HC Magazine April 2017

Page 1

Volume 12 • Issue 4 April / May 2017

Here Comes

SUMMER Blowing Rock Peggy Sellers Remembers

Honoring Our Vets Plans For A Memorial

Martial Arts Flourish News Hound Bertie Burleson April / May 2017

High Country Magazine


DI A N N E DAVA N T & A S S O C I AT E S E x c el l enc e B y Des ig n S inc e 1 9 7 9



M A R G A R E T H A N D L E Y,





B A N N E R E L K , N O RT H C A R O L I N A 8 2 8. 898 . 9 8 87 P O RT S A I N T L U C I E , F L O R I DA 7 7 2. 344 . 3 1 90

W W W. D A VA N T - I N T E R I O R S . C O M W W W. D A VA N T - I N T E R I O R S . C O M B

High Country Magazine

April / May 2017



1. Piedmont Federal’s staff does not receive incentive pay or bonuses for opening your account. 2. You will pay no ATM fees, anywhere in the world. 3. Your mortgage loan is not sold to another bank. AW]Z UWZ\OIOM TWIV WNÅKMZ Q[ [ITIZQML VW\ WV KWUUQ[[QWV AW]Z UWZ\OIOM TWIV Q[ WZQOQVI\ML IVL KTW[ML I\ \PM WNÅKM _Q\P the person who helped you through the loan process. 6. Piedmont Federal has no stockholders - we are accountable to you, not to Wall Street. 7. Piedmont Federal was founded locally and has remained local. 8. You can expect competitive mortgage rates, minimal fees, a variety of mortgage loan options, no surprises, and a simple application process. 9. Your credit score does not determine the interest rate on your mortgage loan. 10. Your rights don’t end there - straightforward, commonsense banking is real at Piedmont Federal.

Our commitment to our customers is what makes us different.

Live Local. Bank Local. 828.264.5244 | piedmontfederal.com | ©2017 Piedmont Federal Savings Bank | MEMBER FDIC April / May 2017

High Country Magazine


�,��� ACRES

��� AV E R A G E T E M P.


E L E VAT E YO U R L I V I N G Linville Ridge, a luxury country club community near Blowing Rock, boasts award-winning golf, tennis, sophisticated dining venues and social events to fill every calendar. With home opportunities ranging from cottages to custom estates, at The Ridge the possibilities are endless. Visit our models open daily | From $950,000

linvilleridge.com | 828.898.5151 Home and community information, including pricing, included features, terms, availability and amenities, are subject to change, prior sale or withdrawal at any time without notice or obligation. Drawings, photographs, renderings, video, scale models, square footages, floor plans, elevations, features, colors and sizes are approximate for presentation purposes only and may vary from the homes as built. Home prices refer to the base price of the house and do not include options or premiums, unless otherwise indicated for a specific home. Nothing on our website should be construed as legal, accounting or tax advice. Sotheby’s International Realty® and the Sotheby’s International Realty logo are registered service marks used with permission. Each office is independently owned and operated. Equal Housing Opportunity.


High Country Magazine

April / May 2017



PREMIERSIR.COM/ID/39203589 828.295.0776

Contact us today for a consultation on how your home can be marketed in the Carolinas and around the world. 877.539.9865 PREMIERSOTHEBYSREALTY.COM Blowing Rock | 828.295.0776 Asheville | 828.277.3238

Charlotte | 704.248.0243

Linville Ridge | 828.898.5151

Banner Elk | 828.898.5022

Lake Norman | 704.727.4170

Uwharrie Lakes | 336.461.1044

Sotheby’s International Realty® and the Sotheby’s International Realty logo are registered service marks used with permission. Each office is independently owned and operated. Equal Housing Opportunity. Property information herein is derived from various sources including, but not limited to, county records and multiple listing services, and may include approximations. April / May 2017 High Country Magazine 3 All information is deemed accurate.






537 N. Main St. - Across from Chetola Resort (828) 295-4200

Exclusive styling that takes you from work to evening & into the weekend 4

High Country Magazine

April / May 2017

April / May 2017

High Country Magazine




Jim Morton


Honoring Watauga’s Soldiers


Bertie – The Avery Newshound


For the Body and Mind


Mrs. Robbins’ Take on Blowing Rock

Kinney Baughman reflects on the life of his buddy, Jim Morton, who died unexpectedly at the age of 65 on April 1. Lover of Grandfather Mountain and founder of the Woolly Worm Festival, Morton was known for his “inexhaustible creativity.”


The local chapter of the Military Officers Association of America is partnering with the Town of Boone and Watauga County to build a veterans memorial along King Street in downtown Boone.

From cub reporter to publisher, Bertie Burleson has been writing about the happenings in her native Avery County since the early ‘70s. She’s covered it all from murders to presidential visits.


Since Bruce Lee popularized martial arts in the United States in the ‘70s, the High Country continues to offer a variety of traditional and hybrid martial arts classes: Kung Fu, Taekwondo, Aikido, Capoeira, Tang Soo Do and Mixed Martial Arts.

Peggy Robbins Sellers was born to the local “Father of Tourism,” Grover Robbins Sr. and Lena, in downtown Blowing Rock in 1931. She remembers when Main Street had about four gas stations and downtown residents were allowed to raise livestock.


Preserving the Grand Dame


The F-Stops Here

Built in 1891 on the Eastern Continental Divide, the fate of the Green Park Inn didn’t look very good until two brothers, commercial real estate developers from Long Island, N.Y., purchased the Blowing Rock hotel.

42 58

Now in its 14th year and a part of the local Banff Film Festival World Tour, the Appalachian Mountain Photography Competition continues to impress as one of the premiere photography competitions in the Southeast.

on the cover Valle Crucis Rainbow This photo was taken in Valle Crucis by Lynn Willis. Lynn focuses on portraying outdoor sports and lifestyle images specific to the Blue Ridge Mountains. Lynn believes the High Country of North Carolina is an ideal playground and training ground for adventure. Visit his website at: www.lynnwillis.com 6

Photo by Lynn Willis of High South Creative High Country Magazine

April / May 2017



The first High Country Press newspaper was published on May 5, 2005, and the first issue of High Country Magazine went to press in fall 2005. In March of 2012 the newspaper made the transformation to an online newspaper at our new website: www.HCPress.com. Our new “webpaper” is still packed with information that we present and package in easy-to-read formats with visually appealing layouts. Our magazine represents our shared love of our history, our landscape and our people. It celebrates our pioneers, our lifestyles, our differences and the remarkable advantages we enjoy living in the mountains. Our guiding principles are twofold: quality journalism makes a difference and customer care at every level is of the greatest importance. Our offices are located in Boone, and our doors are always open to welcome visitors.



Featuring Sienna by SCHLOSSBERG and other fine bed and bath linens from around the world. Presented by DEWOOLFSON, manufacturers of European-inspired down bedding in the High Country. © 2017 DEWOOLFSON Down Int’l., Inc. Photo courtesy of SCHLOSSBERG




Our magazine is a wonderful way for businesses to advertise to our readers. Our magazines tend to stay around for a long time, on coffee tables and bed stands, and shared with family and friends. To find out about advertising, call our offices at 828264-2262.


Back issues of our magazines are available from our office for $5 per issue. Some issues are already sold out and are no longer available.


Photography and page reprints are available for purchase. For sizing, prices and usage terms, please call our office. Some photos may not be available and some restrictions may apply.


Writers and photographers may send queries and samples to the editor at hcmag@highcountrypress.com.

Contact us at:

High Country Press/Magazine P.O. Box 152 1600 Highway 105 Boone, NC 28607 www.hcpress.com info@highcountrypress.com 828-264-2262


natural. comfortable. home. 9452 NC Hwy. 105 S between Boone & Banner Elk



dewoolfson April / May 2017

High Country Magazine


April / May 2017

High Country Magazine


Calendar of Events april 2017


The History of Tweetsie Railroad, Blowing Rock Art and History Museum, 828-295-9099


“Brothers Like These” Reading, Plemmons Student Union, Appalachian Veterans Arts and Humanities Collective, 828-262-2337


From Fresh Chèvre to Bloomy Rinds: Cheesemakers of WNC, Blowing Rock Art and History Museum, 828-295-9099


SAVOR Blowing Rock, Food and Wine Festival, Downtown Blowing Rock, www.savorblowingrock.com


Cork and Canvas: Wine and Art Workshops, Blowing Rock Art and History Museum, 828-295-9099


Corkscrew & Brew 5K at Chetola, Chetola Resort, 828295-5500


High South Wedding Expo, Maple Street, Blowing Rock, www.highsouthevents.com, 336-973-5044

SAVOR food & wine festival blowing rock, april 20-23


Avery Chamber Golf Classic, Linville Golf Club, 828-898-5605


Post-Civil War Appalachia: Book Signing with Terry Roberts, Blowing Rock Art and History Museum, 828-295-9099


Making an Impact with Social Media, Wilkes Community College, 336-838-6100



Beer 101: Great NC Beers, Lost Province Brewing Co., 828-265-350

Mud, Sweat and Cheers! Fun Run and Obstacle Course, Valle Crucis School, 828-963-4712



Wake Up Watauga, Dan’l Boone Inn, www.boonechamber.com, 828-264-2225

Tyrus: The Documentary, Blowing Rock Art and History Museum, 828-295-9099



Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer, The Schaefer Center at ASU, 828-262-4046

The Annie Moses Band, The Walker Center, 336-838-6260



Black Bear Workshop, Grandfather Mountain, www.grandfathermountain.com

Blowing Rock’s Art in the Park, Park Avenue, 828-295-7851



Avery County Farmers’ Market, Historic Banner Elk School, www.averycountyfarmersmarket.net

Blowing Rock Farmers’ Market, Park Avenue, 828-295-7851



Merlefest, Wilkes Community College, www.merlefest.org

David Holt and the Lightning Bolts, Tweetsie Railroad, 877-893-3874


NC Artisan Market, Appalachian Mountain Brewery, 828-263-111


MAY 2017


Summer Exhibition Celebration, Blowing Rock Art and History Museum, 828-295-9099


First Friday Art Crawl, Downtown Boone, 828-268-6280


Hiking and Biking Open at Sugar Mountain, Sugar Mountain Resort, www.skisugar.com


Watauga County Farmers’ Market, Horn in the West, 828-355-4918


High Country Magazine

April / May 2017

Art on the Greene, Historic Banner Elk School, 828-387-0581 watauga county farmers’ market, horn in the west


25th Season

EVENTS Farmer’s Markets

Avery County Farmers’ Market will host its opening day on April 27 with fresh foods of all kinds, all locally grown. This farmers’ market takes place on Thursdays from 4:30 until 7:00 p.m. at the Historic Banner Elk School. For more information, visit http://www.averycountyfarmersmarket.net/. Starting on May 6, the Watauga County Farmers’ Market opens at the Horn in the West with local vendors throughout Watauga County. It takes place on Saturdays from 8 a.m. until noon. For more information, visit http://www. wataugacountyfarmersmarket.org/. Following this, on May 25, the Blowing Rock Farmers’ Market opens at Park Avenue with local produce and goods from farmers around the community. It takes place every Thursday from 4-6 p.m. For more information, visit www. blowingrock.com/calendar/farmersmarket.




Avery Chamber Golf Classic

2017 EXHIBITION SCHEDULE Throwback Exhibition

May 11

On Thursday, May 11, the Avery Chamber Golf Classic takes place at the Linville Golf Club. This event benefits the Avery Chamber of Commerce while also bringing together various businesses throughout the county. Not only this, but the Classic offers the opportunity to play golf where one might not usually be able to. “What’s really wonderful is this event allows people in our community to golf in a gated community where they usually wouldn’t be able to,” Melynda Pepple, Executive Director, said. The Linville Golf Club is partnering with the Avery Chamber of Commerce to bring people in the community together to play the wonderful game of golf on a beautiful, private golf course. Cost is $200 individual, $800 team, and a hole sponsor is $100 per hole. For more information, call 828-898-5605.

Featuring Norma Murphy, Gregory Smith & Tom VanNortwick June 1 - 24 5ISPXCBDL 8FMDPNF #BDL 1BSUZ t June 3, 4-6pm

Paintings & Dr awings

)FSC +BDLTPO t June 29 - July 29 Artist Talk & Book Signing – July 2, 2-4pm

20 Years In Review

3FUSPTQFDUJWF PG 5POZ (SJďO t July 13 – August 12 Artist Reception – July 15, 4-6pm

Life On Canvas

3FUSPTQFDUJWF PG /PZFT $BQFIBSU t August 2 - 26 Artist Talk & Book Signing – August 6, 2-4pm

Dpowfstbujpot!Xjui!Xjmmjbn!Evombq t August 13, 2-4pm artists invitational

/FX &NFSHJOH "SUJTUT t August 28 – October 21 Artist Gathering - September 2, 4-6pm

holiday open house!!t!!December 16, 3-5 pm

bsudfmmbspomjof/dpn!}!939.9:9.6286!}!jogpAbsudfmmbspomjof/dpn :31!Tibxoffibx!Bwfovf-!Ixz/!295-!Cboofs!Fml April / May 2017

High Country Magazine




MerleFest Reaches The Magical 30th Anniversary M

raise funds for campus theme usic lovers always look gardens, which included a forward to the final garden for the blind that days of April in the High featured aromatic plants. At Country, but this April 27 an October meeting with B, 30 will mark a historic weekDoc accepted an invitation to end for one of the country’s play a show the next month, largest music festivals. The asking that the garden for the Wilkes Community College blind be named in memory of campus will host MerleFest his son. as it celebrates its 30th year Shortly after the garden of “traditional plus” music in was renamed the Eddy Merle memory and honor of Merle Watson Garden for the SensWatson, son of Deep Gap es, the November date for music legend Doc Watson. the show was cancelled due While regulars will tell to short notice. After hearing you that the festival’s music The inaugural Eddy Merle Watson Memorial Fest audience in 1988 was a bit smaller the news, Doc told B that he and production quality has than the roughly 80,000 festivalgoers that now attend MerleFest. had multiple musicians interconsistently exceeded expecGap native’s kindness is the reason for that ested in playing in Merle’s tation since its beginning in 1988, MerleFest has certainly seen some atmosphere that continues each year at memory in April of the next year. The Eddy MerleFest. Merle Watson Memorial Festival was then considerable changes over the years. “The model for MerleFest all comes from set for April 30th and May 1st, with all Originally only an idea for a “one-time, one-night, one-man show” by Doc to raise the Watson family and how they treated of the proceeds from the festival supportmoney for a Wilkes Community College people and how they wanted to be treated,” ing the Eddy Merle Watson Garden for the Senses. theme garden for the blind, the festival now Coleman says. Wilkes Community College horticulture Since that first festival which ended with consistently attracts around 80,000 festivalgoers and brings over $10 million of busi- instructor Frederick William Townes IV, the now-yearly tradition of friends and muness to the Wilkes area each year. An event nicknamed “B,” sparked the idea for the sicians gathering onstage for a “My Friend of that scale is unusual for the High Country, first festival in 1987 when he set out to Merle” set, countless musicians and music lovers from around the world but Doc’s hands-on approach have experienced MerleF— especially in the festival’s est’s humbling atmosphere of first years — ensured Merkindness and friendship in the leFest’s success as a unique, three decades it has existed. family-friendly gathering of Luckily for music lovers friends, music lovers and feleverywhere, those who knew low musicians from around Doc and Merle pass on the the country. memory of the two legend“MerleFest is a family reary musicians with sets comunion of sorts,” says T. Mimemorating their influence chael Coleman, veteran Merin the lives and music of their leFest musician and longtime friends and fellow musicians. friend of Doc and Merle. “Every year I do a set of “Our sets almost seem secWatson family memories,” ondary to reconnecting. EvColeman says. “I’m really ery facet of the festival is conlooking forward to playnected through friendship.” ing it and being with friends Ask any musician that had again.” the honor to meet Doc and Mark O’Connor, Sam Bush, John Cowan, Tony Rice, Béla Fleck & Jerry Douglas performed during By Bailey Faulkner you’ll know that the Deep the first MerleFest in 1988. That first festival stage was made out of two flatbed trailers. 12

High Country Magazine

April / May 2017

April / May 2017

High Country Magazine



When you get serious about wanting superior, knowledgeable service in buying or selling real estate in our beautiful High Country, then contact Banner Elk’s oldest brokerage firm. Put 37 years experience in our local real estate market to work for you!


We are committed to professional service.

John D. Davis, III Owner/Broker



PO Box 336, 161 Silver Springs Dr. Banner Elk, NC 28604






Delicious Sandwiches

(Served on our homemade bread)

1JFT t $BLFT Shepherd’s Pie 4UFBL "MF 1JF $IJDLFO 1PU 1JF English Specialties


mountain High Country Press Publications Presents FAITH Magazine T

his April, High Country Magazine released a new publication, High Country Faith, in order to draw attention to the church and religious communities around the High Country area. In Faith Magazine, there are various sections focusing on numerous aspects of churches and religions in the area. For example, there is an entire section dedicated to the evolution of churches throughout time in Watauga County, centering around architecture from then to now. There is also a part of the magazine that is dedicated to exploring the history of the Baptist denomination, as well as the impact of church choirs. Along with these sections, we provide information about local organizations affiliated with food ministries and addiction recovery throughout the High Country. Faith Magazine also commemorates and honors local pastoral leaders who have served our community for more years than one could guess. Our purpose in publishing Faith Magazine was to gather as many of the incredible stories involving churches and church communities in the High Country that we could into one magazine for everyone to enjoy. It is informative, entertaining and celebrates parts of the community that too often go unnoticed. In the magazine, there are countless pictures of churches that deserve to be noticed and celebrated, as well as, numerous stories about people of faith who are working daily with one another


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

828.963.8228 www.eatcrownc.com


Dominic& Meryle Geraghty

Open Tuesday - Saturday 10 am-4 pm 9872 Hwy. 105 S. in Foscoe Serving Lunch until 3:00


High Country Magazine

April / May 2017

and the community to pursue their religion and the impact their faith can have on the lives of others. We plan on releasing an issue of Faith Magazine annually, bringing more information about surrounding churches and religions as we can to the residents of our beloved home. These are stories that need to be told about churches and religious communities in the High Country, and we hope you will join us each issue as we celebrate our mountain churches. By Katie Benfield

Stone Cavern

VISIT OUR WEBSITE! www.stonecavern.com

TILE & Stone Showroom


The High Country’s One-Stop Location for Sales • Design • Installation of Tile & Stone


Design Consultation 25 different floor displays to help you visualize your tile dreams Check Out Our GallerY on our website ®

Located in Grandfather View Village at the base of Grandfather Mountain (across from Mountain Lumber) 9872 Hwy 105

Schluter Systems



High Country Magazine


JIM MORTON 1951 - 2017

The High Country, And I, Lose A Friend Remembered by Kinney Baughman


ike his father before him, James McKay Morton was a man larger than life. We became fast friends from the moment we met some 44 years ago through our mutual friend, Bobby Tate. Jim had just become General Manager for Grandfather Mountain. He was a superb athlete in track and field as well as basketball, a sport we loved and played together many times. I was always proud to tell my friends that the legendary Dean Smith recruited Jim to play basketball at UNC Chapel Hill, where he played his freshman year. He was a talented photographer. Only Hugh Morton has taken more photos of Grandfather Mountain than Jim has. He was a remarkable poet who could turn a phrase like no other. Late in his career he turned his talents to videography and translated his love for “The Mountain” into the visually stunning and poetically beautiful “May on Grandfather Mountain”, scored by 16

High Country Magazine

From the files of Hugh Morton, Hugh often finished out rolls of film about to be developed with random family photos. In this photo, Jim, 4, wearing a coonskin cap, and his father, Hugh, sit on a fence as Grandfather looms in the background.

April / May 2017

The Carter Brothers and narrated by his friend and radio personality, Dave Carter. (Watch on YouTube.) He will forever be remembered for his inexhaustible creativity. Ideas spilled out of him like Shanty Spring flowing down Grandfather Mountain. No day was a normal day with this guy. He couldn’t turn his mind off. When we were together, our greatest joy was taking an idea and running with it, chasing it down this rabbit hole or the other, seeing where it would lead us. The fun was in the hunt and Lord knows we enjoyed the chase. Photos of Jim as a child often show him with a coonskin cap on his head, a prescient image of the pioneer he would become. The exciting new sport of hang gliding burst upon the scene in the early 70’s and Jim was immediately taken by it. As General Manager, he was instrumental in promoting it on Grandfather. Of course he, too, took up the sport.

Founder of the Woolly Worm Festival, Jim Morton participates in the inaugural festival in Banner Elk in 1978.

Jim Morton at the Very First Woolly Worm Festival in 1978 His motivation as a hang glider was to fly like one of the ra- done, mimicking Doyle’s writing style to a “T”, that he received vens above the peaks of Grandfather Mountain. That moment a letter from the Sherlock Holmes’ Society thinking he really had finally arrived in the Fall of 1975 when John Sears, one of his uncovered an old story of Sherlock Holmes! They were very exhang-gliding mentors, showed up at his doorstep when he lived at cited about the possibility of discovering a new, never heard of Anvil Rock, the small, efficiency sized house built into the side of manuscript by the great Conan Doyle. They were immensely disappointed to discover it was just Jim spinning yarns in the backa rock just above McCrae Meadows. woods of the Blue Ridge Mountains! “Today is the day, Jim. Let’s go.” What most people don’t know, though, is that he began this Jim described the flight as a “sled run”. He jumped off the old launching pad built on the other side of the Swinging Bridge, put four part serial having no idea how he would end it! Taking on the “pea patch” in his sights on the back side of the mountain and tasks bigger than himself with no idea of the end in sight was to took a bee line to the landing area. Landing without incident, he become one of his defining traits. Who in their right mind would packed up his hang-glider and never flew again. He had achieved put himself in that position? Only Jim Morton. his goal. Vintage Jim Morton. After Mountain Living, what The first major project we characterized most of his projworked on together was the old ects was his compassion. For all Mountain Living Magazine. Jim his quirks, Jim could not contain became the editor of this regional the love he had for his friends and magazine back in 1976. It ofneighbors. He would give his last fered him an outlet for expresspenny and the shirt off his back ing his love for the mountains. for a friend or neighbor in need. Among the many articles he wrote, he penned his own verOur next big undertaking tosion of a Sherlock Holmes story, gether was raising money for the “Sherlock Holmes and the Brown New River Mental Health Center. Mountain Lights”. He began the It was while working on this projstory by claiming to have found ect that he first met Doc and Merle a lost manuscript written by Dr. Watson who agreed to hold a fund Watson “in the attic of an old raising concert for the mental health house in Linville.” His rendition center. Jim nourished the relationJim, as a child, shows off his strength to George “Superman” Reeves! of these classic stories was so well ship with Doc and they became April / May 2017

High Country Magazine


at Grandfather Golf and good friends. If you called Country Club was dead Jim’s home phone in the set on starting a business late 90’s and early 2000’s, enterprise to offset the tax you would have heard Doc bill they were incurring on telling you that Jim would the thousands of acres of get back to you as soon as backcountry wilderness, he got your message. Mr. Morton saw the writOnly Jim Morton ing on the wall. He tasked would ask the legendary Jim with building an alterDoc Watson to record an nate hiking path to the top answering machine mesof Grandfather to replace sage for him! the Shanty Spring Trail, Jim was an incessant the oldest hiking trail on promoter. He so loved the mountain. The help the idea of bringing peoJim thought he would ple together for fun and have building the trail fellowship that he was didn’t materialize and afforever coming up with Jim Morton (left) and Kinnney Baughman (right) stand with two Grandfather Mountain employees on ter a year of waiting, I reideas for festivals. There Merle’s Milestones, which are large stepping stones along the Profile Trail named after Merle Watson. ceived the phone call that was the “Dog Days TolMerle’s father, Doc, and son, Richard, helped Morton and crew move the large rocks. would change my life. eration Club” to celebrate With a freshly minted Masters of Philosophy in hand, I moved the time when “dogs go crazy and love is not to be trusted.” There was the short-lived “Firefly Festival” that fizzled be- from Athens, Georgia to Seven Devils to begin the daunting task cause no one ever knew for sure when fireflies would appear each of building a four mile trail up that magical mountain. We called it “mountain sculpturing”. What an awesome opportunity. What year nor how long they would stay around after they did. But without a doubt, the festival that will forever be associated at overwhelming task. Too bad we didn’t know the first thing with Jim Morton is the Woolly Worm Festival. Back in the mid- about building a trail! But not knowing how to do something never stopped my 70’s while living in Banner Elk at the “Root Cellar”, Jim decided the town needed a town celebration. The claim that the woolly buddy, Jim Morton. I often think of that first day on the job. We didn’t know worm or “woolly bear” could predict the winter was well-known and it seemed natural the festival should be about the mystical, where the trail would begin. We didn’t know where it would end. striped worm. Brown stripes indicate warm weeks in winter. Black Randy Johnson had surveyed the property and hung flagging tape indicates snow. But the brown and black stripes on the woolly on the property boundaries. It was up to us to decide how to worm ran the gamut in any given year depending on which worm keep the trail as close to those boundaries while minimally imyou picked up or nearly ran over on the highway. How to choose pacting the rest of the land, eventually tying back into the Shanty Spring Trail once we were on Grandfather Mountain, Inc. propthe worm upon which to make the official woolly worm forecast? Why not a race and use the “winner” for the reading of the erty, where Mr. Morton was 100% owner. On July 8, 1985 we drove into the development then known “winter”? as “Adam’s Apple”, parked our cars by the house of our friend, Great! But how do you make a worm race? Jim posed this problem to many of his friends. We thought of Diane Martin, and walked into the woods, up the hill a ways to lanes in a box but dismissed the idea in short order because there the first boundary flag we saw. We threw down our backpacks, was no way to keep a worm crawling in a straight line on a flat pick mattocks and shovels. Through the trees we could barely see surface. Then one afternoon while messing around with woolly the Profile Rock. It seemed impossible that we would one day take worms in Jim’s front yard, we realized a worm would run up a the trail under that rock and beyond. One inch at a time! Shaking off the enormity of what lay before us, I looked at Jim. blade of grass if you held it up vertically. Voila! From there the idea of a racetrack using string tied to nails was born and the reality He looked at me and said, “This looks like a pretty good place to of a Woolly Worm Festival finally fell into place. Jim presented the start a trail, what do you think, Boat?” We both swung our pick mattocks into the ground at the idea to the Banner Elk Chamber same time and the Profile Trail of Commerce and the rest, as they began taking shape. say, is history. Last year, more than Again. Jim Morton starts a 17,000 people crowded into Banproject not knowing how and ner Elk to race the fabled worm. where it would end. Whodathunk thousands of A pattern was starting to depeople would travel from miles velop. around to race, of all creatures, While building the trail, Jim a worm? came up with two “legendary” Only Jim Morton. stories. The Profile Trail was by far Jim would regale the children the biggest challenge of our of our friends with the tale of lives. Once it became clear that the mysterious “Hermit on the Hugh Morton’s majority partner 18

High Country Magazine

April / May 2017

Mountain”. All anyone knew about the Hermit on the Mountain was that he was a wild, naked old man who lived in a cave somewhere high up on the cliffs. The thing was, no one had ever seen the Hermit. But, if you were lucky and looked closely enough, you might catch a glimpse of his footsteps on the trail or find traces of him in the leaves in the woods. The other tale Jim would tell is that for every day you drank from the springhead of Shanty Spring, you would add a day to your life. That you would live an extra day every time you drank from the headwaters of Shanty Spring is not an entirely unrealistic idea. For if you took the time to hike the four and a half miles it took to get to the springhead, you probably increased your cardio conditioning enough to actually live that extra day! Jim had a passion for setting and identifying records. In 1988 during the Nature Photography Weekend at Grandfather Mountain, he persuaded our friend, Carl Clayton, to attempt the Guiness Book of World Records for continuously spinning a basketball on one finger. Carl spun a basketball for 4 hours, 11 minutes and 10 seconds. That stood as the unofficial Guinness Record for nearly 20 years until it was finally broken by less than 4 minutes by Joseph Odhiambo in 2006. Clearly, Mr. Odhiambo was focused on that record, barely exceeding Carl’s time. Jim’s passion for establishing records continued when he hung up his spade and come-along and took up his pen in the main office of Grandfather Mountain, Inc. He was charged with writing the weather story every month and weather became his new obsession. There were gaps in the historical weather records at Grandfather because in bad weather it was impossible to get to the top to check the instruments. There were issues about the best placement of an anemometer to measure the wind speed. There was the sheer physical challenge of keeping the arms of a spinning anemometer in place in the brutal winter conditions at the top of the mountain. It would often freeze up in record-breaking winds and end up somewhere in Watauga County!

Jim Morton sits with his dog, Skeeter, at the very beginning of the Profile Trail. Eureka Rock is in the middle of the stream.

April / May 2017

What was the highest wind ever recorded on The Mountain? The most snow? The lowest and highest temperatures? Jim wanted to know this not only for the past month but for the entire history of weather on Grandfather. He asked me to build a weather database and connect it to the Internet ... by modem ... because that was the only option. He also wanted a program that would calculate wind speeds, averaging every three seconds as well as every five seconds to establish the three-second and five- second average the National Weather Service tabulated. He wanted these averages every second! This example of his infernal attention to detail tested the bonds of our friendship at times! Nevertheless, we pulled it off and Jim got what he wanted during the handful or so of years he wrote the weather story, and before the mountain purchased the new sonic anemometer. In “retirement”, Jim never ceased thinking about what he could do to insure The Mountain remained The Mountain. He had the Stewardship Foundation By-Laws rewritten to establish there would never be any artificial lights on top of Grandfather. I understand he has bequeathed money from his estate to bury all the power lines on the mountain, something that annoyed him to no end. Jim Morton was a friend among friends, a beloved son, brother and uncle. These words and all others written in his honor inevitably fall short of the depth, breadth and character of the man we affectionately knew as “The Mort”. His impact on our lives and these mountains is immeasurable. Those that knew him well also knew that Jim could be prickly, stubborn, obstinate. Had he not balanced the beam with his boundless compassion we may well have all severed ties years ago. But we didn’t. We wouldn’t. Never could have. For The Mort was always there for his friends. He was always there for his family. And, at one time or another, we were all on the receiving end of his limitless generosity and compassion -- always when you least expected it, usually when you needed it most. Rest in peace, my friend. You leave us with a hole in our souls that will never be filled. t High Country Magazine


COL Ben Covington III (Ret.) speaks about the Watauga County Veterans Memorial project at last fall’s Veterans Day program at the Boone Mall. High Country Chapter of Military Officers Association of America sponsors the event.

‘a memorial to remember’ Honoring Watauga County’s Veterans on the Downtown Strip BY JESSE WOOD


ast year, several former presidents of the High Country Ben Covington (Ret.) of Valle Crucis said, only members of those Chapter of Military Officers Association of America were outfits generally come across these memorials. The Watauga County Veterans’ Memorial project along King sitting around one day, brainstorming future projects that Street is a collaborawould make a longtion between the High lasting impact. They deCountry Chapter of cided on a memorial to Military Officers Ashonor veterans in downsociation of America, town Boone. the Town of Boone and Though Watauga Watauga County. Still in County has an estimated the design and fundrais3,500 veterans, no local ing stage, the project is Veterans Memorial exexpected to be complete ists in a high-traffic area in 2018, where it will be for the public to pay visible to locals, college homage to the men and students and tourists, women of Watauga who alike. “We wanted to served around the world do something that will and sacrificed back at last,” Covington said, home. Sure, the VFW “and this will last hope7031 and 1451st Army fully forever.” National Guard posts in Left to right: LtCol George Brudzinski (Ret.), Boone Mayor Rennie Brantz, COL Covington III Boone feature two monBoone Town Manager John Ward, COL Ben Covington (Ret.) stand at the future (Ret.), the lead project uments, but as Colonel site of the Watauga County Veterans Memorial in downtown Boone. 20

High Country Magazine

April / May 2017

‘Honoring Those Who Served’

April / May 2017

High Country Magazine


(Clockwise) Preparing for deployment to West Germany in 1984, COL Ben Covington III (Ret.) speaks to his troops in the 1st Tiger Brigade, 2nd Armored Division, while standing on a tank. Covington III stands with his youngest son, Senior Chief Warrant Officer Farley S. Covington, to his right and grandson, Sergeant Alex Chang, Air Force F-16 Crew Chief. Covington is pictured here during his West Point days as a 20-year-old. manager of the local MOAA, is a born-and-bred military man. in Southeast Asia. During one close call in Vietnam, Covington was a 27-year-old In the ‘40s, his father shipped out to North Africa before landing in the China-Burma-India Theatre during the Second World War. Cavalry Troop Commander of the D Troop of the 1st Squadron, Following the war, Covington and the rest of his immediate fam- 9th Cavalry Squadron in the 1st Air Cavalry Division in 1966. “We were the ready-reaction force for the 1st Air Cavalry ily joined his father in China before its civil war broke out. Division. They got into a “Once the guns startbig firefight and one of my ing warring, we moved platoons was out there, out through Hong Kong only one. The commander and back to the states to ordered me to take over New Orleans and then Fort that platoon, plus infantry Hood, Fort Knox and then company, and continue the back over to Germany,” fight. The radio operator said Covington, 78. and I mounted up, flew out After high school in there and we were about Frankfort and Nuremberg, 30 feet off the ground or Covington decided to emless and getting ready to bark on his own military jump out when we got a career. He spent a year at little closer. They opened Staunton Military Academy up on us with AK47s and in Virginia and graduated hit the pilot, wounded him, from West Point. Among and luckily the co-pilot his first assignments was [navigated] the plan up commanding a cavalry At his home in Valle Crucis, COL Ben Covington III (Ret.) sits in his study, and managed to lift it off. troop controlling the borwhich resembles a military museum, one filled with old weapons, I took a round just past the der between East and West battle flags and other artifacts from tours across the globe. shoulder that put shrapnel Germany. During active duty, Covington would serve three tours in Vietnam. He was for- in it and another right under my foot. Somehow, this guy made it tunate to make it out of Southeast Asia alive – unlike the nearly back. I thought that was one of the times I wasn’t going to make 60,000 American soldiers and hundreds of thousands of others, it back.” After his three tours in Vietnam – in between which he earned soldiers and civilians, alike, who died during the 20-year conflict 22

High Country Magazine

April / May 2017

Previous High Country Chapter of Military Officers Association of America programs honor veterans at the Boone Mall: Watauga High School Junior Marine Corps ROTC performs the Posting of Colors (left) and LtCol George Brudzinski (Ret.) honors COL Sonny Sweet (Ret.), a 30-year veteran and tireless supporter of good causes. a master’s degree in English literature from Columbia University – Covington spent more time in Germany, where he commanded a tank battalion, and Fort Hood, where he commanded the 1st Tiger Brigade of the 2nd Armored Division. He’d retire as president of the U.S. Army Training Board and would play an advisor/consultant role to the U.S., German, Iraqi, Hungarian and Albanian militaries in retirement. Covington’s home and study is filled with mementos from his service: historic weapons, battle flags, etc. A former president and current member of the High Country Chapter of Military Officers Association of America, Covington said he probably has a

“1,000 stories” from his days in the military commanding cavalry troops, battalions and brigades: “All wonderful. I wouldn’t trade one day in the army for a month anywhere else.” The High Country Chapter of Military Officers Association of America was chartered in October 2004 by several individuals: COL Sonny Sweet, COL Ben Covington, COL Don Doll, COL John Alley, COL Clem Harper and Capt. Nick Friedman. In its 10-plus years of existence, the local chapter has been awarded the MOAA 5-Star Level of Excellence Chapter, which basically means an individual chapter ranks among the elite MOAA organizations across the country.

Watauga County Veterans’ Services


atauga County Veterans’ Services Officer April Wagner estimates that Watauga County has about 3,500 veterans, a number that is increasing. Wagner has worked with veterans for 11 years now. An advocate for veterans, Wagner and her colleague, Veterans Service Assistant Karen Jones, assist in filing compensation claims, veterans and widows pension claims, dependency and indemnity compensation, burial benefits, vocational rehab applications and assist enrolling them in the VA healthcare system. For vets returning home, the areas veterans seem to need the most assistance with are looking for “easier options for health care for rural areas like Boone and finding jobs” – in addition to adjusting to life outside the military, Wagner said. The Watauga County Veterans’ Service Office is located at 331 Queen Street, Suite C. For more information, click to www.wataugacounty.org or call 828-265-8065.

(Clockwise) Navy veteran Randy Bigbee visits with Watauga County Veterans’ Services Officer April Wagner in her office. The office, which assists local vets on a number of fronts, is located near the Watauga County Courthouse. Veteran Service Assistant Karen Jones assists Wagner.

April / May 2017

High Country Magazine


Heroes on the Mountain Wounded Warrior event at Appalachian Ski Mountain (left) and Blood Sweat and Gears charity ride are examples of events that High Country Chapter of Military Officers Association of America sponsors in support of veterans The Military Officers Association of America, which has more than 370,000 members from all the branches of service, including active duty and retired, is the nation’s largest association of military officers. According to its mission statement, the MOAA advocates for a strong defense and represents the interests of military officers (and their families) at every stage of their career. The High Country Chapter sponsors or organizes a number of annual activities to support veterans. LtCol George Brudzinksi (Ret), a past president of the local MOAA chapter, noted that communities with a VA hospital or an airport are likely to meet and honor vets in those two areas. “We are a small community,

so we try to support other organizations that are military related, whether it’s the Watauga High School JROTC, the 1451st Army National Guard, ASU ROTC or other veterans organization,” Brudzinski said. The High Country Chapter of the MOAA has about 60 members. With the High Country famous as a retirement destination and with no military bases within proximity, the vast majority of local MOAA members are retired or out of the service. Brudzinksi estimated that 90 percent of the membership is retired with three former officers and three active duty officers. The High Country Chapter sponsors the “Heroes on the

Student Veterans and Higher Education at App State


he Major General Edward M. Reeder, Jr. Student Veterans Resource Center opened up on the campus of Appalachian State University last fall. The grand opening was held on Veterans Day. This center was made possible in part when ASU was awarded a $273,922 grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s Fund for Improvement of Post-Secondary Education. Dr. Lynn Gregory wrote the grant, and Mike Mayfield, vice provost for undergraduate education, is the co-manager of the grant with Gregory. Dr. Gregory, who served briefly in the U.S. Army and is chair of the ASU’s Military Affairs Committee, said the primary purpose of the grant was to help fund a Student Veterans Services coordinator position, which is now held by Eric Gormly, a six-year veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps. Gregory estimated that about 250 veterans currently attend Appalachian State, a number that she sees growing. “We’ve seen over the last five years steady growth,” Gregory said. “I expect more growth because of the Student Veterans Resource Center and other initiatives the Military Affairs Committee instituted.” The Reeder center aims to be a “one-stop” shop for veterans, offering peer-topeer mentoring, tutoring, sessions on time-management and study skills, work-study opportunities, assistance obtaining and maximizing GI Bill benefits and training sessions designed to educate faculty and staff about student veterans, according to a university release. “It’s a different culture,” Gregory said of the contrast between military and campus life. “They way they’re trained is very different than the way the education system teaches. The way they live their lives and order and sense of time and the way they relate to each other and the hierarchy of rank and organization is very different from the university and classroom,” Gregory said. “That can be very problematic and that transition has two sides to it: the student veteran transitioning to the classroom and also about the culture of higher education being more supportive and welcoming to them. That’s exactly what Appalachian has focused on since the institution of the Military Affairs Committee.”


High Country Magazine

April / May 2017

The ribbon cutting of ASU’s new Student Veterans Resource Center took place last fall on Veterans Day.

The new Student Veterans Resource Center on campus is named after Maj. Gen. Edward M. Reeder Jr.

Greystone Joins Forces With LifeStore Insurance

Dina Faulkner, Debbie Jackson, Linda Gilleland


reystone has served the High Country since 1989 and has built their business on providing a high level of personal service and professional expertise to their clients, living up to their motto–Experience the Difference.

Linda Gilleland, the founder and principal of Greystone, and Debbie Jackson, Commercial Lines Account Manager is coming on board with LifeStore. Dina Faulkner, Assistant VP and Personal Lines Manager at the Boone location of LifeStore Insurance will join them at the Greystone office. These ladies have a passion for delivering a high level of service to their clients. LifeStore Insurance is an independent insurance agency serving Boone, Elkin, Lenoir, North Wilkesboro, Sparta and West Jefferson.

A Division Of 828-264-2626 April / May 2017

High Country Magazine


LtCol George Brudzinski, an HCCMOAA board member, speaks about the proposed Watauga County Veterans Memorial at a project meeting. Brudzinski (right) was commissioned as a 2nd Lt in the Marine Corps when he was 22 in 1969 Mountain” Wounded Warrior event at Appalachian Ski Mtn. in Edward M. Reeder, Jr. Student Veterans Resource Center, the latBlowing Rock. The resort’s ski patrol hosts the event, now in ter of which was opened last semester in the Plemmons Student its 5th year. All Wounded Warriors are given complimentary lift Union. “We help whenever we can,” Brudzinski said. Like COL Covington, LtCol Brudzinksi also served in Vietpasses and ski/snowboard lessons throughout the day, which also features an official welcome, guest speaker, flag raising ceremony nam. Brudzinski graduated from his hometown school, University of Scranton, in 1969 and subsequently multiple flight schools. He and an aerial flight demonstration. In addition to other events, the group also provides volunteer was a commissioned officer in the United States Marine Corps for and financial support to the Blood Sweat and Gears charity ride in 21 years. During Vietnam, he flew Cobra helicopters. Reflecting on his service, Brudzinski said some of the posiValle Crucis, which supports injured veterans through Ride2Retive memories from covery, and Wathe military are the tauga County Relay camaraderie he had for Life, where they with other servicefly the colors, lead men. To this day the survivor lap during reunions and make a finanevery other year, he cial contribution to still meets with the fight cancer. pilots he flew with Each year, the in Vietnam. “That local MOAA puts camaraderie will on popular Veterans never leave me,” Day and Memorial Brudzinski said. He Day programming also cited the charat the Boone Mall, acter, discipline and which are usually commitment that attended by 300 to Marine Corps Cobra Squadron in Camp Pendleton, Cal., in 1973. Brudzinski is the military instills 400 people, includthird from left on the bottom row. Brudzinksi flew Cobra helicopters in Vietnam. in its personnel: ing dignitaries from “When someone in local, state and national governments. The program usually includes an inspiring the military says they are going to do something, there’s no quesspeech from an officer, and the posting and retiring of colors by tion about it. They aren’t going to put it on the backburner. They the Watauga High School JROTC. Perhaps the highlight of each do what they say they are going to do.” Among the things that have changed for the better, Brudzinski program is when Watauga Community Band plays the service song for each branch of the military and veterans stand up during said, is the public’s attitude toward returning veterans. Upon artheir song, usually outfitted with a touch of military regalia, to be riving stateside from the Vietnam War, Brudzinski and his fellow vets had to essentially lay low. “When returning most of the serrecognized for their service. During the holiday season, the High Country Chapter sup- vice people now are given honors by the public and so forth. The ports a Christmas party for everyone at the 1451st Army National public might be against the government, but they are supporting Guard post. The local MOAA also supports Appalachian State the [troops],” Brudzinski said. “When we came back from VietUniversity’s Military Affairs Committee and the Major General nam, people looked at us as the bad guys and we had to go out 26

High Country Magazine

April / May 2017

The new Avery County Veterans’ Monument was dedicated on Memorial Day last year. The memorial is located near the Avery County Courthouse on the Newland Square. The monument features the names of all the Avery County men and women who served in wars since World War 1.

New Veterans’ Monument in Avery County Dedicated in 2016


he dedication of Avery County’s new Veterans’ Monument took place on Memorial Day of last year with a rifle salute, flag-raising ceremony, guest speakers and a performance from the Avery High School Band. The memorial was built within the Newland Square to replace an older monument that was removed during renovations to the Avery County Courthouse. “We took that down with the idea of, once everything was finished, putting something back and it evolved into changing locations and doing a much nicer thing than we originally had,” said Avery County Manager Tim Greene.

Austin & Barnes Funeral Home, representing Gaulden Monument Company out of Rock Hill, S.C., secured the low bid to build the monument. Greene said the final cost of the project came to about $200,000. The monument features granite benches, flag poles, lighting, a gazebo and, of course, the centerpiece with service medallions of all five military branches and a listing of all the Avery County veterans that have served since World War I. The surrounding sidewalks were also rebuilt. “It turned into a very nice project,” Greene said.

April / May 2017

High Country Magazine


LtCol George Brudzinski (Ret.), Turchin Center Director of Donor and External Relations Lindsey Miller, COL Ben Covington III (Ret.) and Boone Town Manager John Ward discuss the Watauga County Veterans Memorial project in a Town Hall meeting room. the backdoor of airports when we arrived in California because ance of the installation. The local MOAA also secured a $25,000 people were protesting outside or you were told to not wear your pledge from Watauga County Board of Commissioners. The local uniforms because the protesting at the time on college campuses MOAA itself donated $10,000 of its own money to the project, which has a $250,000 fundraising goal. The call for more funds came down on our shoulders.” The Watauga County Veterans Memorial in downtown will through 2017 is ongoing and critical. Like the Watauga County Board of Commissioners, Boone honor all of the veterans no matter the public’s perception of any Town Manager John Ward said war or conflict. This memorial that the council was unanimous in won’t feature the names of those its support for the project. Ward that served or those that died in noted this memorial will educate the line of duty. This is because the general public who happen to of the possibility of inadvertently be walking the streets of downleaving someone off the list and town Boone about the sacrifices the requirement of adding new veterans have made by serving in names that will inevitably arise the U.S. military. from future wars and conflicts. “I think anytime you can edu“So there will be no names,” cate the general community about COL Covington said. “Instead, the role and dedication of service it will be a reflection of all the others have given to our counmain wars fought by the United try that would be all the better, States, starting with the Revoluand I think a lot of people have tion, moving onto the Civil War – or as you may call it ‘The War The Watauga County Veterans Memorial will be located within a given so much more than service. Between the States.’ Going from 20-foot-by-20-foot space next to Town Hall in downtown Boone. They’ve given their lives,” Ward there to World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, current and all future wars.” Last fall, the High Country Chapter of Military Officers Association of America went before the Boone Town Council to request space next to Town Hall on King Street to build a memorial. The town agreed and also pledged to pay for expenses related to preliminary site preparation and future maintenance and insur28

High Country Magazine

April / May 2017

said. This is a way of providing recognition for that as well as education to both the overall commitment and service to our country.” According to design criteria, the space for the project is 20 feet by 20 feet, including any lighting or seating. The local MOAA opened up the design of the memorial to public artists. Brudzinski said that the Turchin Center for the Visual Arts sent out design

Watauga Veterans Memorial Committee Co-Chairman of Project: Boone Town Manager John Ward COL Ben Covington, Ret. Funding Sub-Committee LtCol George Brudzinski, Ret. (Chair) Cpt. Nick Friedman, Fmr. COL John Alley, Ret. John Thomas (former App State Chancellor) Alice Roess, Chair, App State Board of Trustee Maryrose Carroll, Designer, Poet, Writer Dr. Lynn Gregory, ASU professor April Wagner, Veterans Services Officer Nicole Worley, Town of Boone Public Relations Sub-Committee Nicole Worley, Town of Boone Phyllis Bumbaugh, Daughters of American Revolution Anna Oakes, Watauga Democrat Design Contest Sub-Committee Lindsay Miller, Turchin Center (Co-Chair) Col. Vickie Hughes, Ret. (Co-Chair) Craig Dillenbeck, Turchin Center Rennie Brantz, Boone Mayor Virginia Falck, Downtown Boone Development Coordinator Glen Kornhauser, Boone Police Department Pam Garner, Daughters of Revolution LTC Ron Branch, Ret., ROTC liaison Installation Sub-Committee CAPT. Fred Schmitt, Ret. (Chair) CDR Jim Tabor Patrick Beville, IONCON


Take the road less traveled . . . it makes all the difference!

LARGE TRACTS! mountains4sale.com

Mountain Land C O M PANY

336-973-8640 April / May 2017

High Country Magazine


competition applications to its network of sculptors and other artists across the nation. In all, 19 proposals were received when the competition closed at the end of March. The design committee will now narrow down the proposals to three to five finalists to hopefully show at the group’s Memorial Day programming at the Boone Mall and during the Fourth of July parade through downtown Boone. This will allow for public input on the design finalists. Groundbreaking is planned to commence in early 2018 and by July 2018, the project should be complete. Brudzinski said that this project is a “small way” of showing appreciation to all the veterans who have served and the many Committee members for the Watauga County Veterans Memorial project look at that will inevitably serve in the future. Una slideshow of entries into the memorial design competition. like the extended tours of prior wars, Brudzinski said that those serving today are servjust unreal. It is a tremendous strain on them and their families. ing two or three tours We want to recognize and honor all those who have served, and in a two-year period. are serving, in protecting the freedoms we enjoy today.” t “We have to show support for our military,” Brudzinski said. Tax-deductible donations may be made to: “The sacrifices our Watauga County Veterans Memorial Fund young men and womc/o High Country MOAA en in the military are P.O. Box 3312 making by going on Boone, NC 28607 these repeat tours is Or online at www.hccmoaa.com or at www.Facebook.com/hccmoaa

How To Donate?

The Consignment Cottage Warehouse

“From Classic Traditional To Unique Eclectic...and Everything In Between...” 66 Pershing St., Newland, NC / Open Thursday - Saturday 10-5 / 828-733-8148 / theconsignmentcottagewarehouse.com 30

High Country Magazine

April / May 2017

Earl Boston and Sutton Betti

Suzie Hallier, Sculptor The project’s Design Contest subcommittee faces the tough task of selecting the winning entry. Note that the attached entries are examples from among the 19 submitted proposals and are not necessarily finalists in this contest. The committee will narrow down the selections in spring and choose a winner in the summer.

Todd Frahm & Lara Nguyen

Figuration Studio

Earl Boston and Sutton Betti

April / May 2017

High Country Magazine


The High Country’s

Matriarch of Journalism The Bertie Burleson (Aunt Keziah) Story By Tim Gardner


n her life, Bertie Burleson has become a very visible part of Avery County and one of the favorite writers about it. And she’s been doing newspaper writing longer than any North Carolina High Country journalist hereabouts. Bertie is a pioneer among area North Carolina mountain journalists—especially among professional female writers—the “Matriarch of Mountain Writers.” She kept Avery Journal readers informed for 29 years (1971-2000) and has done the same for Avery Post readers the past seventeen years (2000-current). And during that time, Bertie has become the respected voice of record and reason, for everything significant that has happened in Avery County. A prolific writer who can take the tough stance when it is justified, Bertie also is a lady good humor and sentimental lean-

Bertie’s father, Bob Burleson, playing a fiddle. 32

High Country Magazine

ings. Bertie estimates that she has churned out “close to a million words in print, or at least several hundred thousand.” Known for writing with a stylistic flair, Bertie may be best noted for her folksy According to Aunt Keziah columns, she writes in the mountain dialect, sometimes called Southern Appalachian English, in which some letters at the beginning and end of words are dropped and then those words are generally spoken or written exactly as they sound such as “tomato” becoming “mater,” “potato” being “tater” and “ain’t” pronounced as “haint.” Besides being a mainstay in the Avery Journal for many years, the According to Aunt Keziah columns have been in the Avery Post since she co-founded it and became its publisher and editor in 2000. Bertie even published a compilation of her columns in an Accord-

Bertie as a baby, held by her mother, Ina Cooper Burleson. April / May 2017

ing to Aunt Keziah book, available for purchase from Bertie or at the Avery County Museum in Newland. She said she especially enjoys writing According to Aunt Keziah because: “I’m proud of my heritage and I want to preserve the mountain dialect.” While growing up during the 1940s in the Roaring Creek Community of Avery County, Bertie was one of those eager kids who learned to write poems long before she learned to drive a vehicle. She told of her growing-up years and initial writing experiences: “I was the youngest of six children born to Bob and Ina Cooper Burleson of Roaring Creek, and ushered into the world by midwife ‘Aunt Moll’ Webb. My two oldest brothers were killed during World War II. I had two other brothers and a sister. I am the only one

Bertie’s brothers, Jack (left) and Henry Burleson. Both were tragically killed during World War II.

still living. My mother had a brother, Horton Cooper, who was a longtime school teacher and local historian. Uncle Horton even wrote a book named, The History of Avery County. “I had a wonderful childhood, with all the books I could read. I was raised on Bluegrass music, as my father played the fiddle and my brothers played mandolin and guitar. But before I could read and write I made up poems that my mother wrote down and saved. I consider writing to have come natural to me practically my entire life, even when I was in grade school. It seems it has been as natural to me as eating and walking and breathing.” Bertie has never attended a day of college. All her journalistic work was learned, and then honed, from practical experience, proving such in any profession is as good as a wall full of degrees. Bertie is in the pantheon of writers known for her cogent, insightful and truthful writing. Bertie’s professional journalism career began in 1970, when she had an article published by North Carolina’s The State magazine. Near the same time, she started writing the According to Aunt Keziah column for the Avery Journal. In 1971, then Avery Journal owner and publisher Sherman Pritchard hired Bertie to write for him through the “Man on The Job” government grant program. When monies from the grant program were exhausted, Pritchard hired Bertie as a full-time reporter. She joked that one of her coworkers at the Avery Journal called her a “WAMY reject,” which she added, “keeps a body humble.” A few years later, Rob Rivers, owner of the Watauga Democrat in Boone, acquired the Avery Journal, and he bought Bertie a Nikon camera and promoted her to Associate Editor. She served in that capacity for several years before being promoted to Editor, where she worked in that role for three publishers (Bob Carter, Mike Blanton and Art Powers). Bertie resigned as Editor of the Avery Journal in 2000 because of philosophical differences with then-new Journal publisher Glenn Grizzard. Only a few months later, she, along with a friend sold stock to start a newspaper she named the Avery Post. She took on additional duties as the

Bertie stands from behind her desk in her Avery Post office.

The Avery Post newspaper is located on Pineola Street in Newland. April / May 2017

High Country Magazine


Bertie works at her desk, preparing for the next Avery Post edition.

Copies of the Avery Post, published weekly. Post’s publisher besides being its editor. A few years later, Bertie bought out the other stockholders—all of whom were from or had Avery County ties— to become its sole owner. And Bertie has turned the Avery Post into a money-maker, while witnessing steady jumps in its number of subscribers. Bertie’s philosophy for newspaper leadership role is based on a no-nonsense business foundation. “When I became publisher, my first mandate was, and continues to be, to make it turn a profit,” she said. “If it doesn’t, it’s heading in the wrong direction. You’ve got to be more than a good journalist. Your newspaper has to make money to stay in existence. One of my primary responsibilities as publisher and owner is to make sure all the Post’s bills are paid and to make sure money owed to the newspaper is paid to it. And any publication has to have good copy that people want to read. You can’t give too much good information in a newspaper.” Bertie’s professional writing career has been built on a foundation of telling stories with a human touch and a linguis34

High Country Magazine

April / May 2017

Avery County cartoonist Don Baker has provided many of his drawings used in Bertie’s “According to Aunt Keziah” columns and other sections of her Avery Post and Avery Journal articles, such as the one above.

tic panache, capturing them with detail, and offering critical commentary, yet with a measure of gentility depending on the topic. Great pains are sometimes taken to ensure the accuracy of the many stories Bertie writes. “It can be absolutely exhausting research,” she said. “I try to be as accurate as I can. I check and recheck facts.” And just as the military and many other businesses have a chain of command, newspapers have those responsible for various aspects of the operation. As publisher, Bertie is the person overseeing all aspects of the paper on both the editorial, and news, side of things, as well as the business side. She is ultimately responsible for the content of the paper, the play of stories on the front page, staffing, hiring and budgets. And Bertie even helps deliver newspapers each week. It’s Bertie’s primary concern to ensure that the Avery Post is the best that it can be and that its quality meets that paper’s standards of journalism. She has employees who report to her who are responsible for specific aspects of the paper besides the news section (which she said is “primarily my baby”) such as sports, advertising and the newspaper’s layout and design. Bertie added that the latter two are deftly done by Denise Henson and Bertie’s daughter, Lydia Hoilman, respectively. As copy editor, Bertie has a checklist of things all media publishers and editors must do before a publication is sent to press. She typically receives her freelance writers stories where she checks the grammar, spelling, flow, transitions and style. She also makes sure the lead paragraphs in all stories (including her own) are supported by the rest of the story and the angle the stories take makes sense. She also determines if the angle is in the first paragraph or is it buried elsewhere in the article. Additionally, Bertie writes headlines; secondary headBertie with former N.C. Lieutenant Governor Jim Gardner.

President Gerald Ford (fourth from left) stands moments before addressing a massive gathering at the Avery County Airport in Ingalls during his 1970s candidacy to remain President. To President Ford’s immediate left is North Carolina Governor Jim Holshouser. Also to President Ford’s right are the three Tri-County Area Sheriffs-Kermit Banks (Yancey), Beverly Daniels (Avery) and Brownlow Moffitt (Mitchell). April / May 2017

High Country Magazine


Bertie Burleson

Bertie Burleson Pictures of the 1998 flood in the Roaring Creek Community of Avery County that caused millions of dollars worth of damage and cost some people there their homes. On the top right, United States Vice-President Al Gore (in front) came to see the flood’s devastation to the area first-hand. Photos by Bertie Burleson. lines, called decks; picture captions, called cutlines; and takeout quotes; in other words, all the big words on a story. Collectively, it’s called display type. Bertie also must determine various other things, including: • If the stories are thorough and complete as well as if they contain any unanswered questions. • If the stories are fair, balanced and objective. • Are there any statements that might be considered libelous? • Are the stories well-written? Are they clear and understandable? • Are all names, titles and places mentioned in a story doublechecked? • Are all quotes accurate and properly attributed? • Are the stories background and context complete enough to tell readers why the story is relevant? Bertie, who speaks with somewhat of a thin, Southern drawl, defined her journalistic approach as: “Being fair, honest, truthful and non-judgmental while meeting everyone on his or her level. That’s the way I was brought up by my parents, the way people still are in Avery County and how I want to do my work.” When asked how she deals with someone who calls or confronts her in protest of a story or her critics such as those who may even accuse her of “Poison Pen” writing, which many writers have been at one time or another, she replied: “I try to reason with them and be nice. I offer to meet with them or let them tell their side of the story in a “Letter to the Editor.” If those don’t work, I simply let them know that I will not be intimidated.” Kelly Johnson of Newland, Bertie’s long-time friend and personal attorney gave her a glowing praise with the following comments: “Bertie is a wordsmith, one of a kind. She is a very good writer. Everybody from Avery County knows Bertie and even if they disagree with something she has written, they still respect her. And that’s all important. “Bertie is a treasure to Avery County and I congratulate her for such a long and productive journalism career.” The respect in which she has earned is evidenced when the

Bertie Burleson

Bertie Burleson

Bertie Burleson 36

High Country Magazine

April / May 2017

Designing & Building Is Our Passion Combining Traditional Timber Frame Craftsmanship With Modern Building Methods

• Licensed General Contractor - NC, SC, VA • ShopBuilt™ High Performance Housing


• Custom Home Design - ShopBuilt™ Panelized Wall Systems, Timber Frame, and SIPS • SIPS Panel Sales and Installation

or visit us at www.highcountrytimberframe.com

• Professional Timber Frame Subcontractor

April / May 2017

High Country Magazine


Bertie Burleson

Town of Newland gave Bertie an elite honor in the 1980s by naming the drive where the Avery Journal newspaper is located as “Bertie Street.” For Bertie, writing is just like eating salted peanuts. She just can’t seem to stop. Although she has to spend long hours in the office or covering stories on a daily basis, even on public holidays and in times of harsh weather, Bertie looks back fondly on her time in newspapering. “Nobody ever enjoyed what they have done as much as me,” she declared. “I’ve enjoyed every single minute of it. Never one minute did I ever want to be anything other than a writer.” She continued: “I have such an interesting job … I have something different every day, and the biggest blessing is I see the fruit of mine and my staff ’s labors.” Bertie lists human interest and murder stories as her favorites to write. She

noted that some of the top stories she’s covered and written about include: interviewing CBS News journalist Charles Kuralt when he was gathering material for a book he wrote about Grandfather Mountain; the opening of the Blue Ridge Parkway Viaduct; about one of serial killer John Gacy’s surviving victims living in Avery County before committing suicide; a political gathering in Greensboro, NC featuring U.S. President Ronald Reagan; visits from U.S. Vice-President Al Gore, U.S. Senators, Congressmen, Congresswomen and North Carolina Governors to Avery County; various murders; airplane crashes; and natural disasters. But two stories stand out as perhaps her most noteworthy ones: riding to a political function from the Banner Elk Airport to the old Holiday Inn with future First Lady Nancy Reagan and Dottie Helms, wife of United State Senator,

Bertie Burleson 38

High Country Magazine

April / May 2017

Bertie Burleson

Bertie has covered various murders and vehicle accidents. At top left - Former Avery County Deputy Sheriffs Chris Cornett (front left) and Mark Phillips (front right) at a murder scene. Top right Emergency workers try to get a person pinned in out of a wrecked logging truck. Bottom left A driver rammed a vehicle through the old McClellan’s Food Market building in Ingalls. Bertie Burleson

Bertie photographed the Sugar Top Condominium on Sugar Mountain as it was constructed.

Bertie Burleson Yet another accident Bertie covered was this one involving a farm tractor. Jesse Helms. And foremost, when United State President Gerald Ford spoke at the Green Valley Airport in the Ingalls Community of Southern Avery County in the 1970s when he was running against Jimmy Carter. Bertie well remembers both milestone happenings and first shares a most interesting story about her brief time spent with Mrs. Reagan. “A terrible rain storm had happened as Mrs. Reagan flew into Avery County,” Bertie recalled. “She seemed quite relieved when she exited the airplane and maybe even scared. I sat between Mrs. Reagan and Mrs. Helms in the vehicle. Mrs. Helms talked every breath during the ride of maybe just slightly more than one mile. But I don’t think Mrs. Reagan ever spoke. When we arrived at the Holiday Inn, Secret Service agents quickly opened the doors to the vehicle and whisked us out. “When they helped me out, I accidentally stepped on one of Mrs. Reagan’s shoe heels. I’m sure it may have hurt her as I wore a size nine shoe and she had a small foot—maybe like a size five. But she never acknowledged me stepping on her and those Secret Service agents were moving her along so fast, that it was nearimpossible for me to keep up with her. I didn’t see her again after the function and thus, I never got to apologize to her for stepping on her heel.” Bertie then recollected President Ford’s appearance. “I think everyone in Avery, Mitchell, Yancey and all other surrounding areas must have been in Ingalls that Saturday to see him,” she said. “Peo-

ple everywhere wanted to get a glimpse of President Ford and hear him speak. Having any president appear in your area is certainly a most momentous occasion. And there were dozens, maybe more than a hundred Secret Service agents, as well as law enforcement officers from every such local, state and other national agencies, there, to protect the president. “President Ford was to fly from Asheville to Ingalls on ‘Marine One,’ the official president’s helicopter early that afternoon. It was announced over the loud speakers when President Ford had left by helicopter and that he would be landing in Ingalls in just a few minutes. However, shortly after, it was announced that he was being returned to Asheville due to a heavy rainstorm and would be coming to the Green Valley Airport via motorcade, which would take a few hours. Heavy rains then hit at the airport, too, as well as across much of Western North Carolina, and it was several hours later when President Ford arrived. But he spoke for probably more than thirty minutes and I think everyone who was there earlier to see him was still there. They may have left and then came back, but they were there. And I remember the Sheriffs of Avery (Beverly Daniels), Mitchell (Brownlow Moffitt) and Yancey (Kermit Banks) were seated behind the president on the platform from which he spoke. “President Ford was very kind and gracious to everyone there and his appearance truly was one of, if not the, most famous happening in Avery County history.” As a journalist, Bertie noted that it

RE/MAX REALTY GROUP One of the Top Producing Real Estate Companies in the Western North Carolina High Country ... Only The Most Experienced and Educated Brokers to Assist You In Buying or Selling Property

David & Barbara Thomas Broker/Owners

Serving – Watauga, Ashe, Avery & Alleghany Counties Centrally located at the SHOPS at SHADOWLINE in Boone 240 Shadowline Drive Boone, NC www.NCBooneRealEstate.com (828) 262-1990 (office) (866) 652-1990 (toll free)

April / May 2017

High Country Magazine


Bertie’s Family

Son Charlie, granddaughter Lila, and daughter-in-law, Juanita




Bertie with daughter Lydia 40

High Country Magazine

April / May 2017

Son-in-law Keith Hoilman and daughter Lydia.

Jessica isn’t just her paycheck that makes her want to keep writing; it’s a passion for her profession. “Sure, I want to make money just like anyone else,” she said. “And as others do, I have bills to pay and have to earn a living. But when it comes to my writing, the money isn’t that important to me. I’ll get by with what money I make. But most importantly, I just want to write.” In what precious little spare time she has, Bertie enjoys spending time with her family, cooking, flower gardening, playing musical keyboards, reading and watching Western movies. Bertie also has been active with various community and civic functions. She has served on the Board of Directors of the Avery-Mitchell-Yancey Regional Library and the Avery Department of Social Services Board, as well as the Avery County GOP Committee. However, she no longer serves on community or political governing bodies as she believes “it’s a conflict of interest as a journalist can’t serve on any board or com-

mittee and remain objective.� And when it comes to discussing her family, Bertie’s face and heart swells with pride. She changed her name back to her maiden name following a previous marriage to Bruce Cantrell. That union produced Bertie’s two children—son, Charlie, and daughter, Lydia. Charlie is a retired correctional officer at the Avery/Mitchell Prison. Charlie raises native ornamental plants and Fraser firs to sell and like his mother and sister, he also delivers Avery Post newspapers each week. Charlie’s wife, Juanita, works for the Avery County Department of Social Services. They have a 15-year old daughter, Lila, a student at Avery County High School. Besides her office work at the Avery Post, Lydia also delivers newspapers each week, as she and her mother do so together. Lydia’s husband, Keith Hoilman, is Administrator for the Town of Newland. Keith and Lydia also grow and sell Fraser firs. They have a son, Josh, age 25, and a daughter, Jessica, age 19. Josh works for the Town of Seven Devils and Jessica attends Emory and Henry, VA College, where she plays on the Lady Wasps basketball team. Truly, few journalists could ever get to the core of a story better than Bertie. Her legacy continues in the hearts of her readers who anxiously anticipate her articles each week. “It’s been wonderful,� Bertie noted. “I’ve really enjoyed it. I do everything with a love for writing and in coming in contact with so many interesting people—all of whom have a story of some sort—as well as trying to keep the newspaper thriving from the business and financial sense.� Speaking of her legacy in the journalism profession, Bertie added: “I would want to be remembered as a person who loved what she did and who was a fair and honest journalist who loved people. I consider myself the luckiest person on Earth for getting to work at what I love most for such a long time.� Bertie Burleson has contributed for a long time and in various ways to making Avery County a better place. And like many of the topics and people she’s written about, Bertie herself makes for a mighty interesting story as you’ve just learned. t – Tim Gardner is a free-lance journalist for the High Country Magazine and makes his home in Avery County. Tim’s articles have appeared in national, regional, local and specialty publications. And he worked with Bertie Burleson three tenures at the Avery Journal as Sports Editor and still does periodically as a freelance reporter and columnist for the Avery Post. Photos provided by Bertie Burleson.


Small Works Exhibition Continues through April 30, 2017

A^`W\U 5`]c^ 3fVWPWbW]\

May 27 – July 15 Opening Reception May 27, 2-5pm ARTISTS SPOTLIGHT: “A Moment in Time - FLorals, Still Lifes & Interiors� Mary Dobbin, Connie Winters, Gina Strumpf, Helen Farson

1O`Zb]\ 5OZZS`gÂşa !#bV /\\WdS`aO`g 1SZSP`ObW]\ Opening Reception July 22, 2-5pm

1"*/5*/(4 t $-": t (-"44 t 4$6-1563& t 800% t '*#&3 "35 t +&8&-3: Located 10 Miles South of Boone on Hwy. 105 Grandfather Community

56&4%": 4"563%": t 46/%": t Call or check our website for workshop dates XXX DBSMUPOHBMMFSZ DPN t DBSMUPOHBMMFSZ!DBSMUPOHBMMFSZ DPN

Holston Camp & Retreat Center Summer Resident Camp & Day Camp Affordable Group Lodgings: Reunions Weddings Skiiing Business Retreats Open Year Round! Resident Camp starting on June 11 – 16, Sundays – Fridays Day Camp Starting on June 12, Monday – Fridays CHECK OUT OUR WEBSITE FOR FULL SCHEDULE! www.HolstonCenter.org (844) 465-7866 6993 Hickory Nut Gap Rd. Banner Elk, NC On the Banks of Wildcat Lake April / May 2017

High Country Magazine


Taekwondo Works

Martial Arts In The High Country Photography by Mariah Angelo Story by Virginia Roseman


Blue Ridge Kung Fu Arnis Academy 42

High Country Magazine

April / May 2017

ver the years, various martial arts classes have been offered here in the High Country of North Carolina. Following the pop culture phenomenon of Bruce Lee in the 1970s, martial arts instruction boomed nationwide. This was the trend in the High Country as well, with four different schools operating in or near Boone alone during that time. While those early schools have closed, two founded in the 1980s are still instructing today, and others have come on the scene in recent years. Today, there are six well-established schools in operation offering nine different forms of martial arts between them. Students of these schools can expect to reap benefits often associated with martial arts and athletics: increased strength, stamina and flexibility; improved concentration and self-confidence; and knowledge of self-defense. Across the board, martial arts enhances quality of life. And for some, martial arts can become a way of life.

Common Ground Martial Arts Academy

Capoeria Arte Antiga

Boone Docks MMA Appalachian Ki Aikido April / May 2017

High Country Magazine


Taekwondo Works T

aekwondo Works was founded in 1986 in Boone by Craig Simpson, a graduate student and assistant football coach at Appalachian State University. Simpson later opened a school in Richmond, Virginia, leaving the Boone school in the capable hands of head instructor Lt. Billy Arnette. Many in the community know Arnette from his three decades of service with University Police and for teaching R.A.D. women’s self-defense classes on campus. “Having been around so long, our school has changed over the years,” said Arnette. “For example, there were years where we were very competitive in sport taekwondo and would attend several tournaments each year. Currently, we are part selfdefense, part exercise, and part sport, and offer an environment where families can train together.” Taekwondo is a Korean martial art and is also the national sport of South Korea. Among martial artists, modern taekwondo is known for its heavy emphasis on kicking techniques, and is the world’s most popular martial art in number of practitioners. In addition to kicks, traditional taekwondo also includes strikes and blocks with the hands, elbows and knees, as well as self-defense techniques (some borrowed from hapkido). Taekwondo Works meets at Northwestern Studios in Boone, and offers classes twice weekly for both children (ages 7 and up) and adult beginners. The cost is $50 per month for the first student, and $25 per month for each additional family member. Visit taekwondoworks.weebly.com for more information, or contact them at 828-719-5760 or tkdworks@gmail.com.


High Country Magazine

April / May 2017

Taeknowdo Works, warms up as a unit, youth and adults. After warmups,the school is divided into groups age appropriate group lead by Instructors Billy Arnette, Danish Davé and Karl-Heinz Roseman

Photography by Mariah Angelo

April / May 2017

High Country Magazine


Appalachian Ki Aikido I

n the early 1990s, friends Bill Dixon and Paul Zimmerman, along with a few other friends, would meet at one another’s homes to share and teach the study of aikido. This once-in-a-while meeting started becoming more regular, and members of their group started to bring friends. Without intention, Appalachian Ki Aikido school was formed. “Aikido is not a martial art for those looking for a fastpaced class where testing and achieving your black belt is of the highest priority. It can take years to achieve a high rank in aikido,” said Zimmerman. “ To unify mind and body and become one with the universe is the ultimate purpose of our study.” Aikido is Japanese in origin, sharing roots with jiujitsu but diverging from it in the early 20th century. It is a “soft” style, but also includes grappling, throwing and redirecting an opponent’s attack. Mental training and philosophy are important elements of aikido. Appalachian Ki Aikido meets each Monday and Wednesday at 610 State Farm Rd, Boone, NC in the office of Boone Podiatry. Classes require focus and maturity from students, and are not well-suited for young or highenergy people. Instruction is geared to teens and older, and costs $25 per month. For more information, visit AppKiAikido.org. Appalachian Ki Aikido, Paul Zimmerman instructs Aikido to adults, teaching them to use proper defense techniques that uses their opponent’s energy against them. Photography by Mariah Angelo


High Country Magazine

April / May 2017

April / May 2017

High Country Magazine


Common Ground Martial Arts Academy

Common Ground MMA (Tang Soo Do), lead by Master Trapper Taylor, has a variety of classes throughout the calendar week for all ages and capabilities.


he Taylor family—Trapper, Jennifer and their two daughters Arwen and Serena— bring family bonding to a new level. Trapper had previously trained in taekwondo, and with his growing family, he sought out a martial art that they could all learn together. As a family, the Taylors opened a Tang Soo Do martial art school in Foscoe, NC. Trapper is the head instructor, with his daughter Arwen (14) taking a lead role in assisting with the younger students. Tang Soo Do is a Korean martial art that shares a lot in common with traditional taekwondo, and was founded just prior to many of the original taekwondo schools of post-WWII Korea. In addition to its Korean foundation, Tang Soo Do incorporates some influences from China (kung fu) and Japan (shotokan karate). This martial art teaches kicks, hand strikes, and stances. “In Tang Soo Do, the goal is to always remain on your feet upright, and to have balance,” explains Taylor. “By remaining standing, the students show power and remain able to flee should it be necessary, which in a real-life situation could determine life or death.” Common Ground Martial Arts Academy is located at 7929 NC Hwy 105 south in Foscoe, NC. They offer multiple classes almost every day of the week for all age groups. They specialize in classes for preschoolers as young as age 3, and they also offer “mommy and me” classes for ages 0 to 3. One class costs $65 per month, and unlimited is $95 per month. Contact them at 828-773-9768. Class schedules, registration and additional information can be found online at wwwCommonGoundMMA.com.


High Country Magazine

April / May 2017

Photography by Ken Ketchie

Real Estate Sales & Vacation Rentals QUALITY SERVICE SINCE 1976

828.295.9886 www.JenkinsRealtors.com 452 Sunset Dr • Blowing Rock, NC

W E S T J E F F E R S O N ’ S A RT S D I S T R I C T

Gallery Crawl H I S T O R I C


Second Fridays 5-8 pm June 9 July 14 August 11 September 8 October 13

Christmas Crawl December 1


www.AsheCountyArts.org April / May 2017

High Country Magazine


Boone Docks MMA After several years of being held in a small space with some mats, co-owners Doc and Amber Hendley officially founded Boone Docks MMA in 2014 in the same building that Amber was using for her dance business, High Country Dance Studio. In addition to the Hendleys, the hardworking staff of Boone Docks MMA includes Jason and Becky Zaragoza (general managers), Spencer Reeves (manager / Brazilian jiujitsu instructor), Chad Ambrose (muay thai kickboxing instructor), and Jim Heaton (judo instructor). Brazilian jiujitsu, or BJJ, is a martial art that focuses on ground fighting. While jiujitsu originated in Japan, BJJ came to be its own art through innovations made by the Gracie family of Brazil. Students learn how to use technique and leverage to go up against opponents that might be larger and stronger. They learn joint locks, arm bars, and chokeholds, and “roll” frequently. Rolling is live sparring on the ground. The jiujitsu classes at Boone Docks MMA offer options for both gi (in a traditional uniform) or no gi (no uniform much like an MMA fighter). Muay Thai is a particular type of kickboxing from Thailand, where in addition to using fists and feet, fighters also use their elbows and knees. It is a competitive full-contact sport with associations and matches similar to boxing and kickboxing. The class at Boone Docks MMA emphasizes fitness and toughness... students can expect to jump rope, shadow box, drill combinations on mitts, and sweat (a lot!). Judo is a modern martial art descended from jiujitsu, and is also an Olympic sport. While judo incorporates much of jiujitsu’s techniques, the most well-known feature of judo is its powerful


High Country Magazine

April / May 2017

Spencer Reeves, Chad Ambrose and Jim Heaton lead classes in jiujitus, Muay Thai Kickboxing and Judo instruction.

throws and takedowns. There are many throws that involve the hands and arms, but judo also uses the feet and legs to sweep opponents to the ground. “Some of our adult students and instructors are veterans and law enforcement officers,” Becky Zaragoza. “For them, martial arts provides a mental and physical outlet for these stressful professions.” Boone Docks MMA costs $70 per month for unlimited classes. They also accept drop-ins, with a mat fee of $10 each visit. Discounts are offered to families, students, law enforcement officers and emergency personnel. For more information, visit www. highcountrydancestudio.com. Or, call Jason at 828-773-3686 or Spencer at 828-406-0384.

Photography by Mariah Angelo

April / May 2017

High Country Magazine


Blue Ridge Kung Fu Arnis Academy Blue Ridge Kung Fu Arnis Academy, has a multitude of techniques and martial studies to master, all under the supervision of Grand Master Rick Lee Ward.

Photography by Mariah Angelo


High Country Magazine

April / May 2017


anner Elk native Rick Lee Ward worked in law enforcement in Avery County, but is best known in the area for his music and his martial arts. After having taken up martial arts training in 1979 for health reasons, Ward founded a Kung Fu school in 1985. His school later expanded to offer Arnis classes, and moved to its current location west of downtown Boone on Hwy 421 (taking over a space previously occupied by Taekwondo Works). “I noticed I was fatiguing quickly and had expeGrand Master Rick Lee Ward. rienced a drastic weight loss, and I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease,” said Ward. “Martial arts helped me both physically and mentally, and I knew that I wanted to teach others about it.” Kung Fu is a traditional Chinese martial art that includes hundreds of different fighting styles. Among its most notable practitioners are martial artists and actors Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan. Kung Fu is known for the teaching of basic martial arts moves, applications, forms, weapons and ethics. Arnis is a Filipino martial art especially known for incorporating and using sticks in self-defense. It is also the national sport of the Philippines. Blue Ridge Kung Fu Arnis Academy is located at 2210 US Highway 421 N, Boone, NC, just outside the town limits. For class schedule and information on openings, call Ward at 828-963-0523 or email him at GMWard@gmail.com. Costs are variable depending on number of styles/classes a student enrolls in (generally $80 to $110 per month). Satellite schools operate in West Jefferson, NC (head instructor Adam Kahn), and Mountain City, TN (head instructor Chris Laing).


Over 30 Years of Flooring Ex�erience!

Owners Trudy and David Shell

STORE HOURS: Monday - Friday: 8:30AM to 5PM Saturday: By Appointment 1852 H w y. 105, Bo one • 828-265- 0472 • w w w.Mo un t a inT il eNC .c o m April / May 2017

High Country Magazine


Capoeira Arte Antiga

Capoeira Arte Antiga, Gabrielle Motta-Passajou takes pride in “playing” with her classes, while getting to teach the history of three cultures that came together for protection.


abriella Motta-Passajou, originally from Brazil, has been studying the art of Capoeira for most of her life. While in the States, she started taking her studies to a new level and trained to become a teacher. Motta-Passajou taught some as she advanced herself within the practice for several years, and once she received her certification under the guidance of Mestre Doutor (ASCAB Philadelphia) , opened her own school in 2005. Developed in Brazil, Capoeira combines elements of dance, acrobatics and music. It incorporates kicks, spins and speed. Because the history is crucial to the integrity of the art, all students must learn the Portuguese vocabulary needed, learn and sing the traditional songs, and be able to play each of the musical instruments. Four main instruments accompany Capoeira play: Atabaqua (drum), Pandeiro (tambourine), Agogo (bell), and one-time weapon of its past, now an instrument— Berimbau (bow). “Capoeira was used in Brazil by slaves to protect themselves from those trying to harm them. It has strong Portuguese, African and South American native influences. This was a form of communication between the different people,” said Motta-Passajou. “Today this art form serves as a reminder of the past, but also the beauty of many cultures coming together for protection. We are not out to harm, we are out to celebrate.” Capoeira Arte Antiga meets at High Country Dance Studio / Boone Docks MMA at 188 Boone Dock Rd in Boone, NC. There are classes available for any age group, and classes follow the ASU semester schedule. Tuition varies, with unlimited classes costing $110 per semester.

Photography by Mariah Angelo


High Country Magazine

April / May 2017

April / May 2017

High Country Magazine


16th Annual Eggstravaganza at the Jones House in Boone


he Downtown Boone Development Association, the Jones House Cultural and Community Center and the Watauga County Public Library continued the alwayspopular Boone Easter Egg-stravaganza tradition this year on Saturday, April 8, hosting the event for the 16th year in a row. Beginning with festivities and arts and crafts at the library, kids and families from around the High Country set off on the short parade to the Jones House where the Easter egg hunt — the celebration’s main event — took place. Kids of all ages searched the Jones House’s grounds for golden eggs, which could be turned in for Easter basket surprises. In addition to the hunt, kids and families were excited to meet with Twist the Balloon Man and participate in the various games and activities held at the Jones House. Like each year, this year’s Egg-stravaganza would not have been possible without the community’s help. “We’ve had a lot of community support and volunteers over the years,” says Downtown Boone Development Coordinator Virginia Falck. “It might be a community event for children, but everyone seems to look forward to the Easter egg hunt.” By Bailey Faulkner



High Country Magazine

April / May 2017

JEANS / LEATHER and CUSTOM JACKETS / BOOTS / MUCH MORE Fashions You Won’t Find Anywhere Else!



High Country Magazine



t’s hard to imagine the High Country without the Robbins North Carolina to work at a lumber company in Shull’s Mills. In family. There’d be no Tweetsie Railroad, no Hound Ears the early 1900’s, Shull’s Mills was a booming town, a railroad Club, no tourists stopping at The Blowing Rock, and no Yel- stop with a large lumber mill, a general store, a post office, hotels, low Brick Road in our very midst. Grover Robbins Sr. was churches, a hospital, and even a movie theater. The East Tennesknow as the “Father of Tourism” in our parts, and his family con- see and Western Carolina Railroad, nicknamed “Tweetsie” for its distinctive whistle, ran through the town. tinues the legacy to this day. “Back then, Shull’s Mills was the biggest town around,” Peggy Peggy Robbins Sellers, fifth of the six children of Grover Sr., shared memories and stories of “Growing Up Robbins.” Peggy, explained. “There really wasn’t much to Boone or Blowing Rock.” born in 1931, was born and raised in Blowing Rock, and returned Once the supply of lumber depleted, though, the lumber company to her home town several decades ago to work in the family busi- moved its operations elsewhere. A major flood in 1940 wiped out what was left of the town of ness. She has seen Blowing Shull’s Mill, and it was never Rock evolve over the years, rebuilt. with changing culture, ecoGrover was an enternomic ups and downs, and prising young man, and in even climate shifts. addition to working at the “This town was so diflumber mill, he operated ferent when I was growhis own “jitney service,” a ing up,” Peggy reflected. taxi cab company. “My dad “It was a resort town, for had a lot of businesses,” about five months of every said Peggy. “He read a lot, year. In wintertimes, evand was self-educated. I erything was closed, and don’t think Dad got past the the streets were rolled up. eighth grade. He was interDuring the war, if we saw ested in so many things.” a car going down Main As he approached the Street, we thought it was age of thirty, Grover bea spy!” came interested in marriage. “The winters were so Peggy told the story: “Somesevere then. We had terbody had arranged a date rible snow storms,” she reThe Robbins Family in 1955. Sitting (Left to Right): Lena Robbins for Daddy with Blanche membered. “There was no (Mother), Grover Robbins Sr. (Father), Lena Robbins Brooks Jr., Miller. He didn’t like her such thing as snow days at Ruth Robbins, Harry Robbins. Standing (Left to Right): too much, and instead said school. We’d put our snow Grover Robbins Jr., Spencer Robbins, Peggy Robbins he liked “the little one,” suits on, wade through waist high snow, and go to school. Stand by the radiators to get warm, Blanche’s younger sister, Lena. That was my mama. They were that was it. I remember one time that it snowed so much that we married in 1918 in a little Episcopal church, where the Village Cafe is now, right off of Main Street. Horse and buggy, snowy climbed out our second story windows to get out of the house.” The Robbins lived on Park Avenue in Blowing Rock, in a house night. They got married and lived in an old store building.” Grover Jr. was born a year later, followed by sister Lena, Harry, that now serves as the headquarters for the Chamber of Commerce. Grover Sr. was from the Samson community near Blow- Spencer, Peggy, and Ruth. The Robbins were not a wealthy family, ing Rock. As a young man, he left home for British Columbia, and the industrious Grover Sr. was always trying new ventures to where he managed a crew of Chinese workers building a railroad. support his family and improve prospects for his community. He He also worked in landscaping along the East Coast, and even was first elected mayor of Blowing Rock in 1919, and served off worked with the crew that landscaped the Triborough Bridge in and on for twenty-two years. “He loved this town, and he had a lot of foresight,” Peggy New York City. The mountains called him home, and Grover returned to the said. “He was big on tourism. He believed that this place could

By Jan Todd 58

High Country Magazine

April / May 2017

“He bought it on MY birthday, July 14, 1938, when I was seven years old. So I think I was instrumental in all that!”

Peggy Sellers with her son Charlie at the Blowing Rock

Peggy Sellers speaking about her dad buying the land where the Blowing Rock is located. be a fantastic summer resort, not just for the elite, but for everybody.” Blowing Rock was named after a rock formation on the south end of town, a “natural wonder,” where drafts from the gorge flow towards the peak of the rock. The wind blows upwards, so that light objects thrown from the rock refuse to fall, but blow right back up. According to an ancient legend, an Indian brave, despairing over a love affair with a maiden from a rival tribe, jumped off the rock only to return to his lover’s arms, thanks to these strange currents of wind. In the early 1930’s, the land where the “Blowing Rock” was located was owned by the Bernhardts, who owned a furniture business. Peggy described, “The land was essentially a garbage dump back then, where everyone would go to throw their trash off the edge of the cliff. But Dad thought it could “be something,” and contacted the Bernhardts about leasing the property. He said, “Let me develop it, I think it can be a great tourist area.” So he cleaned it up, built a shop, and charged people a dime to see The Rock. He ran the attraction for a few years, then purchased the property from the Bernhardts. He bought it on MY birthday, July 14, 1938, when I was seven years old. So I think I was instrumental in all that! He paid $5,000 for it, and that was a lot of money back then.” After World War II, when people began traveling more by car, Grover Sr. built the first “motor court” in the area, The Appalachian (now The Village Inn). It curved around a small lake, and offered affordable lodging to tourists.

Photo by Jan Todd

Peggy as a young child with her dad

April / May 2017

High Country Magazine


Perched above the John’s River Gorge, the Mayview Manor, a grand hotel that had 138 rooms, opened in 1922 as Walter Alexander developed the Mayview area in Blowing Rock. Peggy recalled, “At the time, everyone said, “Oh no, Grover Robbins is going to ruin our business,” because people would rent out rooms in their homes back then. But Dad would answer, “If there are more places to stay, then more people would come.” And that’s what happened.” Grover Sr.’s next project was a movie theater. “Oh, that made me real popular!” reminisced Peggy. “All the boys knew that if there was a movie they wanted to see, they could take me and get in for free. I remember when


High Country Magazine

April / May 2017

Through its 94-year history, the Blowing Rock Charity Horse Show has been among the highlights of summer at Mayview Manor, Green Park Inn and greater Blowing Rock. When Peggy was a child, the Blowing Rock Charity Horse Show operated a three-day show once a year. Today, horse shows are held throughout the entire summer. Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde came out. That was such a popular movie that I had four or five different dates!” The social scene during that time was strictly during summertime, when the resort properties filled up. “There was The Green Park Inn, and the Mayview Manor, and the Blowing Rock Hotel.” said Peggy. “Tourists would come from Charlotte, Statesville, all over. The Cannon family, owners of Cannon Mills, were prominent in Blowing Rock. David Ovens from Charlotte had a place up here. The Snively’s, who owned the biggest orange grove in Flori-

da, they’d come up. The Broyhills, all sorts of wealthy people.” Peggy continued, “Mayview was the center of the social activity in the summertime. It was a gorgeous place, with a big dining room upstairs, and another downstairs, and the area upstairs where they’d have dances. It was THE place. People would drive up in their Lincolns and Cadillacs, get out of the cars wearing gorgeous gowns and hats on. It was a different time then. People wouldn’t go out dressed like they do today. Everything was so formal then. Famous people would come to the Mayview, actors

As Peggy Robbins Sellers explains, the Mayview Manor was the place to be. Actors and actresses from Hollywood, past U.S. presidents, business magnates and others from elite society pulled into Blowing Rock in their fancy cars, dressed to the nines April / May 2017

High Country Magazine


Downtown Blowing Rock with its strip of Main Street and historic buildings looks much the same as when this black-and-white photograph emerged from the darkroom. Times have changed, of course, but the village is about as quaint as you could ask for these days. and actresses, President Nixon.” The grand Mayview Manor was a 138-room hotel, dressed in dark chestnut bark shingle siding, and balanced on the crest of the St. John’s River Gorge, with its architecture gracefully curving to follow the ridge line. It opened in the early 1920’s. It had terraces overlooking a swimming pool and the scenic mountains beyond. Celebrities and society frequented the Manor, a mountain hide-away perched above the clouds. One of the highlights of the summer at Mayview Manor was the Blowing Rock Charity Horse show, which began in the early 1920’s. The history of leisure horse activities in the High Country can be traced to Moses Cone, the textile tycoon who built Flat Top Manor and developed the miles of Cars line Main Street in this ‘40s-era photograph of Blowing Rock on a busy shopping day. Higher-end establishments such as Hanna’s Oriental Rug Shop, Fincke Gallery and Corina’s dress store are among those in view. From a later era, Gattle’s is another example of a fine shop that once operated on Main Street. Unlike today, most of the shops on Main Street only opened for a few months out of the year – when seasonal residents were in town. 62

High Country Magazine

April / May 2017

“We used to ice skate a lot. Down on Mayview Lake, the ice would be so thick that we could build a fire in the middle of the lake and ice skate around it. All winter long, the ice would be nine or ten inches thick on the lake.” carriage trails weaving through his property. To explore his estate, visitors would ride on horseback, a pleasurable pastime that was a departure from the more utilitarian use of horses. Riding stables sprung up, bringing in horsemen to the area. The horse shows in Blowing Rock originated in the Green Park Inn area, but were moved to the Mayview section by Tom Broyhill, who intended the show to be entertainment for guests at the Mayview Manor. Today, there are horse shows throughout the summer, but during Peggy’s childhood, there was only one 3-day show each year. “It was such a fantastic time, and

all of the elite were there,” said Peggy. “There was a big breakfast, and a dance. Oh, it was beautiful.” Though the Robbins weren’t part of the “horse crowd,” Peggy did manage to get into the Horse Show Dance. “All the boys wanted free movie tickets!” Peggy said that the locals didn’t mix with the summer visitors very much. “You were either part of one crowd, or the other,” she reflected. “Everybody who lived here had to make their living five months out of the year, because in the winter there was no income.”

Everyday Life

Once the summer season ended,

Kids have fun playing in the Blowing Rock Memorial Playground in downtown Blowing Rock in the 1950s




697 West King Street Boone, North Carolina 828.264.6559 www.VillageJewelersltd.com April / May 2017

High Country Magazine


Peggy Robbins Sellers’ parents, Lena and Grover Robbins Sr., were married on a snowy night in 1918 in a little Episcopal church off of Main Street.

The Miller General Store on Main Street operated during Peggy Robbins Sellers’ parents era. In this photo, shop owner Cicero Miller stands in front of his store as three young unidentified children appear to cross Main Street. 64

High Country Magazine

April / May 2017

things got pretty lonely, according to Peggy. “This town was completely dead in the winter times. It snowed so terribly much. Sometimes we brought teachers and children home with us because they couldn’t get home.” Peggy remembers going to a school with just seventy-nine students, in all of the grades. “We had five girls in school that wanted to play basketball, but we didn’t have anyone to do the cheerleading. So what we’d do, we’d play basketball, then during halftime we’d go put on little skirts and do the cheerleading. We were lucky to have a game every two or three weeks, because there was so much snow,” she said. “We used to ice skate a lot. Down on Mayview Lake, the ice would be so thick that we could build a fire in the middle of the lake and ice skate around it. All winter long, the ice would be nine or ten inches thick on the lake.” In warmer weather, Peggy remembers going down to the creek, near where the swimming pool is now. “All the women would gather there with their laundry, and use washboards to clean their clothes in the creek.” Some of the conversations at the creek still amuse Peggy to this day. “I remember the ladies talking, “Did you hear about Aunt Essie? Died yesterday, ninety-seven years old.” Another women asked, “What kilt her?” Can you believe that? Ninety-seven years old, and they wanted to know what killed her! That’s the way things were.” Peggy’s Aunt Blanche lived over on Ransom Street. “She had an outhouse, which was fascinating. In it were a bunch of Montgomery’s catalogs, and we’d go in the outhouse and read the catalogs. She also had a big barn and a hayloft. We’d go up there and play with the pitchfork. They had chickens, and a donkey. Aunt Blanche would warn us, “Don’t walk behind that donkey!” But Spencer didn’t listen. He walked behind the donkey, got kicked and almost bit his tongue in two. They rushed him to the veterinarian, because we didn’t have doctors around back then. They got it sewed up, and he hasn’t stopped talking since.” Early in Peggy’s childhood, the Robbins kept a cow and chickens in their yard. “They tried to teach me how to milk the cow. I couldn’t milk that cow. And the chickens scared me! Then the town said you couldn’t have livestock anymore. I was glad about that.” Peggy remembers having a wood-fired oven in the kitchen. “Every morning, we’d get up for school, and Mother would be in the kitchen making breakfast. She’d get up, build the fire in the stove, make biscuits. She’d be wearing a dress, and have her heels and earrings on! I can’t figure out how she cooked in that stove. How did she know what the tem-

During the Second World War, brothers Grover Jr., 23, and Harry Robbins, 19, came across each other surprisingly when their units stopped in Guam on the way to or from different theaters in the Pacific. This photo was taken in ‘42 or ’43, while Grover served in the Marine Corps and Harry was in the Navy. “It was a real shock to both of them,” sister Peggy Robbins Sellers said. “But it was a bigger shock when mother got the picture.” perature was?” “I remember when Dad insisted she get a gas stove. She didn’t want it. But he got her one and brought it home. First time she used it, she turned it on and left to find a match. She lit the stove and the fire jumped up and burned her face. Dad said, “Next time, find a match BEFORE you light the stove.” I think our family was kind of comical.” Living right in town, the Robbins could walk to church, to work, and to shop. “We’d go to Holshousers to buy groceries. They had food in the lower part, but in the front they had horse collars and caskets. My best friend lived down the street, and if I was walking back after dark, my brother Spencer had to come get me because I’d look up and see the caskets and get scared. One time we were playing hide and seek, and one of our friends got closed in the casket. It was really spooky.” Speaking of spooky, Peggy revealed, “Lots of places were haunted up here, still are! Our old house is haunted. Some people even now won’t stay there (at the Chamber building) by themselves because of it, even in the daytime. My youngest sister Ruth didn’t believe any of this stuff, but one time before daylight, she woke up and saw a figure at the end of the bed, and she never stayed there after that.”

Feed All Regardless of Means REAL. GOOD. FOOD. “Wall Street Journal Says It’s a ‘Must-Stop’ ”

Trip Advisor Review

The F.A.R.M. Cafe is revolutionary and delicious! Yelp Review

617 W. King St., Boone 828.386.1000 Monday - Friday 11:00 am until 2:00 pm www.farmcafe.org April / May 2017

High Country Magazine


Peggy described Main Street. “Where the Mellow Mushroom is now, that used to be a Gulf Station, then across the street was a Texaco, and on the other corner was an Esso station, and then there was another station at the end of the street. No more cars than we had, and all of those gas stations. Isn’t that funny?” Most of the shops in town catered to the summer crowd, and were only open for five months out of the year. These stores carried high-end clothing and gifts, too expensive for most of the locals. Peggy recalled her family’s shopping trips. “For our school clothes, we’d go down to Charlotte. It took a long time to get there. We’d get up at five in the morning, go down and shop at Ivey’s. We’d get those horrible Oxfords that Dad made us wear. We’d buy our coats to last three years. So the first year it was pretty big, then the next year it’d fit, then the third year it was really tight.” All of the Robbins children worked for their father in the tourism ventures. “We all started working by the time we were 15 years old. Grover Jr. had a lemonade stand at The Rock when it first opened.”

The Next Generations Peggy’s brother, Grover Jr. followed in his father’s footsteps to create the Tweetsie Railroad attraction. In 1956, Grover Jr. bought the East Tennessee and Western North Carolina Railroad locomotive from cowboy actor and singer Gene Autry.

Peggy’s father, Grover Robbins Sr. bought The Blowing Rock attraction land from the Bernhardts on her 7th birthday. Back then the property was essentially a dump until the Robbins cleaned it up. A visionary, Grover contacted the Bernhardts and said, “Let me develop it. I think it can be a great tourist area.”

Peggy ran The Blowing Rock attraction for 40 years before passing on the torch to her son Charlie. Immediately upon taking it over a few years ago, Charlie began revamping the grounds and infrastructure in order for The Blowing Rock to retain its prominent fixture in the state’s tourism industry. 66

High Country Magazine

April / May 2017

World War II affected many families in Blowing Rock. Grover Jr. and Harry Robbins both enlisted and were sent overseas. “Grover Jr. went into the marines, and he was wounded in Iwo Jima,” said Peggy. “He was shot in the head, but he survived. That’s probably when he started getting really intelligent. Sometimes a blow in the head will do it. He was in the foxhole with three other guys, and they all died. I remember walking into the kitchen and seeing my mother crying. I’d never seen her cry before.” Grover Jr. came back home and went back to work as a purchasing agent for the Bernhardt’s furniture company, then started his own brokerage business for lumber companies. Grover Jr. inherited his father’s penchant for tourism. In the early 1950’s, he bought a miniature steam engine that was manufactured for the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis. Dubbed “Tweesie Jr.,” the train carried children along a small track that Grover built in Mayview Park. In 1956, Grover Jr. bought the Tweetsie locomotive from Gene Autry, who had originally planned to take the train to California to use in a movie. Transporting the train turned out to be too costly for Mr. Autry, and Grover jumped at the opportunity to bring the engine back to the North Carolina mountains. Peggy recalled, “They had a terrible time getting the train up the mountain; they almost didn’t make it. My dad told Grover Jr. that he was crazy! Dad died June of that year, and never got to see it run.” Grover Jr. opened the Tweetsie Railroad park in 1957, then went on to develop other tourist attractions with his brothers, Harry and Spencer. They were involved in opening the Blowing Rock Ski Lodge, which later became Appalachian Ski Mountain, The Hound Ears Golf and Country Club, Beech Mountain Resort, and The Land Of Oz. Sadly, Grover Jr. passed away from cancer in 1970, just before The Land of Oz opened. The Robbins continue to be involved in promoting tourism in the High Country. Harry’s son, Chris Robbins, owns and operates Tweetsie Railroad, which is celebrating its 60th season this year. Peggy ran The Blowing Rock for forty years, before passing the baton to her son, Charlie, who runs the attraction today. Charlie invested in renovations to the property, and introduced new ways to enjoy The Blowing Rock with annual music festivals in September, a venue for weddings and private parties, and the first annual Shagging Festival planned for August of this year. He recently converted the caretaker’s cottage to a museum, with photos and artifacts from the history of Blowing Rock and tourism in the High Country. With their dedication to historic preservation passion for bringing visitors to the area, the Robbins family has touched many of lives. Thousands have memories of working at Tweetsie or the other attractions, and millions have made traditions of visiting landmarks that are part of the Robbins legacy. t

April / May 2017

High Country Magazine


The Green Park Inn


Grande Dame of High Country History

High Country Magazine

April / May 2017

By Randy Johnson


first moved to the High Country in the 1970s. As a history fan, I realized the white, rambling Green Park Inn was a remnant an earlier era. Sadly, the way things were going, it didn’t look like the 1891 Grande Dame would hang on. Historic hotels had vanished throughout the Appalachians. The Mayview Manor in Blowing Rock and the Daniel Boone Hotel in Boone had been recently razed. Unlike today, when “historic structures” often find a new use, crumbling 19th- and early 20th-century mountain accommodations were just out-ofdate evidence that the earliest era of mountain tourism wasn’t coming back. I’ve since spent years rooting for the return of the Green Park Inn, including the hotel in travel articles, stopping in over time. As it struggled to survive, I remained a fan of the often empty, deteriorating Victorian structure. Long story short—if you haven’t noticed—the Green Park has finally found a solid future in the past. History is more popular than ever, and Charlie Ellis, Blowing Rock’s favorite piano man, who performs solo at the hotel on Friday and Saturday evenings, embodies that new future. As proprietor of the 1970s and ‘80s Blowing Rock institution the Jazz Parlour, Ellis still has legions of longtime local fans. Last winter, when he and his Charlie Ellis Trio played their last gig together, they sold out the Green Park’s Chestnut Grille dining room.

Already distinguished in the mid-20th century (below), today’s Green Park Inn is a resurgent, resplendent landmark in the 21st.

April / May 2017

High Country Magazine


That busy night listening to Charlie Ellis, it was easy to imagine what the hotel must have been like in its heyday. More important, that evening proved that the landmark hotel is once again a vibrant place. At the Green Park, people are again making memories for the future—and not just remembering times gone by.

Appalachian Phoenix on the Rise

It’s hard to believe but back when the Green Park got its start, it would be decades before automobiles even started to make their way up the “turnpike” from Lenoir.

Early Green Park post cards were the colorized classics published by the Curt Teich company. Similar cards pictured the Blowing Rock, a favorite perch for early photos of “daring automobilists.”


The Green Park was a happenin’ hub of social life in the High Country in the days just before World War II. Charlie Ellis performed on the same stage just last winter.

High Country Magazine

April / May 2017

Finally, after decades of doubt under various owners, the Green Park is settling into celebrated old age as a rare survivor of its era—but the transition has been anything but easy. The Great Recession closed the doors in 2009, and with bulldozers poised, New York investors Steve and Eugene Irace rescued the hotel on the courthouse steps. The brothers lead a fourth generation commercial real estate development firm on Long Island just east of Queens. Steve Irace, the younger sibling most involved in the Green Park’s operation, was a prosecutor for the Nassau County District Attorney for 23 years. With a passion for the past and an undergraduate degree in American history, Steve retired into the real estate firm in the 1990s as his father’s health started failing. His older brother Gene “is a preservationist and frustrated architect,” Steve says. “If he wasn’t in business he’d be an artist.” No wonder the brothers have dipped their toes in the world of historic properties over the years. At one time, they owned a ski lodge at Stratton Mountain, Vermont. They still own two motels on the Florida Coast just south of St. Augustine, one the historic Palm Coast Villas, a classic, early 20th-century motel. The property is made of the same coquina rock mined from the beach that the Spanish used to build St. Augustine’s Castillo de San Marcos, the oldest masonry fort in the continental United States. Fast forward to 2009 when an astounding turn of events led the duo to the Green Park. Amazingly, a contractor who’d worked with the Iraces on Long Island had retired to Deep Gap. He noticed the old Blowing Rock hotel and “got Gene on the phone,” says Steve, “and told him this beautiful old hotel was in danger of being torn down.” Gene Irace made a trip to Blowing Rock and found the hotel boarded up and falling down. Frozen water pipes had collapsed ceilings. “Luckily, Gene didn’t see

“We like knowing that our money is going towards preserving a historical place. It’s so rewarding. We’d choose a historic hotel over a modern one every single time.” – CRYSTAL STEPHENS

Flanked by Steve Irace (left) and Blowing Rock dignitaries, general manager Lorry Mulhern wields the scissors to cut the ribbon on a new life for the Green Park in 2011.

the hotel for what it was back then. He saw this,” Steve says, gesturing around the immaculately restored lobby during a recent 2017 interview. At the time, says Steve, “I was very lukewarm to the idea of buying the hotel. I never even saw the Green Park till we bought it!” Today, the parking lot again brims with cars and the lobby bustles with history buffs. The rocking chair-lined front porch and lobby are busy with guests, some with dogs in this pet friendly hotel. Now a member of the Historic Hotels of America, the Green Park’s extensive renovation—fresh paint, all new furnishings, and much more—was honored by the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 2012 as a “Preservation Success Story.” In 2015, it was named “Best Small Historic Hotel.” Green Park Inn general manager Lorry Mulhern, who oversaw a half-decade of successful restoration of the hotel for the Iraces, calls the brothers “hotel affectionados” for their dedication to this and other historic properties.

Eugene Irace (left) and brother Steve (right) celebrate the inn’s 125th anniversary in 2016.

A Special Spot

Like the hotel itself, the aptly-named Divide Lounge and its massive, ornate original bar perch at 3,600 feet on the Eastern Continental Divide. Steve Irace, who often engages guests when he spends time at the Inn, is surprised how many people don’t know what the Eastern Continental Divide is. He explains by pointing to the big stained glass “W” and “E” above the door to the bar. “What that means,” he says, “is that if you spill a drink on one side of the room, it’ll go to the Mississippi, and if you spill one on the other, it’ll end up in the Atlantic.” Drinks spilled in this historic watering hole will be cleaned up before they flow anywhere, but the summer rain showers that fall on the Green Park’s roof are indeed dispensed by topography to opposite sides of the continent. Outside the bar, beside a cozy library, a gallery of historic guests gaze down at modern visitors. Among those pictured are Eleanor Roosevelt, Annie Oakley, and Margaret Mitchell, the latter reportedly writing part of Gone with the Wind at the hotel. That kind of atmosphere keeps the past present for a growing

Hotel “GM” Lorry Mulhern welcomes you to the Green Park’s inviting lobby. clientele of regular guests like Crystal and Mickey Stephens of Rock Hill, South Carolina. After honeymooning at the hotel in 2015, the Stephens return often. “We’d driven by many times before and always wanted to April / May 2017

High Country Magazine


TO LEFT, FROM TOP TO BOTTOM: The Green Park’s breakfast nook is where tea is served in the afternoon. A look down the lobby. The inn’s library is just outside The Divide lounge. stay,” Crystal states. “We both love historical places and we get very excited when we see one as well preserved as the Green Park Inn.” The couple are captivated by the charm of creaking floors, old time wallpapers and color schemes, original leaded glass doors and chandeliers, and a breakfast nook that serves afternoon tea. They’ve noticed “a significant increase in guests recently, which makes us very happy,” Crystal told me over drinks by the fireplace in the Divide Lounge. “We’re excited to see it thrive and watch others enjoy it’s beauty just like we do.” Thankfully, increasing numbers of people like the Stephens are seeking out historic properties and owners like the Irace brothers are ever more motivated to preserve what’s left of our heritage. Granted, many Historic Hotels of America properties are owned by massive chains like Omni, which claims Virginia’s Homestead Resort (250 years old last year, thus “America’s first resort”), and Asheville’s Grove Park Inn (see sidebar). But the Green Park seems as much about passion as profit. “If you peruse the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s guide to the Historic Hotels of America,” says Steve Irace, “you’d be surprised how many of the 260 properties are owned by people who aren’t pure hoteliers. It’s a mission for many people, like my brother and me, people with an appreciation of the past, the will, and a few extra dollars.” “We have people visit from outside the United States and a 125-year old hotel isn’t necessarily old if you come from Europe,” he asserts. “But if people don’t try to preserve places like this, we’ll lose the history we have. As this country becomes more diverse, all we have to bind us together is our history. As a nation, it’s important that we protect that past.”

Great Guests

For all the above reasons, owner Irace and his guests have a lot in common. “We have the best guests,” Irace says smiling. “They’re educated, interested in history, open to discussion,” all qualities that apply to Steve Irace, himself a historian, and an especially lively conversationalist when history and his hotel come up. “The Green Park just draws people who want this BELOW, LEFT TO RIGHT: The Green Park’s rooms reflect the historic distinction that few if any are alike. And don’t expect an artfully concealed sprinkler system either. Check-in has an “old time” feel.


High Country Magazine

April / May 2017

kind of experience,” he maintains. “This building self-selects that kind of guest, and I think it may have always been like that.” As his talks with guests wind down, Irace always urges them to take their room copy of the Historic Hotels of America guide book and “seek out other great places.” A few of those are close by, like the Mast Farm Inn in Valle Crucis.

Increasing Rewards

Upgrades at the Green Park impress, but don’t expect cookie-cutter modernity. “I could wander for hours just looking at all the hotel’s unique, quirky characteristics,” Crystal Stephens continues. The couple love how every room is differOnce the grand ballroom, the inn’s Chestnut Grille dining room is center stage for a modern casual menu ent, and there are parts of the and occasional live music that recalls the distant past. hotel where the floors are a little uneven and some things don’t match. “I was mesmerized by one and then converted to a hotel,” he says. An example is Charperfectly preserved bathroom with period tile,” Crystal says. “It lotte’s Dunhill Hotel, a downtown Historic Hotel of America first opened in 1929 as an apartment building. “The heart of the was beautiful.” Irace is serious about making sure the hotel reflects the rich- Green Park was a hotel in the 1800s,” he says. “Other wings were ness of its past. “Unlike some hotels in the Historic Hotels of added later, in the 1920s and 1950s, and each part of the hotel America, the Green Park wasn’t built for some other purpose still speaks to its era.”


Convenient Location Effortless Travel

Book your trip today. April / May 2017

High Country Magazine


TO RIGHT: With Charlie Ellis at the piano on Friday and Saturday nights, joined here by a guest songstress, the Green Park is a great weekend choice for evening entertainment. Irace is conservatively improving interior amenities; new vanities, granite or quartz bathroom components, but “parts of the hotel reflect different historical styles and we like that. The Green Park is not a Disney facade with a chain hotel inside it.” Irace did replace a crystal chandelier in the ladies lobby bathroom with more modern fixtures, “just don’t tell my brother,” he whispers. Steve calls Gene “the voice from afar. Every day he calls to see how many rooms are rented,” he chuckles.

The Personal Touch

The Stephens particularly appreciate the hotel’s attentive, friendly staff—and they aren’t the only people who praise the hotel’s workforce. “A big part of our success is Lorry and her vision,” Steve Irace says of the hotel’s general manager, Lorry Mulhern. “When you think about it, all Gene and I do is write checks. It’s Lorry who’s always pointing out that a historic structure is always going to have its quirks—so you have to focus on hospitality.” “A good staff doesn’t fall out of the sky,” Irace admits, and he credits Mulhern with shaping the hotel’s energetic, involved crew. Mulhern passes the buck, saying her staff is a key part of the Green Park story. “They’re great,” she says, “truly vested in this hotel. They play the biggest role in bringing her back and keeping her back.” Mulhern’s staff is trained to notice service opportunities. Though non-invasive, admits Irace, the staff have their antenna up if there’s evidence afoot of a birthday, anniversary, or proposal. “In that case, Lorry may make a discreet inquiry and end up sending in a bottle of wine,” Irace says. “There’s a lot of choice out there. We try hard to be special.” “The staff don’t need me here, they have it covered,” Irace maintains, but he is in residence at the hotel one week a month. “I don’t work here, I own it—I come most because I like the guest experience.”

The original bar and colorful stained glass windows of The Divide lounge sit squarely on the Eastern Continental Divide. It’s easily the High Country’s earliest surviving watering hole.

TO RIGHT: Green Park chef Sam Beasley presides over a huge Victorian kitchen recently upgraded with a half million dollar investment in equipment and infrastructure. 74

High Country Magazine

April / May 2017

People’s Choice

WINNER In Recognition of Excellence


Hwy. 105 in Linville at the foot of Grandfather Mountain 828.733.3726 | %FTJHO t *OTUBMMBUJPO t .BJOUBJOBODF Member: NC Nursery & Landscaping Association April / May 2017

High Country Magazine


Nevertheless, he plays his own role. “I do a little quality control. I watch and make sure I like what I see.” He also talks to guests, a big help with quality control, but he also ends up being a bit of a concierge.

Bringing it Back

area that displays the historic hotel’s namesake Green Park style of stackedstone rock work. Running a hotel restaurant is “a tough business,” Irace says, especially with so many great restaurants in Blowing Rock. It took some time to fine tune the hotel’s food service, but today Irace is satisfied that the Green Park has a competitively priced, successful eatery that tempts people from the community and offers hotel guests a great reason “to leave the car in the parking lot if they’re tired and don’t want to go anywhere.” Another benefit—breakfast. “Between great room rates and a chef-prepared, made-to-order breakfast that’s included,” says Irace, “we have to be one of the most affordable places to stay in Blowing Rock.”

Mulhern started with the hotel leading the pre-opening renovation process seven years ago. That effort was so extensive, Irace admits he’s lucky the hotel was acquired in a bank auction so the brothers didn’t have to clean it out. “Everything of value was already carried off.” The task of opening the hotel has convinced him that decades of earlier financial trouble were likely caused by bad business decisions. The focus had been on cosmetics for years and by the early 21st-century, the time had come to restore long-neglected infrastrucMore than Money ture. After recent years doing just that, The Stephens come back because the hotel employs four full time maintethey’re impressed with the hotel’s value nance men, “real craftsmen,” Irace says. Cozy Green Park hallways lead to restored rooms, but one of and the staff, but a little paranormal exthe doors opens to a small but modern fitness center. Once, “they raised and repaired an enperience doesn’t hurt. Look closely at the floor during your workout. tire corner of the hotel.” On one quiet day at the inn, the The tiny dots are golf spikes from back when a The former closure of the hotel couple decided to take a nap. Crystal nine-hole course surrounded the inn. meant that aging facilities that had been fell asleep and dreamed that two little “grandfathered in” now needed comgirls in period clothing were in their plete renovation. More than half a million dollars was invested room. “I started to feel something pushing on the bed,” she says, to undergird and modernize the huge, Victorian kitchen. “I can “and when I opened my eyes there were two little girls standing assure you,” Irace says, “no one can see most of the money we’ve at our feet, smiling. They were only there for a couple of seconds spent here. Preservation comes first, and that requires a focus on before they vanished,” she recalls, “but they had such a sweet structural soundness and safety.” and good natured presence about them, I didn’t feel the least disOngoing renovation of the hotel’s rooms also rolled out over turbed. It was a very pleasant experience.” years, but at first, “we just had to get rooms open in the middle Bottom line for the Stephens and many modern guests, “The of a Great Recession,” he recalls. “We had to decide whether we hotel gives a very welcoming, peaceful, family vibe,” Crystal says. were going to embrace all the modern amenities found in high- “It doesn’t feel like a hotel. It feels like Grandma’s house.” end hotels.” The brothers concluded that the Recession required “getting it open simpler and soon.” Time Machine Travel That doesn’t mean they scrimped. “There wasn’t a stick of With the Green Park again glistening and caring people back furniture left,” Lorry Mulhern agrees, “but we weren’t going to on the staff and signing the guest register, it’s easier to appreciate open the hotel in the furniture capital of the country and not use, what we might have lost if this still-beating heart of High Country Made-In-America, Thomasville and Broyhill furniture.” history were gone. Imagine if this namesake of a once separate vilBesides likely being truer to the hotel’s history, a “simpler ap- lage of Green Park was just a green grassy spot beside the road. proach” also addressed a major aspiration for the brothers. “We Banish the thought! Thanks to the Irace brothers, Mulhern, concluded that the smartest thing we could do was make a stay and their employees, it’s apparent to people like Tracy Brown at the Green Park affordable,” he confesses. “We’re the guardians what the community has gained. The Executive Director of the of a national treasure, and if it’s going to remain one, we need a Blowing Rock Tourism Development Authority was among those price point that makes it accessible to people.” celebrating Charlie Ellis’ last group concert at the hotel in JanuThe Green Park’s rate card indeed delivers surprising afford- ary. ability, and the hotel’s Chestnut Grille dining room reflects that “Having the Green Park Inn survive and thrive gives Blowing approach. The new restaurant still occupies the original “grand Rock an experience that can’t be found elsewhere in the High ballroom” of the hotel, which explains the stage where the Char- Country,” Brown argues. “It gives us a competitive edge. Only the lie Ellis Trio played last winter, but you won’t see starched collars Green Park Inn can offer the history and character of the Green like you would have in fancy dining days gone by. Today diners Park Inn experience.” enjoy a casual, modern menu surrounded by rich chestnut panBrown drops in on weekends to enjoy Ellis as a solo act at the eling. There’s also an appealing, warm-weather outdoor dining Green Park. “Classy entertainment, fabulous food, and a com76

High Country Magazine

April / May 2017

fortable tavern only add to the hotel’s appeal,” he promises. “Everyone who visits, or lives or works in Blowing Rock, should be grateful that the hotel’s owners had the vision and dedication to preserve such an icon. It’s a symbol of the long and storied tradition of gracious Southern hospitality that Blowing Rock is famous for.” Irace hopes to make the old hotel an increasing part of community life, a role it has played for more than a century. He knows “the place fell hard” before its new lease on life, so he’s overcoming sketchy recent decades with free events like Ellis’ weekend evening gigs and music on the verandah concerts in warm weather. “Investing in an historic property is a little like asking, ‘if we build it, will they come?’” he admits. “But we’re back, and I believe, better than ever.” The future of that community connection looks bright, in part because the new

US 321 being built on the hotel’s doorstep will have a beautiful sidewalk to lead hotel guests into town. When that link to Blowing Rock opens, complete with its now breathtaking vista of Grandfather Mountain, the Inn will likely offer its guests bicycles.

Checking Out

After a recent stay at the Green Park, my wife, our dog, and I checked out of a hotel I’d long hoped would survive. On my way out, I chuckled at the Stephens’ analogy that the Green Park is kind’a like Grandma’s house. What a perfect image in a town founded on long summer vacations like the ones kids used to spend with grandparents. In fact, Blowing Rock got its late-1800s start back when Southern gentry would come up to spend months in the cool mountain world high above the South’s summer heat. Sadly, for many of us, those days dis-

The Other “GPI” Asheville’s Omni Grove Park Inn

If you have to leave town to justify springing for lodging—the other “GPI”— Asheville’s Grove Park Inn—is worth a special trip. The massive stone structure overlooking Asheville atop Sunset Mountain, was built and its astounding lobby fireplaces first flamed in 1913. The iconic hotel is the work of Edwin Grove, inventor of the popular, late-1800s anti-malaria treatment Grove’s Tasteless Chill Tonic and other cold remedies. Grove left Asheville another landmark, downtown’s elegant market, Grove Arcade. The Grove Park’s imposing historic core is a mass of boulders housing a central atrium of room-flanked floors that overlook an impressive vista of Asheville on one side, and on the other, the main entry to the inn—F. Scott Fitzgerald’s choice. His favorite room still overlooks the attractive ladies checking-in to the hotel. Historic elevators hide in the fireplace jumble of rock. Chairs in front of the cavernous main lobby’s monumental fireplaces are a favorite spot to sip a drink. Much of the furniture in the lobby and guest rooms are finely preserved arts and crafts antiques manufactured for the then new hotel by the Roycroft studios. Outside the lobby, on Sunset Terrace, a steakhouse menu complements a knock-your-socks-off view of the city and its surrounding ring of major mountain ranges. Two multi-story, later wings flank the historic hotel. Just under Sunset Terrace, between the two wings, stairs descend into waterfall-filled grottos where a 43,000-square-foot spa includes subterranean, cave-like water features and spa service spaces

appear with our grandparents. But you can still visit the Green Park, an increasingly vivid reminder of that past. Your grandmother may not be there (unless you take her!), but her house is in better shape than it’s ever been—thanks to people like the Irace brothers and returning guests like the Stephens. “We like knowing that our money is going towards preserving a historical place,” confesses Crystal Stephens. “It’s so rewarding. We’d choose a historic hotel over a modern one every single time.” t – Randy Johnson’s new book Grandfather Mountain: The History and Guide to an Appalachian Icon is the definitive volume on the history of the High Country (including more than a few incidents in the history of the Green Park Inn). It’s a finalist for 2017’s Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Award for travel.

reminiscent of European spas in Finland and the Alps. There are even fireplace-lit outdoor spa pools. Be sure to book your spa day passes or treatments when you make your room reservation—otherwise space may not be available in what Conde Nast Traveler calls one of the “Top Resort Spas in the U.S.” The spa is just the start for active guests. The Grove Park is a noted tennis resort, and a Donald Ross-designed golf course sprawls below the resort. There’s also a 50,000-square-foot sports/fitness and pool facility with everything that couples and families could want, including extensive programs. And it’s all available indoors, which makes winter a bestkept secret time to escape winter in the High Country during the less busy season at one of America’s most distinctive members of the Historic Hotels of America. Of course, plan ahead and summer’s worth a visit too, especially if you’re a summer resident of the High Country who wants to spent a little time in the warmer, sunnier summer of Asheville.

Checking in or out, the boulder-built facade of the Omni Grove Park Inn is impressive. Photo by Randy Johnson April / May 2017

High Country Magazine


Appalachian Mountain Photography Competition



he winners of the 14th annual Appalachian Mountain Photography Competition were announced during the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour stop in Boone during late March. Of the 900 submissions, nearly 50 were finalists. Of those finalists, these are the winners and special jury mention: • Our Ecological Footprint Winner “Top Burden Valley Fill” by Lynn Willis • Blue Ridge Parkway A Place to Play Winner “Summer Days” by Ryan Davis • Culture Winner “Granny’s Got a Gun” by Candice Corbin • Adventure Winner “Boardwalk in the Fog” by Lynn Willis • Flora/Fauna Winner “Eternal Beauty” by Ronald Kevin Combs • Landscape Winner “An Entrance to Winter” by Robert Stephens • Best in Show “South Mountain WildFire” by Cathy Anderson • People’s Choice “An Entrance to Winter” by Robert Stephens • Special Jury Mention “Taxidermy” by Candice Corbin • Special Jury Mention “Gone Huntin’” by Candice Corbin • Special Jury Mention “Cherokee” by Byron Jurists were Andrew Caldwell, a professor of commercial photography, as well as a practicing commercial and contemporary fine art photographer, and Ann Pegelow Kaplan, a professor in the Department of Cultural, Gender, and Global Studies and a faculty affiliate of the Department of Art and Interdisciplinary Studies. Presented by ASU Outdoor Programs, the Turchin Center for the Visual Arts, and Virtual Blue Ridge and sponsored by Mast General Store, the 14th annual Appalachian Mountain Photography Competition receives support from Appalachian Voices, Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation, Footsloggers, Nikon, Bistro Roca, Peabody’s and Stick Boy Bread. The winners were announced at the competition’s reception in the Turchin Center for the Visual Arts as part of Banff Film Festival Weekend in Boone. At the reception, Rich Campbell, organizer of the local Banff festival, said that the AMPC is one of the premiere photo competitions in the Southeast. While the film festival showcases outdoor communities across the world, Campbell said that the AMPC was created to highlight the High Country and greater Appalachia and “to give everyone in our community a direct tangible link of what’s so special about the southern Appalachians.” The “Appalachian Mountain Photography Competition” exhibition will be housed in the Mezzanine Gallery from March 3 to June 3, 2017.

Best in Show “South Mountain Wildfire” by Cathy Anderson, 14th annual Appalachian Mountain Photography Competition 78

High Country Magazine

April / May 2017

Blue Ridge Parkway A Place to Play Winner “Summer Days” by Ryan Davis, 14th annual Appalachian Mountain Photography Competition

Flora / Fauna Winner “Eternal Beauty” by Ronald Kevin Combs, 14th annual Appalachian Mountain Photography Competition

Adventure Winner “Boardwalk in the Fog” by Lynn Willis, 14th annual Appalachian Mountain Photography Competition

Special Jury Mention “Cherokee” by Byron, 14th annual Appalachian Mountain Photography Competition

Culture Winner “Granny’s Got a Gun” by Candice Corbin, 14th annual Appalachian Mountain Photography Competition

Our Ecological Footprint Winner “Top Burden Valley Fill” by Lynn Willis, 14th annual Appalachian Mountain Photography Competition

Landscape Winner & People’s Choice “An Entrance to Winter” by Robert Stephens, 14th annual Appalachian Mountain Photography Competition

Special Jury Mention “Gone Huntin’ ” by Candice Corbin, 14th annual Appalachian Mountain Photography Competition

Special Jury Mention “Taxidermy” by Candice Corbin, 14th annual Appalachian Mountain Photography Competition

Jamie Goodman of Appalachian Voices stands with photographer Lynn Willis at the AMPC Photographer’s Reception in the Turchin Center. Willis was Our Ecological Footprint winner with his image, “Top Burden Valley Fill.” Appalachian Voices sponsored this category. The AMPC exhibition will be shown in the Turchin Center through June 3, 2017. April / May 2017

High Country Magazine


Parting Shot...


Grizzlies Come To Town

hen the Holmes Convocation Center first opened in September of 2000, residents of the High Country probably gave no thought to the prospect of an arena league football team coming to Boone. But after years of increasingly successful seasons from Appalachian State University’s football program, the High Country’s appetite for top-notch football necessitated bringing another team to town. Last July, Boone did just that. In a July 14 press conference, the High Country Grizzlies officially announced that the American Indoor Football League had awarded Western North Carolina a franchise to become part of its 20-team league. Shorty after that conference, the AIFL announced that it would disband, seemingly leaving the newly-franchised team without a league in which to compete. Luckily for the High Country, the Grizzlies became one of the first three teams to be named to the Arena Development League, which later chose to rename itself the National Arena League to reflect their mission to be “the highest rung on the indoor football league chain.” Now with the league’s season well underway and two victories under their belt, the High Country Grizzlies continue their mission to be the highest rung within the NAL, which is currently comprised of eight teams ranging as far north as Ohio and Pennsylvania and as far south as Mexico. On March 20, the league revealed the addition of a ninth team, the Jersey Flight, for next year’s season. In early March, the Grizzlies announced their final, 24-man roster, which includes three former App State footballers and one former App State track athlete. Fans of App State athletics will 80

High Country Magazine

April / May 2017

recognize Grizzlies wide receivers Malachi Jones, Dexter Jackson and Cody Sterrett and defensive back Troy Sanders. In addition to former App State standouts, the High Country team has also signed three players with experience in the NFL and numerous veterans of various arena football leagues. One of those indoor football veterans is quarterback Stephen Panasuk, having tossed the pigskin for the Wichita Force, Cleveland Gladiators, Kentucky Drillers, Wyoming Cavalry and the Trenton Freedom since his start in arena football in 2013. While football lovers of the High Country always expect the hometown team to give it their all when taking the field, the Grizzlies’ field may confuse some fans, considering that it occupies the same space that ASU’s basketball team does during its home games. While the spirit of traditional football certainly lies at the center of the National Arena League, the 50-yard-long fields and ten-foot-wide goalposts clearly put a spin on America’s favorite sport. If you haven’t had the chance to check out the High Country’s first and only arena football team, it’s not too late! After traveling to Columbus, Georgia for an April 22 matchup against the Lions, the Grizzlies will return to Boone for its final three home games of the season on May 7, 20 and 27. You can order single-game or season tickets online at highcountrygrizzlies.com. One of the best parts about seeing the Grizzlies? Single-game tickets start at only $12 for adults and $9 for children. Don’t miss your chance to cheer on the Grizzlies in their historic opening season in the High Country! By Bailey Faulkner

www.salemwindowsanddoors.com NEW HOMES • REPLACEMENT • REMODEL


Proudly Featuring Products By


High Country Location: 8968 Highway 105 South, Boone, NC 28607

(828) 963-6016

April / May 2017

High Country Magazine


Turn static files into dynamic content formats.

Create a flipbook
Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.