July Magazine

Page 1


40 Years of Tommy Burleson

Remembering Leigh Wallace

Blowing Rock Charity Horse Show

Beth Davison: Film Director · Yonahlossee Stables

Zionville Ramp Company
Volume 18 · Issue 7 July 2023


Caddyshack Café • Luna Thai • Mountain Grounds Coffee & Tea

Reid’s Café • Bella’s Italian • Fred and Larry’s Coffee

China House • Subway • McDonald’s • Sugar Cream Ice Cream Shop


Resort Real Estate & Rentals • Vacasa Rentals • Sugar Mountain Lodging

Highlands at Sugar • Sugar Ski & Country Club


Attractions: Sugar Mountain Public Golf • Sugar Mountain Public Tennis

Sugar Mtn Resort Bike Park & Lift Rides • Sugar Creek Gem Mine

Wilderness Run Alpine Coaster & Adventure Course • High Country Expeditions

Shop: Provisions on Sugar • Abode Home • Erick’s Cheese & Wine

Headquarters Bike + Outdoor • Ski Country Sports • The Marketplace at Curiosity

Those Were the Days Antiques • ABC Store • Food Lion • Lowe’s Foods

Discounted Name Brands • Blue Flowers CBD • Sugar Vapor Co. • Russell Cellular for Verizon

Pamper: Battle Born Beauty

• Root Down Hair Studio • Rachel’s Reflections

Organic Hair Design

• Hollywood Nails


• Blossom Nails

June 9–Aug 30

Wednesdays: Grillin & Chillin Concerts

July 4 : Summit Crawl & Fireworks

July 14–16 & August 11–13: Fine Art & Master Crafts Festival

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to plan your

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Beth Davison: Film Director

"Documentaries have the power to change people’s hearts and minds about issues. They can draw people in and be an impactful teaching tool, showing the nuances and complexity of problems the society face." - Dr.

Yonahlossee Stables

“The community of Boone and the surrounding areas of the High Country built us, and I would credit our success to the many people who trusted us with their kids as we taught them of the joys of horseback riding.” - Faye

Blowing Rock Charity Horse Show

“This is a very exciting year for the Blowing Rock Charity Horse Show. We are celebrating the great milestone of our onehundredth anniversary” – Burr Collier

Zionville Ramp Company

"Not everyone is confident enough to just step out and go to a skatepark, because I was that person and I felt confident going to skateparks because I had a group of women cheering me on... and that changed everything." -

40 Years of Tommy Burleson

"The Tommy Burleson Basketball Camp is such a worthwhile and bigtime event and I encourage all players who can attend it to do so."

Remembering Leigh Wallace

“Leigh’s favorite saying was, ‘You’re stronger than you think.’ Sometimes, it just takes a little digging to find that strength that we all have inside of us.” - Claude Cooper


Summer Is In Full Swing!

Summer has been in full swing here in the High Country with various events taking place throughout the area. From farmers’ markets and art galleries to music concerts and theater performances, there are tons of opportunities to explore. It doesn’t take long for people to get a glimpse of what makes this region so special.

Many local restaurants and wineries have an eclectic lineup of live music that is being performed for everyone’s enjoyment, just like Grandfather Vineyard & Winery, which hosted Adam Church for an evening to benefit Casting Bread on June 7. I highly encourage you to check out the schedule of events of venues to see what’s in store for the rest of the summer. Musical festivities haven’t stopped there. The streets of downtown Boone once again came alive with thousands of attendees for the second annual Boonerang Music & Arts Festival, which took place June 15-17. And later this month, the Symphony by the Lake at Chetola Resort, which has become a favorite summer event, will be taking place on July 21. Whether it’s recurring events that happen yearly or new opportunities making an appearance, all of these activities have one thing in common – celebrating the High Country and appreciating everything it has to offer.

High Country Magazine is all about celebrating the events, businesses, and individuals that make the community so special. In this issue of the magazine, we dive into the history of the Blowing Rock Charity Horse Show – the oldest continuous outdoor horse show in the United States that started in 1923. We also explore Yonahlossee Stables, one of the places that continues the tradition of a grand equestrian lineage in our area. Apart from horseback riding, there are other great sporting opportunities for people to try, like skateboarding. Learn about Zionville Ramp Company, which aims to share the love of skating with anyone willing to learn. We also feature Dr. Beth Davison, a documentary film producer, who shares her filmmaking process with us involving religion, faith, service, and identity. Lastly, we want to take the time to honor and remember Leigh Cooper Wallace, who will never be forgotten by the residents of the High Country.

We could not publish the quality of work that we do if it wasn’t for our subjects who trust us to share their stories with our audience. And above all, we couldn’t do what we do best without our advertisers and readers. We appreciate all the support we receive and that so many of you ask for High Country Magazine by name!

Thank you!

Publisher / editor

Sam Garrett


Ashley Poore

Advertising d irector

Michelle Harrell

contributing Writers

Anna Beth Adcock

Peter Morris

Harley Nefe

Sherrie Norris

Kris Testori

Jan Todd

cover Photogr APher

Alicia Green (EddyLine Creative)

contributing Photogr APher

Alicia Green (EddyLine Creative)

High Country Magazine is produced by the staff and contributors of High Country Press Publications, which serves Watauga, Avery and Ashe counties of North Carolina.

HIGH COUNTRY MAGAZINE P.O. Box 152, Boone, NC 28607 828-264-2262

Copyright © 2023, All rights reserved


A Public Ation o f High Country Press
Sam Garrett with Adam Church at Grandfather Vineyard & Winery for an event benefiting Casting Bread on June 7. Photo by Ashley Poore.
Ashley Galleher, owner of Zionville Ramp Company. Photo by EddyLine Creative.

mountain echoes

The Mountain Boomer Brings Food, Drink, & Community to the High Country

After meeting at App State in 2019 by both being enrolled in the Fermentation Sciences program, Dean Reed of Newland and Willie Olson of Sugar Grove are embarking on a new adventure of bringing quality, tasty ciders to the High Country.

Owners, veterans, and cider makers Reed and Olson began being business partners of The Mountain Boomer after realizing that they not only enjoyed each other’s company, but worked well together since completing countless classes, group projects, and brew days.

“We graduated last May, and we decided we wanted to try to make cider,” Reed said. “We lucked into this place and decided to open a restaurant first, and our goal is to add on our own ciders.”

Located at 1600 Jonas Ridge Hwy in Newland in the building that was formally the beloved staple of Christa’s Country Corner, The Mountain Boomer offers appetizers, sandwiches, smoked plates, desserts including ice cream, and a variety of drinks – local beers, wine, and ciders.

“It was my 15-year-plan to do a cidery; I’m in the process of planting an orchard, and I just got my farm ID,” Olson explained. “And Dean came to me and was like, ‘If you want to, we can go into it now.’”

Olson continued, “The past year Dean was looking for a spot, and finally he came to me, and said, ‘It’s not even on the market yet, but I found the perfect location.’”

Now, The Mountain Boomer can be spotted by a six-foot-tall wood carved red squirrel standing out front. When customers enter the building, they are welcomed into an open and inviting atmosphere that showcases what the High Country has to offer.

“We want to highlight what we think is neat about the High Country,” Reed said. “Things like walking through the forest and looking up through the trees.”

Between two large murals, which were painted by Olson, that depict different mountain landscapes and artistic skylight panels across the ceiling, guests are transported into nature’s beauty.

Olson described the restaurant’s environment: “It’s like you’re going over to somebody’s house and just hanging out – have a couple of beers, eat a good sandwich, listen to live music – Just the community part alone is awesome, watching everyone talk to each other and having a good time.”

Locals and tourists alike are invited to come out and see what The Mountain Boomer is all about.

Hours of operation are Monday and Tuesday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., closed Wednesday and Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 9 a.m., and Sunday from 12-6 p.m. For more information about The Mountain Boomer, please visit the website at https://www.themountainboomer.com/ or follow the business on Facebook and Instagram at The Mountain Boomer. t

Business partners Dean Reed and Willie Olson stand next to Boomer, a six-foot-tall red squirrel, outside of their restaurant in Newland. Photos by Sarah Mathis.
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mountain echoes

Incredible Toy Company Celebrates New Location & Owner

The Shoppes on the Parkway in Blowing Rock is the new home to The Incredible Toy Company. Bennett Larsen & Ashley Hutchins purchased the store in January of this year. The toy store, formerly located on US Hwy 321 South, celebrated its new location with a ribbon-cutting ceremony with the Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce last week

“There is no way we can find a better community to be a part of,” said Hutchins during the ribbon cutting. “So thank you all for being part of this.”

The toy store has been a Boone and

Blowing Rock landmark since 1993. “This location is really great,” said Kathy Dobber, who was visiting from Charlotte, NC. “The open floor plan makes a huge impact. Since our kids were very young, we’ve shopped here [Incredible Toy Company] with our family. While we enjoyed the old store, this layout is perfect for families with small children. Plus there are a great number of games for older kids.''

The Incredible Toy Company is open Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. t

A ribbon cutting ceremony with the Blowing Rock Chamber celebrated both new owners and a new location for The Incredible Toy Company.
Whether you're into classics like Monopoly or party hits like TENZI, The Incredible Toy Company has you covered with an impressive variety of board games

mountain echoes

The Graystone Lodge Celebrates Grand Opening

Inspired by the spirit of the High Country, a revitalized hotel is giving travelers even more reason to visit Boone. The Graystone Lodge, a boutique hotel located at 2419 NC-105, officially celebrated its grand opening on June 20 with its ribbon-cutting ceremony.

With a front lobby packed full of guests enjoying a silent auction benefiting the Hunger and Health Coalition, live jazz music, delicious hors d'oeuvres, and tasteful beer and wine, there was much to celebrate about the newly renovated property.

The hotel originally opened as the Graystone Lodge in 1987, then transitioned to a Super 8 in 2006 to meet the needs of the evolving hospitality industry. It has now been re-established to its original name as the Graystone Lodge after receiving an extensive multi-milliondollar interior and exterior renovation.

The Graystone Lodge is owned by Boone natives and siblings, Justin Patel and Selina Bell, who have been in the hotel industry for more than 30 years. Boone native and Appalachian State University graduate, Ben McKethan, is the new general manager of the Graystone Lodge.

“The Patel family has very deep roots in the Boone community,” McKethan

described. “Justin and Selina’s father is considered the godfather of the hotel industry in Boone.”

“My sister, Selina, and I were born and raised in Boone, and she was actually the general manager of Graystone Lodge 17 years ago today to this date (June 20),” Patel explained during the ceremony. “She was the general manager when it converted from the Graystone Lodge. It’s only fitting that she be here tonight to reopen the Graystone Lodge.”

Patel continued, “We were introduced to hotels at a very young age – doing everything from taking out trash and linens out of the rooms, cleaning parking lots, working the front desk all the way to manager roles and now owners. This is our true passion, and we hope that every guest that comes to our property can see that, and it’s reflected in the guest experience.”

The Graystone Lodge features 101 rooms with a welcoming mountain ambiance, enhanced modern design, and upscale amenities. Its mission is to provide a casually elegant yet comfortable getaway, genuine hospitality, and personalized service so guests can relax, unwind and enjoy everything that Boone has to offer.

“The new Graystone Lodge honors its past and provides an unparalleled

experience for the next generation of guests with modern custom developments,” Patel said. “We’re eager to welcome guests on their next trip to the High Country as they explore everything that makes Boone so special.”

Local elements have also been incorporated into all aspects of the Graystone Lodge to provide guests with a truly authentic Boone experience. The hotel features local photography and artwork from Angelia Fine Art, roasted coffee from Hatchet Coffee, decadent handcrafted chocolates from Venture Chocolate & Wine Co, baked goods from Stick Boy Bread Co., as well as special offers for outdoor adventures, family attractions and more.

“Boone truly is a charming town with unique shops and restaurants that you won’t find anywhere else. As a native, it’s a part of the Boone spirit to champion other members of the community, and we’re excited to share the local experience with our guests” McKethan said. “Supporting these local businesses and giving back to a good cause are simple ways to connect and create meaningful relationships with our guests and our community.” t

Graystone Lodge celebrated its ribbon-cutting ceremony on June 20. Pictured left to right: Patrick Setzer, David Jackson, Tim Futrelle, Selina Patel Bell, Justin Patel, Ben McKethan, Christy Williams, and Rafael Mendez. Photo courtesy of Graystone Lodge.

Southern Cuisine Carolina Gal

When I was 14 years old, I flew across the country to California to visit a friend who had moved away. I saved up my allowance and babysitting money and bought my own ticket, which was quite an accomplishment considering my weekly allowance was about a buck and the going rate for babysitting was 50 cents an hour. It was 1977.

Until that vacation, I had never been out of the South, and had never seen the likes of an avocado or a burrito or an artichoke or eggroll — all which I had the opportunity to sample while in The Golden State. I came home with a changed palate.

When I was a kid, we ate a lot of fried chicken, fresh vegetables out of the garden, grilled hamburgers on Friday nights and pot roast on Sunday. Buffalo wings and bagels hadn’t yet crossed the Mason-Dixon line, and pizza parlors were a rare sight indeed.

My mother got real fancy when she hosted bridge club and served raw cauliflower alongside a Lipton onion soup mix dip, but generally our vegetables consisted of green beans, limas, carrots, tomatoes and iceburg lettuce. Fried squash and okra, of course.

If we had fish, it was usually bream caught in the river by my dad or grandfather. It was fried and served with hushpuppies, corn on the cob, and watermelon for dessert. Salmon only came in a can, and my mother would mix it with breading to make a patty that she’d then — you guessed it — fry.

At the beach, we’d usually make a batch of Frogmore Stew — with boiled shrimp, corn-on-the-cob, potatoes and Hormel kielbasa sausage. Named after a tiny dot on the map next to Beaufort, South Carolina, no frogs were harmed in the making of the stew.

Occasionally Mama served “Chinese food” — canned Chun King chow mein purchased from the local Food Town store, served with an attached can of crunchy noodles that made the dish seem very exotic. Kung pao chicken was a complete unknown, as Asian restaurants simply weren’t common in the South until the

early 1980s or so.

Sushi didn’t appear on my radar until the late 1980s, when I went on a business trip to New York City. My co-worker and I stepped inside a restaurant hoping to score some take-out when we saw the chef behind the bar handing over a plate of raw fish — raw fish! — to his patron. We turned around and scurried out of there, apologizing to the maître d’, “Sorry! We thought you cooked food here.”

It would be several more years before I tried (and liked!) sushi. Growing up, we frequently ate grits for breakfast, but it would have never occurred to us to top them with shrimp, gravy and spices — nor order them that way from a gourmet restaurant. (Not that we ever saw the inside of a gourmet restaurant. There were five kids in my family and restaurants were someplace the parents went on their anniversary while we ate chicken pot pies at home with the babysitter.)

After my trip to California, I was eager to try new foods whenever I got the chance. When I went away to college, a friend made a stir fry dish with crisp snow peas and peppers, sauteed chicken and rice. I was so impressed I purchased a stovetop wok and took it home for a weekend visit.

I told my parents I was cooking dinner then pulled out my wok and started chopping vegetables. I sauteed bits of beef, then added in the vegetables and stir fried for a couple of minutes before tossing in the rice and an egg. I pronounced it done and called the family in to serve and eat.

My dad walked over to the wok, took a look, sampled a bit of crunchy vegetables, then promptly dumped in a cup of water with a tablespoon or so of corn starch.

“There,” he said. “Now let it simmer for 20-30 minutes until the vegetables get tender. A Southern man likes gravy with his food.”

Bless his heart. t

Frogmore Stew has been a staple in the Carolina Lowcountry since the 1960s, and is a great way to feed a crowd when fresh shrimp is plentiful. Photo by Jan Todd.

Celebrating BOONERANG 2023

Photos by Eric Rayburn


Whether it be the plight of Virginia big eared bats, the public perception of Appalachia culture, the role of community cafés, or the history of various sites on the Blue Ridge Parkway, Dr. Beth Davison seeks to showcase stories through a different lens.

Davison, co-director of Appalachian State University’s Documentary Film Services, is a local filmmaker whose projects have been screened internationally — from visitor centers on the Parkway to the PBS television network.

Visitors who tour the Flat Top Manor at Moses H. Cone Memorial Park can see an example of Davison’s work: an educational video about the history of the estate that is shown in the manor’s mini theater on the main floor. The film includes theatrical readings, excerpts from oral histories, and reenactments of the construction and early days of the Cone’s summer home.

Davison produced the video in 2019, aided by a team of App State students who portrayed characters and helped research, film, and edit the work.

Davison’s first documentary, The Denim Dynasty, was released in 2015 and screened on campus at App State, at BRAHM (Blowing Rock Art and History Museum), and at the Greensboro Historical Museum. The film delved

into the history of the Cone family, their factories and all the workers who helped make Cone Textiles a world leader in the denim industry.

An avid hiker, Davison spends a lot of time in Cone Memorial Park. “I walk on the carriage trails about four times a week, and it was there I got to thinking about my surroundings. The Cones were big time capitalists in their time, an important part of our history here in North Carolina. They provided jobs, amassed wealth, and then their family funded and established the Moses H. Cone Hospital to serve the textile workers and community. Their home at Flat Top is now in public hands and enjoyed by millions of people,” Davison said.

Her musings and appreciation for the Cone’s history and contribution prompted Davison to take a sabbatical from teaching to work on The Denim Dynasty.

“I started off working with Dr. Andrea Burns at App State, who devoted her graduate course in public history to helping with research for the project. We spent some time at the University of North Carolina Archives, and the National Park Service office in Asheville,” Davison remembered. Working with historians helped her develop new research skills for producing documentaries.

Beth Davison at work on a documentary series about community cafés. Photo by Alonza Mitchell.
I think anyone starting out in documentary work should begin with a historical piece. There are usually information and photographs in the archives, so you don’t have to film everything. You can concentrate more on story structure and editing.

“I think anyone starting out in documentary work should begin with a historical piece,” Davison advised. “There are usually information and photographs in the archives, so you don’t have to film everything. You can concentrate more on story structure and editing.”

Embracing the Power Behind the Camera

Davison never attended film school. She studied religion and social philosophies and earned her doctorate in sociology. She taught in App State’s Department of Sociology for 18 years.

Driven by a passion for social justice, Davison was always drawn to documentaries. “People from my high school days and college days remember me saying I wanted to be a documentary filmmaker,” she said.

But back in the early 1980s, there were few resources to pave that path. “I remember as an undergraduate, I checked out a camera to work on a project. It had a huge battery pack that was very heavy — and I am a small person! There weren’t any classes for me to learn skills, and editing was complicated. You had to go into a studio and use a big control board,” she explained. “I got discouraged and pursued interests in other things.”

She still enjoyed watching documentaries and occasionally incorporated them into her classroom as a sociology professor.

“Documentaries have the power to change people’s hearts and minds about issues,” she explained. “They can draw people in and be an impactful teaching tool, showing the nuances and complexity of problems the society faces.”

Davison recalled an impactful film entitled Poletown Lives, aired in 1982,

Documentaries have the power to change people’s hearts and minds about issues. They can draw people in and be an impactful teaching tool, showing the nuances and complexity of problems the society face.
Beth Davison on set in Raleigh, while filming a documentary series. Photo by Alonza Mitchell.
Maleek Loyd (left) films Renee Boughman (center) as she interviews Maggie Kane, executive director of A Place at the Table community café in Raleigh. Photo by Alonza Mitchell.

which portrayed the story of a community of primarily Polish descendants fighting against General Motors’ plan to level their neighborhood and build an automotive assembly plant. The community was unsuccessful, and the plant was built.

“It’s one thing to just talk about what it means for people to organize and take on corporate America, but to show the students this real life example in a 30-minute documentary was powerful,” Davison said.

Technology advances opened new doors for Davison to produce her own documentaries. Video cameras got smaller, and editing software became accessible on personal computers. Davison attended workshops through the Center of Documentary Studies at Duke University, learning the technical aspects of the craft as well as how to create a compelling story.

“I credit App State for letting me learn on the job,” Davison said. “When I proposed we start the Documentary Center at the university, App State gave me the go-ahead and provided a budget for me to work with. They are good about letting people grow and follow their paths.”

She transitioned from her role as a sociology professor to co-direct the newly created Documentary Center. Her filmmaking work is all under the umbrella of the university, used in teaching students and providing practical training ground

for them to develop their own careers.

Her background in sociology makes her a better storyteller, Davison said. “As a social scientist, I employed research methods and statistics. For me, making documentaries is about discovery — and I use my research skills as the story unfolds. When I start a project, I really don’t know how it’s going to end, and I love that.”

Davison said her early inspiration in photography came from her father.

“My dad always had a camera and bought his first home movie camera in the 1950s. He took lots of footage as well as thousands of photographs,” she said.

Davison admitted she was often annoyed by her father pointing the

Beth Davison credits her father, Frank Davison, as her inspiration in photography. He “always had a camera,” she said. Here, young Frank takes a photo of himself in a mirror. “It was a pretty cool 1930s selfie,” Beth said.

camera in her direction. “It’s such a generational thing. Back then, anytime someone pulled out a movie camera, all the teenagers and adults would run behind trees to avoid being filmed. It wasn’t like today, when kids grow up posing for videos and posting them on social media,” she said.

Most people in the era of her childhood filmed celebratory moments — birthdays, holidays, and vacations. “But my dad filmed everyday moments as well, like me running a lemonade stand, for instance. I greatly appreciate that he made that effort,” Davison said.

Now, Davison feels she’s carrying forth her father’s legacy.

Showcasing Other's Work

It has long been Davison’s dream to cultivate a documentary culture in the High Country — even beyond her own work and that of her students. In 2022, she collaborated with Ann Ward, assistant professor in App State’s Department of

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Beth Davison (left) consults with Maleek Loyd (right) and Ryan Witt (center) during filming at A Place at the Table community café in Raleigh. Loyd is an App State alumnus and former student of Davison’s and is the director at Loyd Visuals in Charlotte. Witt teaches video production courses in App State’s Department of Communication. Photo by Alonza Mitchell

Communications, and Tom Hansell, professor and co-director of the university’s Documentary Film Services, to partner with The Appalachian Theatre in hosting the first annual BooneDocs Film Festival.

The festival, held the last Saturday of February each year, features documentary short films reflecting on life in the Appalachian region.

“The festival shows the diversity of stories around the region, and really highlights all we have to celebrate,” Davison said. “It helps overcome some of the stereotypes that people have about Appalachia.”

Subject matters of the films this past year ranged from bouldering to glassblowing to the history of Greek-owned restaurants in Birmingham. “Yes, Birmingham is in the Appalachian region,” Davison said. “It isn’t all rural; that is just one of the misguided stereotypes.”

The first year, approximately 250 attended the BooneDocs festival. In 2023, there were more than 350 in the audience. The film lengths varied from four minutes to about 24 minutes, and awards were given for “Juror’s Choice” and “Audience Choice.”

Current Work

Last year, Davison produced a video for the F.A.R.M. Café — a nonprofit community café located in Boone — in celebration of its tenth year of operation. The project shone the light on the work of many volunteers in their mission to “feed all regardless of means.”

It was a special project for Davison, who has been involved as a volunteer with the


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Beth Davison is one of the organizers of the annual BooneDocs Film Fest, an event held the last Saturday of February, featuring documentary short films reflecting on life in the Appalachian region. Photo provided by Beth Davison. Beth Davison (far left) introduces filmmakers at the 2022 BooneDocs Film Fest, held at the Appalachian Theatre in Boone. Photo provided by Beth Davison
The festival shows the diversity of stories around the region, and really highlights all we have to celebrate. It helps overcome some of the stereotypes that people have about Appalachia.


organization since its beginning. She has served on the board of directors at the café, including a stint as its president.

Renee Boughman, founder and former executive director of the F.A.R.M. Café and now the Director of Community Engagement, served as the primary spokesperson in the film.

“Renee has a huge personality. She has strong storytelling skills and genuine emotion,” Davison said.

While working on the 10th anniversary video, Davison and Boughman began to dream of something bigger: a documentary series about community cafés across the country.

The F.A.R.M. Café participates in One World Everybody Eats — a network of independent nonprofit “pay what you can” restaurants dedicated to increasing food security and building community. Each of the nearly 50 member cafés is unique in its setup and menu, but all operate on the principles of

Beth Davison (left) and Renee Boughman at the F.A.R.M. Café in downtown Boone. The two are working together on a documentary series sharing stories of community cafés across the country. Photo by Jan Todd Beth Davison on set in Raleigh, while filming a documentary series. Photo by Alonza Mitchell.
Through Beth’s work, we can change the lens of how people view the world. And I love that. I think it’s amazing.

inclusion, access to healthy and nutritious food, opportunities to volunteer, and a dignified dining experience.

“We aren’t part of a franchise; we’re part of a movement,” Boughman explained. “We share information and support one another — because we want these organizations to survive.”

Boughman said it has been fulfilling to watch volunteers — especially students — transform through their work at F.A.R.M. Café. “Even after they graduate, they maintain connection with us and support what’s happening. They tell me that working here changed their lives in ways they never expected,” she said.

Her own experience at the F.A.R.M. Café sparked a curiosity in Boughman about the other organizations in the network. “I have found that people want to do things to help each other, but sometimes don’t know the path to get there. If we can provide a path, they’ll jump in. It has been a remarkable journey to see that happen. I’m fascinated with folks in other communities who have a similar story,” she said.

Davison, Boughman, and a team of filmmakers have visited two community cafés so far, and plan to visit others in the coming months. Boughman serves as the host, interviewing café directors, staff, and patrons on camera.

“We’re hoping to raise awareness about the work these organizations are doing, because it is so relevant to issues people are talking about right now: diversity, equity, and inclusion. When it comes to community cafés, some don’t know what to expect and are hesitant to come in. We’re hoping to change that,” Davison said.

Boughman said she has enjoyed “hanging out” with Davison and learning all the ways she chooses to tell a story.

“We all have similar experiences in life, but sometimes it’s just how you look at things that makes a huge difference,” Boughman mused. “For instance, if you encounter a person on the street asking for money, do you experience that through the lens of fear and frustration? Or do you experience it through the lens of compassion and the understanding that this person may have been employed two years ago, but was hit with an economic demise or perhaps some mental health issues?”

“Through Beth’s work, we can change the lens of how people view the world,” Boughman continued. “And I love that. I think it’s amazing.” t

Sugar Mountain Resort 2023 Summer Schedule June 30 through October 1 Fridays through Sundays Bike Park and Scenic Chairlift Rides July 14-16 & August 4-6 Tween & Teen Gravity Mountain Bike Camp July 14-16 & August 11-13 Avery County Fine Art & Master Crafts Festival July 22 Ladies Gravity Mountain Bike Clinic July 28-30 Downhill Southeast Race #6 August 26-27 Go Nuts North Carolina Regional Downhill & Enduro October 7-8 Oktoberfest For details and the full event schedule visit www.skisugar.com

Yonahlossee stables Hoofbeats in the High Country

“There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.”

Many counties within the Tar Heel State have been celebrated as the horse country for well over a century. The horse people of the High Country have owned, rode, showed, and enjoyed these four-legged friends for multiple generations. Horses are surely a contender for the title of “man’s best friend,” as animalhuman connections like these are rarely seen outside of those formed with dogs and cats.

Why do we, this writer included, have this special relationship with horses? Primarily because they, like we, are social animals who seem to crave each other’s attention and enjoy being together…as in, “It’s fun!”

But there’s more, notes Misty Kale, a dedicated equine aficionado.

“I am sure we can all agree that being around our horses makes us happier. But, it turns out, the relationship with your horse is not only good for your mental health, but also your physical health as well,” she shared. “Those of us that love horses would agree that they make our lives better and fuller, but did you know that spending time with horses can also enhance our brains? The bond between man and horse, and particularly the bond between women and horses, is a strong one. Have you ever met a little girl that didn't love horses? Probably not! It seems to be a natural attraction to earn the

respect of a horse! They don't care what you look like, how clever you are, or how important your job is.” Stables, both large and small, abound in the Blue Ridge Mountains, including Grandfather Stables, Broyhill Equestrian Preserve, Banner Elk Stables, and many others. One of the most storied of these equine habitats is Yonahlossee Stables, located between Boone and Blowing Rock on Pine Hill Road. Purchased in 2017 by Banner Elk horse people Dennis and Faye Muse, this large facility

In the outside main ring, a jumper practices. Photo by Peter Morris and Shirley Hollars.
Riders lined up in the outside ring. Photo by Peter Morris and Shirley Hollars.

Yonahlossee Stables continues the tradition of a grand equestrian lineage in our town, which has, for generations, been one of the high country’s best places for horse riding and education. We look forward to creating a new generation of equestrians. Our mission now is to return the center to its place as the premier riding, training, boarding and instructional facility in the High Country.

features 34 stalls in two barns for the boarding of horses, two massive indoor and outdoor rings with jumping structures, full-time personnel dedicated to the feeding and upkeep of the horses, and stalls and trails for all who board.

“Yonahlossee Stables continues the tradition of a grand equestrian lineage in our town, which has for generations been one of the High Country’s best places for horse riding and education. We look forward to creating a new generation of equestrians. Our mission now is to return the center to its place as the premier riding, training, boarding, and instructing facility in the High Country,” emphasized Dennis Muse.

“In their eyes shine stars of wisdom and courage to guide men to the heavens.” - Jodie

“While previously living in Charlotte, our granddaughters showed an interest in riding, and the oldest one, Alaina, began taking lessons at six years old with her sister, Larisa, joining her two years later,” explained Faye Muse. “Dennis and I also had a home in Banner Elk, and we wanted to move up here and bring the family, but there were no stables at that time that gave lessons. Then we became aware that the Yonahlossee Stables was for sale,” she continued. “While considering the possibility of purchasing it, it came up for auction in the summer of 2017 – the year we moved here. As we wanted our granddaughters to be able to continue their riding, we made the decision to buy it and restore it back to a lesson and boarding barn for the public. By the time we decided to move to the High Country, they had been riding for six years and were actively attending horse shows

in venues in North Carolina and in South Carolina towns, such as Tryon, Camden, and Aiken. Dennis and I had no background with horses prior to the girls’ taking lessons.”

While new to the area as permanent residents, the couple did have long-time connections to Avery County.

“We bought a home here that was the home where my brother and his family lived from 1991 to 2002, until his passing. My family was from Avery County, so I had been coming up to the mountains my entire life, and I always knew I wanted to have a home here someday,” noted Muse. “My grandparents lived in Plumtree and

Faye and Dennis Muse, owners of Yonahlossee Stables. Photo by Peter Morris and Shirley Hollars.

were owners of the Tar Heel Mica Company that my great grandfather and his brother started in 1910. Avery County was always the one real true home to me.”

“When I am bestride him, I soar. I am a hawk; he trots the air; the earth sings when he touches it; the basest horn of his hoof is more musical than the pipes of Hermes.” - Shakespeare

The Muse family consists of children Brittany, Justin, and Jordan and grandchildren Alaina, Larisa, Marcus, KC, and Atlas – many of whom help at the stables when possible.

One of the most attractive aspects of Yonahlossee Stables is its association with Appalachian State University. “The ASU Equestrian team approached us in late summer of 2021 to see if we would be

interested in providing horseback riding lessons for their students,” said Muse. “They previously had been going off the mountain for lessons and were looking to be closer to home. We had only been open for four years at that point, and they had been going off the mountain for many years. We now provide the lessons and a coach for them to be able to show at various colleges that compete; they require a certain amount of fundraising as a club, so they hold several shows at our barn annually, in addition to having held shows at the Blowing Rock Equestrian Preserve, now known as Broyhill Equestrian Preserve.”

Although the Yonahlossee Stables complex once served as an area for residents of the Yonahlossee development and tennis club who had horses, it is no longer connected with the entities.

Victoria Teeple-Clark helps keep the horses healthy at the stables. Photo by Peter Morris and Shirley Hollars. A rider practices in the indoor ring. Photo by Peter Morris and Shirley Hollars. The indoor show ring is where riders learn to jump Peter Morris and Shirley Hollars.
We now provide the lessons and a coach for them to be able to show at various colleges that compete; they require a certain amount of fundraising as a club, so they hold several shows at our barn annually, in addition to having held shows at the Blowing Rock Equestrian Preserve, now known as Broyhill Equestrian Preserve.

“Courage is being scared to death but saddling up anyway.” - John Wayne

As to where the tongue-twisting name of Yonahlossee came from, it means “trail of the black bear” in the Cherokee language, although the name is used extensively throughout the High Country for various

locations. The historic Yonahlossee Trail is now a part of US 221 and called The Little Parkway Scenic Byway; it’s also the name of a native North Carolina critter, the Yonahlossee salamander…among other distinctions.

A day at the Yonahlossee Stables proves its rightful value for those equine lovers amongst us. According to Muse, “The

day starts with giving hay and water to the horses, then feeding, followed by stall cleaning. Other tasks such as bringing hay and shavings and unloading the dump truck occur as needed. Then the entire barn is cleaned and ready to greet customers. Lessons begin at 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. and usually end by 6 p.m. Then, at noon, more hay is given to the horses and again at 3

The main barn at Yonahlossee Stables. Photo by Peter Morris and Shirley Hollars. Sasha Swift, instructor and friend. Photo by Peter Morris and Shirley Hollars.

p.m.,” she continued. “Around 3 p.m., stalls are cleaned again, then horses are given their afternoon feeding and more water. The barn is once again cleaned. Finally, there is a night check that occurs around 9 p.m. where more hay is given, and the horses are checked to make sure they are OK. Of course, aside from the daily chores, there is always something to be done… fences to be mended, pastures checked to make sure they’ll produce grass in the spring, fixing anything that has broken down and going to get feed, shavings, and the many items needed to run a barn. We currently have eight instructors and five employees that assist with these chores.”

“Horses change lives. They give our young people confidence and self-esteem. They provide peace and tranquility to troubled souls; they give us hope.” Toni

Faye Muse credits others for the success of Yonahlossee Stables. “The community of Boone and the surrounding areas of the High Country built us, and I would credit our success to the many people who trusted us with their kids as we taught them of the joys of horseback riding.”

It almost goes without saying, but we will say it anyway, taking care of business at Yonahlossee Stables is a never ending job but one which is enthusiastically embraced by those for whom the horse, be it mare or stallion, is king!

Watching participants at the Yonahlossee Stables any Sunday afternoon is a feel-good experience for both riders and onlookers. While it may be obvious that the riders are exalting in their one-on-one experiences, the fun doesn’t stop here. Those not atop one of the Tennessee Walkers, Arabians, Quarter Horses or other breeds are wonderfully accepted (by most horses) who crave attention of the warm human variety…a big hug around their neck, scratches behind their ears, or a loving smack on their “kissy spot” above their lips. Also, a carrot or piece of apple offered atop a flat palm will, quite often, make one a friend for life.

With horses being a dominant attraction around the High Country, it should be noted that numerous riding trails abound around the Blue Ridge Parkway’s Cone Manor House in Blowing Rock and, for those who’d rather look than ride, there’s always the Blowing Rock Charity Horse Show, currently celebrating 101 years. For 2023, this most prestigious event will take place in segments on June 8-11, July 25-30, and August 2-6 at the L.M. Tate Showgrounds at the Broyhill Equestrian Preserve. Here hunters and jumpers and saddlebred horses will vie for top honors in the nation’s oldest continuously running horse show. t

For more information on the Yonahlossee Stables, which is open daily and closes at 6 p.m., contact 828-963-4223.

The community of Boone and the surrounding areas of the High Country built us, and I would credit our success to the many people who trusted us with their kids as we taught them of the joys of horseback riding.
A rider enjoys a warm day with their horse. Peter Morris and Shirley Hollars.
A young rider watches as her horse grazes. Peter Morris and Shirley Hollars.

BLOWING ROCK Charity Horse Show Charity Horse Show

Celebrating 100 Years, 1923-2023

Once again, the horses have come to the High Country in record numbers as the Blowing Rock Charity Horse Show began its three-month residency for extended weekends in June, July and August. Literally hundreds of riders and horses appear during these multi-day shows at the Broyhill Equestrian Preserve, with Saddlebred events having taken place last month and Hunter Jumper competitions set for July 25-30 and August 2-6.

“The Blowing Rock Charity Horse Show is the oldest continuous horse show in America. We were recognized by the United States Equestrian Federation as a Heritage Horse Show. We are honored to be recognized as one of the top horse shows in the country,” explained Burr Collier, President of the Blowing Rock Charity Horse Show Foundation. “We have multiple generations of families who have been coming to our show for decades. The horse show has a tremendous economic impact on

Blowing Rock and Watauga County.  Appalachian State University determined that these horse shows bring in nearly seven million dollars to the local economy.”

While the small town of Blowing Rock is generally experiencing the height of its summer season during the days between June and August, it can lay claim to “everything horsey” during the horse show’s run, with specialty

The Blowing Rock Charity Horse Show is the oldest continuous horse show in America. We were recognized by the United States Equestrian Federation as a Heritage Horse Show. We are honored to be recognized as one of the top horse shows in the country,

The Blowing Rock Charity Horse Show is the oldest continuous horse show in America. Photo by Peter Morris.

trucks ferrying the breeds being dominate throughout its roads and byways, riders’ being commonplace sights in and out of their riding habits and shirts, hats and other clothing items being sold with the Blowing Rock Charity Horse Show logos aplenty.

“This is a very exciting year for the Blowing Rock Charity Horse Show. We are celebrating the great milestone of our one-hundredth anniversary,” noted Collier.  “Being the oldest, continuous horse show in the country, Blowing Rock has persevered through world wars, the Great Depression, and most recently, the Covid pandemic.  We are excited to showcase significant improvements to our facility as we begin our next one hundred years.”

One of the High Country’s most popular seasonal events, the Blowing Rock Charity Horse Show generally attracts over 4000 visitors to witness its activities over the three weeks of the competitions, although Collier predicts this number will swell for its 2023 running, giving the show’s centennial celebration.

So important in the maintaining of the horse show is its multiple sponsors who, alongside many volunteers, help make the annual event a reality.

“As for our ever-important sponsors, we are blessed to have so many of them that love the Blowing Rock Horse Show, and we have drawn in some new people as well who also appreciate the history and the tradition,” added Collier. “We couldn’t do it without our sponsors. There are a lot of corporate-supported horse shows out there, which happen in places like Tryon, North Carolina; Wellington, Florida; Saugerties, New York, and

Hundreds of riders and horses appear during the multi-day shows at the Broyhill Equestrian Preserve. Photos by Peter Morris.
The BRCHS generally attracts over 4,000 visitors to witness its activities over the three weeks of the competitions. Photo by Peter Morris.

This is a very exciting year for the Blowing Rock Charity Horse Show. We are celebrating the great milestone of our one-hundredth anniversary. Being the oldest, continuous horse show in the country, Blowing Rock has persevered through world wars, the Great Depression, and most recently, the Covid pandemic. We are excited to showcase significant improvements to our facility as we begin our next one hundred years.

Multiple generations of families have been coming to the shows for decades. Photos by Peter Morris.

We couldn’t do it without our sponsors. There are a lot of corporate-supported horse shows out there, which happen in places like Tryon, North Carolina; Wellington, Florida; Saugerties, New York, and Traverse City, Michigan, but we are unique as we are more of a boutique horse show. We are blessed with wonderful sponsors who care about our event and want to make sure this tradition lives on.

Appreciation for horses can be seen through smiling faces. Photo by Peter Morris. The popular events continue come rain or shine. Photo by Peter Morris. Hunter Jumper competitions are set for July 25-30 and August 2-6. Photo by Peter Morris
Many riders and their horses are a common sight to be seen during the BRCHS. Photo by Peter Morris. It takes many sponsors and volunteers to make the annual event a reality. Photo by Peter Morris.
The horse show has a tremendous economic impact on Watauga County. Photo by Peter Morris.

Traverse City, Michigan, but we are unique as we are more of a boutique horse show. We are blessed with wonderful sponsors who care about our event and want to make sure this tradition lives on.”

Sponsorship for the Blowing Rock show includes a wide variety of competition classes available for sponsorship and various opportunities for supporting the show through smaller venues such as the Fine Harness Championship, 5-Gated Championship, and Meal Sponsorships. Sponsors of the show’s program include Allen Wealth Management, Budweiser, The Village Inns of Blowing Rock, Berkshire Hathaway, Tactical Fleet, Blue Ridge Mountain Club, Blowing Rock Realty and Investments, Sotheby’s International Realty, Finley House Couture and Monkee’s of Blowing Rock.

Also of importance is the word CHARITY in the show’s title. The annual funds raised go to entities such as the Blowing Rock Fire Department, the Blowing Rock Rotary Club, the Appalachian State University Equestrian Club, and various animal welfare organizations.

As previously noted, the Saddlebred competitions such as Show Rider Equitation, Academy Showmanship, and English Pleasure Hunt Seat were held on June’s first show weekend. In both July and August, the Hunter Jumper competitions, some of the most popular and exciting events, will reign supreme.

The Blowing Rock Charity Horse Show will take place at its annual home, the LP Tate Showgrounds. For times, ticket information, directions and more, please go to brchs.org. t


In 2021, the state granted AMOREM’s request to build a hospice patient care unit for residents of Ashe, Avery and Watauga counties. Please consider a tax deductible donation to make this a reality.

Donate today or learn more at www.amoremsupport.org/donate, 828.754.0101 or scan here!


AMOREM NEEDS YOUR HELP TO BRING more quality. more compassion. more support.
“Our gift is an act of love.”
—Family of the late Will Pierce
Funds raised from the event go to a variety of organizations. Photo by Peter Morris.
The BRCHS will continue to take place at the LP Tate Showgrounds. Photo by Peter Morris.

Through the Years

Blowing Rock Charity Hore Show in 1942. Photo courtesy of BRCHS Archives. The first horse show took place in 1923. Photo courtesy of BRCHS Archives.
The Saddlebred shows are full of energy, and the box seats have always offered a perfect spot to get close to the action. Photo courtesy of BRCHS Archives. There's a special bond that exists between a rider and their horse. Photo courtesy of BRCHS Archives. Equitation is the art and practice of horse riding. Photo courtesy of BRCHS Archives. Organizers of the Blowing Rock Charity Horse Show. Photo courtesy of BRCHS. Ribbons represent the hard work that goes into preparation. Photo courtesy of BRCHS Archives.
Hunter Jumper competitions are popular events. Photo courtesy of BRCHS Archives.

Let's Roll

Zionville Ramp Company Creates a Safe Place for Skating

Photo by EddyLine Creative

See ya later, skaters! Building skate ramps and community, Ashley Galleher, now-owner of Zionville Ramp Company, began her love affair with the sport in middle school when a guy in her class caught her attention with his impressive skating chops “for a seventh grader,” as she recalls.

“And then I started seeking out ways to watch skateboarding,” she says. “I watched the X Games… And I got a skateboard the next year. We had a gravel driveway and my dad was building a garage behind our house, so when he poured the concrete slabs, I would ride the skateboard around on that.”

However, it wasn’t until Galleher moved out west to Lake Tahoe, California after graduating from Appalachian State University that her interest in skating turned into a lifestyle due to regular access to skate parks and meeting “the right people,” aka a group of friends also interested in the sport.

“Lake Tahoe was where I met the solid skater girl crew that changed everything,” she recalls. “Some of them were from the West Coast and grew up around skateboarding—it’s more part of the mainstream sports world there than it is here in Western NC— and some of us were just starting to get into it.”

Galleher and her friends traveled to skateparks in Sacramento, San Francisco, and the California Bay area (such as Fremont)—finding any excuse to roadtrip in the name of testing their boards out at

a new spot. Ashley also liked to test new skating styles — finding features she liked and those she didn’t. During this era of her life, Galleher also discovered ladies’ skate nights—where she made even more friends who shared her hobby.

During her time on the West Coast, Galleher bounced around a few states— Colorado, California, Oregon— and worked at an array of camps doing myriad recreation management jobs and sports programs for over five years before making the move back to the High Country in 2016.

“There was this feeling deep down that I wanted to be back in North Carolina,” Galleher says. “Looking back, I see how I used my experiences being out West where the [skate] scene was already established to work towards establishing that here.”

After returning home, Galleher continued to work remotely for a nonprofit in California and nabbed a restaurant job. Soon after, she bought a house and began to build a ramp of her own with the help of her friend from the West Coast, James McLeod.

Ashley Galleher loves to share her appreciation for skateboarding with others. Photo by EddyLine Creative.
There was this feeling deep down that I wanted to be back in North Carolina. Looking back, I see how I used my experiences being out West where the [skate] scene was already established to work towards establishing that here.
Zionville Ramp Company builds custom made ramps. Photo courtesy of Zionville Ramp Co.

The skating aficionado offers the credit to her friend for introducing her to a new side of boarding… building ramps.

“That [building ramps] blew my mind. I was like, ‘Wait, you can build these in your yard?’” she says. “It was kinda too good to be true—and something I’d dreamed about as a teenager.”

And so began the shift in Ashley’s skating hobby— from a passionate pass time to a blossoming career. To start, it took awhile to get the project off the ground due to Galleher’s job and lack of funds for materials. But when the pandemic hit, it gave her the time she’d been craving to shift her attention to skateboarding— and showed her there was a way to make it profitable. While she now has a booming biz—Galleher continues to bartend at night to keep the dream alive.

“When you love something, you’re willing to do whatever it takes to keep it going,” she says. “And when I gave skateboarding the time—I realized I did love it that much.”

Galleher built a ramp in her backyard and launched her business as a custom ramp builder in July 2021—eventually expanding Zionville Ramp Co. to encompass skateboarding camps due to high interest from the local


Even though Galleher didn’t initially plan on skate lessons being part of her business model— she embraced the call to share her knowledge and hasn’t looked back since.

While she has more inspirational stories than she can count from teaching, Galleher points to a 5-year old girl she worked with once who started her skate journey saying “I can’t believe in myself,” and was genuinely surprised when she succeeded.

“When you teach people you get to watch their confidence build,” she says of coaching prospective skaters. “... People from all walks of life can enjoy it [skateboarding]. It’s so freeing and it’s so different from anything we do in our regular lives—and you’ve never learned it all. It’s really hard and you have to try it so many times before you get it right.”

After selling a few ramps and hosting lessons, events, and programs in her backyard during the first year—Galleher determined the next big move for her skateboarding biz was moving to a new locale. And now, the skating extraordinaire is moving again to an improved, larger location with the capacity

For Galleher, skateboarding is not just a sport, it's a lifestyle. Photos by EddyLine Creative. Galleher embraces giving skate lessons. Photo courtesy of Zionville Ramp Co.
There has been a high interest in skateboarding camps. Photo courtesy of Zionville Ramp Co.

to welcome even more novice and experienced skaters alike to roll with community.

“I’m pretty good at building ramps and empowering people… If you want to try something then try it,” she advises. “Not everyone is confident enough to just step out and go to a skatepark, because I was that person and I felt confident going to skateparks because I had a group of women cheering me on… and that changed everything.”

In February 2022, Galleher began the process of building a ramp in the new warehouse—now transitioning into her new skate space slated to open to the public June 10. The kickflip haven will initially feature 5,000 square feet of skateable space—with 1,500 square feet

of offices and what will soon be a lounge area—a tall ceiling, a skate bowl/loft and a flat space for skating newbies to learn without the stress of nailing tricks right off-the-bat. And Galleher is armed with a lineup of stellar skate coaches ready to spread the love—and the technique tips—of boarding.

And with the help, knowledge, and resources of Mcleod, the new skate space is set to shred the local skate scene. “I’ve never built a bowl before. It's the hardest thing ever—it’s literally mind bending carpentry and skills that I don’t have,” she says of the skatepark’s prep. “But James came out to teach and learn alongside me… and with his knowledge and my resources we got it done!”

Rolling out a plethora of

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everyone is confident enough to just step out and go to a skatepark, because I was that person and I felt confident going to skateparks because I had a group of women cheering me on… and that changed everything. -

Ashley’s Tips for Learning to Skateboard:

1 - Be prepared to fall — and accept that falling is a big part of skateboarding. It’s a skill you will get better at with time!

2 - Pad up and wear a helmet. Protective gear improves confidence, keeps you skating longer, and makes you stronger! The right people won’t care how you look”.

3 - Some days everything just works and you are really feeling it — other days are the exact opposite. That’s skateboarding! Listen to your body and come back to it tomorrow.

4 - Watch skate films, tutorial videos, and watch other people skate.

5 - Ride your skateboard every chance you get. Whether it's in the parking lot, on the greenway, or a small strip of sidewalk.

6 - Leave your achievement mindset behind and just have fun. You don’t have to be great at something to enjoy it.

7 - Make sure to stretch!

Photo by EddyLine Creative
Photo by EddyLine Creative

programming, the new park will offer group events (Ladies’ skate nights, Community gatherings, live music, and group classes!). And for those who prefer to keep their feet firmly on the ground, the park will have pingpong tables and corn hole options so all feel welcome to come hang.

“For so long I was like a caged animal or a racehorse in the gate,” laughs Galleher. “Now that I have this space, I'm going gangbusters— building things and dreaming bigger and bigger. It all starts with small dreams, but if you give them space and time they really do grow and gain momentum.”

And Galleher isn’t planning to stop the action there. Looking ahead, she plans to add a street course—something that’s big and time consuming, she says—along with a 5-foot tall halfpipe.

“Adults can forget to have fun—when you’re a kid you’re always having fun, learning and growing. Skateboarding gives adults the opportunity to try something, fall down and get back up.”

Amping up the cool factor, the positive space that skating has exuded for Galleher continues on in her pupils. One of the skate teacher’s favorite aspects of her job is watching her students become the teachers.

Ashley Galleher can often be found building on her own skills. Photo courtesy of EddyLine Creative.
Photo by EddyLine Creative


“People end up teaching themselves— kids will start skating on their own and start helping other kids,” she observes. “It’s cool to watch people help each other… And that’s taking ownership of what you’ve learned, when you can convey it to someone else.”

Another appeal of the sport goes beyond the thrill of landing a trick or the social perks. To Galleher, skateboarding goes deeper still. “That feeling of landing a trick and getting it right… it’s an intangible thing,” she says. “When I have a good skate session, I feel like I can do things in other aspects of my life, like I’ve pushed past my limits so I can do it in other areas too.”

Adding: “In life you can either try hard or just cruise and enjoy the feeling of rolling. It’s all what you put into it.”

Ready to board? After its grand opening on June 10, the new park will offer programming from Thursday—Sunday with plans to increase its hours in the future. And ramp up the fun via more information at Zionville Ramp Company’s Instagram @ zionvillerampco or the company’s website zionvillerampco.com. Let’s roll! t

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Galleher invites everyone to give the sport a try.
Photo by EddyLine Creative.
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Tommy Burleson Basketball Camp Celebrating 40 Years

One of the North Carolina High Country’s premier athletic and yearly events is celebrating a milestone this summer.

Founded by and named for the most famous basketball player ever from the North Carolina Mountains and the most well-known native in Avery County’s 112-year history, the Tommy Burleson Basketball Camp is nothing new to the High Country in general and Avery County in particular as it has been going on since the early 1980s. But this year's edition of the camp is extra special. When it opens on Monday, July 17th, it will mark its 40th anniversary of teaching young men and women the fundamentals of basketball, how to improve their games as well as lessons about life.

2023 Camp

The 2023 camp will be held starting Monday, July 17th through Friday, July 21st in the Old Rock and adjacent auxiliary elementary school gymnasiums in Newland. It will run from 9 a.m. until

12 p.m. each day.

Each year of its existence, the Tommy Burleson Basketball Camp has been held in collaboration with the Avery Parks and Recreation Department, and it annually attracts many young players from Avery and surrounding counties as well as from several states.

This year’s camp's cost for early registration is $50 per athlete, with a cost of $60 to register on-site on the first day of camp. All campers will receive a Tommy Burleson/Avery Parks and Recreation T-shirt.

The camp is designed to teach players fundamentals, help them develop and hone individual skills offensively and defensively to make them good team players, while instilling the confidence that all young players should acquire in order to increase their basketball potential. It is considered an educational opportunity in athletics.

Between 50 to 100 male and

female players usually attend the camp. It often consists of players from Watauga, Mitchell, and other nearby counties as well as some from out-of-state, with the

Young players receive hands-on experience at the basketball camp. Photo by Ashley Poore.

majority, or course, coming from Avery County.

It’s open to any male or female in the third through the ninth grade of school.

Each five-day session will be crammed with the kind of hands-on teaching that will make a difference in the players’ game. From the beginning to end each day, campers will be exposed to a high level of intense basketball instruction and motivation that benefits beginners and experienced players alike in improving their skills.

All-Star boys’ and girls’ games will be played in the afternoon on the last day of the camp, with an awards ceremony following each game to honor their top players. Age categories from youngest to oldest play in their respective orders in the all-star games.

“I believe very strongly that my camp will be a fun learning experience for each participant, and they will improve as players from attending it,” Burleson said. “I absolutely love producing a basketball camp, and that passion for it has continued to grow through the years. It doesn’t matter what their basketball ability is, because every kid gets a chance to play in games during the week and receive much individual attention and instruction. It’s all about helping young players become better players, while they have fun doing so and also providing them with life’s lessons, through stories and motivation that they hopefully will remember for years to come.”

Burleson added that parents and other family members of the players attending the camp, as well as other guests, are welcome to attend and watch the camp, including the all-star games and awards presentations.

Burleson's Credentials

The camp’s clinicians and guest speakers annually include some of the most well-known and successful players

and coaches in college basketball history.

How many basketball camps have clinicians and lecturers that have featured former professional players, college National Players of The Year, former United States Olympians, some of the winningest college coaches ever, professional and college Basketball Hall of Famers and former North Carolina High School Players of The Year? The Tommy Burleson Camp has and often during the same camp year.

At the forefront of the camp’s staff each year is Burleson. The legendary basketball star has a sports resume as gigantic as his 7-foot, 2-inch physical frame.

An All-America center at Newland High School and after consolidation, Avery County High, Burleson also was the North Carolina High School Player of The Year his senior season (1969-70). He is the only high school player in North Carolina history to be named to its All-State basketball team three

It’s all about helping young players become better players, while they have fun doing so and also providing them with life’s lessons, through stories and motivation that they hopefully will remember for years to come.
Tommy Burleson poses in his North Carolina State University basketball uniform. The 2023 camp will be held in the Old Rock gym and the elementary school gymnasium in Newland.
Photo by Ashley Poore.

seasons (1967-1968, 1968-1969 and 1969-1970).

Burleson led Avery to a 23-2 record, the Northwestern 3-A Conference regular season and tournament championships as well as a third-place finish in the state tournament his junior season (1968-69). He then led Avery to a 21-4 record, a coregular season conference title (with old Marion High) and a conference tournament runner-up finish (to Marion) as a

senior (1969-1970).

As a prep senior, Burleson averaged 28.5 points and 21 rebounds per game. He scored 712 points and shot 54.6 percent in field goals (285 made of 522 attempted) and 67.3 percent from the foul line (142 made of 211 attempted). He scored 45 points and had 36 rebounds in a 73-61 win over Marion that season. Both were his high school career highs in a single game in both statistical categories. That game, as was most others between the then arch-rivals and state powers, was moved from Avery High’s gymnasium to Appalachian State University’s Varsity Gymnasium in Boone because Avery’s gymnasium, like Marion’s, was not large enough to seat everyone expected to attend.

Burleson’s stellar play helped propel his high school teams to a combined record of 85 wins and only 8 losses. The last team ever at Newland High, Burleson’s sophomore season of 1967-1968, and the first ever at Avery County High, his junior season of 1968-1969, are generally considered the best in each school’s history.

Burleson also played in the 1970 Dapper Dan National High School All-Star Game in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

One of the most highly recruited players in America, Burleson usually had some of college basketball’s most noted coaches attending his high school games in hopes of getting him to play for their school. He chose to attend North Carolina State University and play basketball there, where he was a two-time All-American at center. He, along with his fellow-star players, forward David Thompson and point guard Monte Towe, Burleson helped lead N.C. State to an undefeated (27-0) season in 1972-73, and a 30-1 record, and the national championship the following season (1973-74). That remains the best two-year record (57-1) in the Atlantic Coast Conference’s 69-year history.

The N.C. State Wolfpack beat defending National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) champion, the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), 80-77 in double overtime in the national semi-finals enroute to winning the National Title with a 76-64 win over Marquette. The victory over UCLA avenged a loss earlier in the season to the Bruins, the defending national champions. N.C. State may have been the best team in the 1972-1973 season and its National Champions instead of also undefeated UCLA. But the Wolfpack was ruled ineligible to play in the NCAA Tournament due to probation stemming from rules violations that school officials denied had been committed.

Additionally, N.C. State also won the 1972-1973 and 19731974 Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) regular season titles with unbeaten (12-0) records and league tournament titles both seasons.

Burleson scored 38 points and grabbed 13 rebounds to lead the top-ranked Wolfpack to a 103-100 overtime win versus second-ranked Maryland in the 1974 ACC Tournament Championship. That game has been called the “greatest of alltime” by many basketball experts.

Burleson was twice chosen to the All-ACC Team, including First Team status his junior season. He also was twice named

Burleson has had an extensive basketball career, which has been captured in many photos, articles and memorabilia.
Burleson was featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated.

recipient of the Everett Case Award, named for a former N.C. State head coach and symbolic of the ACC Tournament's Most Valuable Player.

Burleson was chosen to the 1974 NCAA Tournament All-Final Four Team as well.

His collegiate varsity career, which included his sophomore, junior, and senior seasons, as freshmen then were ineligible to play on such, saw Burleson amass a total of 1,598 points, (tenth best in N.C. State history), an average of 19 points per game. He also pulled down 1,066 rebounds (second most in school history), an average of 12.7 per game.

He grabbed 365 rebounds (14 per game) as a sophomore, 324 (12 per game) as a junior, and 377 (12.2) his senior season.

Burleson was the Wolfpack’s leading rebounder in total and per game average during all three of his varsity seasons (197172, 1972-73 and 1973-74) and the leading scorer his sophomore season (554 points for a 21.3 per game average).

Burleson was twice featured on the cover of the world’s most noted sports magazine – Sports Illustrated – once by himself and the other with UCLA center Bill Walton.

Dean Smith, head coach of the University of North Carolina (UNC), the Wolfpack’s biggest rival, called Burleson “the

toughest center to prepare for I ever coached against.” That’s an especially high compliment considering the iconic Smith was UNC’s head coach for 36 seasons and served 44 years as a coach, which included stints as an assistant at the University of Kansas, UNC, and the United States Air Force Academy, and as a result coached against dozens of outstanding centers.

Burleson and the N.C. State Wolfpack won seven straight games over Smith’s Tar Heels, including 88-61 to claim the 1972 Big Four Championship, an annual college basketball tournament

The 1972 U.S. Men's Olympic Games Team.

Entertaining Music Series

2022 Season

played from 1971 to 1981 in Greensboro, NC. Its field consisted of the "Big Four" North Carolina Atlantic Coast Conference schools: N.C. State, Duke, Wake Forest and North Carolina.

Burleson and the Wolfpack also beat Wake Forest (91-73) to win the Big Four Tournament Title in 1973.

Burleson’s most prestigious sports milestone was playing on the 1972 United States Olympic Team. Additionally, he was a member of the 1973 World University Games team that claimed the Championship Gold Medal.

He earned a degree in agriculture at North Carolina State University in 1974.

He then played center professionally with four National Basketball Association (NBA) teams – the Seattle Supersonics, Kansas City Kings, Atlanta Hawks, and Chicago Bulls. Burleson was the third player chosen in the 1974 NBA Draft and was named to the 1974-75 NBA All-Rookie Team. Burleson recorded strong playoff performances in both 1975 and 1976 for Seattle. For his 15game playoff career, Burleson averaged 20.7 points, 10.2 rebounds, and 1.7 blocked shots per game.

His second season as a professional player proved to be his best, as he averaged 15.6 points, 9 rebounds, and 1.8 blocked shots per game. But just as he began to come into his own in the NBA, Burleson was injured breaking up a fight between a teammate and an opposing team player. That injury led to him having to end his professional playing career.

He played in 446 NBA games.

Burleson is enshrined in the State of North Carolina (1996), Western North Carolina (1985), and North Carolina State University (2013) Sports Halls of Fame. He is considered a lock to eventually be enshrined in the College Basketball Hall of Fame. Additionally, he has been named as one of the ACC’s top players of all-time by various media outlets and publications.

In 2002, Burleson was named to the ACC’s 50th Anniversary men's basketball team, honoring the fifty greatest players in its history. He was also named to the ACC’s 50th Anniversary All-Sports Team in 2003 as one of the league’s 50 best male athletes from all sports. Thompson is the only other N.C. State University basketball player to earn the same accolade.

Those teams were selected by a 120-member committee that was chosen by the conference's 50th Anniversary Committee.

Hayes Auditorium, Broyhill Theatre All performances begin at 5 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Purchase tickets at www.lmc.edu/forum For season ticket information, call 828.898.8748 or email forum@lmc.edu.
July 3 Chris Ruggiero July 17 How
July 24
July 31
Broadway Baritone: William Michals in Concert with Friends 19 Symphony of the Mountains
26 Forever Simon and Garfunkel
Sweet It Is!
A Band Called Honalee
Transit Authority Honors Chicago
Sail On, The Beach Boys Tribute

Basketball courts at old Newland High (in the Old Rock Gymnasium where one part of his camp is held) and Avery County High School have been named in his honor, and his Number 52 jersey has been retired at Avery High.

in the 1975 drafts. He eventually signed with the ABA's Denver Nuggets. Besides playing for the Nuggets, Thompson also (like Burleson) played professionally for the Seattle Supersonics.

The alley-oop pass, now a staple of college basketball’s high-flying, above-

Camp Clinicians, Guest Speakers and Other Staff

“Our staff, clinicians, and speakers all take a personal interest in each camper as I do to help each one improve his or her game,” Burleson remarked.

This year’s camp staff will include:

David Thompson, widely acclaimed as the greatest player in ACC history and one of the best in collegiate history. He is one of only two players from the ACC to be a three-time consensus All-American and a three-time National Player of the Year (Virginia’s Ralph Sampson is the other). Thompson also was the Most Valuable Player in the 1974 National Championship Final Four and was the Number 1 pick of both the American Basketball Association (Virginia Squires) and the National Basketball Association (Atlanta Hawks)

the-rim game, was "invented" by Thompson and Towe. It was first used as an integral part of the Wolfpack’s offense by legendary N.C. State head coach Norman Sloan to take advantage of Thompson's phenomenal leaping ability (his vertical jump was 48 inches or 4-feet) and Towe’s knack for making precision passes.

Monte Towe, an AllACC selection at N.C. State for 1973-74 season and a long-time college basketball coach following his tenure playing professionally for (like Thompson) the Denver Nuggets. Towe served as an assistant at N.C. State for two tenures (once under Sloan), the

University of Florida (also under Sloan), the University of North Carolina at Asheville, and Middle Tennessee State University. He also was a head coach at the University of New Orleans and has been either a head coach or an assistant for Global and Continental League teams,

The Tommy Burleson Basketball Camp attracts many young players from Avery and surrounding counties as well as those from out of state. Photos by Ashley Poore. David Thompson with a net draped around his neck after N.C. State defeated Marquette 76-64 to win the 1974 NCAA National Championship. Phil Ford during his playing career as a University of North Carolina Tar Heel.
Our staff, clinicians and speakers all take a personal interest in each camper as I do to help each one improve his or her game.

a professional team in Venezuela, as well as a junior and community college. Most recently, he has been head coach at a private Florida high school.

*Phil Ford, a two-time All-American for the University of North Carolina and the 1978 National Player of The Year, who also coached in the NBA and was an assistant coach to Smith at UNC for twelve years, helping the Tar Heels win the 1993 NCAA Championship (77-71 over Michigan).

Ford is generally considered the

best point guard in ACC history.

He played on the United States Olympics Championship Team (1976) and was an ACC Tournament Most Valuable Player (1975).

Ford also played for four NBA teams – the Kansas City Kings, New Jersey Nets, Milwaukee Bucks, and Houston Rockets. He also served as an assistant for three – the Detroit Pistons, New York Knicks, and Charlotte Bobcats.

appearance in the NCAA Tournament Final Four. He also is the only coach in NCAA history to be the all-time winningest coach (percentage or wins) at three different Division I schools.

Thompson, Ford, and Durham are members of the College Basketball Hall of Fame.

And like Burleson, Thompson and Ford were each named North Carolina High School Player of The Year their senior season.

Also assisting with the camp for the second consecutive year will be Gunner Garrett and Bo Morris, standout players for Gate City, Virginia High School.

Ford was also twice chosen as ACC Athlete of The Year. He and Burleson played together on the 1978-1979 Kansas City Kings team that won the NBA Midwest Division title and finished second in the Western Division.

Hugh Durham, regarded as one of the greatest coaches of all-time, who recorded 634 wins as head coach at the University of Georgia and Florida State and Jacksonville Universities. After a stellar playing career at Florida State, Durham served as an assistant there, before becoming head coach in 1966. Durham directed Florida State to the 1972 National Championship game and then Georgia to the 1983 Eastern Regional Championship with one of the biggest upset victories ever (82-77) over superstar Michael Jordan and defending National Champion North Carolina.

Durham is the first coach to ever lead two schools – the University of Georgia and Florida State – to their only

Additionally, the Avery Parks and Recreation Staff of Director Robbie Willis and his assistants Teddy Bare, River Willis, Brandon Campbell, Carson Williams, Austin Lyons, Brooke Brewer, and Braydon Johnson will work in various capacities at the camp.

Willis, whose office and those of his staff members, are housed in the Old Rock Gymnasium, said of the basketball camp and Burleson: "The Tommy Burleson Basketball Camp is one of our county’s and the region’s greatest happenings each year. And without Tommy, our Recreation Department would not be what it is today. From his leading the effort to save and renovate the Rock Gym recreation facility through grants and fund-raising in the late 1990s, to leading our longest running sports camp each summer, Tommy remains a huge fixture within our department as well as in Avery County. I grew up within a mile of Tommy, and as a boy, he was my hero while leading N.C. State to the 1974 National Championship. There's no other person I would rather congratulate and say ‘well done’ than to my friend,

Coach Hugh Durham observes a Georgia game while kneeling in front of his players and staff. Assisting with the 2023 camp is the Avery Parks and Recreation Staff, including from left-to-right: Brooke Brewer, Carson Williams, Austin Lyons, Director Robbie Willis, Teddy Bare, River Willis, Brandon Campbell, and Braydon Johnson. Photo courtesy of Robbie Willis.
The camp always has some very good players who love the game, have good work ethics, and fully devote themselves to becoming the best players they can be. The Tommy Burleson Basketball Camp is such a worthwhile and big-time event and I encourage all players who can attend it to do so.

Tommy Burleson!"

Others who have worked the Tommy Burleson Basketball Camp include: Sloan, head coach at the University of Florida (two tenures), The Citadel and Presbyterian College, besides being Burleson’s head coach at N.C. State University; Carl Clayton, former Guinness Book of World Records holder for spinning a basketball the longest consecutive time on his finger; Eddie Biedenbach, former head coach at Davidson College and the University of North Carolina at Asheville, a former assistant coach at Georgia, and a former player and assistant coach at N.C. State, where he was the primary recruiter for Burleson; Bucky Waters, former head coach at Duke University and West Virginia Universities and ESPN, Fox and National Broadcasting Company (NBC) Broadcaster; Roger Banks, Burleson’s head coach at old Newland and Avery County High Schools and an assistant coach regarded as perhaps the greatest recruiter in collegiate history at Gardner-Webb, Austin Peay, Georgia Tech, Georgia and Auburn; Bobby Jones, former

University of North Carolina and NBA Hall of Fame player with the Denver Nuggets and Philadelphia 76ers; and Luke Hancock, who played for the University of Louisville after transferring from George Mason University. While at Louisville, he was named the NCAA Final Four's Most Outstanding Player, becoming the first substitute to ever win the award. He currently works for ESPN as a studio analyst for the ACC Network.

In addition to Garrett and Morris, several coaches and players from Avery County High School men’s and women’s teams as well as from other schools, have assisted with the camp various times throughout its existence.

All coaches, players, and support associates who work or have worked the camp have joined Burleson to complete its instructional corps nucleus, giving participants first-hand insight and training from those who best know what it takes to help them improve their game and win in highlycompetitive atmospheres.

“I’ve been a clinician and counselor at Tommy’s camp for many

Campers are exposed to basketball instruction and motivation that benefits beginners and experienced players alike.
Photo by Ashley Poore.

years, and I look forward to it each year,” Thompson said. “The camp always has some very good players who love the game, have good work ethics, and fully devote themselves to becoming the best players they can be. The Tommy Burleson Basketball Camp is such a worthwhile and big-time event, and I encourage all players who can attend it to do so.”

Skyelar Crowder, son of Danny and Norma Crowder of the Pineola community of Avery County, is one of the hundreds, or even thousands, who have attended the Tommy Burleson Basketball Camp. He will do so again this year and says he has learned most of what he knows about the game while attending the camp. "I've had a great time every year I've been part of the camp, and I've learned all about the fundamentals of offense and defense there. I've become a better dribbler, shooter, passer, and defender each time I've been to the camp. Every experience I’ve had there has been awesome," said Crowder, who will turn 10 years old on July 19 (the third day of the basketball camp) and attends Williams Academy (Elementary School) in the Crossnore Township of Avery County.

Camp History

The first Tommy Burleson Basketball Camp was held in 1983, and it would be in year number 41 this year if it had not been canceled for 2020 due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

“I wanted to do something good for the community and help further develop youth basketball players, and that’s how my idea to host a yearly camp originated,” Burleson shared. “Players can get high-volume basketball from a teaching standpoint and learn fundamentals at it. For me, it’s also like servicing the community. Some who attended my camps years ago are now in their 40s or 50s and have sent their kids or grandchildren to it.”

Little has changed in the Tommy Burleson Basketball Camp in its 40 years.Campers compete in the same drills and games. The only major change has been moving from the Avery County High School gymnasium to the old Newland High School gymnasium – less than a mile away.

I really hope the camp can be held for many years to come, the Good Lord willing. As long as the campers continue to sign up and show interest and I'm physically able to hold it, we will continue to have it.
40 years later, Tommy Burleson continues to conduct his basketball camp. Photo by Ashley Poore. Tommy Burleson leads an exercise session during camp. Photo by Ashley Poore.
The camp is designed to help players build on their skills. Photo by Ashley Poore.

“The basketball camp has kind of been my baby,” Burleson proclaimed. “I take the technical lessons I learned playing basketball and help instill to my campers the proper ways to play the game.

“The biggest excitement for me as camp director is seeing the growth from Monday to Friday. For example, a kid comes into camp and can’t use his or left hand well. He or she wants to learn how. Then on a Thursday or Friday, he or she is coming down the court using their left hand effectively. You just want to make the players better every day of the camp. Things like that are most important to me in teaching the game. The campers enjoy learning, and it’s always rewarding to see the smiles on their faces after they have

learned more about how to play, how to improve their play, and how to excel at the game.”

Burleson continued, “I always look forward to the camp each year. I really couldn’t tell you how excited I was getting back to having the camp in 2021 after missing it the year before, and of course, I’m as excited about this year’s camp as any I’ve ever had.”

After being asked if he ever thought the camp would make it as long as it has, Burleson said: "I'm not sure anyone would think a camp would last for 40 years, especially in a small, rural county like Avery. But it has grown in popularity during its existence and word of mouth, advertisements, and media articles about

it has helped attract a large number of campers each year."

He shared that he also attributes his camp's longevity to the fact that it is different than many camps. It continues to go five days, although its campers can go back to their homes each day. And any player or aspiring player within its age eligibility can attend. For years, most basketball camps have been held on college campuses, operated by college coaches, with kids staying in dormitory rooms and spending most of their days and nights in a gymnasium. Some camps limit enrollment to elite players. Others are run by shoe companies and are used as showcases where college coaches search for future recruits.


Tommy Burleson is part of one of Avery County's most prominent families. He is the son of the late Loren and the late Billie Ware Burleson of Newland and is married to the former Denise Roberts Burleson from Seattle, Washington. They have three sons – Robert, of New York, New York; Quentin (fiancé, Deborah), of Spruce Pine, North Carolina; and David (wife, Nicole), who resides in Newland. Tommy and Denise Burleson have two grandchildren – Conor and Nora.

Tommy Burleson also has three sisters: the late Lynda Burleson Wise (husband, Robert), Connie Burleson Greene (husband, Ted) of Boone, and Martha Burleson Buchanan (husband, Bruce) of Newland.

The State of North Carolina, Avery County, and the High Country have received much positive notoriety as a result of Burleson’s basketball achievements. He is a true goodwill ambassador for Avery County and the North Carolina High Country, never forgetting where he came from and proudly proclaiming such to all those from outside the county and region with whom he comes in contact.

When his basketball playing career concluded, Burleson returned to his home county, where he operated a successful electrical supply business, raised Christmas trees, and served as Director of Planning and Inspections for 28 years (1994 until retiring in 2022). He also served two terms as an Avery County Commissioner and is an ordained Minister of the Gospel. He has been part of several Gospel mission trips to Africa.

Burleson has served on the Board of Directors of the Baptist Childrens Home in Thomasville, NC and the Black Mountain (NC) Home for Children. In the latter post, he also served with Ruth Graham, wife of world renowned minister Billy Graham.

Burleson has received citations commemorating his exemplary and long-time service to the county and state through his professional government, civic and community

work as well as his famous basketball-playing feats. Those include: the Old North State Award from current North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper, a service achievements certificate from the North Carolina Department of Insurance and a state flag that was flown over the North Carolina Capitol building in Raleigh with a framed certificate of such designation.

The Old North State Award is presented from the state’s governor to recognize “dedication and service beyond expectation and excellence to the Great State of North Carolina.” Recipients must have 20 years of service to the state. Burleson has also received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National 4-H Foundation, a United Statesbased network of youth organizations whose mission is "engaging youth to reach their fullest potential while advancing the field of youth development.” Its name is a reference to the occurrence of the initial letter H four times in the organization's original motto "head, heart, hands, and health.”

The North Carolina Recreation and Park Association named Burleson as its 2016 Special Citation Award Winner, which honors an individual who has demonstrated an outstanding interest in and dedication to the field of recreation and parks, or has made a contribution to the advancement of the recreation and parks profession.

The Avery County Board of Education, Avery County High School and old Newland High School have also honored Burleson with various acclamations for his basketball and other achievements that have given each much positive acclaim.

Additionally, the Avery County Board of Commissioners have also presented Burleson with proclamations and other commendations honoring his longtime service and contributions to the county. t


“Years ago, basketball camps were held for usually a week during the summer just as mine are and have been,” Burleson said.

“Currently, some camps run longer and travel teams and AAU (Amateur Athletic Union) teams, which includes some that travel and some that do not, play for several straight weeks. Some high school coaches in the region also have their own summer programs. My camp doesn’t interfere with any other camps, AAU or travel teams. Mine’s emphasis has remained on the younger kids who play on, or want to play on teams. But regardless of their age, kids nowadays are plugged-in unlike any generation before. Some like to occasionally ‘get away from it all’ just like adults. And they can still do that at my camp.”

Burleson continued, “It’s a refreshing week for the kids who attend my camp. They can leave their cell phones, tablets, iPods, laptops, or toys, depending on their ages, and enjoy the benefit of a good basketball experience while improving their game and making new friends.”

The Camp’s Future

With 40 years of the Tommy Burleson Basketball Camp soon to be in the books,

what does the future hold for it?

"I really hope the camp can be held for many years to come, the good Lord willing," Burleson said. "As long as the campers continue to sign up and show interest, and I'm physically able to hold it, we will continue to have it. I'm 71 years old, but a young 71. I feel like I have several more good years to direct the camp, and I will be grooming others to take it over after I retire from doing it."

He added that players have continued to attend it because "there is no question that our camp has created a unique spirit that emphasizes many of the tangible qualities that are important for basketball success, but also because it can help young men and young women in any walk of life that he or she chooses. As a result, our campers look forward to their experience at it to be reaffirmed in their character development and motivational lessons."

For further information about the Tommy Burleson Basketball Camp, phone the Avery Parks and Recreation Department at (828) 733-8266. t


“You Are Stronger Than You Think” Remembering Leigh Cooper Wallace

Leigh Cooper Wallace was a young woman who will never be forgotten in the High Country. Her sudden death, from MRSA pneumonia at the age of 43, on December 17, 2012, left the area stunned that one so healthy, so vibrant and strong, could be taken so quickly.

Her death left not only her family and closest friends in shock, but it swept a wave of deep sorrow throughout the entire area, especially Watauga High, Appalachian State University, and the local sports community, in general.

She was a daughter, sister, wife, mother, and friend to many. She was a champion athlete, a Hall of Fame coach, a beloved teacher and mentor. Her energy and zest for life was evident in everything she did.

To say that she was also an advocate and role model for victims of violence and sexual assault is an understatement, but it was true. She was that — and so much more. The impact she had on the High Country was evidenced by the almost 3,000 people who attended her visitation and memorial service at the Watauga High School gymnasium.

The list of her accomplishments and acknowledgments is lengthy; she was recognized while living, and after her death, the accolades continued.

“As a student at Appalachian State, she survived a terrible ordeal at the hands of a rapist and would-be serial killer,” said her father, Claude Cooper. “She managed to escape, to assist local authorities in locating this killer, and her riveting testimony at trial ensured that he would never walk the streets of Boone again.”

It was the wish of her family, and especially her father, that Wallace’s life be remembered for what it was.

After the assault, Leigh finished her education, earning her degree in exercise science and becoming one of the greatest track and cross-country athletes in the history of Appalachian State University. She was subsequently inducted into the App State Athletic Hall of Fame.

Leigh went on to become a Hall of Fame coach at Watauga High, as she coached cross-country and track for 10 years, and was the first girl’s lacrosse coach at Watauga. Leigh was also a member of the Watauga County Sports Hall of Fame.

Claude Cooper eventually wrote a book about the life of his daughter. But, he said, it all began even before her death — and with her help.

“We began the project in the summer of 2012, after I had begun talking to her about writing a book,” he shared. “I felt that she had a powerful story to tell and

Leigh Cooper Wallace, pictured here with daughter, Haleigh was always on the run, instilling in her children at an early age that health and physical fitness was a way of life. Photo submitted
We began the project in the summer of 2012, after I had begun talking to her about writing a book. I felt that she had a powerful story to tell and I knew that she also wanted to make a difference in other people’s lives.

I knew that she also wanted to make a difference in other people’s lives.”

But Leigh didn’t feel like she had time to commit to writing, her father recalled.

“After being featured in several magazine articles and in two television specials, and with overwhelming positive feedback, she finally decided to do the book, with my help,” Cooper stated. “She would narrate her story into a cassette each evening, and then bring me the tape to type into my computer. The plan was that once we had it all on the computer, we would start organizing and editing a script.”

When she died a short time later, Leigh had already shared much about her life through those cassettes, having dictated details of her childhood years, right up through her kidnapping, assault, and the following trial.

Finding Strong – The Life Story of Leigh Cooper Wallace

As the first of four children born to Claude and Louise Cooper, Leigh was always considered a determined individual; she adapted well to many life changes in her younger years, including

frequent moves due to her father’s military career and his ascent up the ladder to U.S. Army Lt. Colonel. Leigh inherited discipline, strength, integrity, and many more traits from her parents. Both were athletic and hailed from rather large families.

“Family was, and still is, the most important thing in our lives,” said Cooper.

Leigh Martin Cooper was born at Coco Solo Hospital on August 12, 1969, while her father’s special forces unit was assigned to the Panama Canal Zone. “She was a beautiful baby at 9 lbs. 3 oz.; 16 months later, her sister, Julia Louise Cooper, was born.

Life was great in Panama for a young couple with two infant children. In the meantime, Claude received orders for his second duty in Vietnam; Louise and the girls went to stay with her family in South Carolina. Missing a year in the lives of his two daughters was troubling, he admitted.

Soon thereafter, their moves began as a military family — Fort Benning, GA., Fort Bragg, NC., Altoona, PA. and back to Fort

Bragg. And that was just the beginning. The subsequent arrivals of a third daughter, Holley, and their son, Graig, completed the Cooper family.

Leigh Cooper Wallace was a winner either way, on and off the field. Photo submitted.
The cover of the book, “Finding Strong,” written by Claude Cooper, with Leigh Cooper Wallace, shows a determined young woman doing what she did best. Photo submitted.

At age 11, while in Puerto Rico, Leigh began to focus on swimming, pushing herself “as hard as I could go,” she said. In eighth grade, she began running with her dad, who did so competitively at that time. It was a high school cross-country coach who told Claude. “She may be a good swimmer, but with all due respect, sir, she’s a runner.”

Leigh realized it, too.

“Occasionally, I ran alone at night. I’m a night person, and in the evening hours, I get

a lot done. . . It was liberating for me to run (at night); no one could see me, and I ran faster at night. Living on an Army base, I felt secure and wasn’t concerned whether it was safe to run outside at night. One night I ran by a big bush and I remember thinking ‘What would I do, how would I react, if a man jumped from behind this bush to attack and rape me?’ At that age, I was old enough to know that rape happened to women. I knew it was a horrible thing, terrifying and awful. I remember thinking ‘I hope it never happens to me.’”

In the meantime, Cooper recognized his daughter’s “exceptional ability.”

In another of her tapes, Leigh said, “Looking back on my youth, I can see there was no way that I, or any of my siblings, could grow up and not be athletes. Everything we did revolved around athletic competition, either us kids competing, or mom and dad.”

After having this realization, she really kicked into high gear running, training, competing — and winning.

Leigh had a high tolerance for pain, and while that tolerance helped her in her training, it also spelled trouble for her body. At one point she damaged her knee so badly that she had to have surgery.

Leigh also struggled with body image issues, her upper body having been made wider and stronger from swimming. After surgery, she decided to

Leigh beginning the Summer Breeze 5K in Charlotte, NC. Photo submitted.
Looking back on my youth, I can see there was no way that I, or any of my siblings, could grow up and not be athletes. Everything we did revolved around athletic competition, either us kids competing, or mom and dad.
An early Cooper family photo, including Graig, Holley, Louise, Leigh, Julie and Claude. Photo submitted.

Walk For Awareness; A Significant Impact

In 1989, after the kidnapping of two young women associated with Appalachian State University, one of whom was murdered, campus leaders came together to start the annual "Walk for Awareness" on the first Tuesday of each September.

It was initially held in memory of Jeni Gray and to honor survivors like Leigh Cooper-Wallace, who took an active part in the walk and was keynote speaker for its first 10 years.

“Leigh had a huge impact in the success of this walk for a number of years,” said Barbara Daye, now retired Dean of Students at ASU, who originally conceptualized the Walk for Awareness with the support of Chancellor John Thomas, several of her colleagues, and the students of App State

“It was important to me that we remembered Jeni and that we remembered how we felt when she disappeared. It was also important that we never forgot the sacrifices made by Leigh Cooper [Wallace] and the fact that had she not survived, we would never have known the full story and seen justice prevail.”

Daye participated in the walk for many years, even after her retirement in 2002, and was sad when it ultimately ended in recent years.

“I thought it was a positive way to begin a school year, a way for us to come together as a community. It was also a way for the students to learn about available services and resources. It was

also important to hear people, like Leigh, speak about what had happened with them and most importantly, how they overcame the notion of ‘I'm no longer a victim, I'm now a survivor."

That message, Daye added. “brought hope to people, young women and young men alike. After Leigh spoke each year, she would be surrounded by a large group of people who just flocked to her. She was just that way. She was one of the most amazing people I’ve ever met in my life.”

“The community and campus support was great,” Daye recalled. “The walk through town, to the Jones House, with candles at first, and then later, flashlights provided by the parents’ association, sent a strong message. When we lifted those candles together, the light shone brighter and it was such a comforting feeling. I often said ‘No amount of darkness can snuff out the light of one small candle.’”

The event eventually changed “into something totally different,” Daye described. “And then it just disappeared, maybe because of Covid.”

After the trial, Daye and prosecutor Tom Rusher nominated Leigh for NC Woman of the Year. “She was one of the finalists. I took her to Raleigh, where she told her story. Everyone was crying. She influenced people everywhere she went. One day, I told Leigh that she was my hero. That’s just one of many things I learned from her — to let people know if they have made a difference in your life.” t

The 2013 Walk for Awareness, where students, faculty, and other university officials participated in a silent walk to remeber victims of violence. Photo by Ken Ketchie.

work on that “image.” Eating very little and losing weight, she developed an obsession with food. She lost weight and she gained weight, the latter affecting her running, resulting in shin splints and stress


She was unable to run cross-country at Leavenworth High the first year after her family had moved to Kansas, which was her junior year.

During her senior year, Leigh knew that if she was going to college as an athlete, it would be as a runner. She began setting

goals — dealing with her weight and food issues as best she could, winning races, gaining attention and again, shattering records.

During her senior year, Leigh was invited to visit several schools — including colleges in Kansas and Missouri. The small college town of Boone, however, was most intriguing; “a good fit for her,” Claude shared, with a good running program and in North Carolina, where he was considering for retirement.

After visiting ASU and chatting with Coach John Weaver, Leigh applied and was accepted. Her food obsession followed her, resulting in more disappointment in the beginning. She eventually overcame the disorder and was once again setting and breaking records.

Claude became a professor of military science and commander of the army ROTC at App State; Louise began teaching in the public schools.

Life was good for the Coopers. Leigh met a young man, Chris Wallace, and the two soon became connected — for the rest of her life.

Never far from their hearts, Leigh’s son Jacob, husband Chris, and daughter Haleigh, visit Mount Lawn Cemetery and the final resting place of their dear wife and mother. Photo submitted.
One of several reminders that the impact Leigh had on the High Country will never be forgotten. Photo submitted.

She vowed to make the best of it — to consider herself a survivor, not a victim. She also wanted her new life to be impactful.

A Survivor, Not A Victim

Things changed in late 1989. While a student at ASU, Leigh was abducted and raped by a man, who five days earlier, had abducted and brutally murdered another young woman. After three hours of physical and mental torture, Leigh managed to escape. She provided key evidence which allowed authorities to quickly capture her abductor, and her testimony resulted in the death sentence for this killer. Realizing

New App State Scholarship Helps Keep Leigh’s Memory Alive

The legacy of Leigh Cooper Wallace will live on for a long time to come. Thanks to the insight and encouragement of Barbara Daye, former Dean of Students at Appalachian State University, a college scholarship has recently been established in her memory.

Daye first met Leigh and her family after Leigh’s assault. “What a horrible ordeal that was for her. But, I saw strength in her and I saw strength in her family. I saw how she wanted to reach out to other people, to remind them that she was not a victim, and she didn’t want anyone else to be a victim.”

Daye continued, “Leigh was my hero, and in my opinion, she stopped a serial killer. That’s a powerful thing right there.”

After Wallace’s death, Daye said she began to realize just how much the young woman had done for the community, for Watauga High School, and for the university in her short lifetime. “I just felt that something was missing. I began to talk to her family about the possibility of a scholarship, and they were all in.”

Daye continued, “Her mother, Louise, told me that one thing Leigh always wanted was to be remembered. And yes, we all agree — she must be remembered.”

Leigh’s parents began talking about it, and with the help of Daye and Katie Pate, Assistant Athletic Director for Development (at App State), it is nearing reality.

“There is no doubt in my mind that, if Leigh were alive today, she would be one of App State’s most ardent supporters,” Cooper said.

The endowment will provide an annual scholarship in the amount of $1,000 to a member of App State’s Track and Field team, with preference to a student majoring in education. The scholarship is scheduled to begin with the 2024-2025 academic year.

“At this time, we are soliciting pledges (of funds) to create the endowment,” said Cooper. “In order to activate the endowment, we must reach a goal of $25,000 by December 31 of this year.”

Once the goal has been met, information will be sent to donors on how to submit funds, Copper added.

Pledges toward the scholarship should be sent to Claude Cooper by email at cooperce67@gmail.com or mailed to 113 Knollwood Drive, Clemson, SC 29631. t

The Rock at Watauga High School, December 17, 2012, honoring Leigh on the day of her untimely death. Photo submitted.

she had been given a second chance on life, Leigh took control of her eating issues, resumed her college studies, and became one of the greatest runners in ASU history.

Cooper shared. “She vowed to make the best of it — to consider herself a survivor, not a victim. She also wanted her new life to be impactful.” And it was.

Leigh finished college, and in her senior year won four individual Southern Conference championships in track, to include the 3,000- 5,000- and 10,000-meter races, over a two-day period.

After graduation, Leigh coached high school cross-country for ten years at Watauga High School, producing four state champion teams and six state runner-up teams. She became an advocate for victims, speaking at numerous rallies and events, featured on national TV and in magazines. She was also a beloved high school teacher, a loving wife to Chris, and mother to their two children, Jacob and Haleigh, and a beacon of light admired and followed by an ever-increasing fan club, of sorts.

Leigh was passionate about running, not just for racing, but training, as well, Cooper described. “Any runner that Leigh coached will tell you that she carried that passion over into her coaching.”

About two years after her death, Cooper said, he decided that he could not let her story die.

It was Leigh's story, and he wanted her to tell it, Cooper concluded. “Unfortunately, it didn't work out that way. Even though Leigh died, the story survived, thanks to Louise, who not only encouraged me to keep it alive, but contributed significantly to it. I'm grateful to all the others, too, who contributed and offered their support. I always believed this would be a powerful story.”

Leigh’s sister, Holley, came up with the title, “Finding Strong,” Cooper said. “Leigh’s favorite saying was, ‘You’re stronger than you think.’ Sometimes, it just takes a little digging to find that strength that we all have inside of us.”

While he believes every young woman should read “Finding Strong,” Cooper said he would caution parents to use their judgment as to age-appropriateness for young children.

“Leigh’s description of the terror she went through during her assault is graphic. She wanted readers to know that what she endured was brutal, but she was able to survive, put it behind her, and speak about it without any feeling of guilt or shame.”

The Coopers will always treasure the love and support their family received from


Words from ASU Track Coach, John Weaver

"Defining moments expose our character, courage, cowardice, and other aspects of our inner self. Leigh Cooper Wallace experienced her defining moment that changed her life and influenced a multitude of people who heard or read her story. She exposed within herself a reaction to the most primal of circumstances; survival or perish from the actions of a psychopathic killer.

From her ordeal, she became a strong example of the strength of a woman in overcoming her greatest challenge to survive through resolve, commitment to life, and patience. Leigh was not going to be a statistic; she was determined to be counted as a survivor. During her kidnapping, she saw the body of a previous victim, which clued her into her potential future. She calmly and methodically prepared herself for death or life. She succeeded in accomplishing life. Sadly,

much later pneumonia took her life. A great loss, yet she is still an influence to us all.

Subsequent to her ordeal, Leigh used her acclaim to encourage us all to face our fears and never give up. We should strive every day to make things happen. She took her advice and brought it with her in teaching and coaching. She exemplified the mantra of facing your fears and successfully shared this with her students, athletes, friends and the world through guest appearances in various media. A spirit that encouraged, inspired, and challenged all within her influence.

Her story continues to touch everyone who reads or listens to it. Her defining moment brought out the best in her and inspires us all to seek out the best in ourselves in all our moments.” t

friends in Watauga County in the days and years following Leigh's death, Claude said. “Your compassion makes us strong. Louise and I are also grateful to our Clemson friends who have supported us and allowed us to begin a new life after the one we loved so much came to an end. You've enabled us to live and love and laugh again.”

The Cooper and Wallace families reluctantly moved away from “Cooper Ridge,” as they called their mountain home near Todd. They didn’t want to leave Leigh behind, but it was best for all to get a new start, they agreed. Leigh’s parents have found their niche in Clemson, SC where they first met; Chris has lived in Charlotte since 2013. Jacob “Jake” and his wife, Jordan Horvath, currently live in Michigan with their two children, Lynleigh, age 7, and Keenan, age 3.

Haleigh and her husband, Rob Parker, live near Durham where they are part owners and managers of a gym.

Finding Strong is available at Amazon. com — $16.00 for paperback, $4.49 for Kindle version. Signed copies by Cooper are available by request with additional shipping charges. t

Leigh’s favorite saying was, ‘You’re stronger than you think.’ Sometimes, it just takes a little digging to find that strength that we all have inside of us.






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Second Boonerang Music & Arts Festival Sees Success

The streets of downtown Boone once again came alive with thousands of people enjoying performances and activities at the second annual Boonerang Music & Arts Festival, which took place June 15-17.

Presented by the Town of Boone and supporting partners after many months of planning, the free event was deemed a huge success by musicians, art vendors, festival staff, and attendees alike.

“It was so great to see the community come together once again – from the staff, volunteers, organizations, vendors, musicians, artists, and attendees – Boonies came out in full spirit and stride to help make the second Boonerang Music & Arts Festival a success,” said Mark Freed, Director of Cultural Resources for the Town of Boone.

Named after a common term that refers to those who spend time in Boone, leave for a bit, and eventually find their way back, Boonerang is all about celebrating the town and appreciating everything it has to offer.

“The whole emphasis of Boonerang is bringing the community together; I think it worked!” shared Kali Roberts, owner of Gold Dust Creative – one of the many artist vendors that was present during the event.

Roberts continued, “I really enjoyed it. It was awesome. I had a lot of people come in and interact. I met a lot of new people. As a craft vendor, I enjoy meeting other craft vendors, too. It’s been a really fun thing to do. I met so many cool, new people

– so many good talents.”

For some people, it was their first time attending the celebration, whereas for others, it was their second homecoming.

Rachael Salmon of Rachael Salmon Photography described, “This was my second year, and I’m very happy to have been there. I was so grateful for the sunshine and the community; it was good to see everyone.”

Being blessed with beautiful weather, the festival featured a diverse artist vendor market along with a plethora of food trucks, a kids’ zone, and live music at various stages. However, that’s not all.

Freed stated,“I really loved the addition of Boonerang International, the Dance Lot, the Story Slam, and the Mellow Lounge this year, all of which we look forward to continuing in the years to come.”

Freed continued, “All of the smiles, love, and positive vibrations reassure us that we need to bring Boonerang back for a third year next June.”

Planning for the third annual event, which will take place the third week in June, is already underway.

“It’s a really cool event,” said Kelly Mosenfelder, owner of Barefoot and Brazen. “I think it’s good for the town. It’s just going to get bigger.”

Freed declared, “Huge THANK YOU to everyone involved, and we can’t wait to Boonerang with everyone in 2024!” t

Thousands of people enjoyed musical performances at the second annual Boonerang Music & Arts Festival on June 15-17. Photo by Eric Rayburn.

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