —


From CML’s Kitchen With Recipes and Photography by Meagan Goheen


GRILLED THAI CHICKEN SKEWERS with COCONUT-PEANUT SAUCE Whether you are hosting a backyard cookout, heading to a summer potluck or are just looking for some easy versatile summer recipes, we have some delicious ones for you!


INGREDIENTS 3 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs For the Marinade ¼ cup soy sauce 3 TBSP brown sugar, packed zest and juice of 1 lime 2 TBSP vegetable oil 4 garlic cloves, minced ½ tsp ground ginger ¼ tsp ground cardamom ½ tsp salt For the Coconut-Peanut sauce 1 (13 oz) coconut milk (full fat) ¼ cup peanut butter 1/3 cup brown sugar, packed 2 TBSP soy sauce 1 TBSP red curry paste 3 TBSP fresh lime juice DIRECTIONS n Cut chicken thighs into 1-inch pieces, set aside. n Combine the marinade ingredients in a large bowl. Add the chicken to the bowl and mix until chicken is evenly coated. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or overnight. n In a medium sauce pan, mix coconut milk, peanut butter, brown sugar, soy sauce and red curry paste. Bring to a simmer, then cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for about 2 minutes. Add the fresh lime juice. Set aside. n Preheat the grill to high heat. n Add the chicken pieces to skewers. Place the skewers on the grill and cook for about 10 minutes, turning once, or until the chicken is cooked through. Serve with Coconut-Peanut sauce.




made with love!



INGREDIENTS 4 bone-in pork chops 1 TBSP olive oil 2 TBSP Cinnabar Smoke Spice Blend (Found at The Spice and Tea Exchange) For the Salsa 1 ripe mango, diced 1 large tomato, chopped 1 small jalapeno, diced ½ small onion, diced ½ cup fresh cilantro, chopped Juice of 1 lime 1 tsp olive oil ½ tsp salt ¼ tsp black pepper, freshly ground

DIRECTIONS n Coat the pork with olive oil. Rub the pork chops with the Cinnabar Smoke Spice Blend on both sides. Set aside for at least 30 minutes on the countertop or cover and refrigerate for a few hours/overnight. n Pre-heat the grill to medium-high heat. n Combine all of the salsa ingredients in a medium-sized bowl, and adjust seasoning to taste. Keep in the refrigerator until ready to serve. n Grill the meat until it is cooked through to an internal temperature of at least 145 degrees F, about 5 minutes on each side, depending on the thickness of the chops. n Serve pork chops topped with salsa. “The Pork Chop uses a spice blend of chipotle pepper and sweet onion sugar to give a perfect savory balance of sweet and heat, and a touch of cinnamon which complements the flavor of the grilled pork.” —The Spice and Tea Exchange

Turn the page for another recipe... And find Meagan’s recipes for Peach Galette, Roasted Potato & Radish Salad, and Old Fashioned Lemonade on www.CMLmagazine.online





INGREDIENTS For the Burgers 1 lb ground turkey 6 oz chorizo 6 slices of sharp white cheddar 6 buns, cut in half and toasted Optional toppings: sliced tomato or lettuce For the Guacamole 3 ripe avocados 2 ears of corn 1 Jalapeno ½ small red onion, diced ½ cup fresh cilantro, chopped Juice of 2 limes ½ tsp salt ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper ½ tsp cumin For the Sriracha Aioli ½ cup mayonnaise 1 TBSP sriracha 1 TBSP fresh lime juice 1 garlic clove, peeled and finely grated DIRECTIONS n Pre-heat the grill to medium-high heat. n Add corn and Jalapeno to the grill and cook until slightly charred all around, about 10 minutes. Set aside to cool. n Gently combine ground turkey and chorizo and form into 6 burgers. n Cut avocados in half lengthwise and remove pits. Use a spoon to scrape the avocado into a medium bowl. Mash avocados to desired consistency.

made with love!

n Squeeze fresh lime juice over mashed avocado. n Cut corn kernels off the cobs and dice jalapeno. Combine together with the avocado, onion, cilantro, salt, pepper and cumin. n Combine ingredients for Sriracha aioli and set aside. n Grill the burgers until the meat thermometer reads 165 degrees F in the center of the burger, about 5-7 minutes, each side. Turn the grill to low heat and place the cheese slices on each patty and let it melt gently, about 1 minute. n Cut your buns in half and toast (about 1 minute). n To assemble the burger, add a spoonful of guacamole on the toasted bun and add 1 tsp of sriracha aioli. n * Optional: Top with Sliced tomato and/or lettuce.


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

The Village of Banner elk in the heart of Downtown Banner Elk, NC BannerElkVillage.com


140 Azalea Circle, Banner Elk, NC

orts Bar Sorrento’s Bistro | Chef ’s Table | Barra Sp The Village of Banner Elk has something for everyone’s tastes—traditional Italian, gourmet fine dining, and international cuisine. And don’t miss our famous Sunday Brunch at Sorrento’s Bistro! We have indoor and outdoor entertainment, stocked bars, a wine room, a cigar lounge, exclusive NFL and college sports viewing, private dining, art galleries, karaoke, a family-friendly arcade and Banner Elk’s best billiards! Call 828.898.5214 for reservations.

Special Events & Catering: Corporate Events, Weddings, VIP Dining Parties CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Summer 2021 — 145 Call 828.898.5214 | Email Sorrentoscatering@gmail.com


53........... 180 Float Spa 46,36...... Abode Home & Design 25........... Adventure Damascus 38........... Advocates for the Care of Animals in Avery County 6............. Allen Tate Realtors 47........... Alleghany Writers 59........... Amy Brown, CPA 29........... An Appalachian Summer Festival 53........... Anvil Arts Sculpture Garden & Gallery 95........... Appalachian Blind and Closet 35........... Appalachian State University 116......... Appalachian Regional Health Care 116......... Appalachian Regional Medical Associates 116......... AppFamily Medicine 102......... Apple Hill Farm 122......... Arbonne 52........... Ashe County Chamber of Commerce 116......... Ashe Memorial Hospital 70........... Avery Animal Hospital 16,59...... Avery County Chamber of Commerce 120......... Avery County Transportation 120......... Avery Heating 116......... Baker Center for Primary Care 38........... Banner Elk Café, Lodge & Tavern 58........... Banner Elk Book Exchange 70........... Banner Elk Olive Oil & Balsamics 49........... Banner Elk Realty 17........... Banner Elk.com 12........... Banner Elk Winery 113......... Banner Elk Soap & Candle Co. 37........... Banner House Museum 145......... Barra Sports Bar 121......... Bayou Smokehouse & Grill 59........... BB&T 132......... Beattie’s Distillers 48........... BE Artists Gallery 141......... BE Natural 58........... BE Scooped 139......... Beech Mountain Brewing 101......... Beech Mountain TDA 129......... Bistro Roca 53........... BJ’s Resort Wear 115......... Blair Fraley 40........... Blue Mountain Metalworks 41........... Blue Ridge Brutal 114......... Blue Ridge Energy 7............. Blue Ridge Mountain Club 112......... Blue Ridge Propane 94........... Blue Ridge Realty & Investments 36........... Blossom Nails & Spa 139......... Blowing Rock Brewing 121......... Blowing Rock Farmers Market 122......... Bodegas Kitchen & Wine Bar 113......... Boone Appetit

56........... Boone Belles 34........... Boone Bigfoots 139......... Booneshine Brewing Company 33........... Boonies Old Country Store 97........... Brinkley Hardware 50........... Callista Flower Co 44........... Camp Big 49........... Carlton Gallery 138......... Carolina BBQ 128......... Casa Rustica 28........... Century 21 Mountain Vistas 145......... Chef’s Table 132......... Chestnut Grille 44........... Children’s Hope Alliance 10........... Classic Stone 132......... CoBo Sushi Bistro & Bar 113......... Compu-Doc 59........... Creative Interiors by Darlene Parker 115......... Crossnore School for Children 36........... David Patrick Moses Architect 2,109...... Dewoolfson 3............. Dianne Davant & Associates 8,36........ Distinctive Cabinetry of the HC 53........... Doe Ridge Pottery 121......... Downtown Boone 138......... Eat Crow Café 36........... Edward Jones 48........... Elk River Club 140......... Elk River Depot 116......... Elk River Medical Associates 59........... Encore Travel 110......... Engel & Volkers 126......... English Farmstead Cheese 123,36.... Erick’s Cheese and Wine Shop 102......... F.A.R.M. Café 48........... Florence Art School 11........... Footsloggers 111......... Fortner Insurance 8............. Fox & Fuller 56........... Funky Tulip 103......... Fred’s General Mercantile 129......... Gamekeeper Restaurant & Bar 129......... Gideon Ridge Inn 97........... Glen Davis Electric 36........... Grandfather Center Shoppes 44........... Grandfather Home Visitors Center & Museum 147......... Grandfather Mountain 25........... Grandfather Mountain Highland Games 41........... Grandfather Vineyard 96........... Gregory Alan’s Gifts 47........... Hardin Jewelers 58........... Hemlock Inn 36........... High Country ABC

49........... High Country Animal Clinic 72........... High Mountain Expeditions 140,59.... Highlander’s Grill and Tavern 73........... Hunter’s Tree Service 52........... Incredible Toy Company 128......... Italian Restaurant 138......... Jack’s 128 Pecan 138......... Jerky Outpost 29........... Jones House Cultural & Community Center 50........... JW Tweeds 102......... L & N Performance Automotive 73........... Leatherwood Mountains Resort 116......... Life Care of Banner Elk 121......... Life Store Insurance 56........... Lililu on King 36........... Linville Animal Hospital 70........... Linville Caverns 141......... Linville Falls Winery 78........... Linville Land Harbor 14........... Lodges at Eagles Nest 141......... Lost Province Brewing Company 4............. Loven Castings 112......... Lucky Lily 36........... Luna Thai & Sushi Restaurant OBC........ Mast General Store 126......... Maw’s Produce 84........... Mayland Community College 50........... Mica Gallery 111......... Mike Smith Builders 29........... Mountain Community Bank 112......... Mountain Dog and Friends 36........... Mountain Grounds Coffee & Tea 58........... Mountain Jewelers 96........... Mountain Time 101......... Mo’s Boots and Carhartt 72........... Mustard Seed Market 70........... My Best Friend’s Barkery 44........... Mystery Hill 60........... NC Agriculture and Consumer Services 36........... New Force Comics 121......... OP Smiles 52........... Pack Rats 138......... Painted Fish Café 139......... Peabody’s Wine & Beer 113,59.... Peak Real Estate 132......... Pedalin’ Pig BBQ 126......... Pixie Produce 97........... Premier Pharmacy 36........... Premier Sotheby’s International Realty 120......... Ram’s Rack Thrift Shop 141,36.... Reid’s Café & Catering 102,36.... Root Down Hair Studio 28........... Sally Nooney Art Studio Gallery

59........... Salon Suites at Tynecastle 5............. See Sugar 59........... Shooz & Shiraz 28........... Shoppes at Farmers 59........... Shoppes of Tynecastle 59........... Sky Mountain Nail Bar 113......... Skyline/Skybest 145......... Sorrento’s Italian Bistro 128......... Stick Boy Bread Co. 96........... Stone Cavern 133......... Stonewalls Restaurant 134......... Sugar Cream 80........... Sugar Mountain Golf & Tennis 111......... Sugar Mountain Nursery 37........... Sugar Mountain Resort 109......... Sugar Ski & Country 25........... Sundog Outfitter 103......... Sunset Tee’s 10........... Tatum Gallery 56........... Tazmaraz 15........... The Bee & The Boxwood 128......... The Best Cellar 34........... The Blowing Rock 97........... The Cabin Store 95........... The Consignment Cottage Warehouse 59........... The Dande Lion 47........... The Happy Shack 128......... The Inn at Ragged Gardens 36........... The Manor 126......... The Spice & Tea Exchange 36........... The Summit Group 48........... The Twisted Twig 109......... Tom’s Custom Golf 103......... TownPlace Suites by Marriott 126......... Trosly Farm-The Farmstead Market 38........... Turchin Center for the Visual Arts 59........... Tynecastle Builders 59........... Tynecastle Realty 122......... Ultimate Kitchen Design 72........... Valle Crucis Park 59........... Valle de Bravo Mexican Grill 36........... Verizon 28........... Village Jewelers 5............. Village of Sugar Mountain 73........... Wahoo’s 47........... Waite Financial 59........... Walgreens Pharmacy 134......... Watauga County Farmers’ Market 123......... Watauga Lake Winery 41........... West Jefferson Olde Time Antiques Fair 36........... Western Carolina Eye Associates 134......... Whole Hive Honey Co. 46........... Wholesome Home Living 122......... Woodlands Barbecue 112......... YMCA of Avery County 58........... Yummy Mud Puddle

thank you! 146 — Summer 2021 CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE


Even the smallest of us can be part of something very big.

The grown-up sense of discovery at every turn around the mountain will only be surpassed by the childlike wonder our natural playground evokes. B o o k t o d a y a t g ra n d f a t h e r. c o m



Profile for Carolina Mountain Life, Inc


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