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Volume 15 • Issue 5 June 2021

June 2021





Dianne Davant Moffitt, ASID Pamela McKay, ASID Priscilla Hyatt Councill,

Banner Elk, North Carolina 828.963.7500 Stuart, Florida 772.781.1400 davant-interiors.com B


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PremierSIR.com | 828.898.5022 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. June 2021 HIGH COUNTRY MAGAZ Property information herein is derived from various sources including, but not limited to, county records and multiple listing services, and may include approximations. All information is deemed accurate.



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June 2021

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LUXURY LIVING 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. Call to learn more or schedule a private tour.

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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 asHlegal, accounting June 2021 IGH C O U or N tax T Radvice. Y M Sotheby’s AGAZI 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.



MacHouse Designs CONSIGNMENT

1516 Main Street in Blowing Rock • 828-818-0022 Visit Us At on Facebook@MacHouse Design

Machouse Design is a family business owned by Scott and Maria Coombes and their daughter Katie Beth. featuring DESIGNER HIGH END FURNITURE and CONSIGNMENT PIECES Acquired from Fine Home Collections

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MacHouse Designs has new and gently used collections of living room, dining room and bedroom furniture along with elegant rugs, floor and table lamps, and a special collection of framed art, plus mirrors, wall tapestrys, vases, custom florals and more.

When you visit MacHouse you will be warmly welcomed by Ms. Pat, the wonderful mother of Maria and her three sisters. Pictured left to right are Angela, Christi, Maria, Michelle and Pat, who are all part of the MacHouse Design Team. Visit Us on Facebook@MacHouse Design 6


June 2021

Let our professionals customize your furniture. If there’s a piece you love that needs a new look we can customize the color or texture to fit any design!

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“The first time I walked in the door of MacHouse Design/Consignment I found a treasure. In fact, I find a treasure almost every time I walk through the door there. MacHouse can help make that a possibility for you too. If you’re looking for something special,  you might want to put this place on your radar. You never know what you may find.” Louann Kitchell

“One of our favorite places to visit in Blowing Rock is the MacHouse. We find amazing pieces each time we visit. Maria and her family are wonderful and can always be relied upon for ideas and helpful suggestions. We have even become Consignors ourselves at the MacHouse! Mario and Tiffany Iraheta

June 2021





30 30

Man on the Mountain


Horn in the West Returns


David Brewer’s Music Scene


45 Years of Firefighting


Golf Communities ‘Partner’ with Avery County

Jesse Pope reflects on his life at Grandfather Mountain, the many people who have inspired him and what the future holds for the mountain.


After COVID-19 put a halt to the Horn in the West production in 2020, the Revolutionary War drama is ready for a major comeback in 2021.

Local musician David Brewer talks about his life with music as one of his main passions, from his time in a youth choir to his musical career through today.


From the early days of firefighting through present-day training and equipment, current and former members share their Linville Volunteer Fire Department memories.


Second home owners at the golf communities in Avery County have formed a tight bond with county residents and donate their time and money to make the county a better place.


Lending a Helping Hand The Watauga Compassionate Community Initiative was formed five years ago and strives to help many individuals in need throughout Watauga County.


on the cover Todd Bush

For this year’s annual June cover shoot, Todd Bush visited the Elk River Club in Banner Elk and chose the setting down by the clubhouse patio dining area where the photo was taken with the Elk River and the golf course in the background. Roxann Saltman from Zionville agreed to be our model this year. We thank Roxann for spending the morning modelling in a number of different settings to get that perfect shot. And our thanks to the staff at Elk River Club for their hospitality in making the shoot possible. John Mena, owner and master stylist of Haircut 101 in downtown Boone styled Roxann’s hair for the photo this year. This now makes cover number ten for photographer extraordinaire Todd Bush in our Welcome Back Summer Residents series. Todd Bush is well known across the High Country for more than 25 years of photography work for commercial enterprises. You can see examples of his amazing work by visiting his website at www.BushPhoto.com. 8

Visit www.bushphoto.com June 2021



A R E A ' S



www.artcellargallery.com Herb Jackson June 2021




A Publication Of High Country Press Publications

Editor & Publisher Ken Ketchie

Art Director Debbie Carter Advertising Director Jeffrey Green

Ken Ketchie

Here We Go . . . Back To Some Summertime Fun


t looks like the curtains are starting to be thrown open on stages across the High Country, and the sun is beginning to shine through as entertainment of all kinds are beginning to reappear after this nasty pandemic caused us to miss out on all of the summer performances last year. As we were gathering information for this year’s summer calendar for our June issue, the event planners across all of the venues were cautiously optimistic about making plans for their summer entertainment schedules. Although there are some venues that are still waiting for better guidance before fully reopening for economic reasons, many places are adjusting to the new normal and are booking bands and selling tickets to their performances — getting ready to let the good times roll again. Folks can look forward to a mix between theater shows, art galleries, live music performances, our favorite annual events and much more taking place throughout the months ahead. Caution and common sense are certainly playing a role for those who will be welcoming audiences back this summer. Some organizations still have safety protocols in places such as requiring masks or limiting the number of ticket sales to ensure opportunities for people to have some space and social distance. Something new audience members will learn all about when purchasing tickets is a concept known as pod seating. The highly anticipated Appalachian Summer Festival and other performances getting ready to take place this season like Beech Mountain Resort’s Summer Concert Series are selling event tickets in groups. An Appalachian Summer Festival is selling tickets in sets of two, four or six, whereas Beech Mountain Resort is putting a max of six guests to a ticket to create groups — or pods. These pods make it so that attendees can enjoy the experience with their friends and family or folks they are comfortable with while also social distancing from other groups. Outdoor events are already seeing good crowds as folks seem comfortable because of the fresh air constantly circulating and being able to easily move around. It is certainly a welcome return for the outdoor events as most of those were canceled or postponed as well in 2020. A variety of types of events are being offered this summer season such as indoor, outdoor, in-person and virtual to make entertainment accessible for everyone. I think the guiding principle for those of us ready to attend some events this summer is to rely on our own level of comfortability. And we should respect our audiences members around us as we all try to get back in the groove of things. So if you’re ready to venture out for some entertainment this summer, check out our calendar of events on the following pages to help plan your opportunities of High Country happenings. 10


June 2021

Contributing Writers Nathan Ham Harley Nefe Jan Todd Anna Oakes Harris Prevost

Contributing Photographer Todd Bush High Country Magazine is produced by the staff and contributors of High Country Press Publications, which serves Watauga and Avery counties of North Carolina

HIGH COUNTRY MAGAZINE P.O. Box 152, Boone, NC 28607 828-264-2262 Follow our magazine online where each issue is presented in a flip-through format. Check it out at:

HighCountryMagazine.com Reproduction or use in whole or part of the contents of this magazine without written permission of the publisher is prohibited. Issues are FREE throughout the High Country. © 2021 by High Country Press. All Rights Reserved.



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June 2021



e r ’ u o Y fI a dy e R

On the Calendar for Summer 2021 Concerts in the Parks

4th of July

Music Venues

Art Galleries

Summer Theater

and More . . .


Farmers Markets

You’ll Have Lots of Choices This Summer Summer

After Summer 2020 where lots of events had to be cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic, many High Country favorites are making a return in Summer 2021. There are a variety of events being offered, with some being held virtually and others in-person with safety measures. Therefore, whatever your comfort level may be, there will be enjoyable experiences for everyone, if you’re ready. Compiled By Harley Nefe Entertainment Industry Adapts and Overcomes Pandemic in 2021


hen the COVID-19 pandemic hit over a year ago, everything the entertainment industry knew as normal changed as many events had to be cancelled. “The performing arts industry has been traveling through a very dark tunnel these past 15 months,” said Gary Smith, Artistic Director for Ensemble Stage. Other entertainment venues found ways to adapt. “Last spring, when the realities of COVID-19 became apparent, we were proud to respond quickly by maintaining the quality of our programming and staying true to our mission with an all-virtual season of An Appalachian Summer Festival 2020,” said Allison West, Director of Marketing and Public Relations for Appalachian State University’s Office of Arts and Cultural Programs. “We continued that approach throughout the academic year with our Schaefer Center Presents series and visual arts events.” However, with the easing of safety guidelines comes the return of many per-

formances this summer. “Thanks to some amazing support and encouragement, Ensemble Stage has made it through that tunnel, and we are already in rehearsals for our first productions of 2021,” Smith said. Charles Hardin at the Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce said he is also happy to get the summer schedule rolling again. Despite events returning, it doesn’t mean that everything is going back to how it was before COVID-19. Organizations are still prioritizing the health and safety of the public. “We are still using a lot of the COVID-19 protocols at Art in the Park as well as at the Symphony by the Lake, to try to make people feel more comfortable,” Hardin said. He explained that on the side of precaution, they are selling 50% general admission for Symphony, which is 1,500 tickets instead of 3,000. “The first day we put the Symphony tickets online, so many people jumped on to purchase tickets that it crashed the

server,” Hardin said. “People have been calling and coming in everyday to buy tickets. Art in the Park is also up and rolling and has had good crowds. The interest in ticket sales and the turnout of Art in the Park just shows that people are ready to get back out.” An Appalachian Summer Festival is offering a variety of types of events such as in-person or virtual to satisfy the comfort levels of everyone. “This summer, due to the tremendous support of our donors, sponsors and audience base, we are pleased to offer a mix of both live events and virtual offerings for An Appalachian Summer Festival 2021,” West said. “The prospect of seeing familiar faces in our venues while also continuing to reach new audiences is both moving and invigorating.” Smith added, “We are so looking forward to all our friends joining us back at the Hahn Auditorium. If you can’t join us, I encourage you to get out there, see a show, and support live theatre, wherever it may be.” June 2021



The Annual One Time . . .

“Not To Miss” Events

Blowing Rock Chamber Symphony by the Lake

Located at Chetola Resort 828-295-7851, symphonybythelake.com Opening act at 5:45 p.m. and Symphony at 7:30 p.m. July 23 Symphony by the Lake returns to Chetola Resort on July 23. The performance will be delighted by musical arrangements inspired by musical traditions from across the globe with the theme being Music from Around the World. The Symphony will also welcome an opening act, performing from 5:45 p.m. to 7 p.m., with the Symphony beginning at 7:30 p.m. With COVID-19 considerations in mind, the availability of tickets is limited as

June 18 at 7 p.m. to celebrate Doc Watson Day 2021. This year’s event will be a free, livestreamed concert featuring hosts Patrick and Kay Crouch, a video montage with greetings and pre-recorded performances from some of Doc’s friends and protégés and a live concert from The Burnett Sisters Band & Colin Ray, followed by Liam Purcell & Cane Mill Road. Visit The Jones House website to learn how to view the livestream and take part in the event.

Blowing Rock Charity Horse Shows

the number of attendees will be reduced this year. Tickets are being sold in advance and are available online and at the Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce.

Events located at Broyhill Equestrian Preserve 828-295-4700, brchs.org Events will continue over multiple days. June 10-13, July 27-Aug. 1, Aug. 3-8 In just a few short years, the Blowing Rock Charity Horse Show will be celebrating a century of horse showing in the revered mountain town. That day will not only be a thrilling time for the Horse Show, but it will also celebrate 126 years of horse sports in the High Country. Blowing Rock Charity Horse Show Foundation has supported education and worthy charities by encouraging and preserving the traditions of horse sports. The Saddlebred Show will take place June 10-13, and the Hunter/Jumper Division will take place across two weeks July 27-Aug. 1 and Aug. 3-8. Visit https://brchs.org/ for more details.

Blowing Rock Tour of Homes

Grandfather Mountain Highland Games

Begins at St. Mary of the Hills Episcopal Parish 828-295-7323, stmaryofthehills.org Tour is from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. July 23 The St. Mary of the Hills Episcopal Church will present the 60th Annual Tour of Homes on July 23. The tours consist of views of the decorated architecture and gardens of some of the most noteworthy homes in Blowing Rock. The tour is from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and the price of a ticket is $25 and can be purchased at the church or at the Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce with 100% of the proceeds benefiting local charities.

Doc Watson Day

828-268-6280, joneshouse.org Free livestreamed concert at 7 p.m. June 18 Join the Town of Boone and The Appalachian Theatre of the High Country on 14


June 2021

Located at MacRae Meadows in Linville 828-733-1333, gmhg.org Events will continue over multiple days. July 8-12 The great Scottish traditions of music, highland dancing and athletic events will be making a comeback this year between July

8-12 at MacRae Meadows in Linville. The Highland Games will begin with a Torchlight Ceremony, where the clans officially come together to celebrate their Scottish heritage. The following days will be filled with border collie demonstrations, Scottish fiddle and harp competitions, Gaelic singing, Scottish country dancing, piping and drumming competitions, Scottish spinning and weaving, track and field events and other Scottish athletic events. Those in attendance will have the opportunity to sample traditional foods and take home items with a flavor of the Scottish homeland. The event’s final day features the Kirkin (blessing) of the Tartans of the Scottish clan families gathered for the Highland Games and the majestic Parade of Tartans. For more information and to reserve tickets for the event, go to gmhg.org or call 828-733-1333

Singing on the Mountain

Located at MacRae Meadows 704-904-6483, singingonthemountain.org 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. June 27 The longest running old-time gospel convention in the Southern Appalachians, Singing on the Mountain, will be taking place on June 27 in MacRae Meadows at the base of Grandfather Mountain. Singing on the Mountain is a free gospel music festival that began in 1924, and it features music from a half dozen or so bands along with a gospel message by a noted minister or evangelist. The event begins at 9 a.m. and continues until 2 p.m. Attendees are encouraged to dress casually and bring lawn chairs, blankets and picnics and to sit back, relax and enjoy the atmosphere.

June 2021



Tanya & The Roadrunnerz

The King Bees

Smokin’Joe Randolph Band

Ct 5 Band

Concerts in the Pa Park rk

It isn’t summer in the High Country without the sound of music flowing in the air. A wide range of venues across the area are welcoming back an eclectic taste of musicians allowing for there to be a little something for everyone to enjoy as people are starting to gather and reconnect.

Blowing Rock Concerts in the Park Memorial Park, Blowing Rock, Free Concerts begin at 4 p.m. July 18: The King Bees Aug. 15: Ashley Heath Sept. 12: Angela Easterling Oct. 3: Handlebar Betty

Blowing Rock Town Concert Series Broyhill Park, Blowing Rock Monday nights from July through August at 7 p.m. July 5: Andy & Zach Page July 12: Matt Primm , Krista Atwood, & Micah Hein July 19: Abby Bryant & the Echoes July 26: Federico Eiguchi, Amy Marie Young, & Matt Primm on Piano and Viola August 2: Matt Primm, Krista Atwood, & Micah Hein

The Lucky Strikes

Banner Elk Concerts in the Park Tate-Evans Park, Banner Elk Every Thursday at 6:30 p.m. July 1 to Aug. 26 July 1: Cat 5 Band July 8: Soul Benefactor July 15: Smokin’ Joe Randolph July 22: Shelby Rae Moore July 29: Tanya & The Roadrunnerz Aug. 5: Alex Key and The Locksmiths Aug. 12: Split Shot Aug. 19: The Collective Aug. 26: The Extraordinnaires

Sugar Summer Concert Series

Sugar Mountain’s Golf and Tennis Club House Deck Live Music 6-9 p.m. June 2: Classic Highway June 9: Smokin Joe Randolph Band June 16: The Collective June 23: The Lucky Strikes June 30: Split Shot July 7: Tanya & The Roadrunnerz July 14: Mama’s Remedy July 21: Harris Brothers

The Collective

July 28: The Collective Aug. 4: Smokin Joe Randolph Band Aug. 11: Cat 5 Band/Shades of Shag at Sugar Aug. 18: JJ Hipps Aug. 25: The Rockabillys Sept. 1: Soul Benefactor Sept. 6: Tanya & The Roadrunnerz

Ashe County Arts Council Fridays in the Park Concerts Ashe Park, Jefferson, ashecountyarts.org/events June 18: Steve Lewis and Bluegrass, Inc. July 16: Burnette Sisters and Colin Ray Aug. 20: Wayne Henderson

Valle Crucis Music in Park

Valle Crucis Community Park 828-963-9239, vallecrucispark.org July 2: Liam Purcell & Cane Mill Road with Brooks Forsyth July 9: Danny Whittington July 16: Time Sawyer with Shay

Classic Highway

Martin Lovette July 23: Rastacoustic July 30: TBA Aug. 6: Matt Phillips & The Back Pocket with Sarah with an H Aug. 13: Sheets Family Band Aug. 20: The Carolina Ramble Revue featuring Soul Benefactor, The Worthless Son-In-Laws, and The King Bees Aug. 27: Loose Roosters Sept. 3: Todd Wright Quintet with Swing Guitars Sept. 10: Lucky Strikes Jazz Band Sept. 17: Alexa Rose with Will Easter Oct. 1: Bill and the Belles with Dashboard Hula Boys Oct. 15: Aaron Burdett Trio with Lauren Hayworth Trio

Watauga Community Band

www.wataugacommunity.band Practices on Tuesdays from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at Rotary Gazebo in Blowing Rock Blowing Rock Park Sunday Afternoon Concert Series June 27 • July 25 • Aug. 2

Carolina Ramble Review

Tom Pillion

Soul Benefactor

The Harris Brothers

Shelby Rae Moore

Weekly Winery Live Music Over the years, vineyards and wineries have become popular locations to spend the afternoon and taste test different bottles of wine with close friends. Throughout the day, guests have the opportunity to learn about the property and then enjoy what the establishment has to offer with table service. Individuals are welcome to relax with their glasses of wine that can be paired with various food options from available food trucks, and these venues tend to get even more publicity because of their live music events throughout the season.

Grandfather Vineyard Music in the Vineyard

Foscoe, 828-963-2400, www.grandfathervineyard.com June 10: Adam Musick • June 11: Tom Pillion June 12: Classic Highway • June 13: Cane Mill Road June 17: Tom Pillion • June 18: Typical Mountain Boys June 19: The Neighbors • June 20: Shelby Rae Moore June 24: Adam Musick • June 25: Edward Main June 26: The Harris Brothers • June 27: Shelby Rae Moore July 1: The Neighbors • July 2: Shelby Rae Moore July 3: The Corklickers • July 4: The Harris Brothers July 5: Tom Pillion • July 6: Miller & Pardue Duo July 7: Adam Musick • July 8: Edward Main July 9: Handlebar Betty • July 10: Typical Mountain Boys July 11: The Lucky Strikes • July 15: Miller & Pardue Duo July 16: Smokin Joes • July 17: Shelby Rae Moore July 18: The Harris Brothers • July 22: Tom Pillion July 23: The Neighbors • July 24: Cane Mill Road July 25: Don Vallarta • July 29: Adam Musick July 30: The Harris Brothers • July 31: The Collective Aug. 1: Classic Highway • Aug. 5: Tom Pillion Aug. 6: Edward Main • Aug. 7: The Corklickers Aug. 8: Typical Mountain Boys Aug. 12: Miller & Pardue Duo Aug. 13: The Neighbors Aug. 14: The Harris Brothers Aug. 15: The Lucky Strikes Aug. 19: Adam Musick Aug. 20: Don Vallarta Aug. 21: Backstreet Aug. 22: The Rockabillys Aug. 26: Tom Pillion Aug. 27: The Neighbors Aug. 28: The Harris Brothers Aug. 29: Shelby Rae Moore

Typical Mountain Boys

Ragged Sally

Music at Linville Falls Winery

Linville Falls, 828-765-1400, www.linvillefallswinery.com June 11: Graham & Andy • June 12: Roadside Attraction June 13: Shelby Rae Moore • June 18: Tom Pillion June 19: Strictly Clean & Decent • June 20: Harris Brothers June 25: Hogan’s Heroes • June 26: Smokin Joe Band June 27: Centerpiece Jazz • July 2: Tom Pillion July 3: The Lucky Strikes • July 4: Backstreet Bluegrass July 9: Hogan’s Heroes • July 10: Euphoria July 11: Shelby Rae Moore Band July 16: Joseph Hasty & Todd Greene • July 17: The Classics July 18: Classic Highway • July 23: Tom Pillion July 24: Centerpiece Jazz • July 25: Harris Brothers July 30: Hogan’s Heroes • July 31: Smokin Joe Band Aug. 1: Bluegrass Band • Aug. 6: Tom Pillion Aug. 7: Roadside Attraction • Aug. 13: Hogan’s Heroes Aug. 14: Euphoria • Aug. 15: Shelby Rae Moore Aug. 22: Harris Brothers • Aug. 27: Tom Pillion Aug. 28: The Classics • Aug. 29: The Sami & David Band

The Neighbors

The Rewind

Cane Mill Road

Gravel n Grit

Edward Main

Don Vallarta

Weekly Restaurant Gigs Music on the Veranda Green Park Inn, Blowing Rock 828-414-9230, www.greenparkinn.com Sunday afternoons, Mid June through Oct. 5 - 8 p.m.

Music on the Lawn

The Best Cellar at the Inn at Ragged Gardens in Blowing Rock 828-295-3466, www.ragged-gardens.com Fridays from 5:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m. June 4: Harris Brothers June 11: Shelby Rae June 18: Continental Divide June 25: Soul Benefactor July 2: Harris Brothers • July 9: Lucky Strikes July 16: Shelby Rae July 23: Soul Benefactor July 30: Continental Divide Aug. 6: Harris Brothers Aug. 13: Soul Benefactor Aug. 20: Mike Thompson Band Aug. 27: Note Ropers

Live Music at 5506’ SkyBar

Beech Mountain Resort 828-387-2011, www.beechmountainresort.com Music starts at 2:30 p.m. June 5: The Austin Mowery Band June 12: Ragged Sally June 19: Prettier Than Matt June 26: Squirrel Jam July 3: If Birds Could Fly July 10: City Lights Band July 17: The Soulamanders

Virginia Ground 18


July 24: Craig Street • July 31: Sweet Sweet Aug. 7: CornBread Aug. 14: Donnie and the Dry Heavens Aug. 21: Virginia Ground Aug. 28: The Grand Ole Uproar Sept. 4: The Honey Badgers

July 20: Mark Bumgardner July 27: Smokin’ Joe Randolph Band Aug. 3: Ed Main • Aug. 10: Classic Highway Aug. 17: Smokin’ Joe Randolph Band Aug. 24: TBD • Aug. 31: TBD Sept. 7: The Collective

Famous Brick Oven Pizzeria

Banner Elk Cafe

FAMILY FUN NIGHT SERIES Beech Mountain, weather permitting, 828-387-4000 Every Friday night. June, July and mid August Bounce House 4-7:30 p.m • Live Music 5:30-8:45 p.m. June 4: Deep Creek Blue Grass June 5: Noah Frusha and Father Duo (Saturday night) June 11: The Rewind June 18: The Collectives June 25: Tommy DeCarlo (6-8 p.m.) July 2: The Collectives July 9: Deep Creek Blue Grass July 16: The High Country Boomers & Friends July 23: Gravel n Grit • July 30: The Collectives Aug. 6: Gravel n Grit • Aug. 13: The Rewind

Bayou Concerts in the Courtyard Series Downtown Banner Elk, Tuesday evenings 828-898-8952, Check Facebook June 1: Josh Perryman June 8: King Bees Duo June 15: Ed Main June 22: The Collective June 29: Smokin’ Joe Randolph Band July 6: Josh Perryman July 13: Gravel n Grits

The Corklickers June 2021

Adam Church

Downtown Banner Elk 828-898-4040, bannerelkcafe.com June 4: Adam Musick June 5: Keith Russell Duo June: Danny Whittington June 12: Sound Traveler June 18: Adam Musick June 1: Max & Min June 25: Adam Music June 26: Vintage Band July 2: Adam Musick July 3: Dillon Cable July 9: Adam Musick July 10: Max & Min July 16: Danny Whittington July 17: Vintage • July 23: Adam Musick July 24: Max & Min • July 30: Adam Musick July 31: Alexander Nicholl Aug. 6: Adam Musick Aug. 7: Max & Min Aug. 13: Adam Musick Aug. 14h: Alexander Nicholl Aug. 20: Danny Whittington Aug. 21: Vintage Aug. 27: Adam Musick Aug. 28: Max & Min

Josh Perryman

Squirrel Jam

Handlebar Betty

Town Tavern Downtown Blowing Rock 828-295-7500, towntavernbr.com Music Most Days - Listed Here are Thursday thru Saturday Events June 10: The Neighbors at 5 p.m. June 11: William Massey at 5 p.m. and Shelby Rae Moore Band at 9 p.m. June 12: Holden Bare at 5 p.m. June 17: The Neighbors at 5 p.m. June 18: Prettier Than Matt at 9 p.m. June 19: Holden Bare at 5 p.m.. June 24: The Neighbors at 5 p.m. June 25: Danny Whittington at 5 p.m. and JJ Hipps and the Hideaway at 9 p.m. July 1: The Neighbors at 5 p.m. July 2: Tim Hall at 5 p.m. and If Birds Could Fly at 9 p.m. July 3: Holden Bare at 5 p.m.

Deep Creek Blue Grass

July 8: The Neighbors at 5 p.m. July 9: Adam Church at 5 p.m. and City Lights at 9 p.m. July 16: Classic Trio at 5 p.m. and Shelby Rae Moore Band at 9 p.m. July 17: Holden Bare at 5 p.m. July 22: The Neighbors at 5 p.m. July 23: Christina Chandler Duo at 5 p.m. and The Dogwoods at 9 p.m. July 24: Holden Bare at 5 p.m. July 29: The Neighbors at 5 p.m. July 30: CJ Ballard at 5 p.m. and JJ Hipps and the Hideaway at 9 p.m. July 31: Holden Bare at 5 p.m. Aug. 5: The Neighbors at 5 p.m. Aug. 6: Bob Trice at 5 p.m. and Cornbread at 9 p.m. Aug. 7: Holden Bare at 5 p.m. Aug. 13: Adam Church at 5 p.m. and BandDam at 9 p.m.

Strictly Clean & Decent

Aug. 14: Holden Bare at 5 p.m. Aug. 19: The Neighbors at 5 p.m. Aug. 20: Klee Liles at 5 p.m. and Tim Hall & Buffalo Country at 9 p.m. Aug. 21: Holden Bare at 5 p.m. Aug. 26: The Neighbors at 5 p.m. Aug. 27: Christina Chandler Duo at 5 p.m. and Smokin Hoe Band at 9 p.m.

Booneshine Brewing Company Summer in the Garden 828-278-8006, https://www.booneshine.beer/ June 3: Dropping Plates (6:30-9 p.m.) June 17: Loose Roosters (7-9 p.m.) June 27: Kyle Sigmon (2-5 p.m.)






appsummer.org • 828.262.4046 June 2021



r e t a e Th Ensemble Stage

185 Azalea Circle SE, Banner Elk, NC 828-414-1844, www.ensemblestage.com

Summer Kids Theatre June 19, July 10 & Aug. 14: The Fisherman and His Wife June 26 & July 24: Princess and the Pea

Ensemble Stage, a 99-seat professional theatre located in Banner Elk, was conceived out of an unfaltering love of the performing arts and the unquenchable desire to share it with the High Country. Its dedication to culturally enrich the lives of residents and visitors alike is continuing as the beloved live main stage theatre and children’s shows make a return.

Special Event A Fundraising Cabaret Benefiting Ensemble Stage

July 17 & 18

July 30 - Aug. 7: Beer for Breakfast by Sean Grennan (Playful Comedy) Aug. 20 - 28: The Business of Murder by Richard Harris (Suspense Thriller) Sept. 24 - Oct. 3: Slow Food by Wendy MacLeod (Delicious Comedy)

Lees-McRae Summer Theatre 191 Main Street, Banner Elk, NC 828-898-5241, www.lmc.edu

FORUM at Lees-McRae College began in 1979 by a small group of summer residents for the purpose of bringing a stimulating series of cultural programs to the area, and it has been providing musical entertainment to community members of the High Country ever since. This year marks FORUM’s 42nd season, and staff are happy to have the music series return to the Broyhill Theatre in Hayes Auditorium on the Lees-McRae campus.

Forum at Lees-McRae

Hayes Auditorium, Broyhill Theater, Lees-McRae College 828-898-8748, www.lmc.edu June 14: Mac Frampton: That Mancini Magic June 21: December ’63 Music: Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons June 28: Symphony of the Mountains July 5: Ted Vigil’s Ultimate John Denver Tribute July 12: Shades of Buble, Three Man Tri July 19: Ben Gulley – Classical and Opera Tenor July 26: Masters of Soul – Groups performing Motown Aug. 2: The “singing policeman” and Three Sopranos for an International Musical Journey 20


June 2021

For more than three decades, Lees-McRae Summer Theatre has been providing high quality, professional theatre to the community. Referred to as the “Gem of the High Country,” the company produces a variety of theatre. This year, the Lees-McRae Summer Theatre season returns with two musicals that put the American experience at center stage. June 19-27: The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee directed by Gabriel Vanover July 25 – Aug. 1: America’s Artist: The Norman Rockwell Story

Horn in the West

Daniel Boone Amphitheatre, Boone • 828-264-2120, www.horninthewest.com The 69th season of Horn in the West has arrived. Get ready for an exciting trip back in time to the 18th Century North Carolina High Country before and during the Revolutionary War when the 13 colonies threw off British rule to establish the United States of America. Since 1952, Horn in the West has offered thrilling outdoor entertainment to generations of Americans, young and old alike.

Running from June 25 – Aug. 7






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

Summit Crawl & Fireworks on Top of Sugar Mountain July 4

Gravity Mountain Bike Camp July 9 - 11

Avery County Fine Art & Master Crafts Festivalp July 16 - 18 August 13 - 15

Downhill Southeast Series Finals July 31 & August 1


October 9 & 10

WWW.SKISUGAR.COM located within the village of Sugar Mountain June 2021



t e g r o F t ’ n Do e s e h T t u o Ab



It’s a new year full of vendors, growers and crafters across all of the High Country’s farmers’ markets. Visitors looking to find fresh produce, jams, jellies, honey, free-range eggs, baked goods, pasture-raised meats, pottery, birdhouses and many other foods and crafts will be happily satisfied at all the different markets.

Watauga County Farmers’ Market

Horn in the West, Boone, 828-355-4918 www.wataugacountyfarmersmarket.org Saturdays 8 a.m. - 12 p.m. through Octoberr

King Street Market 126 Poplar Grove Rd, Boone Tuesdays 4 - 7 p.m.

Blowing Rock Farmers’ Market

Park Avenue, Blowing Rock, 828-298-7851 www.blowingrock.com/farmersmarket Thursdays through September from 3 - 6 p.m.

Avery County Farmers’ Market Old Banner Elk Elementary School www.averycountyfarmersmarket.net Thursdays, 4:30 - 6:30 p.m.

Ashe County Farmers’ Market

Backstreet, West Jefferson, www.ashefarmersmarket.com Saturdays 8 a.m. – 1 p.m.



JUNE 14 - 26

S U M M E R 21

Join us for a reception at the gallery Saturday, June 19th from 5-8pm

Fine art and Framing since 1994!

828.295.0041 | brframeworks@gmail.com 7539 Valley Blvd | Blowing Rock NC | 28605 blowingrockgalleries.com | @brframeworks



June 2021



Located in the heart of Banner Elk’s Theater District

Enjoy panoramic views of the Blue Ridge Mountains by taking scenic lift rides at Sugar Mountain Resort and Beech Mountain Resort during the High Country’s cool summer temperatures. Scenic lift rides are a great way to relax and enjoy the outdoor surroundings of nature’s beauty.

Sugar Mountain Resort

828-898-4521, www.skisugar.com Chairlift rides aboard the Summit Express lift run Friday 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday & Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. July 2 – Sept .6

Beech Mountain Resort 828-387-2011, beechmountainresort.com Chairlift rides run Thursday through Sunday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. May 29 – Oct. 2




Sugar Mountain Resort Bike Park This bike park includes its signature expert terrain and beginner and intermediate trails. Varying line option choices from the summit to the base include rollers, small dips, table tops, and other fun features. Chairlift rides aboard the Summit Express lift run Friday 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday & Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. July 2 – Sept .6

Beech Mountain Resort Mountain Biking The terrain offers something for every rider, from the beginner to experienced. Beginner trails offer a smooth introduction for the novice rider, with friendly and manageable features. The advanced terrain is steep and technical, with lots of rock, tricky corners and technical wood descents. Chairlift rides run Thursday through Sunday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. May 29 – Oct. 2

Diamonds, Colored Stones & Engagement Rings are our Specialty

167 SUNSET DRIVE in BLOWING ROCK (one half block off Main St) 828-295-4500 June 2021



h t r Fou ly u J of

FIREWORK LOCATIONS BOONE Clawson-Burnley Park BLOWING ROCK Blowing Rock Country Club (on July 3) BEECH MOUNTAIN Beech Mountain Resort SUGAR MOUNTAIN Sugar Mountain Resort NEWLAND Riverwalk Park (on July 3) Railroad, as the park is open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on July 4, and then watch the fireworks from under the stars at 9:30 p.m. after the park closes.

Beech Mountain Fourth of July Celebration

Beech Mountain is known for its annual Fourth of July firework presentation funded by the Town and the TDA. Beech Mountain’s traditional Fourth of July activities including the Town’s famous firework show and more will take place this year. However, at the time of print, specific details have not been released. Beech Mountain Chamber of Commerce will host its annual hog roast. Similar to the previous year, the 50th Annual Roasting of the Hog will be takeout only instead of gathering at Beech Mountain Resort. Visitors may find their own spot on the mountain to view the fireworks display.

Boone Fourth of July Celebrations

Banner Elk Fourth of July Celebration

Celebrate Independence Day at Clawson-Burnley Park on the Boone Greenway with the annual Fourth of July celebrations presented by the Town of Boone on Sunday, July 4 from 7-10 p.m. Bring the whole family for a socially-distanced evening celebration with music, games and food. Then stick around for a spectacular fireworks display beginning at dusk.

The Banner Elk Fourth of July parade is held each year on July 4 in downtown Banner Elk. The parade begins at 11 a.m. and leads to the annual “Party in the Park” at Tate Evans Park hosted by the Town of Banner Elk and the Banner Elk Kiwanis Club. The party includes food, games and the “Great American Duck Races” for fun all day long.

Blowing Rock Fourth of July Parade

Join the Town of Blowing Rock for the best small-town Main Street parade you’ll find anywhere on Saturday, July 3 at 10 a.m. After the parade, enjoy holiday shopping and dining around town and at Tanger Outlet.

Tweetsie Railroad Fireworks Extravaganza

Enjoy the most spectacular fireworks show in the High Country at Tweetsie Railroad. It’s one of the most popular summer events in the mountains. Guests can spend the day at Tweetsie 24


June 2021

Newland Independence Day Celebration

The Town of Newland has big plans to celebrate Independence Day on Saturday, July 3. The day’s events will kick off with a parade, so get your floats, cars and firetrucks ready. No registration is necessary, so come by the Square for lineup around 10:15 a.m. Beginning around 11 a.m. the event will have tons of vendors, inflatables, food trucks, entertainment, games, cutest pet contest, conhole tournament, etc. throughout the day. Emmanuel Baptist will also be holding a huge car show. There will be a street dance at 6 p.m. before the prime time concert

r e m m u S l a i c e p S ert Series Conc Beech Mountain Resort Concerts

Beech Mountain Resort will be presenting a summer of live music featuring three different groups. Come rain or shine, gates will open at 5 p.m. with the shows beginning at 7 p.m. for each event. Every artist will perform two sets of music with no opening acts. Patrons will be assigned pod spaces to allow for social distancing, and the performances are open to all ages.




The members of Umphrey’s McGee are celebrating their 20-year anniversary with the release of their eleventh full-length album that contains a fresh variety of new tunes. The music is unpredictable and can move from progressive guitar sounds to soft acoustic balladry, funk groove or explosive percussion for everyone’s taste.

Susan Tedeschi and her husband, Derek Trucks, explore almost any musical territory. Trucks’ masterful guitar skills and Tedeschi’s soaring vocals and bluesy guitar shine but don’t overpower the breadth of talent, happily yielding the spotlight as needed in service of what the song deserves.

After 18 years together, with up to 175 shows per year and nearly 1,000 different setlists, Greensky Bluegrass is a live force of nature renowned for bringing rock ‘n’ roll showmanship to high-energy bluegrass. As time goes on, the band’s music resonates louder and louder amongst a growing fan base.

Gates open at 5 p.m. Show starts at 7 p.m. Aug. 6 & 7

Gates open at 5 p.m. Show starts at 7 p.m. Aug. 14

Gates open at 5 p.m. Show starts at 7 p.m. Aug. 21

More Fourth of July Parades and Events begins at 7 p.m. Then the day will end with a wonderful display of fireworks at 9:45 p.m.

Sugar Mountain Fourth of July Celebration

To kick off a full day of Fourth of July activities, Sugar Mountain Resort will host its fifth annual Summit Crawl on Sunday, July 4. Climb to Sugar Mountain’s 5,300-foot peak by way of Easy Street, Gunther’s Way and Northridge slopes. The distance of the Summit Crawl is approximately 6,500 feet or 1.2 miles. Participants will be times, and prizes will be handed out. Sugar Mountain will also hold a bigger-and-better-than-ever mountain top fireworks show sponsored by the Village of Sugar Mountain Tourism Development Authority. The fireworks can be viewed from Sugar Mountain’s peak beginning around 9:15 p.m. The Summit Express chairlift runs July 4 from 10 a.m. until 10 p.m. for mountain-top fireworks viewing. No mountain bikes after 6:00 p.m. Typical Mountain Boys perform at the base lodge from 6 until 9 p.m. and food and beverages are available at the mountain’s base and summit.

Ashe County Annual Fourth of July Fireworks

A firework show will be held at 368 Ray Hill Drive in West Jefferson on July 4 at 9:30 p.m. There will be local law enforcement, fire departments, rescue squad, and parks & rec staff on hand to assist with the traffic and parking. The list of available parking lots include: Ashe County High School, Old Lowes Foods, Wal-Mart, Lowes Hardware, State Farm Insurance, Ashe Civic Center, Skybest Security (Mt. Jefferson Road), Skyline National Bank, Goodwill, Auto Zone, Steve Johnson Auto World, Lifestore Bank (Mt. Jefferson Road), Midway Baptist Church, and Main Street West Jefferson. If you have any questions, please call 336- 982-6185.

Crossnore Fourth of July Celebration

There will be a band and firework presentation this year, with the fireworks beginning at dark. However, at the time of publication, more details about the celebration are unknown. June 2021



Art leries l a G

Art lovers, collectors and craft enthusiasts will have opportunities to attend multiple galleries and art shows that will be highlighting works from local and regional artists. These events will showcase a vast array of media types, such as ceramics, glass, metal, wood, watercolor, acrylics and oil for both viewing and purchasing pleasures.

Turchin Center for Visual Arts

Downtown Boone, 828-262-3017, www.tcva.org June 2: Summer Exhibition Celebration July 10: 35th Rosen Sculpture Walk with the Juror

Carlton Gallery Grandfather Mountain Community, Banner Elk 828-963-4288, www.carltongallery.com May 29 – July 15: Spring Group Exhibition July 24 – Sept. 15: Mid-Summer Group Exhibition

Carlton Gallery The Art Cellar Gallery 920 Shawneehaw Avenue Banner Elk, NC 828-898-5175, www.artcellargallery.com May 17-May 29: Richard Oversmith May 31-June 12: Zoey Brookshire June 14-June 26: Carolyn Blaylock June 27-July 10: William Dunlap July 12-July 24: Tony Griffin July 26-Aug. 7: Gregory Smith Aug. 9-Aug. 21: Noyes Capehart Aug. 23-Sept. 4: Raymond Chorneau







Blowing Rock Art in the Park

Avery Fine Art & Master Crafts Festival Sugar Mountain Resort, Sugar Mountain

Historic Banner Elk School, Banner Elk

June 12 • July 17 • Aug. 14 • Sept.11 • Oct. 2

July 16-18 • Aug. 13-15

July 3-4, Aug. 7-8 and Sept. 4-5

Park Avenue, Blowing Rock



June 2021

Banner Elk Art on the Greene




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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

©2020 Engel & Völkers. All rights reserved. Each brokerage independently owned and operated. Engel & Völkers and its independent License Partners are Equal Opportunity Employers and fully support the principles of the Fair Housing Act.

June 2021



p p A me r m u S

Appalachian State University, Boone www.appsummer.org | 828-262-4046 July 2: Summer Exhibition Celebration

July 3: Paula Poundstone July 6: Broyhill Chamber Music Series: Emerson String Quartet July 7: Film Series: Quo Vidis, Aida? July 8: Parsons Dance July 9: Connecting with Place: Cyanotype Workshop for K-12 Educators July 10: Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit July 10: 35th Annual Rosen Outdoor Sculpture Walk July 11: Broyhill Chamber Music Series: Canadian Brass July 13: Companion Event Meet the Artist: Jackie Alexander July 14: Film Series: The Road to Mandalay July 15: North Carolina Black Repertory Company: Freedom Summer July 16: Broyhill Chamber Music Series: Tessa Lark and Michael Thurber July 17: TBA. July 20: Broyhill Chamber Music Series: Tesla Quartet July 21: Film Series: Transit July 24: Alan Cumming and Ari Shapiro: Och & Oy! A Considered Cabaret

Exhibition Celebration

Paula Poundstone

A Consideret Cabaret 28


July 25: Rosen-Schaffel Competition: 10th Anniversary Celebration, featuring Andrew Rene and Morgan Short July 28: Film Series: Complicity July 29: An Evening with Sarah Jones July 30: Broyhill Chamber Music Series: Julian Gargiulo: Pianist with the Hair July 31: Ranky Tanky

BUY TICKETS ONLINE Please visit the online box office at www.appsummer.org/tickets/.Tickets ordered online can be mailed to you, or you can choose to pick them up at will-call. BUY TICKETS BY PHONE Order tickets by telephone by calling locally at (828) 262-4046. Tickets ordered by telephone can be mailed to you, or you can choose to pick them up at will-call. BUY TICKETS IN PERSON The Schaefer Center for the Performing Arts is located at 733 Rivers Street on the campus of Appalachian State University. Box office hours are Monday - Friday 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Parsons Dance

Ranky Tanky June 2021

One highly anticipated annual arts festival is the Appalachian Summer Festival presented by Appalachian State University’s Office of Arts & Cultural Programs. The 2021 season’s performing lineup for artists involves an eclectic mix of music, dance, theatre, visual arts and film programming. Appalachian Summer Festival personnel have gotten creative for this year’s performances, and they will be offering a variety of kinds of venues such as indoor, outdoor, in-person and virtual at all different price points to keep the events accessible for everybody.

Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit

Sarah Jones

Freedom Summer

June 2021





June 2021

Photo by Skip Sickler | Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation

The Perfect Fit Jesse Pope Closing in on Two Decades at Grandfather Mountain By Nathan Ham


t doesn’t take long into a conversation to realize just how much Grandfather Mountain means to Jesse Pope. Pope has worked on the mountain in some form for 19 years and has served as the executive director and president of the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation since 2015, a role that could not be more perfect for the man who has had such a tremendous passion for the great outdoors. Pope was born near the small town of Baraboo, Wisconsin. Jesse’s father was from Charlotte, and his mother was a Wisconsin native. The two met when Jesse’s father was stationed at a base in Madison, Wisconsin, during his time in the United States Air Force. Pope spent less than a year of his life in the Midwest before his

parents headed south. “My father would go spend time on his uncle’s farm in Piney Creek, which is in Alleghany County right on the Virginia line. He always loved that area,” Pope said. “He had this idea of living on a farm, even though he was never a farm kid. When I was 10 months old, my dad was out of the military by then. They decided to go to Grayson County, Virginia, and buy a farm. I grew up in Mouth of Wilson, Virginia, about six miles from Oak Hill Academy.” Jesse admitted when growing up, he was not much of a fan of farm life. “I was the kid that did everything on the farm. We raised tobacco, beef cattle and lots of other stuff. It was a pretty active farm. My parents worked other jobs,

but the farm was a big part of my life growing up,” he said. As he grew up, Pope developed a love for athletics, particularly wrestling. He went to Grayson County High School in Independence, Virginia, and he now looks back on fond memories of his high school athletic career. “I was a football player and a baseball player, but wrestling was really my sport. I finished fourth in the state of Virginia my senior year. I wrestled from the time I was in third grade through high school. I was on a state championship baseball team in my junior year of high school in 1997. It was the second state championship ever in school history; the first was women’s tennis in 1988. I was also a team captain of June 2021



Jesse Pope is pictured here at Wiley’s Cafe at Lees-McRae in 1999 on a date with Michelle, who he would later marry and have three children with. my wrestling team from my sophomore through senior year,” Pope said. After graduating from high school, Jesse said he had opportunities to continue his wrestling career in college. However, a trip to Lees-McRae College made a huge impact on what would end up being his college of choice. “I have older twin brothers and a younger sister. My twin brothers played football at Ferrum College and during their freshman year, they played Lees-McRae College in a playoff game. We later went through Banner Elk and checked out the Lees-McRae campus, and I always thought it was such a cool community. It was sort of in the back of my mind all along. When I graduated and looked at schools, LeesMcRae offered me some scholarships and financial aid money. We didn’t have much; we grew up pretty poor,” Pope said. “I ended up at Lees-McRae, and my original plan was to teach and coach. I wanted to be a wrestling coach, and teaching was my plan. I met Stewart Skeate and Gene Spears, who ran the biology department. In my freshman year, I confirmed my major, which was going to be science education. They had a science education program where you could get a teaching certificate upon graduation for science.” At the end of his freshman year, Pope found out that he was going to have his first change of plans. “Dr. Skeate was my adviser, and I didn’t know him much because he was more in the biological science, but all of the science majors flowed through him. He told me 32


June 2021

that they cut my program, and I needed to find something else. My dream at that point was to coach and teach, so he was trying to help me come up with a creative way where I could get a science degree and an education degree, like a double major kind of thing. He said, ‘You need to take this field biology course and see what biology is about and see if it interests you,’” Pope said. “I took the first class and fell in love with it. I really learned about what opportunities were out there to be a biologist. It was taking my passion for science,

but implementing it in a different way.” Dr. Skeate still remembers when Jesse was first getting his feet wet working at Grandfather Mountain and becoming involved with nature in the area. “A number of years back, we started the High Country Audubon chapter. Miles Tager came up with the idea, and we formed a board of directors. Fairly quickly, Miles stepped down, and Jesse took over as chair of the board. At that time, he was working at Grandfather doing the environmental education work. The thing that really impressed me with Jesse is that he is a great listener, and I think that is one of the reasons he has been so successful. He listens to other people and has a very patient, easy-going personality,” Skeate said. “I think being a good leader means you have to listen. Jesse is not a top-down sort of administrator or person. He can listen to other people and get their opinions and keeps a cool head. He makes tough decisions, but at the same time, he will listen to other people. I think that is why he has been successful going up through Grandfather. People who work with him like him, and I’m sure if you talk to people that work for him, they would say the same thing because he does listen and is fairly easy-going and patient. That goes a long way.” Dr. Skeate retired from Lees-McRae last year after 35 years of teaching. He was also the coordinator for the wildlife biology program that Pope was a part of. Skeate continued, “I think what Lees-

Jesse and his family pictured outside of Banner Elk Presbyterian Church in 2019. His wife, Michelle, their oldest son, Spencer, and twins, daughter Lily and son Trevor.

McRae did for Jesse is it gave him a real base to continue on at grandfather. I think it was an ideal transition. He was already familiar with the plants and the animals, and he just stepped right into it. Hugh Morton recognized Jesse’s talents and started this program, and it was just a great move on their part.” Jesse wasn’t the only person in his family that wanted to make a career doing something outdoors. One of his brothers had an agriculture degree and continued doing farm work and got into teaching. His other brother got a degree from East Tennessee State University in natural resource management. “At the time I was a freshman at LeesMcRae, my brother was working as an environmental consultant for a firm in Cullowhee. He invited me down on fall break, and we were doing stream surveys for a project he was working on. You take these big battery packs and probes to shock these fish to stun them briefly to catch them in a net. The fish were released after data was collected. It was so cool, and I got paid well. I was a freshman in college, and I was getting paid $15 an hour. I think I was making $6 an hour at a grocery store. I really fell in love with that and had a total major shift at Lees-McRae to a biology naturalist degree. You could really take biology in the concentrations that you wanted to take it. Some people were into fisheries, some people were into botany, some people were into zoology. I focused a lot on ecology,” Pope said.

Hugh Morton with his best friend Mildred the bear. Mildred was part of the brand of Grandfather Mountain for a long time and had a close bond with Mr. Morton. would go back home and work at a factory in Galax loading furniture into semi-trucks. This time around, Jesse decided to stay in the High Country and work a seasonal job at Grandfather Mountain as a member of the trail crew in May of 2002. Later on, in the summer, another job opportunity came open at Grandfather, and he decided to apply. “My first year on Grandfather was doing trail patrol and trail maintenance. We did lead some guided walks and things for groups, but that was very limited. At the end of the summer, a full-time job came open in

the animal habitats. Drew started as a seasonal in the animal habitats and knew the staff, and he put in a good word for me. My roommate had no interest in making this a career; he went on to pursue his career in the piedmont. I had met Mr. (Hugh) Morton and really got to see what Grandfather Mountain was about and see the culture of it all,” Jesse said. It was that connection with Hugh Morton that made Jesse realize that he didn’t necessarily have to leave the area to begin a fulfilling career that involved his passion

Staying in the High Country As college graduation grew near, it was time for Jesse to consider what would be the first step in his post-academic career. He had contemplated a move to the western U.S., but he held off on that move and decided to spend the summer in the High Country. “When I was close to graduation I had planned on heading out west somewhere. I was looking at forest service jobs and actually had found an opportunity out west. One of my friends who had graduated from Lees McRae was working at Grandfather Mountain as the assistant trail manager. His name was Drew Swanson. He said he had some openings on his trail crew at Grandfather Mountain. My roommate and I both were best friends all through college, and we had the same major. Drew said you both need to come work at Grandfather and spend a summer in the mountains,” Pope said. Typically during the summer, Pope

Jesse pictured with Aspen the cougar around 2003 when he was a kitten. He was just a few weeks old when he first came to Grandfather Mountain. He was basically hand-raised by the staff. June 2021



Jesse’s desire to educate others, especially school-aged children, was one of the big reasons why he ended up taking a job at Grandfather Mountain and growing the education programming. for outdoor education. Jesse would end up meeting people that had worked at Grandfather Mountain for 35, 45 and even 52 years. “Mr. Morton was larger than life; he was just really inspiring. That motivated me to try and make Grandfather Mountain a career. At the end of my first summer, a full-time job came open in the animal habitats, I applied for that, and I didn’t really have a lot of experience,” Pope said. “When I was at Lees-McRae, I worked for Nina Fischesser. She has the rehab center now, but back then the rehab center was at her house in Jonas Ridge. It was a real small operation over there. I did two internships with her, which was really my only wildlife experience before Grandfather. During my job interview, I talked about growing up on the farm and talked about an ornery bull, which was about my only parallel to a bear.” Jesse was hired for the position in the animal habitats, and he worked in that area of Grandfather Mountain for about two years. During that time, he got to take on a larger role in the educational opportunities that the mountain had to offer. As a zookeeper, he helped raise Aspen the cougar from when he was just a young kitten and several bear cubs as well. “In that job, we would also get calls from teachers that wanted to do programs,” Pope said. “We would have school groups that came, and they were pretty small compared to what we ended up do34


June 2021

ing. The zookeepers loved bears, and they loved otters. They didn’t really love fourth graders, but I did. I was the go-to person that did the school group programs and loved it. I also got to meet a lot of teachers, so I started asking them that if we had more programs at Grandfather Mountain, what they would like to see. Some teachers were really good. I would have several local teachers that even came up on Saturdays to sit down and talk with me and talk about things that we could do at Grandfather that would be meaningful for teachers’ students.” At that point, Jesse put together a plan that he proposed to Hugh Morton and Crae Morton, who was Mr. Morton’s grandson that was running the mountain, that would create an education program for the park. The plan was a big hit, and Pope was then promoted to a Naturalist position for Grandfather Mountain. “We started focusing on guided tours, education programs for school groups, roving in the park, and trying to enhance the experience for the park. Back then, we really didn’t have staff dedicated to that,” Jesse said. “It was a revenue generator and great for the business model, and it worked well in offseason times. By the time I left that department, we had 11 employees on staff. I oversaw the habitats, trails and education department.” When Hugh Morton passed away in 2006, over a few years, the Morton family

decided to create this vision, for Grandfather Mountain that included creating Grandfather Mountain State Park and the nonprofit Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation. Pope continued in the Naturalist position from late 2003 through 2014 when another huge opportunity to advance his career was on the table. Longtime VP Harris Prevost, who had previously run the mountain for Hugh Morton, ended up returning to that position in 2014. Looking back, Penn Dameron was the first executive director that Grandfather Mountain hired after it transitioned to a nonprofit organization. “There was so much legal stuff to be dealt with to establish a nonprofit. Penn was a big part of that. He was the executive director until 2014, and then he left the organization, so the board of directors put Harris back in the management role until they could find another person.” Pope explained. Jesse was promoted to operations manager by Prevost in 2014 and had been doing that for two years. During this time, the board of directors had looked at applications for between 30 and 40 people and had started doing a few interviews for the executive director position. “I got a phone call from Jim Morton one day saying he was disappointed they hadn’t seen my application yet for this job, and it really surprised me,” Pope said. “The people that were coming through the door were Ph.D. candidates or people with 20 to 30 years of park or museum experience. I was just shocked they would even consider me for the job. So, I ended up applying and interviewing for the job. I knew it was competitive, and I knew it wasn’t a definite. In the end, it was a split decision between me and another candidate. I got hired for the job, and it was a huge learning curve for me.” Catherine Morton, one of Jesse’s close friends, was in charge of advertising the job position and was surprised when Jesse showed up to put in his application. “I tried to talk him out of it, but he kept his name in the pot. Jim seized on his application immediately because in his observations in hiring at Grandfather, particularly at this high level, was that the family culture of the organization was important, and our staff was very nervous about who was going to be brought in and would they try and turn everything upside down and make everybody toe their line. So, from Jim’s point of view, someone that understood our family culture of the business



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A check presentation that amounted to $4,098 in June of 2019 that was raised from staff members pitching in a few dollars here and there. They have 40 full-time staff members and around 100 total employees. Photo by Monty Combs and someone people could trust, that was the highest priority for him. There were other candidates that might have had more experience raising dollars, but as far as somebody understanding Grandfather Mountain, Avery County and the High Country, Jesse was Jim’s only candidate as soon as he saw his name,” Morton said. “Jesse really cares about the resources and thinks that this mountain is special, and it’s worth his time and emotional commitment to take care of this mountain. He believes that what we are doing is important, and he gets excited about it. Other people are attracted to that and want to know how they can participate. Watching it happen taught me that what we are doing is valuable and important.” Pope had to make the move from understanding and managing the daily operation of the mountain to suddenly learning the business side of Grandfather Mountain. “Harris was a great mentor to me, Jim Morton was a great mentor to me, as was Catherine Morton and many others. I have had a lot of other people that I would reach out to that have helped me along the way. Bob Biggerstaff and Jon Barrett, who are on our board, are brilliant business minds that were early mentors. They taught me processes, systems and principles of operating something like this. Our chairman of the board, Gordon Warburton, has been tremendously supportive and pushes me to continue to grow in my position,” he said.

and we knew from 2009 on that fundraising was going to be a critical part of our success in the future.” When Harris Prevost decided to promote Jesse to the role of operations manager, it turned out to be an even better fit than Prevost expected. “The first thing I did was find somebody to be second in command that we could work together. I felt it was Jesse,” Prevost said. “He did a really good job. He was extremely smart, and he was highly respected by everyone on the mountain. That’s the smartest thing I’ve done in my 48 years here. I promoted him, and I felt like he would be good in the technical aspects of conservation and how trails work and all the naturalist programs. I didn’t think he would be very good in business, but he totally shocked me. He was really good in business. He didn’t have a business background, but he took to it naturally.” Since taking on the challenge of being the executive director and president, Pope feels like Grandfather Mountain has been successful at raising the necessary funds so far for many of the dif-

Taking the Reigns as Executive Director In his new role, Jesse Pope quickly learned just how important fundraising is for a nonprofit such as Grandfather Mountain. “Fundraising is huge. The board was looking for somebody that could raise money. The business model was not great in 2009 and 2010. The country was in a deep recession, and we were taking revenue losses in the early years of becoming a nonprofit. We were losing money, sometimes $300,000 or more in a year in revenue loss,” Pope said. “We were also looking at this as we were kind of limited in our options. We only had two ticket booths and only so much parking on the mountain. There was also a conservation easement on the property that restricted future growth. There were a lot of challenging obstacles for us to think through, 36


June 2021

Jesse Pope is pictured here with Susan and Bob Wilson. The Wilson Center for Nature Discovery is named after the couple after they were willing to make a large donation to the project. Photo by Jim Swinkola

Harris Prevost is the Former Vice-President of Grandfather Mountain and is now involved in community relations.

Lesley Platek is the current Vice-President and has been with Grandfather Mountain for seven years.

ferent projects that have been completed and are in development on the mountain. The largest project is the upcoming Wilson Center for Nature Discovery, named for Bob and Susan Wilson, two of the largest donors for the project. It is all part of the new Conservation Campus at Grandfather Mountain, an $8.3 million project. So far, over $6 million has been raised for that project alone. “I think this solidifies the transition from Hugh Morton’s for-profit Grandfather Mountain to the stewardship foundation’s nonprofit Grandfather Mountain,” Pope said. “Jim Morton and the board had a vision for a Learning Lodge in 2009, and it just didn’t come to fruition. From that, we said part of that vision was going to be ours, and we decided to do that here. We talked about a lot of different ideas. Ultimately, we decided to reduce our footprint by focusing on using our existing infrastructure. We wanted to take advantage of existing parking lots, water, sewer and communications and all those things to utilize the hub that is the nature museum for this expansion.” Bob Wilson, whose father was the founder of Holiday Inn, has been impressed with Jesse’s overall knowledge of Grandfather Mountain, and that played a big role in his and his wife’s decision to make a major contribution to the nature center. He remembered when he first met Jesse. He showed up with a presentation to members of the Grandfather Mountain Golf and Country Club with an opossum and an owl for fundraising efforts. “We just wanted to give something back to the mountain and the whole area there so that they can further pursue the ecological values of the mountain,” Wilson said. “Jesse knows everything about the mountain, and he’s the perfect person for the job he is in. He gets along with people, and he’s just a nice guy to be around. He’s a godly person with

Tommy Oakley is the Operations Manager and has been at Grandfather Mountain for eight years.

Catherine Morton is the secretary of Grandfather Mountain’s Board of Directors and the daughter of Hugh Morton.

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At the official groundbreaking ceremony for the Conservation Campus at Grandfather Mountain on September 2, 2019, many park employees, donors, elected officials and county officials were on hand for the momentous moment as Grandfather Mountain began planning for the future.

Conservation Campus will be a Major Addition to the Grandfather Mountain Culture


The Wilson Center for Nature Discovery, named after Bob n what many consider the “crown jewel” of Grandfather Mountain, the Conservation Campus that is currently un- and Susan Wilson, will feature state-of-the-art museum exhibits that are designed by PGAV Desder construction will mark tinations of St. Louis, Missouri. a huge achievement, not only Outside the building, there will capping off a tremendous funbe brand new outdoor learning draising effort but also giving spaces, an amphitheater and a visitors a brand new experience botanical garden. The Wilson on the mountain. Center was designed locally by “We’re working to share the Coffey Architecture based in wonders of Grandfather MounBoone. tain in ways that are broader “I’m fortunate in that the and deeper than ever before,” An artist rendering of the Wilson Center for Nature Discovery. Lord gave me great parents that said Jesse Pope, Executive Direcdirected me and helped me actor of the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation. “Whether it’s schoolchildren coming quire the ability to pay something back to him, and that’s the way for a field trip or conservation experts visiting together to share we look at it,” Bob Wilson said. “We’re giving this. It’s something new knowledge, guests will gain an even greater appreciation of for this community. Grandfather Mountain is a unique mountain, nature and become even more passionate about protecting and a unique ecological center, and this is about taking our young kids and letting them learn about it. It’s something that I think we preserving it.”


H IAn G Hartist COU N T R Y Mof AG A Z I parts NE rendering other

ofJune the 2021 Conservation Campus at Grandfather Mountain. Construction should be completed later this year.

humility, and he gives back more than he receives. His dedication and his amount of knowledge are unbelievable.” Other successful fundraising efforts that Jesse has already spearheaded were the renovation of the cougar habitat, construction of an elk habitat and the creation of a scholarship fund to subsidize group visits for schools that do not have the funding to pay for students to take field trips to Grandfather Mountain. Each year about $25,000 is raised for that scholarship fund and they hope to expand it in the future with the creation of the Conservation Campus. “What I have learned is that to be a successful fundraiser here, it’s really allowing people to be part of Grandfather Mountain. It’s not trying to sell Grandfather Mountain for a donation, it’s really just allowing people to be part of the Grandfather Mountain family,” Pope said. “It just brings this closeness and a relationship that is unique and powerful. It’s just learning peoples’ stories and getting to know people. It’s not asking people for money. It’s saying Grandfather Mountain has this need, and we think you are somebody that can help accomplish this, and that has been powerful to figure out. Early on, we were not good at fundraising. We were trying to figure out the process. There’s a whole science behind it. There’s a lot of detail to the process and a lot of cultivation making sure that you stay in contact with someone who does support you and appreciate their value so they will continue to support the mountain.” In his seventh year as the executive director, Jesse will tell you that he is still learning more each day on becoming a better fundraiser and taking on different challenges. “I have to make sure everybody is on the same page. The staff needs to know what the vision is and where we are going, the board creates the vision and they communicate that to me, then that gets conveyed to the staff and volunteers. Donors are another stake at the table now; they are an equal part of this. If they are giving the money for a vision, they want to see that, too, and they need to be informed. Then you have the greater community and make sure they are aware of what we are doing. It’s a fun challenge, sometimes more challenging than other times. It took me a little while to appropriately manage this. I’m still not the best, but I am always trying to improve,” he said. Lesley Platek, who was recently promoted to vice-president at Grandfather Mountain, was hired about seven years ago as the volunteer coordinator. She was a for-

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An artist rendering of exhibits that will include new interactive exhibits that will have more of a modern, nature center type feel to them.

Exhibits inside the nature center will include o ld and new artifacts of plants and animals from Grandfather Mountain. need in our country more now than ever.” The center will feature an additional 10,000 square feet of space that will include three classrooms and a remodeled auditorium. The project comes with a price tag of $5.5 million, and $4.7 million of that was already raised through the Fulfilling Promises Capital Campaign by the time the first scoop of dirt was moved. The campaign was created solely to make this creation of the Conservation Campus possible. In addition to the $4.7 million for the Wilson Center, $880,000 will be used for the new education center exhibit designs and $350,000 for animal habitat and naturalist office space. The larger space will include the expanded capacity for hosting conferences, seminars, receptions and community events, which will increase the revenue available to allow Grandfather Mountain to continue to reinvest



June 2021

in educational programs and its facilities. “I’ve been excited to be a part of all of this. I love to think that being able to look down the road and thinking not about what is immediately in front of you, but forecasting the direction to go, is really exciting to me. I love the challenge of not really knowing what is around the corner, but wanting to find out,” Pope said. Other parts of the Conservation Campus include the Thoresen Foundation Exhibit Hall, the Hodges Auditorium and Documentary Theatre, the Williams Outdoor Learning Space and the

mer tennis coach who admittedly did not have any experience before taking on the task first on a volunteer basis and then as a paid position. Platek said, “Jesse gave me the opportunity to get my foot in the door here, and it was at the time when Jesse was the operations manager. He has been here since the Lees-McRae days, and then he got the executive director job. I think his whole evolution on the mountain made him ready for that job. There’s nobody more perfect to have this job than Jesse Pope. It doesn’t matter if you are a 15-year-old at the gate or a million-dollar donor, he is so with you and connected and has the time for you. He’s such a genuinely nice guy.” “I’m honored that he has been my boss and feel pure pleasure in the fact that I can be part of this,” Platek said. “We always say the past is always present here and that is Mr. Morton and Mr. Morton’s mountain. What Jesse has done for us as a staff is something we think about all the time. Not only are we trying to make Mr. Morton proud of us, but now Jesse has taken us to another level. I think Mr. Morton would be so excited that we are building our new conservation campus. That’s just going to open up the doors to so many other things. The new education center was a dream of Jim Morton and Jesse, and he is making that happen.” COVID-19 was one of the biggest challenges that the staff has had to deal with in recent memory. Pope said, “I worked hard in the time we were closed because I wanted to get this place back open. We’ve got long-term people that have worked here forever, and they need jobs. It was really important to me, and it was an easy sell to the board that we needed to support the staff. 2019 was our record attendance year, and it was a pretty quick decision that we were going to do whatever it took to keep all of our staff. The leadership team, consisting of Lesley Platek, Tommy Oakley and myself, went to work to develop our covid operating plan.” Prevost recalled that thanks to Pope’s efforts, none of the employees at the mountain had to go without a paycheck. “When COVID hit, Jesse made sure that every full-time employee here got paid when we had to shut down. That was caring about the people. Everybody got paid, people that never even came in because there was nothing to do, they still got a paycheck. He took care of us. He found disinfectant sprays and all kinds of stuff that you needed to be back open again

and in a safe way. He found all of those when other people couldn’t. We were well set up for a safe experience so that we could reopen. I don’t believe anyone got the virus from here.” Not a lot of good things came out of the COVID-19 pandemic for anybody, but one thing that Grandfather Mountain discovered that they will most likely continue using from now on will be the new reservation system that is currently being used. “We did all of the safety measures, but the biggest thing we did is we got a chance to think about things outside the box. What if we did the gate differently? The gate has been the same since 1952, so we got a chance to think about how we would do that differently. The reservation system has allowed us to regulate our big days. There are not long lines on 221 anymore because everyone has a ticket, and the experience is so much better. Timed entry wasn’t something we were thinking about, but COVID-19 forced us to think that way, and I think that has become the biggest opportunity for Grandfather Mountain for the future,” Pope said.

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Giving Back to the Community


One might think that being the executive director of a nonprofit was enough work to keep a person from finding other organizations to invest time in. For Jesse Pope, that could not be further from the truth. “I have served on a number of boards — some are to benefit Grandfather Mountain,” Pope said. “I have served on the chamber board, and I’ve served on a lot of other things that have benefitted Grandfather, but I also do a lot of things in the community that I care about. I serve on the YMCA Board, the Mayland Community College Foundation Board, the Blue Ridge Conservancy, North Carolina Audobon and the Avery County Humane Society as the current chair. My continued growth and development are doing some of that and seeing how other organizations do things. I’ve learned so much from hearing other CEOs give their reports to the board. It’s lifelong learning opportunities, and I love to serve.” Jesse remembered exactly how he got involved with the Avery County Humane Society. Catherine Morton was president of the humane society when they built their new shelter, but they ran into issues with financial stability in the years to come.


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“We’re working to share the wonders of Grandfather Mountain in ways that are broader and deeper than ever before.”

Wilson Center for Nature Discovery Construction is continuing on the Wilson Center for Nature Discovery, named for benefactors Bob and Susan Wilson. The goal is for the center and the rest of the new Conservation Campus to be completed and open to the public this fall. This picture of the ongoing construction was taken in late May.

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Grandfather Mountain Botanical Garden. Hunter Coffey, owner of Coffey Architecture, said “This nature center is precisely the sort of meaningful project with which I’d hoped to become involved. Visitors centers, nature centers are special places, which offer the designer specific challenges and opportunities. They’re meant to enhance one’s understanding and experience of a place, while at the same time, not upsetting that place by being located in it. Achieving this goal can be like threading a needle, but it’s a challenge we’ve embraced.” The importance of conserving nature and appreciating its beauty on Grandfather Mountain was always a goal of the early vision of Hugh Morton. Morton passed away in 2006, but his legacy will forever live on in the High Country. “Mr. Morton was a true conservationist, and he worked tirelessly out of his love for this mountain, and love for this mountain is something that we all share here. Grandfather Mountain has always been a source of inspiration and a place where people come and discover the beauty and splendor of nature, and we’re taking that a step further here with this project,” said Gordon Warburton, President of the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation board of directors. Grandfather Mountain is home to 16 different ecological communities as well as over 70 rare or endangered species. Each year, roughly 300,000 people visit the mountain to experience the many different aspects of the environment that exist at over 5,000 feet of elevation. Major donations come courtesy of Bob and Susan Wilson, Paul and Susie O’Connell, Luther H. Hodges Jr., David and Cathy Thompson, Ginny Burton, Monroe and Becky Cobey, the A.J. Fletcher Foundation, Joseph and Terry Williams, the William Rose Family, the Dickson Foundation, Frank and Mary Cain Driscoll, Connie and John McLendon and Kelly and Meredith Graves. The groundbreaking for the Conservation Campus began on September 2, 2019, exactly 62 years to the date of the opening of the famous Mile High Swinging Bridge. It is expected that everything will be completed later this fall. t

“They built one of the best shelters in North Carolina,” he said, “but they didn’t have the operational funding to make it sustainable. Rachel Deal came to me asking me to serve on that board. She’s one of the last people on the planet you can say no to. I got there and saw they needed some major leadership. So, we hired Gwynne Dyer. She is a longtime friend of mine, and I knew she had the skill set to do this job. We interviewed other folks, but when she applied and we interviewed her, we knew she was the right fit for the shelter.” Catherine Morton has always admired Jesse for not only his hard work but also the numerous things he has such a passion for. “Jesse is the most interesting man in the world,” she said. “We found our shared interests when he first started as a seasonal trail ranger after he had just graduated from Lees-McRae. Our paths kept crossing because we were interested in the same things and then as time went by, he had a characteristic where he was always interested in personal growth and doing new things and expanding himself.” Dyer took over as the executive director of the Avery County Humane Society in February of 2019. She said, “I’ve known Jesse for almost

15 years. I met him right after moving up here, so I have watched him throughout his career at Grandfather and been amazed at that story. When he approached me about the job at the humane society, part of the allure of that job was knowing that I would get to work closely with Jesse. He has been the chairman of the board now for a year and a half and has been on the board since around 2017. Since Jesse became chairman, he is getting information out in a very organized fashion to all the board members with enough time so they can look at all the information before the meeting. His energy level, his passion and his positive mindset are assets that he brings to the board and the meetings. Our board just continues to get stronger and stronger, and a lot of that is because of Jesse.” Dyer said that there was plenty of learning involved for her to gain the fundraising knowledge to lead a nonprofit organization. Jesse was there from day one to help out with that. “When I started,” she said, “I didn’t have the relationships in Avery County that I needed at the start, so Jesse was instrumental in introducing me to people in Avery County, and then as far as fundraising, it was new to him when he took

Jesse Pope pictured here in a photo taken by Jim Morton. his current position so he was able to sit down with me and talk about how he went through learning the process. He has filled a real mentor role with me. Not only do I think the world of him as a person, but I really do look to him as a mentor. When

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Pope is eager to see what the future holds for Grandfather Mountain. He has said many times that looking down the road is incredibly important to him, even if he doesn’t know what’s coming next, the journey getting there is the true excitement. Photo by Monty Combs things come up, he is the first person I turn to for an opinion.” Giving back to the community was something that Jesse remembers doing as far back as his days at Lees-McRae College. He helped start the group SAVE (Students Against the Vanishing Environment) at LMC and helped play an early role in the wildlife rehabilitation program coming to Lees-McRae. “The wildlife rehabilitation program is thriving. It has been so fun to be a part of that. I had no idea how coming to campus at Lees-McRae would really change my life,” Pope said. Jesse met his wife, Michelle, during his time at Lees-McRae. She was a cashier at Food Lion, and Jesse said he remembers going through her line when he came back from that fish tagging adventure with his brother in Madison County. He and Michelle got married in 2003 and now have a 10-year-old son and 7-year-old twins, a boy and a girl. “There are a million things along the way that could have changed the course. If I had gone out west to take that forest service job, who knows. I met my wife at Lees-McRae. Her freshman year on campus, I knew she was the one. We started dating by October of her freshman year,” Pope said. 44


June 2021

Grandfather Mountain’s Crystal Ball Looking into the future and planning for everything that could happen is impossible, but under Pope’s leadership, Grandfather Mountain will certainly have as good a plan as possible, both financially and educationally. The new Conservation Campus is shaping up to be the crown jewel of the mountain. “We are excited about it. It is really going to expand our educational opportunities in the future. We are going to be able to do a lot of interactive things with our exhibits. We are going to be able to have speaker presentations that we haven’t been able to do in the past,” Pope said. Jesse said they are also contemplating creating a film festival on the mountain, as well as more interactive exhibits as a way to not only educate visitors to the mountain but also broaden the appeal of the mountain to even more folks outside of the High Country. “The local to global connection is very important to us. Hopefully, this will be one of the best science centers in western North Carolina. When I go somewhere, everybody knows what Grandfather Mountain is,” Pope said.

Those that know Jesse are well aware that the future is bright for Grandfather Mountain. Harris Prevost said, “Jesse is as aggressive and smart as he can be. I would say those are nice qualities, but if you look at his heart, that’s the main thing. He has a heart for people, and he has a heart for Grandfather Mountain. That trumps all of the other qualities that he has. People know it. People can tell how much he loves the mountain and how much he cares about the staff. We’ve got a great staff. Morale is high, and it’s a pretty smooth operation. The mountain is in good hands. Jesse can be emotional about the mountain and he really has a good heart for the place. You can’t do what he has done without having a heart for it. He goes above and beyond what a normal person can do. He’s brilliant, he works hard and he cares. It’s a great combination.” Jesse is too humble to take all the credit for where Grandfather Mountain is at today. Instead, he’s just happy to be part of the group that has been able to oversee the thriving mountain. “Mr. Morton and his family were the sole caretakers of Grandfather Mountain, but today it takes a whole community helping out to preserve Grandfather into the future,” Pope said. t

New Ticket Reservation System, Same Great Experience at Grandfather Mountain


fter almost 70 years of operating the park entrance the same way since the gates first opened, COVID-19 forced a change that ended up bringing about positive results and has likely become a fixture for the future. “During the first few months of the pandemic, we needed a way to help our guests get to Grandfather Mountain safely while protecting them as well as our staff, so we devised an online reservation system in which guests would book their visit online, select a time slot and enter the park accordingly. This helped limit the number of guests in the park at one time while also creating an additional buffer between them and our staff,” said Frank Ruggiero, Grandfather Mountain’s Director of Marketing and Communications. Guests that would like to visit the park can now simply register online at grandfather.com, and click on the “book your visit” link. All you have to do is show your E-Ticket on your phone at the gate on the day of your visit, and you are good to go. Ruggiero said that as people got through the growing pains, the benefits of the new system began to shine. “We have been open since 1952 using our previous system. It took some getting used to especially for the Grandfather Mountain fans that have been coming here for so many years. Now, folks are getting more adjusted to it, and it’s really just as simple as pointing and clicking,” he said. “It also had some silver linings as well. Guests were able to enjoy the park more to themselves dealing with fewer crowds, fewer lines and still a safe, outdoor experience at Grandfather Mountain. We also found that it helped spread out visits throughout the week as opposed to just a concentrated time over the weekend. We would have guests visiting on a Monday or a Tuesday, which were typically two of our slower days. We were able to spread out the visits and thus end up receiving more visits. It worked well, so well, in fact, we hope to hold on to that for the foreseeable future.” Once guests enter the park, they are not limited to the time they can spend in the park, unless they plan on staying past closing time, then park employees will most likely frown upon that. “It has really cut down on the major lines, you don’t have as many people all gathering at one time trying to get in on a Saturday. The online ticketing has been a boon in that regard,” Ruggiero added. t


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While at first reluctant to the idea of creating a “play” that ladies of the Garden Club had been talking up, it wasn’t long before the men of the community began taking charge of the project and actual construction would get under way. Pictured here at the site are from left to right: Clyde R. Greene, Ralph Winkler, Russell Hodges, Alfred Adams and Perry Greene, Sr.

Setting the Stage It Started With Two Ladies Having Tea


By Jan Todd

hile the history of Horn in the West is documented on the Southern Appalachian Historical Association (SAHA) website, in library archives, souvenir books and other resources, a colorful account was found just a couple of years ago by Boone resident Skip Greene — son of the late Perry Greene, who was the contractor in charge of build the Horn in the West outdoor theatre in 1952. After Perry Green died in 2016, Skip was sorting through some of his father’s belongings and found a couple of old news-

paper articles written during the early years of Horn in the West. Written by Chester S. Davis for The Winston-Salem Journal in the folksy style of the day, the articles are quoted and summarized here to provide the reader a glimpse of the past, and the story of “The Horn” as it unfolded. Many will recognize the names of people in the articles: names that grace some of the buildings in Boone and on the Appalachian State University campus, names of people who were instrumental in building the town, and whose families are still CONTINUED ON PAGE 50

Constance Stallings points to the theater site as Stanley Harris, Sr. looks on in 1951. The idea for a play came about from a tea organized by Mrs. Charles Cannon where the two discussed how to change the perception of the portrayal of mountain people as “hillbillies.” Mrs. Stallings would be instrumental in convincing the town leaders to embrace the idea and construction of the theater would begin the next year. 48


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Pictured below, left to right, is Skip Greene and Billy Ralph Winkler on the left page is a picture of their fathers.

THE Horn in the


Tunes Up Once More Now in its 69th year, “The Horn” remains a family tradition — for the cast, crew and audience. Skip Greene and Billy Ray Winkler share in the legacy. By Jan Todd


kip Greene was just a youngster when he played on the construction site of Horn in the West — the nation’s longest-running Revolutionary War outdoor drama, located in Boone. His father, Perry Greene, worked as the general contractor on the project. Now as the outdoor drama approaches the completion of its seventh decade in operation, Skip serves on the board of the Southern Appalachian Historical Association (SAHA) — the non-profit organization that oversees Horn in the West (HITW, or the “Horn.”) The production, which tells the story of early mountain settlers including the town’s namesake, Daniel Boone, premiered in the summer of 1952. The plot is set in the 1770’s, a tumultuous time in our nation’s history, with settlers in the Blue Ridge Mountains fleeing tyranny and fighting for freedom, families torn by differing political views, and pioneers learn-

ing to live alongside Native Americans in the rugged land of the High Country. The story is based on history, with some historical figures and some fictionalized, to enhance the drama and help the audience identify with the characters and the times. There is comedy, battle scenes, song and dance (including a fire dance!) in the two-hour show — performed in the 2500-seat amphitheater under the stars. Traditionally playing mid-June through mid-August, the Horn observed its 68th consecutive season in summer 2019, but had to close in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Opening day in 2021 is June 25, and the production will run through August 7. The play was written by Dr. Kermit Hunter (1910-2001), an American playwright and musician who attended Julliard School of Music, served as general manager of the North Carolina Symphony, and earned his graduate degrees from the Department of Dramatic Arts at UNC – Cha-

pel Hill. He wrote more than 40 historical productions, including “Unto These Hills” in 1950, about the history of the Cherokee Indians, which is still performed in Cherokee, North Carolina. Only a few outdoor dramas that gained popularity in the’50’s and’60’s are still in play, among them “Honey in the Rock” in West Virginia — also written by Kermit Hunter — and “The Lost Colony,” written by Paul Green and performed in Manteo. Paul Green, who taught at Chapel Hill for several decades, called the outdoor drama, “the drama of the people.” Whereas indoor theatre, at the time, generally targeted the affluent crowd, outdoor dramas were more accessible to everyone.

In the Beginning In the early 1950’s, there weren’t many options for entertainment in Boone, said Skip Greene. Visitors to nearby Blowing Rock were primarily the wealthy class, June 2021



Ground was broken on the upper parking lot of the theater site on March 13, 1952 and within a few short months under the leadership of Greene Construction Company the construction crews were finished with the whole project in time for the grand opening of Horn in the West on June 27th. making their marks in the welfare of the community today. In the April 27, 1952 article, “How Two Tea-Drinking Women Stirred Up a Tempest in Boone,” Chester S. Davis penned: That the community of Boone will stage an outdoor drama entitled “Horn in the West” this summer is a fact so widely known that it scarcely warrants repeating here. What is not so well known, however, is the fact that a click of teacups and a clack of tongues has upset the folks in Boone to a point where it is certain that the pleasant little town will never again be quite the same. The disturbance began, Davis wrote, when Mrs. Charles Cannon invited a number of her garden club women to share tea and cakes at her home in Kannapolis.

There, Mrs. Cannon and one of her guests, Mrs. E. W. Stallings of Boone, began to discuss the ways of Southern highlanders. Mrs. Stallings lamented the portrayal of mountain people as “hillbillies,” and the two women thought about how to change the perception. Mrs. Cannon suggested a play — something along the lines of “The Lost Colony” or “Unto These Hills” — to preserve and explain the history of the mountaineers. The next week, Mrs. Stallings approached some of the leaders of Boone — including Appalachian State Teachers College professor Leo Pritchett, lawyer Wade Brown, merchants Russell Hodges and Ralph Winkler, and the president of the Chamber of Commerce, Herman Wilcox — to propose their idea.

Davis wrote: Mrs. Stallings approached the male leadership of Boone with feminine guile. She reached for buttonholes in a somewhat fluttering, garden club manner which artfully concealed the seriousness of her purpose. Mr. Pritchett . . . is given to humoring attractive women when they grow overly enthusiastic . . . and the rest of Boone’s leadership reacted to her “buttonholing” in a similar manner. While attracted to the idea, the men pointed out Boone wasn’t nearly large enough to finance such an undertaking. But logic, as men are forever finding out and always forgetting, is no match for intuition. The men went their way and Mrs. Stallings went hers. The difference was that CONTINUED ON PAGE 52

Typically a Horn in the West production involves around 50 actors. Pictured here is the cast from the 50th anniversary season. Folks at the Horn figure approximately 5,000 people have been involved with putting on the production over 69 years. 50


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and there were only a few “motor courts” for what Greene called “regular people.” There were a few tourist attractions, including Mystery Hill, The Blowing Rock, and Grandfather Mountain — but many people came up to the mountains just for the day. “Once Horn in the West opened, suddenly people had something to do at night. Motels started popping up, and restaurants. Horn had a big economic impact on Boone,” Greene said. “The fact that Horn in the West even started was somewhat of a miracle,” Greene said. “It cost about $80,000 to build the amphitheater. Back then, that was a huge amount of money. There were only a couple thousand people living in Boone at that time, and most didn’t have two nickels to rub together.” The town pulled together to build the theater, with many volunteering their time and skills, financing the project through bonds. Greene said his father, Perry Greene — who founded Greene Construction, Inc. in 1947 — built the Horn in the West theater and always had a lot of pride in the Horn. “Back in those days, bumper stickers were a big thing at the tourist places,” Greene recalled. “Whenever people came to the Horn, the parking crew would put bumper stickers on people’s cars when they were in watching the show. Whenever we’d go on trips, my dad would look at bumper stickers and get real excited when he saw one for the Horn on someone’s car.” Green said while his family was never part of the cast or crew, they went to the show every season. “We were part of the Horn,” he said. On Saturday nights, Greene said it was a family ritual to pile into the car and ride over to see how many cars were in the parking lot at the Horn. “My dad would look at the packed lot and say, ‘Looks like they’re having a big night tonight!’” In the early years, Green said CONTINUED ON PAGE 55

The Cast of The Horn’s First Season in 1952 Pay for members of the cast and crew for the first season was a weekly salary of $40.00 for the principal actors, $32.00 for dancers and members of the chorus, the technicians received $28.00 a week and folks playing the villagers were paid $16.00.

A Cast and Crew of Many


n early 1952, the Horn in the West planning team learned that hiring the author, Kermit Hunter, and production managers Sam Selden and Kai Jurgensen, was just the beginning. They needed a team of directors, skilled technicians and electricians, costumers, choreographers and actors, plus support staff including ushers, parking attendants and concession workers. Volunteers from the local community handled the support roles during the first season. The first production required 119 costumes, and 75 local women stepped up to help the professional costume designer cut, baste and sew — completing the task in just three weeks. The stage scenery was prepared in much the same manner, with teams of volunteers. Townspeople even pitched in their time to stuff envelopes with publicity handbills to mail out to advertise the upcoming season. Source: “Boone Keeps Blowing Its Horn to Attract Big Tourist Trade,” by Chester S. Davis, published in The Winston-Salem Journal, June 6, 1954

The Staff Behind the 31st Season of HITW in 1982

June 2021



much money. The sum to she went to more places and be raised was staggering. generally got there first. Yet the locals backed an A couple months later, $80,000 bond issue, most the women were arrangraised from citizens of ing meetings to discuss the Boone. idea — and the men were attending reluctantly. But by Finding a site for the August, the men were taking theatre was a challenge, charge of the project and oruntil the Winkler family stepped forward with a 35ganized the Southern Appalaacre tract, located on what chian Historical Association was then the edge of Boone. (SAHA) — to preserve and Jim Winkler leased the land perpetuate the culture and to the SAHA — taking the history of the people of the first year’s rent in bonds — Southern Highlands, and to and construction and landdo so in a manner to attract tourists to Watauga County. scaping began in the spring. Winkler also provided the Dr. I.G. Greer, head of use of his barn for storing the University of North The 1991 season marked the 40th anniversary of the show and equipment and installed Carolina’s Business Foundation and Watauga native, during a celebration on Grandfather Mountain, present and past cast water lines and plumbing to and crew members gathered for this reunion photo. the site. was the first president of SAHA, and Dr. D. J. WhitThe State Highway ener, a professor of history Department built a “wide the project and teamed up with Sam Selden at Appalachian, was the executive vice- and the Carolina Playmakers to start work road” to the site, and, as Davis wrote: president. On that road you will come close to on the show. The first objective for SAHA was an The folks in Boone had simple aspira- meeting the entire town of Boone between outdoor drama, with other plans — a res- tions: a few sets of bleachers, a plain board sun-up and sun-down. It is still possible to toration of a pioneer village and a muse- stage, local talent and a few extra lights to talk business in Boone, but the chances are um — to follow. The board turned to the brighten up the stage. One long meeting that you will find your man and do your University of North Carolina for advice, later, the specs had expanded to a $6,600 talking at the theatre site. considering Chapel Hill was the center of switchboard, a level parking lot for 1,000 Merchant Russell Hodges has, in efoutdoor drama. Paul Green’s “The Lost cars, an amphitheater and a price tag of fect, turned his business over to his son. He Colony” and “Cry Freedom!” and Kermit around $80,000! spends his time prowling around the theHunter’s “Unto These Hills and “Forever One townsperson pointed out the pop- atre area, watching the sky for rain clouds This Land” were written in Chapel Hill. ulation of Boone was just 2,900 — and and fussing (although the work is ahead of Kermit Taylor was enthusiastic about the people who lived there didn’t have CONTINUED ON PAGE 54

Pictured on the left is the inaugural edition of the Horn in the West program that was 32 pages and was sold at the shows for 50 cents. It had information on the cast crew as well as information on the Horn production and stories on the history of the area. The middle program pictured is from the second year and the program on the right is from the 1984 season production. 52


June 2021

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schedule) over the slow progress. The building committee, as Ralph Winkler says, “meets at least once every half hour.” In the meantime, they keep in touch with each other by telephone. The late Perry Green, at the time a young contractor, was in charge of building the hillside stage and seats to accommodate 2,500 people. Green donated his own time and charged nothing for the use of his machines, accepting money only to pay his crew. Many of the workers and suppliers, including John Hampton and his bulldozing team, offered large discounts on their work and materials and were paid in a combination of cash and bonds. The excitement over the project was infectious, Davis wrote, with the entire Boone native, Ned Austin, played the community behind the project, spread- Daniel Boone Part in the inaugural season ing the news about the upcoming drama. and continued for three years in that role. Davis wrote: in the West” in his presence his eyes light up Last winter when Mrs. Stallings traveled to New York City by bus, she boosted and you are in for a 30-minute buttonhol“The Horn” with such enthusiasm that her ing that is fervent to the point of fanaticism. Doc O. K. Richardson, a pharmacist, fellow passengers were calling her “Miss recently made a trip downstate and like a Boone” before the bus reached Richmond. boy on a paper chase, he littered his trail Ralph Winkler is the sort of a man who with promotional material advising readers would rather have his eye teeth pulled than to listen for the first tootle of “Horn in the make a speech. Yet if you mention “Horn

West” (scheduled for June 27) and then to head for the hills. The people of Boone didn’t expect a windfall of wealth from their Horn in the West bonds. Instead, their goal was to make Watauga County so attractive to tourists that they’d stay a night or two and spend some dollars in town. Nearby Grandfather Mountain, Blowing Rock and the Blue Ridge Parkway attracted visitors, but many came only for the day. The work, energy, donations and sacrifices made by the community for Horn in the West were an investment in the future — a gamble on the tourism to come. The gamble paid off, according to another article by Davis, published in the Winston Salem Journal about two years later on June 6, 1954. In his article, “Boone Keeps Blowing Its Horn to Attract Big Tourist Trade,” Davis wrote that there were three motels in 1951 — and in 1954 the number of “modern tourist courts” had grown to 11, with two more under construction. The motels were “full and overflowing” when “The Horn” was playing, Davis wrote, and business in Boone increased by one-third during the season. t


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Glenn Causey Played Daniel Boone for 40 Years


o Horn in the West enthusiasts, Glenn Causey will always be Daniel Boone. Though in the first season of the Horn, Cause played the Reverend Samuel Davis (and doubled as a square dance caller), in 1956 he began his 41-year run as Daniel Boone – never missing a performance. Greensboro native Causey played basketball as a student at Appalachian State Teachers College, now Appalachian State University, then became a the students at App State were often part of the cast and crew, as well as teachers and their families who came up from “off the mountain.” “Back then, some would stay in dormitories on campus, or rent houses for the summer. They could afford to do that then. Now it has gotten too expensive,” he said. Greene still attends the show each year and brings his grandchildren. “Lots of the families who were instrumental in the beginning have passed the legacy down to their children and grandchildren. The Wilcox’s, the Stallings, the Winklers — the show is part of the history of a lot of local families,” he said.

physical education teacher and school guidance counselor in Arlington, Virginia. In the summers, he’d return to Boone and don his coonskin hat and take the stage at the Horn. Shortly before his death in 2015, Glenn Causey received the Order of the Long Leaf Pine — North Carolina’s highest civilian honor — for his contribution to tourism in the state.

Winkler Blows His Horn

a little earlier. “I had an older cousin in the show, Donny Fidder. Donny taught all of us kids the script, and we put on the play for the cast one year,” Winkler said. Winkler said his playground growing up was the HITW stage. His grandmother lived in the rock house on 851 Blowing Rock Road (now a dentist office), and the yard backed up to the HITW property. “I’d sneak over with my friends and we’d play on the set, acting out the fight scenes and running around in the woods,” he said. Winkler has held HITW positions onstage and off, working as an usher, manager, and executive producer. “I even played the trumpet from the bushes for a few years. I’d hide back there and play

Retired Watauga High School band director, William “Billy Ralph” Winkler, will be back in the choral director’s chair this year at Horn in the West. Billy Ralph, grandson of the late W. Ralph Winkler, who built the Appalachian Theatre in 1938 with A. E. Hamby, has a long family history with the Horn. Billy Ralph’s grandfather served on the building committee for HITW in the 1950’s, and his father Bill Winkler was the production manager in the late 1970’s and early ‘80’s. Billy Ralph said he first took the stage at age 14, though his acting career started

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Authentic costumes and lively action have transported audiences back in time and capitvated them for seven decades. four notes at the end of the show, to make it more dramatic.” Billy Ralph met his wife, Rhonda, who worked concessions at Horn in the West in 1974. They married at the Powderhorn Theatre, a black box-style 75-seat theater on the Daniel Boone Park campus, east of HITW. The Powderhorn, which was demolished in 2013, was originally designed as a stage for Horn in the West cast members to perform their other talents, and

was also rented to other organizations for parties and events. Billy Ralph and Rhonda’s three children, Ashley Winkler Price, Will Winkler, and Jessi Winkler Hall, all worked at the Horn as well. Ashley said, “I was 9 years old when I started working at the Horn, renting cushions, selling programs and acting as a villager on stage. I was paid a dime for each cushion I rented, and 50 cents for






June 2021

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“Horn in the West is part of our family, part of who we are as Winklers, Not opening last summer left an uncomfortable void in my chest.” each program. When I was 12, I was still a villager, but at the last minute one time they needed a dancer to fill in. I was tall, but very light — and the other dancers were able to throw me around easily. I thought I was big stuff.” During her teenage years, Ashley and her brother worked the “Small Pox” concession stand (named for the fictional main character Dr. Geoffrey Stuart, who came to the Colony of Carolina to study the smallpox disease). Small Pox was backstage, where the crew was served sandwiches and snacks. One of her best memories, Ashley said, was talking to Glenn Causey — the actor who played Daniel Boone for 41 years — each night before the show. “Most young girls want to be princesses and are in awe of Cinderella. Not me. I was in awe of Daniel Boone,” Ashley said. Will Winkler sang in the chorus for several years, and sang the solo in the scene where the soldiers go off to battle. “Every night I would get teary eyed listening to him,” said Ashley. “Still to this day, if I hear ‘Wayfaring Stranger,’ I cry.” Jessi Winkler Hall remembers being at HITW every summer of her childhood, she said. “I dressed in a little colonial dress and wasn’t shy about walking up to people to ask if they were interested in buying a program or coloring book,” she said. Jessi and Ashley, who still work at the Horn each summer, said the show is part of the fabric of their family. “It has kept our family close,” Ashley said. “It has been a glue for us.” Jessi said as a child, she used to sled down the hill at the theater in the off season. “In the parking lot I learned to ride a bike, then years later learned to drive a car with a clutch. I remember one night we lost our dog, and the cast and crew stayed up half the night to find her. She was named “Smorenat,” from the line in the show when Daniel Boone slurred his words “It ‘smorenat” — translated “It’s more than that,” referring to his being called west into the mountains.” “Horn in the West is part of our family, part of who we are as Winklers,” Jessi said. “Not opening last summer left an uncomfortable void in my chest. I’m grateful to the

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Boone native Shauna Godwin, who has a long history at Horn in the West, makes her debut this year as the director and choreographer. Godwin graduated from the New York City acting school, The Neighborhood Playhouse, and has a Bachelor of Arts in dance studies and theatre arts from App State. She is on the faculty of the Theatre Arts Department at Lees-McRae College. Godwin’s first stage appearance at the Horn was as a dancer, right after she graduated from high school in the early 2000’s. “Strangely enough, I wasn’t familiar with Horn in the West at all, even though I grew up in Boone. One of the dancers that summer got injured, and another dancer suggested me as a replacement,” she said. In 2014, after Godwin moved back to Boone, she began choreographing the show, then moved into an assistant director role. The HITW cast and crew are like an extended family, Godwin said. “There is such a large cast and it has been running for 69 seasons, so it seems everyone knows someone who has been involved at some point. We have a Facebook page for alumni, and a reunion show every year. Some people have been involved for decades, along with their children and grandchildren. It is really special,” she said.

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A Book for the Records

ast and crew of Horn in the West — or “Hornies” as they sometimes call themselves — are part of a family. With nearly seven decades of production, and over 100 participants in some years, the “family” has thousands of members. Around the High Country, if talk turns to the Horn in the West, almost everyone has a connection — either as a past cast member, a regular audience member, a former employee, or at least somebody who knows someone who was involved in the show. In 2012, Stephen Canipe created a “family album,” historical and personal reflections to commemorate The Horn’s 60th anniversary. With photos, profiles of key players, cast listings and memories contributed by Horn alumni, Canipe captured everything from backstage antics to heartwarming stories about the show that played an important role in the hisStephen Canipe created a tory of Boone. “family album,” for The Horn’s Canipe first became associated with 60th anniversary in 2012. the Horn in 1968, when he was a late season replacement on the technical crew. The following year, he tried out for a role as a villager. “I was just a warm body on stage,” Canipe said. “We just had to be expressive and react to whatever was going on.” Canipe met his late wife, Margie, who was a dancer in the show. They were in the show together for a couple of years, then moved to Wilkes County, where Margie started a dance studio and Canipe became a science teacher. In 1998, Margie was asked to come back to the Horn as a choreographer, so the couple returned to the show. Margie passed away in 2003. Now retired, Canipe serves on the SAHA board and is often found in the front office at the Horn. With a little encouragement, he is likely to share stories from the anniversary book, as well as some not fit for publication! A very limited number of copies are available for purchase at the SAHA museum gift shop located at the Horn in the West property. The Belk Library at Appalachian State University also has a copy.

Godwin said in outdoor theatre, surprises happen. One year, history will enhance the experience at the show,” Godwin said. The Southern Appalachian Historical Association is a nonfor instance, a skunk decided to watch the show alongside the audience. Another year, the cicadas were so loud an audience profit organization, relying on the support of patrons in addition member asked the sound technician to turn down the soundtrack to ticket sales. “Horn in the West tells — not realizing the cicadas a story that everyone needs were an unscripted natural to know,” said Billy Ralph occurrence. Winkler. “It tells the story After the year hiatus for of sacrifice, why the Revothe pandemic, Godwin said lutionary War needed to everyone is particularly exhappen. It is the story about cited for this year’s season. families — how different it “Actors are itching to do was back then, but how in theater again, and people many ways is the same toare eager to get out and day.” see performances, so I an“The story is about ticipate this will be a very people having different energetic season,” she said. opinions and being brave Godwin recommends enough to admit when the audience visit the SAthey’re wrong. The mesHA’s Hickory Ridge Hissage is still relevant today. tory Museum prior to the We need to understand show. The museum, located Members of the 2021 staff: Jennifer Helms, Horn in the West costumer, what our ancestors experiat the entrance of Horn in Wendy Fletcher, SAHA volunteer/Horn Production Committee member, enced,” Winkler said. the West, includes six hisShauna Godwin, Horn in the West Artistic Director/Choreographer and Marrena Greer, SAHA Operations Manager/ Jessi Winkler Hall said, toric log cabins representHickory Ridge History Museum Director “This organization brings ing different aspects of life history to life in a way that during the settlement period of the colonial era.The museum is open from early April to makes it tangible and real. The Horn brings culture, historical awareness, and safe, fun, family friendly entertainment to the High mid-November. “Understanding a bit about how people were living and the Country. I can’t imagine Boone without Horn in the West.” t

June 2021



Photo by Ellen Gwin Burnette

Photo by Tucker Tharpe


Music Man on a

Mission Story by Anna Oakes



June 2021

Photo by Tucker Tharpe

Photo by Ellen Gwin Burnette

Brewer I

t was an early April evening, 13 months into the pandemic, and a restless Dave Brewer was shuffling around his quiet kitchen. Although government leaders were dangling promises of lifted occupancy restrictions, and major summer music festivals had already started blasting their lineups across Instagram, Dave—a member of seven bands, concert promoter, talent buyer, festival organizer and crucial component of Boone’s musical ecosystem—

was nevertheless feeling less than confident about prospects for a swift return to pre-2020 musician life. “I think ‘normal’ is in the rearview,” Dave surmises, stealing a sip of beer while stirring the pasta on the stove. A dry-erase board on the fridge says it’s Dave’s night to cook dinner in this busy Foscoe household. “People are very hungry for live entertainment, and I feel like the venues are just as hungry as the audiences, but there are some very fundamental lingering ques-

tions about how that happens safely.” “Normal” for Dave is a full-bore balancing act of ever-increasing projects and musical collaborations, scheduling, event planning, organizing, rehearsing and promoting, all while working a “day job” and being a husband and stepdad. In 2019, Dave was manager and talent buyer for the Boone Saloon, one of Boone’s busiest live music venues. His booking company with Ashley Wright, Carolina Ramble Productions, was rep-

June 2021



resenting artists like Anya Hinkle and Tellico, Aaron Burdett and Shay Martin Lovette while booking regular concerts at venues like the Old Hampton Store in Linville. He was scheduling shows on the wedding, club and outdoor concert circuits for multiple bands, hauling gear, emceeing and sweating it out on stage two to three nights a week. He was teaching a music industry studies class at Appalachian State, too, and pulled off the fifth annual Carolina Ramble & Reunion, a small music festival held on a Bethel farm. Then it all stopped. “So many people have been in much more dire straits than I have been—I’m certainly not a victim,” Dave acknowledges. “Not being a crybaby, just, one day it was there, the next day it wasn’t. It’s like, now what? Left in the vacuum has been plenty of time—maybe too much time—for reflection, hand-wringing and wondering about what’s ahead. And deep questions, like this one: Amid the increasing silofication of music consumption, will future generations continue to value shared live music experiences? Dave notes that he’s an avid reader of the music writer Bob Lefsetz, who frequently opines that music does not drive the culture in the way it once did. Dave nods in the direction of his wife, who’s sitting in the living room. “Katie would probably say that I latch on to the most doomsday predictions of this guy. Which is not true. I’m not obsessed with things not going well,” he says. “I can’t sit here and tell you that kids are going to care immensely about live music the way that the current generation cares about it down the road, but I hope that they do, I want them to. That’s certainly part of my mission—to make that a reality, to put the best people on stages to inspire

Dave’s first band, Plan B, on stage at legendary Winston-Salem music club Ziggy’s, opening for award-winning blues musician Abe Reid in August 1998. With later bands Possum Jenkins and Six Foot Groove, Brewer would go on to play dozens of shows at the venerable nightspot as both an opener and healiner. Photo submitted the next best people.” _________________ To know Dave is to laugh—a lot. From riffing with bandmates on stage to lighting up our Facebook feeds with his wisecracking witticisms, he keeps both his friends and his audiences smiling, and often in stitches. Dave points to his dad, Clemmons attorney and former mayor, Ed Brewer, as the likely source of that. “My dad is hilarious. He is a walking, talking encyclopedia of jokes,” he says. “I don’t have that, but I am ... perpetually writing the sitcom that we are all in all the time. Somebody says something and I am thinking of the sarcastic response at all times. I just have always enjoyed making people laugh, or at least entertaining myself in the process of trying to.” Papa Brewer sang in the church choir,

as did Dave’s paternal grandmother Elma Brewer, who additionally was a gifted pianist. But also influential to Dave was his mother Cindy’s side of the family, who, although not musically inclined, were big appreciators of music: “In some ways I think those things are of equal importance,” he reflects. Singing came first for Dave, who lent his voice to the school chorus and the Moravian church youth choir. Attending the Moravian church summer camp in Ashe County’s Laurel Springs—where he would later return as a counselor and staff member—introduced him to two lifelong loves: the mountains, and making music. “Growing up and going to the Moravian summer camp, where they stood out in front of the campfires and played guitars, I just had to get into that,” Dave says. “As best I can think of it, that was my first no-

From left, a young Dave singing the first of many renditions of “Morning Star” during Clemmons Moravian Church’s annual Christmas Lovefeast service, giving a preview of his future as a hat connoisseur at senior prom, and is voted Best Musician alongside his fellow West Forsyth High classmates. 62


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tion of wanting to stand in front of people forced me into that role,” he ponders. “I and make music.” And at age 14, seeing feel like the most unlikely of leaders quite the Edwin McCain Band play at Winston- frequently. But if somebody has to run shit, I will do it.” Salem’s Ziggy’s sealed the deal. ________________ Up until his freshman year, sports— something every season, from baseball to Dave graduated from high school and basketball to swimming to cross-country— consumed a lot of his free time, but in his enrolled at Western Carolina, but playing early teens began a “torrid love affair” music in the dorms often trumped study with the guitar. He quit the West Forsyth time: “Really I just wasn’t ready for colJV baseball team and formed his first band, lege, where, apparently, you need some Plan B, with boys from his church. They practiced in the “youth hut,” a detached garage of the Moravian church parsonage. “We all had a key, we came and went through this place, it was dreamy. Knowing what I know now about the difficulty of finding good rehearsal spaces, it was a great way to start out.” Their gigs consisted of church coffee house hours, and once, the wedding of a bandmate’s dad’s coworker, which Dave laughingly remembers as “tragically bad.” The setlist included an instrumental version of Zeppelin’s “The Ocean” (because no one could hit the high notes) and The Romantics’ “What I Like About You”—but only the parts they could remember. When a bandmate kept showing up late to practice, Dave out of necessity picked up the drums, and it quickly became another passion. But the instrument-swapping musician, who also plays bass, insists he doesn’t have a favorite: “I don’t care—I will take Photo by Rob Brown the tambourine and the harmony if I can just be up there.” His high school years foretold his future as a band leader, spokesperson and de facto emcee, owing in large part to his quick wit, lack of stage fright and “complete DAVID BREWER ambivalence toward a microphone,” as Dave puts it. He was the senior patrol leader in his Boy time management skills that I was sorely Scout troop, and, though he can’t remem- lacking.” He moved back home in the ber how, he ended up as the emcee of his spring of ‘99. Plan B, after some lineup high school’s talent show both his junior changes, morphed into Six Foot Groove, playing a jam-band mix of funk, rock and and senior years. “I don’t know what sort of measure of blues, and recording two albums. Dave hubris or other lack of leadership in others wrote and sang the band’s original mate-

rial. Just a few years after the Edwin McCain concert at Ziggy’s got him hooked on performing, Dave would find himself and his bandmates gracing the stage of the venerable Winston venue. Dave followed his bandmates up to Boone, where he took classes at Caldwell Community College, later transferring to App State, and began immersing himself in the Boone music scene. He essentially took up residence at Murphy’s, first with Six Foot Groove, and later with alt-country/roots rock outfit Possum Jenkins, which coalesced in early 2004, when members of the former left town for internships—and when Dave was itching for a transition from a jam band to a song band. “I was definitely intent on a change of musical direction,” he recalls. Dave “Davo” Willis, singer, guitarist and rotating drummer for Possum Jenkins, knew a couple of the Six Foot Groove guys and remembers their screaming guitars, good originals and interesting covers. “Brewer gave me a call to do some acoustic gigs,” he says. “I would get together with Nate (Turner) and Jared (Church) every now and then to play guitars, so we just combined forces and went the electric route.” Brent Buckner, formerly of the Emma Gibbs Band, rounded out the quintet. Davo: “I think Brewer had booked a gig before we even practiced together.” The band was only a few months old when members started to graduate and relocate to the Winston area, with everyone but Dave leaving town over the next couple of years. But 17 years later, the band is still together, with five albums recorded and multiple shows throughout the year, all while balancing growing families, their jobs and other musical projects. “There probably wouldn’t be [a band] if Brewer didn’t will it into existence. I’m not sure if I would even play music in public at all if he wouldn’t have made it happen years ago,” says Davo, whose other

“That’s certainly part of my mission … to put the best people on stages to inspire the next best people.”

June 2021



musical endeavors include Wurlitzer Prize and The Last Longleaf. Dave is proud and grateful for the nearly two-decade musical brotherhood, if a bit wistful about what might have been: “There’s no reason to waste any time trying to figure out what Possum Jenkins might have accomplished had we all managed to get in the same town.” Dave graduated from App State with a journalism degree in December 2004—just in time to join the upstart weekly newspaper High Country Press, founded in May 2005. He settled into a niche as the paper’s music and entertainment writer, and his column, “Brewer’s Briefs,” was a mustread digest of upcoming live shows, infused with the author’s insider knowledge of regional bands and venues and a healthy smattering of snark and sarcasm. Through artist interviews, concert previews and weekly calls to update the nightlife calendars, the young music writer began making connections that would serve him in the future. “When we first met him, he was maybe doing an article on us, he did a great job, and my first impression was, boy, this guy can write,” remembers Penny Zamagni, bassist for the husband-and-wife blues music performers and proselytizers The King Bees. “He seemed to come from a musical background, and then we found out he also had excellent music skills. He’s very versatile, a great singer, a dynamite guitar player and very much at ease doing those things on stage.” After sitting in with The King Bees at their annual New River Blues Festival, Dave was invited to join the band

Dave and his wife Katie Boyette are pictured at their lovely home in Foscoe. “My life as a musician … would not work without the extreme understanding and support of Katie,” Dave says. Photo by Tara Diamond on drums on occasion, and he’s traveled with them to gigs in Memphis and Myrtle Beach. “He likes to be able to fill in here, there and everywhere with different bands,” Penny says. John Rush, who spent 19 years booking some 4,000 shows in Boone, primarily in the Murphy’s barroom (now Ransom) on King Street, remembers getting a call from a fellow booking agent around the turn of the century. Six Foot Groove, a band with a good local following in the Winston area, was relocating to Boone, and he was calling to recommend that John help them out. Dave not only showed up to play his own gigs, Rush says, but he helped promote the venue’s acts in the newspaper and he was a frequent concert attendee.

“He was one of the biggest music fans in Boone. Still is. He was definitely an active part in half of those 4,000 shows, if not more,” Rush says. “I got the call to help out these young guys, and in the end, looking back, he helped me probably more.” After Possum, Dave’s second-longestrunning project is Soul Benefactor, formed in 2007. The “High Country’s Favorite Party Band,” a well-earned moniker, “takes pride in choosing great songs slightly off the beaten path from the ‘60s and ‘70s,” explains Aaron Burleson, keyboardist, vocalist and co-band leader. “Dave and I met in the mid-2000s through our mutual connections to [publisher] Ken Ketchie and High Country Press,” says Aaron. “When Ken needed a band for a party in 2007, we threw it

At left, Dave leads a joyous musical parade of bandmates, friends and family over the hill to gather for his wedding ceremony at the Brayshaw Farm in Bethel in June 2016. Right: The newlyweds are all smiles after the ceremony. Photos by Ellen Gwin Burnette 64


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June 2021



a member of the worship band together and it was too good, accompanying the choir of the too much fun, and too easy to Boone Mennonite Brethren not keep it rolling.” Church, the anchor of Boone’s About his bandmate, historic Black neighborhood Aaron says, ”Dave always known as Junaluska. sits in the pocket, whether About 10 years ago, Aaron drums, vocals, guitar or on, who had been a member bass. On stage, Dave does an of the church for about a year, incredible job at leading the asked Dave if he could fill in band and signaling dynamics as a drummer for a Martin with drum cues—and if you Luther King Jr. celebration. ever miss one, be prepared “I was scared to death. I to either dodge the glaring didn’t know any of the tunes smirk that’s coming your way and didn’t really know anyor just laugh it off with him.” body in the church,” he reIn 2008, Dave would join members. “I went that first Boone-based The Worthless Sunday, and was welcomed Son-in-Laws on drums and with open arms. I didn’t hesiharmony vocals, adding to his tate to come back. roots-rock and funk-and-soul “I do deeply love makrepertoire with “Appalachian ing gospel music, because it indie-rock, which various is about something so much people have likened to some bigger than the singer or combination of Son Volt, Wilthe player. There is no noise co, early REM, the Jayhawks, more joyful than a Sunday the dB’s, the Shins, the Allmorning gospel choir in full man Brothers and Big Star.” roar. It’s definitely pushed me Though you might occaharder than I would push mysionally catch him groaning self. It’s no secret why gospel about the chores of cat herdmusic produces some of the ing, over the course of a couOftwen swapping between guitar, drums and bass during performances, most astounding musicians ple decades, it’s been rare for Brewer’s gift of gab has long made him a natural frontman in bands. and performers.” Dave to say no to a new musiHowever, the multi-instrumentalist insists he’s just as happy to _________________ cal collaboration—or let one shake a tambourine and sing harmonies. go defunct. One-off concerts In August 2009, amid the tend to become years-long throes of the Great Recesprojects, even if they only get sion, Dave was informed he together once or twice a year. was being laid off from the There’s The Dead of WinHigh Country Press. But he ter, “a collective of like-mindquickly found employment ed pickers … [that] plays the down the street at one of his music of The Grateful Dead favorite watering holes. with passion.” And Dave “The folks at Boone SaBrewer’s Foscoe Four, as Aarloon knew me well enough,” on describes, “a collection of Dave wrote last year, rearound eight multi-talented flecting on the experience. musicians—where sometimes “I’d been a patron since its you may not know who’s on slam-packed opening night the gig, or on which instruin 2004 and performer since ment, or what the playlist is.” 2005. Upon learning of my And The Moravian Buns, thrown together by Dave, the For more than a decade, Dave has been a member of The Junaluska Gospel Choir at situation, they reached out Rev. Brad Bennett, the Right Boone Mennonite Brethren Church in the historic Junaluska community. The choir and offered me a job.” The Rev. Sam Gray and Thomas travles throughout the High Counry to perform at a variety of churches and events. position at one of Boone’s most active live music venues Baucom to play an assembly would prove to be another at the church summer camp a thing,” Dave laughs. “Of all the bands years ago. They’re still getting together I have ever been in, most of them are still pivotal brick in his sprawling musical path. to play a mix of classic rock and worship together. There aren’t that many of them Over time, Dave was promoted from bartender to bar manager and concert booker. tunes for camp events and fundraisers. that are in the rear view.” “Taking over the talent buying for “That happens to me a lot. Let’s do this On Sundays, Dave dusts the barroom one thing, and then five years later—still grime off his shoes and lends his talents as the Saloon a few years ago was a giant 66


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Real Estate Sales & Vacation Rentals Dave doesn’t mind being the center of attention. wake-up call in terms of how the business is done,” he says. “It was kind of like being let behind the curtain in a more serious way. I had always been on the outside looking in. In some ways it feels like serving two masters—I want the venue to do well, I want the artist to do well also. So trying to find that line that is serviceable to both parties—that’s part of the gig.” The bar and restaurant was also home base for a slew of charity events organized by Dave over the years, including the annual Brewer’s Big Badass Birthday Benefit Bonanza in July and the High Country Holiday Throwdown in December, which raised


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“We all talk about doing different things, but then Brewer actually goes out and does them.” DAVE WILLIS, POSSUM JENKINS BANDMATE money for A.M.E.N. (Area Musicians Experiencing Need). And last year, when COVID-19 shutdowns forced restaurant workers into unemployment, he played from his basement in Foscoe as part of the Virtual Dinner Concerts series, raising over $5,000 for his Boone Saloon coworkers. With years of booking under his belt, Dave joined forces with musician Ashley Wright, also known as Earleine, to form Carolina Ramble Productions in 2019. The company combines the pair’s 25-plus years of booking, performance and management experience in putting skilled musicians together with an array of performance venues, and also offers consulting services for clients looking for music at private events, weekly or monthly concert series or special occasions. “You’re always trying to create a happy relationship between venue, audience and act. You don’t put a metal band in the park June 2021



“Don’t ever say no!!” Playing unplugged at the Watauga County Farmers’ Market with the Worthless Son-in-Laws here, Brewer is one of the High Country’s most vislble musical presences. Whether it’s poolside parties, family reunions, Christmas tree lots, bars, hotels, benefits in mall parking lots, or riding through downtown Boone on a St. Paddy’s Day float, Dave is always ready to play.

Dave, pictured here with Penny ‘Queen Bee’ Zamagni at the annual New River Blues Fest, has been singing and playing the blues with The King Bees on and off since 2005. 68


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at 5 on a Friday afternoon. You don’t put a folk duo in the bar at 11 o’clock at night,” says Dave. “As a booking agent and talent buyer in the High Country, I don’t have to figure out how to get people to enjoy wonderful spaces,” he adds. “They already want to be in those spaces. Our job is to provide the soundtrack to that situation.” John Rush, who booked some of Dave’s first shows in Boone, remembered his own influences as a concert promoter: “My mentors in booking, Billy Herring and Randy Kelly, they were huge for me. I watched what they did.” If Billy and Randy are on the Mount Rushmore of Boone music promoters, he says, Dave’s earned his place right up there with them. The Year That Wasn’t brought disruptions, pivots and, of course, new projects into Dave’s life. In May 2020, he decided to end his 11-year tenure at the Boone Saloon, taking a new job as barkeep at the Best Cellar in Blowing Rock. And with stages silent, Dave took his voice, his playlists and his opinions to the internet airwaves, joining a stable of local DJs for Boone Area Community Radio, a web-based station launched in fall 2020 by Travis Reyes and Ellis Fredrick. Brewer World Tour Radio Hour airs every Tuesday from 2-4 p.m., sampling from the eponymous host’s broad musical tastes and offering plenty of value-added content between songs, whether it’s name-checking the featured vocalists on a track or Dave’s personal insights on Sly Stone’s mastery of crowd psychology. “Some people are very theme-oriented; [my] theme is whatever I can get my hands on,” he says about his weekly shows. “I love spontaneity, I like improv. That’s part of the joy.” Shortly after launching his BACR show, Brewer offered his services to Ocracoke Community Radio, a station he had come to love during yearly Outer Banks beach trips. The station welcomed Brewer aboard, broadcasting a retooled Brewer World Tour Radio Hour from 9-11 a.m. on Wednesdays. “The DJ’ing on the whole has been a wonderful salve on the wound of not having shows to play, I would say,” said Dave, teeing up a signature self-deprecating dig. “I gotta have people to talk at. I neeeeed a microphone.” Not surprisingly, the schedule of a bartender, working musician and event promoter doesn’t always sync up with that of his wife, Katie, who commutes to Asheville Monday through Friday for her job managing mammography facilities, and who’s an artist in her own right, with incredible talents in fiber arts and woodworking. “My life as a musician, as a talent buyer, as a person trying to work in the realm of entertainment would not work without the extreme understanding and support of Katie,” Dave says. “I think it’s a mutual understanding,” Katie chimes in. “We both have our creative pursuits

that require a lot of flexibility, and you have to be kind of selfish with your time sometimes to pursue it. While our schedules are very different … I think it makes us both very much appreciate the time we do have. It’s kind of off limits. That’s the time I get to spend with Dave. You make more of it when you have less.” _________________ A year or so ago, the revered bluegrasser Larry Keel whispergrowled a word of warning to Dave: “Be careful—you’re gonna turn around and find yourself spending more time handling the business end than you are on stage.” “That’s not my goal,” Dave insists, “but at the same time, people continue to seek me out to do that work, and I don’t mind it.” Plus, years of laying the groundwork pays off in some nifty synergy: “You sit still long enough, and the people … they come to you, they know it won’t suck and that you’ll be there roughly on time and it will be fine. And that’s nice, it makes my job kind of easy. I don’t mind to play the role. I don’t have to do anything I don’t want to do. I can be the artist I want to be. I can go do what I want to do.” It’s a role not lost on his bandmates Aaron Burleson, Penny Zamagni and Dave Willis. “If Dave isn’t working as hard as he does,” Aaron says, “musicians and audiences don’t get to enjoy what we all enjoy.” “It’s all for the purpose of making people have fun, and comOne of Dave’s latest musical projects is scratching a longtime itch: hosting a live radio show called The Brewer World Tour Radio Hour. The show airs local independent internet station Boone Area Community Radio, as well as 90.1 FM WOVV in Ocracoke, NC.

Sunday A foot 4, race2021 to Sugar’s July 5,300’ peak by way9 ofAM the Easy Street, Gunther’s Way and Northridge slopes.


June 2021



Ramble Reunites Brewer’s Bands, Friends & Family T

ickets went on sale June 1 for the sixth annual Carolina Ramble & Reunion, taking place Friday through Sunday, October 8-10, 2021, and brought to you by Dave Brewer and friends. Founded in 2014 by Dave and his N.C.-based Americana band Possum Jenkins, the Carolina Ramble & Reunion is an intimate fall family music festival held at beautiful Brayshaw Farm in the Bethel community of Watauga County. Anchored by Possum Jenkins as well as the Ramble family of Soul Benefactor, The Worthless Son-InLaws, Dave Brewer’s Foscoe Four, Wurlitzer Prize and Earleine, the Ramble features a variety of local, regional and national artists, plus camping, games, activities, food trucks and tons of fun. “Organizing and growing the Ramble has been a labor of love, but seeing it come together always makes it worthwhile,” Dave says. “Experiencing other talented artists alongside your friends and family in such a beautiful and intimate setting is truly special.” Find out more and grab your tickets at CarolinaRamble.com..


Soul Benefactor

Dave Brewer’s Foscoe Four

Possum Jenkins 70


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Worthless Son-in-Laws

Dave’s basement, known as “The Cave,” is the setting for band practices, home recording, DJing, Zoom sessions for his ASU class, livestream concerts and lots of planning. Photos by Tara Diamond ing together,” reflects Penny. “In another context, you might call him a community organizer.” “He really loves music,” Dave Willis says. “He’ll play it on your back porch or corner bar or festival stage, he’ll read books about it, talk about it, teach classes about it, he’ll spin records and let you borrow some albums and tell you about new artists and so on and so on. Then he’ll

organize a show or two so we’ll have an excuse for another van trip.” _________________ If you want to sample any of the multiple music concoctions that Dave has brewing, but are feeling overwhelmed with


where to start, never fear! Brewer World Tour, the tongue-in-cheek nod to his impending global takeover, lassos all of his many endeavors together under one oversized golf umbrella. Check out BrewerWorldTour.com and Brewer World Tour on Facebook. t

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June 2021

PLACES TO DINE THIS SUMMER It’s the height of the summer dining season in the High Country, and there’s no better time to enjoy a casual lunch, a relaxing brunch or a romantic dinner. For your culinary inspiration, you’ll find dozens of fine establishments in the following pages. BANNER ELK CAFÉ BANNER ELK. Located in downtown beautiful Banner Elk, the Banner Elk Cafe just recently opened their brand new bar and dining area that now connects all their many dining areas, and now provides a great place to meet for drinks and socialize before dining. The restaurant complex has two restaurants as well as four outdoor and covered patios. The Lodge Espresso Bar and Eatery has a friendly coffee-house atmosphere with a smoothie bar, fresh bakery, and gourmet food. Serving, delicious salads, seared Tuna, pizzas, pastas, and wraps. Best Bloody Mary and Cadlillac Magaritas in town. The Banner Elk Cafe serves breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. Great food, ranging from eggs benedict

to big, juicy burgers. For the healthy and weight conscience we offer grilled mahi and chicken sandwiches, salad bar, and homemade daily specials. Dinner nightly offering: Ribs, Steaks, Fish and always fresh and creative specials and from our talented Chef. Patios are large enough to entertain parties, great for group functions, rehearsal dinners & bridal luncheons. n 828.898-4040. www.bannerelkcafe.com. See ad on this page

THE BEACON BUTCHER BAR BOONE. The Beacon Butcher Bar is a labor of love from Tina Houston, owner of Reid’s Café & Catering Co. which has been established here in the High Country since 1999. The Beacon Butcher Bar is located in the heart of Boone adjacent to the iconic Water Wheel. Just as we value beautiful ingredients in our catering, The Beacon procures the highest quality ingredients for their seasonal menus. We value the handmade and fashion from scratch details as small as the aioli and dressings we use, to housemade focaccias and pastries, slow-roasted meats, and naturally fermented pickles. We serve regional seafood, farm goods from our local friends, amazing coffee from Camp Roasters Coffee of Blowing Rock, as well as loose leaf teas and tisane from Bellocq Tea Atelier, with rustic handmade Italian pastries. We have all the things you need for dinner by Chef Sean McMullen; elegant salads, Neapolitan

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Welcome to the Banner Elk Cafe and Lodge! To limit exposure, we are using QR Codes for access to our online menus. Scan the code using the camera app on your phone, and you will get a pop up for a link to our website, which contains our two menus. We operate out of two kitchens, and there are menus for both. The red menu is our Lodge menu, and it represents a more Italian style of cuisine, while our blue menu is our Cafe menu, which represents more American/Traditional cuisine. Your party is welcome to order from Heither I G Hmenu, C O Ubut N by T Rordering Y M A Gfrom AZINE different menus, your food might come out at slightly separate times. We hope you enjoy!

Join us for live entertainment with Trivia night on Tuesdays from 6 to 8 pm and live music on our patio on Fridays and Saturdays from 6 to 10 pm. And in case of inclement weather, our stage will move indoors to our Tavern Bar. June 2021


rustic pizzas, handmade pasta, grilled whole fish. The Beacon Market offers hand-cut meats, in-house charcuterie, house-cured bacon, marinated olives, imported cheeses, hand-baked bread and so much more.. n 828-865-0087. www.boonebeacon.com. See ad on page 73

THE BEST CELLAR BLOWING ROCK. The Best Cellar restaurant has been a favorite among locals for decades. Located in The Inn at Ragged R e s ta ur a n t Gardens in downtown Blowing Rock, The Best Cellar offers eleven elegant rooms, seasonal gardens and serves dinner daily. All dishes, including bread and desserts, are prepared each day on site. Reservations are suggested. n 828-295-3466. www.ragged-gardens.com. See ad

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BOONE. The idea came from Clayton Miller Jr, who was born and raised in Boone, but went to Chicago to help his brother there run his pizza restaurant there. And he fell in love with the Chicago Style Pizza. Now he is in back in Boone and just opened Boonie’s Chicago Style Pizza restaurant. A Chicago style pizza is a stuffed pizza with toppings on the inside and the sauce on the top. They’re thick and delicious! Boonie’s also has a thick deep dish cut style and a classic thin crust style. They also have a menu of special pizzas titled ‘Pizza Our Way” with interesting combinations of toppings. Or you casn make it “Your Way” and design your own toppings. The different sizes of pizzas include 10, 12, 14, 16 and 20 inches. The restaurant has other items on the menu as well including standard appetizers,

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pastas, salads, sandwiches and wings. As the restaurant’s slogan states, Clayton or (his nickname) “Boonie” was born here, raised here, lived there and brought the pizza back, and that’s how Boonie’s came to be. n 828-355-3033. www.boonieschicagostylepizza.com.com. See ad on page 77

BOONE BAGELRY BOONE. Boone’s oldest bagel shop locally owned and operated since 1988, serves 14 types of freshly baked bagels and a wide variety of menu items including vegetarian and gluten free. Boone Bagelry is a full-service restaurant that serves breakfast and lunch all day. We are conveniently located on King Street in downtown Boone with patio dining available. Delivery service available. Support local. Taste local. Enjoy local. n 828.262-5585. www.boonebagelry.com. See ad on page 76

BOONESHINE BOONE. Booneshine Brewing Company was founded by Carson Coatney and Tim Herdklotz in early 2015. Both had years of experience home brewing prior to opening Booneshine Brewing. They are passionate about brewing high quality beer and equally focused on connecting with people and tapping into what makes the community of Boone and the High Country shine. Sitting down and enjoying a beer with friends can be a sacred moment full of joy, laughter, celebration, and camaraderie. Booneshine Brewing offers a full-service tasting room/restaurant as well as a beer garden and food truck. From our menu you will find snacks, small plate appertizers, salads, sandwiches, tortillas, flatbreads, a kids menu and desserts. Check our Facebook page for entertainment events from trivia nights to live music to special events. We have lots of outdoor space and plenty of parking. We’re located in East Boone. n 828-278-8006. www.booneshine.beer. See ad on page 74











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Lunch Served 11am - 3pm 9872 Hwy. 105 S. in Foscoe

EAT CROW BANNER ELK. Eat Crow is a wonderful little cafe specializing in fresh, delicious goods including a large variety of pies and cakes. These delectables are offered by the slice, or you have the option to order a whole one to take home and enjoy. We also offer fresh made sandwiches at lunch time that can not be compared to any other “sandwich shop” in the area. 

Since we know life can be very hectic, for your convenience we prepare whole meals and fresh soups daily that are ready for you to take home and heat up for your family. These entrees vary daily. We are always creating something delicious! All sandwiches are served on farmhouse or whole wheat bread. Choices of sides include fresh fruit, firecracker coleslaw or chips. We are open Tuesday - Saturday: 10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. and are located near Foscoe on Hwy. 105 between Boone and Banner Elk. n 828-963-8228. See ad on this page

GAMEKEEPER BLOWING ROCK. You haven’t fully experienced the region until you’ve dined at The Gamekeeper. It’s a true gourmet restaurant, with the perfect blend of upscale elegance and simple mountain charm. The Gamekeeper is famous for Southern favorites - ultimate in comfort food - prepared with creativity and originality, offered through an evolving seasonal menu that blends the traditional with the exotic, satisfying both the meat lover and the vegetarian. Housed in a 1950s stone cottage, The Gamekeeper is an upscale restaurant that offers an eclectic mix of Southern foods and mountain cuisine, offering a selection of unique meat dishes including mountain trout, buffalo rib eye, ostrich, duck and beef tenderloin. The friendly staff literally waits on you hand and foot, assuring that you’ll leave happy and satisfied. The restaurant is located off Shulls Mill Road near Yonahlossee Resort. n 828-963-7400. www.Gamekeeper-NC.com. See ad on page 75

Open 7 Days a Week • 7am-3pm Take Out and Delivery Available

Boone’s Original Bagel Shop Since 1988 Serving Breakfast and Lunch All Day Espresso Coffee Bar 14 Varieties of Freshly Baked Bagels Vegetarian & Gluten Free Options Available Featuring Deli Sandwiches, Fresh Salads, Home made Flavored Cream Cheeses, Omelettes, Pancakes, French Toast, and Burgers

• FREE DELIVERY! • Home of the Famous Bagelicious HISTORIC DOWNTOWN

516 West King St. • 262-5585 www.boonebagelry.com 76


June 2021

Thoughtfully prepared meals from our family to yours. Gathering beautiful ingredients with an emphasis on house-made to order cuisine featuring NC seafood, local meats and produce from local farms. Offering a full bar, craft cocktails, fine wines and locally made beers. LUNCH: Tues.-Sat. beginning at 11am | DINNER: Tues. - Sat. beginning at 5:30 pm

171 Main Street • Banner Elk • 828-898-5656 louisianapurchasefoodandspirits.com

LP ON MAIN BANNER ELK. After 35 fabulous years in downtown Banner Elk - Chef-Owners Patrick and Laurie Bagbey have relocated their independently owned and operated restaurant to 171 Main Street, Banner Elk. Still in the heart of the community, the Bagbey family welcome you to join them at LP on Main. Gathering beautiful ingredients to thoughtfully prepare meals from our family to yours. With an emphasis on house made to order cuisine featuring NC seafood, local meats and produce from Trosly Farms, Springhouse Farms, Charlotte Frost Greenhouse and Heritage farms. Offering a full bar, craft cocktails, fine wines and locally made beers. n 828-898-5656. www.louisianapurchasefoodandspirits.com. See ad on page 76

RED ONION CAFÉ BOONE. The Red Onion Cafe has created its niche in the High Country for over 35 years by offering a welcoming atmosphere and an extensive menu at affordable prices. The Red Onion Cafe has something for every member of the family, including burgers, sandwiches, wraps, pizza, pasta, fish, steak and delicious homemade desserts. The Red Onion Cafe also offers several of the region’s top beer and wines to compliment any meal. n 828-264-5470. www.theredonioncafe.com. See ad on page 74


BANNER ELK. The High Country’s premier steak and seafood house since 1985. Enjoy your favorite steaks, prime rib, chicken or baby back rib entrée or choose from the extensive seafood selection or daily specials. Serving daily from 5:00 p.m. in a casual, family-friendly dining atmosphere. All ABC permits. n 828-898-5550. www.stonewallsresturant. com. See ad on page 75

Pizza Like You’ve Never Had Before BORN HERE, RAISED HERE, LIVED THERE


The Chicago Style Stuffed Deep Dish with Toppings on the Inside and Sauce on the Top

The idea came from Clayton Miller, Jr., who was born and raised in Boone, but went to Chicago to help his brother run his pizza restaurant. He fell in love with the Chicago Style Pizza and brought it back to Boone. Boonie’s new restaurant is now open next to the Holmes Convocation Center. Our Menu also features a thick deep dish cut style and a classic thin crust style pizza – plus appetizers, pastas, salads, sandwiches, wings and more. We also have a full bar with all of your favorites! 610 Blowing Rock Rd. Boone • 828.355.3033 • Dining Room Hours 11:00am- 9:00pm June 2021



Linville Volunteer Fire Deptment May 25, 2021 PICTURED: Back Row: Elliott Stamey, Dustin Rupard, Jeremy Franklin, Chris Clark, Nathaniel Calvert, Mark Taylor, Mikey Dellinger, J.C. Calvert, Roy Dellinger, Front Row: Adrienne Holtsclaw, Ashley Clark, Levin Sudderth, Emmalee Carver. NOT PICTURED Roger Killion, Joe Hawkins, Brandon Townsend, Andy Toms, Tyler Jones, Daniel Ingwersen, Garrett Stonesifer, Daniel Dugger, Dean Gibbs, Paul Cole, Cory Hoyes, Craig Shaw, David Killion, Loretta Taylor, Sam Gates, Susan Hawkins, Michael Shook, Kevin McKenzie, Nicole McKenzie, Ben Clark, Dale Kirkup, Chad Braswell, Joseph Bechard, Bailey Bartlett, Brian Bodford, Ken Sherrod, Nathaniel Chicoine, Cody Hoilman, Alexander Krongard and Logan Brown.

Linville Volunteer Fire Department Changing With the Times By Nathan Ham

Members of the Linville Volunteer Fire Department have been answering calls for help for over four decades in Avery County and have been blessed with nearly 45 years of support from the gated communities that helped them get the department constructed and kept some of the finest equipment in the county. While most of the financial support in the early years came from the resort communities, their trucks will go anywhere to answer any call. “Those brand new, topdollar trucks that resorts are buying are also going to that double-wide fire anywhere in the county that we are needed at. It will go to the clubhouse at Linville Ridge, but it will also go to your house, it will 78


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go to your mother’s house,” said assistant fire chief Levin Sudderth, who started with the department in 1999. Being in the “firefighter family” was just something that the Sudderth family

Linville Volunteer Fire Department is located at 590 NC Highway 105 in Linville.

was born into. “My grandpa was one of the founding members. My dad was here for 20-some years, and my mom was the first technically paid firefighter in Avery County. She was on Esseola’s payroll to dispatch from here. Esseola paid my mom’s salary and Grandfather Golf and Country Club paid Patty Williams for dispatching. Levin was practically raised at the fire department, and it was his father, Larry, that helped his mom deliver him when he was born inside their house. “Bobby Redwine and Larry Lane brought the ambulance that night I was born at the house. My dad delivered me; he didn’t want to, but he was an EMT here. They had just

done childbirth stuff as was just a 40-hour course EMT training just a few back then. We did it in weeks before, and everytwo weeks at night, and body was kidding Larry there were 18 of us. We about having to do this, had an ambulance, and and he kind of laughed, we had rotating shifts but my mom was in labor here back then,” said JC for 20 minutes. That was Calvert, who joined the the last time I’ve been on department in 1976 at the time for anything,” Levin age of 18 and has lived in said, laughing. Linville his entire life. According to former It can be difficult to Newland fire chief Junior come up with the needed Sluder, Linville’s station funding for small, rural was the fourth to open fire departments. Thankin Avery County, behind fully for the Linville VolNewland, Green Valley unteer Fire Department NJ MacDonald and his wife, Helen, played a big role in the creation of the Linville Fire Department. and Crossnore. Sluder and other smaller departserved as Newland’s chief ments in Avery County, time residents of Linville. Of course, we’re for 43 years. Newland’s department was only down here about six months a year, well-to-do community members were formed in 1949 but was not officially or- so I’d say it’s just what you feel. I just had there to help, knowing how important it ganized until 1962, a year after nearly the an experience here with the rescue squad. would be to have a fire department handy entire town burned to the ground. I thought I had a heart attack and between in case residents needed them. “Back then everybody was dependent the time my wife called the rescue squad “Back then, gated communities would get on communities for money before we got and when they got me to the hospital, less a fund up to buy our trucks,” Calvert said. the fire tax from the county. Then every- than 15 minutes had elapsed.” Another long-time member, Mitch body started increasing their equipment Banner, an Avery County native that grew Building construction for the Linville and being much better,” Sluder said. up in the Montezuma community, evenFire Department began in 1975 and was Larry Suddreth said that oftentimes, completed a year later as fire and emergen- tually moved to Linville with his mother members of the fire department would go cy services started in Linville. After Linville, and sister in 1979. He joined the Linville meet with people at the resorts. A trust the Elk Park and Banner Elk departments Volunteer Fire Department in April of fund was set up to collect donations that opened around the same time with Fall 1983, two months before he graduated later became dues. Creek and Frank being the final two volun- high school. He remembers when the fire “We would go to them and say we teer departments to open in Avery County. department got a new truck in 1987. At needed a new fire truck, and it wasn’t two Beech Mountain Fire Department covers the time, the truck cost $187,000, and by months later we’d have that truck. We areas in both Avery and Watauga counties. the time it was properly equipped with still had to work and keep the truck up, “Linville started out as fire and rescue. all of the necessary firefighting and rescue and that’s why our fire trucks lasted 25, We had an ambulance here, and I was in needs, that added another $20,000 or so 30 years,” Larry added. “If a truck broke the first graduating class of EMTs, which to the cost. Nowadays, that price would down, we would have to pay to have it be an absolute bargain for how much fixed, unless it was something major then the resorts would help out. Folks like Mr. and Mrs. NJ McDonald, Don Shula the football coach, they took care of us. They knew that we were there to protect them.” NJ MacDonald operated Thomas & Betts, a Fortune 500 company based in New Jersey and was a generous benefactor to the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games. He helped play an instrumental role in the creation of the Linville Volunteer Fire Department. “I want Linville and its environment to be the best place in the state, and the only way we can achieve that is to have good hospitals, good schools and good services. This is the policy I’ve had all my life in business and personally. Anything that imLinville Volunteer Fire Department is unique among the Avery County departments by having proves the living situation for me and my yellow trucks. This truck was one of the first three that the department had, a mid-70s cab-over neighbors makes it a better community to Ford with a manual transmission. Rural fire departments typically have two types of trucks they live in. It’s as simple as that, I believe,” use. Pumpers are the workhorse trucks that show up with tools, equipment, nozzles and hoses. Tankers primarily haul water with a few tools and a little bit of hose. MacDonald said years ago. “We’re partJune 2021



Boyd N. Biggerstaff 1975-1995

Robert “Bob” Garland 1995-2006

Boyd K. Biggerstaff 2006-2008

Being a fire chief holds the most responsibility for each department. Chiefs are elected for one year by a vote of the membership and are in charge of what is going on at the scene of a fire or an accident. Being elected chief at Linville Fire Department is still entirely volunteer just like the rest of the members. Chiefs typically put together standard operating guidelines for all members to follow so everyone knows what to do on the scene. trucks cost now, pushing up over $700,000 and $800,000 to get support of the resort community members. “It started as a trust fund to buy equipment, but when the newly equipped trucks. Banner said that most of the time, calls from inside the gated county picked that up, the community members came back and communities that they would respond to were more for alarms go- wanted to pay for employees. Most of them don’t care as much ing off and for medical emergencies more than actual fires. How- about losing property as they do about their medical care. That’s ever, responding to each alarm is something that the department what they are more concerned about,” he said. In addition to the funds donated from the gated communidoes regardless of when it happens. “We don’t ignore an alarm because ignoring an alarm means ties, the Linville Volunteer Fire Department had one of the most popular barbeque fundyou might have to come back raisers anywhere around. later. If you come back later, In these early days, all of and you’ve got flames coming the fire departments in Avout of a window, then you’ve ery County had to rely on got some explaining to do,” donations and fundraisers Levin said. to get the equipment they Roy Dellinger is a captain needed. It wasn’t until the and president of the board county implemented its with the Linville Volunteer fire tax that departments Fire Department. Like so were given money from many others who get incounty funding. volved as volunteer firefight“The barbeque funers, he followed in his famdraiser was a big hit. We ily’s footsteps. Roy started would have people come as a junior member of the in three days early to see Crossnore Fire Department, if it was ready yet,” Larry where his dad and several Pictured here is assistant fire chief Levin Sudderth (left) and fire chief said. “I would say those others in his family were Mark Taylor at a live burn training. barbeques would bring in already members. However, when he graduated high school, there was a waiting list for mem- between $5,000 and $10,000 before expenses. Back then we didn’t bership in the Crossnore department. Roy joined the LVFD in get money from the county, there was no fire tax when I started.” 1988 and has been a member ever since. Things Were Different Back Then “There have been a lot of changes in that time. We were an Lots of things were different in the early days of firefighting entirely volunteer department when we volunteered to spend the night up here and at one point ran an ambulance service out of besides cheaper trucks and fewer departments. Jerry Harmon was here,” Dellinger said. “The rescue squad separated from us, and one of the founding members of the Linville Volunteer Fire Denow we have 24-hour paid shifts and are the only department in partment. He passed away last year, but many memories of him live on through current members. the county with 24-hour shifts.” “Jerry would come during the day on Saturdays when my mom Dellinger said that Linville was blessed to have the financial 80


June 2021

Keith A. Forbes 2008-2011

Daniel L. Clark 2011-2012

Mark Taylor 2012-Current

Boyd Biggerstaff in May 2021

was dispatching and take her downstairs and “At one time we had to take one day the Sawmills Fire Department in Caldwell show her how to run pumps and couldn’t a week with the ambulance and my wife County. Taylor joined the Linville Fire Detell any of the guys. One day they ended would take it to work with her,” Bigger- partment in 1991. up having a bad call, and Jerry grabbed my staff said. “On my second night I was here, they mom and said, ‘You’re coming with me beBoyd worked for Smith Lumber Com- gave me a pager and some gear, so we probcause we don’t have anybody right now,’ pany for 18 years and his boss, JC Smith, ably left here at 8:30 or 9 that night and at and she went and ran the pump on the fire, was also a member of the fire department. 10 or 11 p.m. in Montezuma, I was inside and nobody knew she even knew how to “He would always let me go on all the my first live structure fighting the fire,” Tayrun the pump. Jerry couldn’t tell anybody medical calls. Sometimes if we were busy lor said. “Jake Owens who was at Newland, because nobody wanted a woman running I couldn’t move on all the fire calls, but was notorious for thinking if he had a helthe pumps back then. That was in 1976 or he was super good with me leaving on any met on, he thought he was fully equipped. ‘77,” Levin said. medical call,” Biggerstaff said. We were the first two to arrive, and we Calvert is now 63 but was one of the LFVD is known for having yellow went in. We had no air packs, as that was early members that were around to see how trucks while others in the county have the optional back then, and I was thinking, ‘My things started to where they God, what have I gotten are today. into?’” “I watched the building Larry Sudderth has being built and the different been a firefighter long trucks come through. Our first enough to remember back truck was a two-speed, cabwhen only a select few over Ford, one of the meanest guys had radios. The rest things you ever tried to drive had to rely on pagers and in your life. Our first truck was word of mouth to know about $30,000,” Calvert said. what was going on and “It was fun. It’s totally differwhere to respond. ent now, especially with the “We had the big, huge training you’ve got to do. Back siren, and some of us were then, you just showed up, put fortunate enough that we a coat on and a hat on, and had pagers. Whoever was you fought a fire. Nowadays, at the station — we had you train a lot to fight fires.” one guy that ran the radio, Calvert has battled heart and two others responded Here is a group of Linville Volunteer Fire Department members problems and two back surfirst, whether it be fire, at a live burn training in Linville. geries, but he still likes to rescue or whatever,” Larry hang around the fire departsaid. “They’d radio back ment with a lot of other current and for- usual red fire trucks. when they got on the scene and tell the mer fire department members. “That came from the beginning days of dispatcher what was going on. I was an ofBoyd Biggerstaff served as LFVD’s the department, they switched it to yellow ficer, so I had a radio. The regular firemen chief for 18 years. He said at one point because we wanted to be different than at the time didn’t have a radio. The disduring his time as chief, they had as many anybody else,” Biggerstaff said. patchers would put out on the pagers what as 32 volunteer members. His wife also Current fire chief Mark Taylor said was going on.” worked as a member of the rescue squad his firefighting interests began to grow Avery County was one of a few pilot that operated alongside the fire depart- at a young age, as early as 12, when he programs across the United States for rural ment before eventually separating away would ride with his uncle on some calls. 911 emergency access. from the department in later years. At the time, his uncle was the fire chief of “They wanted to see how rural counJune 2021



Linville Volunteer Fire Department members are pictured here in front of one of their iconic yellow firetrucks around 1993. ties responded to 911 because you had to have the street addresses. Sometimes we didn’t have the street addresses here,” Larry said. “911 made a big difference. If we had to go today as we did back then, I don’t think we could function like that.” This would automatically let emergency responders and firefighters know where to go with the street address instead of having to use landmarks or follow water trails to fire calls.

Better Equipped and Better Trained

Boyd Biggerstaff served as Linville Fire Department’s chief for 18 years and was considered the lifeblood of the department during his time as chief. “Boyd’s reputation was fair but he was also stern,” said Levin Sudderth. Boyd was honored as Fireman of the Year in 1982 and was recognized for 20 years of service from 1975-1995 by Governor Jim Hunt. 82


June 2021

The Linville Volunteer Fire Department has two stations now, the main building in Linville and a smaller station in the Invershiel community off of Highway 184 where they have one engine that stays there. That station was constructed and opened around 2004. Each fire district is approximately six to seven miles and there are nine districts in Avery County as well as two districts (Seven Devils and Beech Mountain) that are split between Avery and Watauga counties The main building is a two-floor structure with bunks on the top floor and trucks and equipment below on the ground floor ready to hit the road when needed. They currently have three pumpers, one tanker, one brush truck, one equipment truck and one squad truck that they use for medical emergencies. Between the two locations, LVFD has 19 volunteer firefighters as required by the state of North Carolina and also has four full-time employees that will take different shifts making sure that there is someone at the department 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Four part-time employees are available in case any of the full-timers need some time off. “We are very fortunate to have someone here 24/7. We’ve got some good people here, and I enjoy it,” Calvert said. Taylor has served Assistant chief Levin Sudderth (left) and former chief “Big Boyd” Biggerstaff. as the fire chief for the

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The Life of a Firefighter F

or firefighters, rescue squad mem- is the day, get your stuff and right up your deceased person,” Banner said. “Half his bers, first responders and other resignation, and that’s exactly what I did,’” head was on the tree that the car hit. He caught it with the driver’s side door. The emergency personnel, it’s hard to say he said. “It was just my time.” if the work ever ends for those folks, many Many of these volunteers remember driver’s side door, quarter panel, roof and of whom are volunteers that work another some of their earliest and hardest calls to trunk lid were just sheared off the car along with his left arm and that side of his head full-time job that pays the bills and puts deal with. food on the table. “I remember my first call really well. It that was impaled on a tree. We couldn’t Firefighters are often tasked with some was June 7, 1983. We got paged to a car find his arm, but I picked up the trunk lid of the hardest and most gruesome tasks fire on 105, but what dispatch didn’t tell on the bank and found his left arm.” Banner said he walked over next to the as the first to be at the scene of fires, car us at the time was that the car was comfire truck, threw up and went crashes and even airplane crashback to work. es as several members of the Another memory that stuck Linville Volunteer Fire Departout in Mitch’s mind was a garage ment have all been a part of and fire on Christmas Eve in 1983. have had to see many sad and “It was so cold, the firemen terrifying scenes. were getting frozen in the water. “You get tired of going out The thermometer said 30 below on calls and seeing blood and zero when I left to get in the guts and gore,” said retired firetruck that night,” Banner said. fighter Larry Sudderth. JC Calvert also rememThese traumatic events ofbered his first fire after joining ten lead to PTSD and the need the department. for a “debriefing period” to try “The Hartley Fire was my and clear your head. In the early very first call. Boyd Bickerstaff days, a lot of these firemen did was the chief then. I got a coat not have an outlet to de-stress, A photo taken during a live burn training exercise in Linville. and a helmet on, and he told me other than talking to others that to grab the end of the hose and were on the call or bringing out go in there and fight that fire. I the alcoholic beverages to cope went in, and I just sprayed wawith what they had just experiter in a circle. There was fire all enced. Now, more modern soluover the place, but we finally tions are available for folks who got it beat down,” Calvert said. have had to experience such Another major fire he retraumatic events. membered happening was at “Nowadays there is a CritiLand Harbor. cal Incident Stress Debriefing “There was a Texaco Sta(CISD) that is standard for any tion that had apartments above call that is deemed to be trauit. The man that owned it was matic,” said Levin Sudderth. cutting a trailer hitch off of a “You don’t get over it, but it car, and it set the gas tank off,” helps you get past it. I wish this Calvert said. “When we got would have been around 30 LVFD members work the scene of a car accident in the early 1980s. there, the whole building was years ago. You have to do things like that now or it will eat you alive.” ing down Highway 105 at a high rate of engulfed, and the rubber hoses on the gas Mitch Banner decided at the age of 43 speed,” Banner said. “It was a 1974 Ca- pumps were smoking. We were in the first that he had seen enough trauma during his maro Z28. It didn’t make the turn and put truck that pulled up on it. It’s pretty scary when you’re 18, 19 years old, and you see time with the department. the car off in the woods.” The driver of the vehicle was dead a fire like that in a huge building and are “It was my time to hang it up. I woke up one morning, it had been on my mind for a at the scene, but Mitch and the other re- trying to get people out who are upstairs.” Larry Sudderth, whose son Levin is couple of years. I was tired of seeing some sponding firefighters had a job to do to put of the mess we see and get into, children the fire out, pull the remains from the ve- now a member of the LVFD, recalled that calls especially, and it was weighing on me. hicle and find body parts that were missing Land Harbor fire as well. “I’m one of the few firemen in North One Monday morning when I was off work, from the rest of the body. “My first call was my first car fire, Carolina that survived a backdraft. Me, I woke up about 5 a.m. and the first words that ran through my head was ‘Banner, today my first dismembered body and my first Scott Hartley and Larry Forbes opened the



June 2021

LVFD for 10 years now, and this will be his 30th year as a member of the department. Despite his responsibilities, the role as chief is still a non-paid, volunteer position. “What my duties are is to oversee the employees on their day-to-day operation if something pops up. For the most part, any call that we have, even if it’s something that may not be much, I’m still listening. I’ll talk to the employee if there’s something the least bit questionable. The state basically says I am ultimately responsible whether I am there or not,” Taylor explained. “As long as you’ve done something that you thought was the right thing to do, I am behind you 100 percent. If you have messed up, I’m probably going to be there chewing you out.” Through the efforts of the LFVD, insurance rates in the community have dropped for residences after the expansion of hydrant systems and up-to-date trucks and equipment maintained by the department. Rates start at a 10 and that Linville Volunteer Fire Department is located at 590 NC Highway 105 in means there is not a fire department in the area. The lower Linville. They also have another substation in Invershiel. the number, the cheaper the insurance rate is. LFVD’s fire rating is now a four. point, we had seven state instructors right here in Linville. We “Linville was the first department in the county to get a five, have always tried to stay a step ahead,” Dellinger said. and at the time that was considered unachievable for a volunOne of those ways that the LVFD is trying to stay a step ahead teer department,” Levin said. “When we got the five, the resorts was the creation of the dive rescue positions within their department. chipped in and bought us all brand new Carhartt coats that said “We started the dive program a couple of years ago, and that ‘Class Five’ around our logo. That’s how big of a deal it was to came about from all the drownings we were having at Elk River them because it saved them a bunch of money.” Falls. We were having to wait for other teams to come in from Fire calls have also dropped off some over the years thanks two or three counties away, so we had a diver come on board, to better building codes and the installation of sprinkler systems, and we’ve picked several up since then. That has been all privately making it a lot easier to fight what fires do take place when cou- funded either from resorts or grants,” Dellinger said. pled with better training and more advanced equipment. Through years of dedication and hard work, that has made all “There are a lot of hours involved and a lot of training. At one of the new advancements in training and technology possible here

Avery County






June 2021



door, and it blew us back. There was a guy and turn around and come back and if you firefighters take 36 hours of training coursthat stood down there and saw it happen, can breathe in between that’s fine, if not es to continue their certification, all of and he thought we were dead. If it had not you hold your breath. It’s a lot safer and a which have to be paid for out-of-pocket. Finding ways to cope with the tragic been for that guardrail, I would have been lot better now. The stories are glamorous seriously hurt, that guardrail caught us. Skip about the old days, but we were just killing events these heroes are involved with has always been a question that those in fell on top of me, and Larry went the other ourselves,” Levin Sudderth said. Over the last few years, training has the general public have always wondered way. One of the guys that saw that said he’d never seen anyone that would survive that. improved to include ways to keep the fire- about. Some nights and mornings are We were going into one of the rooms, and fighters safe and make sure they do not be- spent sitting with fellow firefighters talking about other topics to get their minds it was just something that nobody around come a victim of the fire. “Training wasn’t nearly as formal. We off of what happened. here knew about,” Sudderth said. “We would talk about sports, women, Back then there was not any sort of train- did it the best way that we could,” Baning around here that would have taught fire- ner explained. “Probably around 1985 pretty much anything that would take our fighters. “You had no idea when you opened or 1986, training started to get a little bit minds off of what had happened on the the door to an oxygen-starved environment, more uniform. It wasn’t an overnight pro- call,” Levin said. Current fire chief Mark Taylor tries his every combustible material in that room cess to get certified as Firefighter 1 or Firefighter 2. It took me almost nine years.” best to shield the newest members from would go up at one time,” Banner said. Larry also remembers working three Banner said that the training allowed ev- the worst scenes, while at the same time different airplane crashes in Avery County. eryone on the scene to feel more comfortable making sure those that are at the scene of “The one in Banner Elk was a bad one. out there instead of just “learning on the job.” an accident or fire can handle what all is happening. The pilot went straight into “I try to make sure nothe mountain. He had his fambody finds themselves inily with him. We just ended up volved in something that they putting body parts in the bag; don’t think they can cope we didn’t know what belonged with later. I try to remind the to who. They had to cut the newer people fairly often to pilot’s feet off to get him out not think that they have to because he tensed up and when do this,” Taylor said. “We’ve they hit, his feet went through been on calls where we’ve the bottom of the plane. We gathered brain matter up in had a doctor on the scene, and ziplock bags on the highway. he said that was the only way That is a difficult thing to do, they would be able to get him and it will affect your sleepout.” ing. Don’t think that you It’s truly an unpredictable have to go in and start dealservice that these firefighters LVFD members carrying someone off of Grandfather Mountain, early 1980s. ing with something if you are provide to the community. “You never knew what you would run Linville Volunteer Fire Department was not adapted enough to deal with it. It’s into, but you knew you had to go,” Lar- one of the earliest formed fire departments like sitting at the edge of the ocean, the ry said. “We did everything from taking in Avery County, forming after Newland, waves start lapping at you, and eventually, the waves will immerse you as they roll up. grandma to the doctor’s office to picking Green Valley and Crossnore. up body parts.” “There weren’t any experts in Avery Everybody gets it that way. You don’t want Levin talked about a tragic call that County at the time. Everybody was eas- to send a person that just joined last week the Crossnore Fire Department received ing into what rural firefighting looks like. into something involved with a fatal wreck a few months ago involving a small child In the 1970s, there hadn’t been 20 years’ or a fatal house fire.” Others would find ways to take their that died in his sleep from SIDS. The ca- worth of volunteer fire fighting in this minds off of it alone rather than with the maraderie between local fire departments whole area,” Levin said. and emergency personnel exists across the Traveling to the scene of fires and ac- rest of the crew. “My thing is I listen to heavy metal county where everyone tries their best to cidents is one of the most important ashave each other’s backs. pects of fire fighting. If you were not on music. I sit in my truck and listen to it, “They worked hard, but that kid did the truck but needed to find your way to that’s how I get away,” said Dean Gibbs. Short of being a police officer or a not make it. That night I called the chief at the scene, a lot of times, the firemen didn’t Crossnore and told them that we are going have a lot to go on other than following soldier in the military, facing some of the things you have to face as a firefighter will to cover their district that night,” Levin said. the water trail from the tanker. Firefighters have had to evolve as train“When the tanker makes a hard left be some of the worst situations you will ing has evolved over the years. Years ago, or a hard right, it will typically spill some likely ever encounter in your life. “Really, any bad event that goes on in firefighters grabbed water hoses and just water out. It’s just like someone painted started doing everything they could to put arrows on the road following the water Linville’s fire district, we are typically part of the solution, from a sprained ankle up the fire out. trail,” Levin said. “The theory then was you go in the Each year, firefighters and firefighter through a lost child, we’re among the first front door and come out the back door instructors have to stay certified. Typically, group sent to deal with it,” Taylor said. 86


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in the High Country. Without people willing to learn about new equipment and go through training courses, residents would not be nearly as safe as they are now. “I wanted to help people. That was me. I don’t know where it came from,” Larry said. “I love the fire department. If you take it away from me, I don’t know what else I would do,” Levin added. Biggerstaff is often looked up to by current and former members that worked alongside him. He spent many years saving lives and saving property while volunteering with the Linville Fire Department. “A lot of things have changed, but we always got along good at training and we did our job,” Boyd said.

Always Looking for New Volunteers

Finding new, younger members to join the LVFD has become an issue over the last few years. Taylor attributes a lot of that to the lack of course instructors as well as the busy lives that so many people have. It makes it difficult for everyone to be able to find certain dates and times where instructors can be present as well as the new volunteers that want to be a part of the fire department. As long as you are a high school graduate or have a GED, and are not a felon, you can go through the initial sign-up process. “You can come and apply, and we give you a six-month probation period that typically gives the department six months to get to know you and for you to get to know us, and see if it’s something that fits you and see if you fit us,” Taylor said. Dellinger sees the lack of new, younger volunteers as a generational issue and an economic issue as well. He expects that the county will have to fund more paid positions at the local fire departments at some point. “There’s not a lot of industry to keep the youth here. More people are moving off. If you are not in the tree business or resort business, there is not a lot here,” Dellinger said. “I always wanted to leave here, but then I realized I’m pretty happy being here.” He works for Mountain Heritage Systems in Newland and recently purchased the Stines Insulation business in Elk Park. It’s not just Linville that is having to deal with firefighter shortages at the volunteer level. “Volunteerism is coming to an end for firefighters because it takes so much time training, and young people don’t want to spend so much time doing it. We need volunteers in every fire department in the county,” Sluder said. t

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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. All information is deemed accurate.

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Very Good Neighbors, In Avery County, its nine golf communities directly make up 9% of the county’s total work force. And that’s just the beginning . . .

Linville Ridge

By Harris Prevost


Grandfather Golf and Country Club

Blowing Rock Country Club 88


June 2021

ome local residents think that seasonal golf club members live in their own little world, totally isolated from their home community, and with little concern for its well-being. Nothing could be further from the truth! Second-home golf communities in North Carolina, and in particular Avery County, create an incredibly positive impact on both the quality of life and the financial well-being of the communities in which they reside. Their contributions are often hidden and too misunderstood to be appreciated. Not only do these golf communities make up a substantial percentage of their home counties’ property tax base, they also make up a large percentage of their county’s sales tax revenues. The clubs purchase most of their supplies locally, their members do likewise, and so do their employees. In Avery County, its nine golf communities directly make up 9% of the county’s total work force. They also significantly increase employment in Avery County indirectly. Employment comes directly from those who work for the clubs in areas of course maintenance, golf and other recreational activities, clubhouse operations, security and administration. Indirectly, the houses within the developments are bonanzas for the building trades and building suppliers: Homes are designed, built, renovated, furnished, repaired and maintained. Landscaping companies have all the work they can handle. Groceries and home supplies bought locally throughout the season increase the staff sizes of those businesses. Second home residents often eat out, resulting in more food service jobs and finer restaurants in the county for everyone to enjoy. Even though seasonal homeowners pay property and sales taxes to the county, they use minimal, if any, of the county’s services. They are not

Indeed! on medicaid and their children are in school back home. Thus, the vast majority of their property taxes are outright gifts to the local residents of their host county. Since most second-home golf club members live in fine houses, their property taxes are significant. Their golf courses are prime real estate, adding a major bump to county tax coffers. Because gated clubs are private, they pay for, and maintain, their own roads within their community, and they provide their own security. If there are several second home golf communities in one county, their combined property taxes equal an even more significant percentage of the county’s tax base, thus reducing the property

Grandfather Country Club

Even though seasonal homeowners pay property and sales taxes to the county, they use minimal, if any, of the county’s services. They are not on medicaid and their children are in school back home. Thus, the vast majority of their property taxes are outright gifts to the local residents of their host county.

Hound Ears Club

tax rate for everyone in the county. The average property tax rate for North Carolina’s lowest 20 counties ($.4247 per $100 valuation) is less than half the average tax rate for its highest 20 counties ($.8568). The state average is $.6701. Most of the counties with second-home golf communities are located among the 20 lowest-tax counties. Perhaps the greatest contribution secondhome golf club residents make to their local community is in their philanthropy. They are extremely generous in supporting local charities from feeding and clothing those in need to improving schools and to building and supporting health care facilities that enhance the well-being of its people. The late Spencer Robbins, from Boone, a giant in the state’s tourism industry, was eulogized in the February issue of BUSINESS: NORTH CAROLINA. Spencer and his late brothers developed four second-home golf resorts in the NC High

Linville Resort June 2021



Linville Ridge Club

Country: Hound Ears, Beech Mountain, Elk River and Linville Land Harbor. Robbins said, “Unfortunately, many local citizens and elected officials don’t realize all the good things our second-home owners contribute to make life better for all of us. “They put so little demand on local government and contribute so much. We have a fine hospital and great fire departments and rescue squads. The hospital wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for them and our fire and rescue services would be nowhere near what we have now. Our second-home owners should be appreciated more and not taken for granted.”

Grandfather is ranked second in the state to the famed Pinehurst #2, which is public, so that makes Grandfather the number one ranked private club in North Carolina. Many North Carolina counties from the mountains to the coast are blessed to have secondhome golf communities within their boundaries, and they all have uplifting stories to tell. Perhaps no story is more uplifting than Avery County’s. Avery County has 50% more golf courses than it has traffic lights, and they are renowned courses. They include Linville, Grandfather, Linville Ridge, Elk River, Diamond Creek, Mountain Glen, Linville Land Harbor, and Sugar and Beech Mountain, whose communities are half golf and half ski. Avery is home to one third of the top six ranked courses in the NC Golf Panel’s 2021 state rankings.  Grandfather is ranked second in the state to the famed Pinehurst #2, which is public, so that makes Grandfather the number one ranked private club in North Carolina. Obviously, at Avery’s elevation, its courses are all seasonal with almost all residents being second homeowners. Avery is a very rugged county, home to three of the state’s most famous mountains: Grandfather, Sugar and Beech.  Because of geographical limitations Avery has no four-lane highways, railroads or commercial airports and is not close to an interstate highway. Thus, there is a lack of traditional industry and its accompanying employment and tax contributions, Golf has filled the industrial vacuum for the county.  NC State basketball legend Tom Burleson heads up Avery County’s Inspection Department. He explained, “Our economic drivers are the second home industry, agriculture and tourism. They are our three-legged economic stool.”  “Much of our land has slopes greater than 50%. We have some of the highest and most rugged peaks in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Our beau90


June 2021

tiful scenery and cooler weather attract people in the summer and our ski resorts attract them in the winter. “There’s not much else we can do here, but we are grateful for what we have. Hugh Morton, who owned Grandfather Mountain and helped develop Grandfather Golf & Country Club, gave me a vision for the second-home industry and the good that it would do for the people of Avery County. He was right.” Agriculture in Avery County means shrubbery and Christmas trees, more specifically Fraser Fir trees, the Cadillac of all Christmas trees. Frasers have to grow above approximately 4,000 feet elevation to thrive, and only 14 counties in the United States grow them. A local grower, Larry Smith, who worked on course maintenance for Grandfather Golf & Country Club, now provides trees for the White House as well as the Biltmore Estate.  Avery has one of the few new high schools in the state undergoing a major expansion. It has a new elementary school, new swimming complex and a new 5,000 sq. ft. agricultural/civic center, all paid for without raising property taxes. Its high school football stadium was paid for by a Linville/ Grandfather member, the late N.J. MacDonald, and a Grandfather member purchased musical instruments for the band.  The county is blessed with attractive shops, fine restaurants, summer theater, lots of musical concerts, plentiful recreation sites and facilities, plus superb fire and rescue protection. 

Elk River Club


Avery’s nine second-home, golf-based communities make up 47% of the county’s nearly $4 billion tax base. How can all this be for a small mountain county with basically no industry? Avery’s nine secondhome, golf-based communities make up 47% of the county’s nearly $4 billion tax base. That means the county’s golf communities contribute $10.2 million/year to the county without using its services, $1.3 million of which goes for eight local fire departments and rescue squads. If Avery County’s budget remained the same without the second-home golf community property tax contributions, its property tax rate of $.55/$100 valuation would go from being in the lowest 20% of the state’s 100 counties to being, by far, the highest tax rate of any county in the state. In dollars, that would translate to $582/person additional property taxes per year.  Families who live in the golf communities generously built and provide for many of Avery’s most important quality-of-life facilities. These include a first class Cannon Memorial Hospital, the Williams YMCA (which is large enough to serve a





Grandfather Country Club


county four times Avery’s 17,600 population), the Chapman Center for youth activities and programs, possibly the finest Humane Society animal rescue facility in the state, and facilities and equipment for the Linville and Banner Elk fire department/rescue squads. This tradition of community spirit was established over 100 years ago by Linville Resorts. Tom Dale, former head golf professional for the Linville Golf Club and now its general manager, called the relationship between Linville members and Avery’s local citizens “a partnership.” He said, “Not only does the giving come from our members, it comes from our staff. We are the largest private employer in the county, and we hire locally.” 92


June 2021

“Our giving has had a positive impact both in amount and in longevity. Giving is part of our tradition. Most of the funds needed to build Cannon Memorial Hospital, the Williams YMCA, the Linville Fire Department/Rescue Squad, and the Chapman Center came from Linville.”  Avery’s golf community members also support other fire departments and rescue squads, Lees-McRae College, Appalachian State, two homes for children who desperately need a second chance--Crossnore School and Grandfather Home. They also fund excellent organizations who provide for those who need clothes and food. Each club has fundraisers for special causes. Grandfather Golf & Country Club has a non-denominational


Even the ofof us us thesmallest smallest


canbebe of something can partpart of something very big. very big.

The grown-up grown-up sense senseof ofdiscovery discoveryatat every every turn turn around around the mountain mountainwill willonly onlybebesurpassed surpassed byby thethe childlike childlike wonder wonder our ournatural naturalplayground playground evokes. evokes. B o o kk ttooddaayy aatt ggr raannddf af at ht h e r. e r. c ocm o m June 2021


Linville Resort

worship service where all collection plate proceeds go to selected causes. The club also raises money to fight hunger and to help injured veterans. Second-home club members have been very supportive in preserving Grandfather Mountain and enhancing its ability to inspire its guests to appreciate and care for their own environments after they return home. Jesse Pope, the Stewardship Foun-

dation’s president, said, “We are preparing Grandfather Mountain for the future through a new initiative we are calling our ‘Conservation Campus.’ “Thanks to support from donors, we are renovating and expanding our Nature Museum. The new facility will include indoor and outdoor classrooms along with new and interactive museum exhibits. We will also have a botanical garden. The park

improvements will greatly enhance our guests’ experience. This $7 million project would not be possible without the major support from our good friends in our local club communities.” Nonprofit thrift shops with quality merchandise are everywhere in the county thanks to donations from second-home owners, and each thrift shop has a worthy cause it supports. Crossnore’S Blair Fraley

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feel great.” Jim Ward’s story Thrift Shop, built by a secondis one of many. home owner family in memory Avery’s second-home of their daughter, is among the residents give more than finest in the state. It’s profits their money, they give support Crossnore School.  themselves. Their volunteer All of the private clubs have hours enhance the services member-funded scholarship of many local nonprofits programs for their college atsuch as Grandfather Mountending employees. One seatain, Cannon Hospital and sonal resident at the Linville Feeding Avery Families. Golf Club has gone a step furThey love to help, and their ther by funding up a program help is invaluable. Because to provide substantial scholarof COVID-19, volunteers ships to every need-based stucouldn’t be used as much dent who graduates from Avery as in the past, but later this High School! Linville members year that could change. Lincontribute $100,000/year into ville Land Harbor’s resitheir employee scholarship Each year, the High Country Charitable Foundation holds its annual Dinner program.  and Dance at the Elk River Club in Banner Elk. The foundation raises money that dents have been incredible volunteers.  A member of the Beech they will donate in the form of grants to numerous non-profit In a prior year, CanMountain Golf Club provid- organizations in Avery County and the High Country. The money comes from non Memorial Hospital’s ed the funds for the Williams donations and items that are auctioned. Director of Volunteer YMCA to build its fieldhouse. Services said that 80% of A member of Linville their spring/summer/fall Ridge Country Club built volunteer hours were by Lees-McRae College in Banseasonal residents. The ner Elk’s School of Nursing, 124 volunteers contribnow ranked as the #2 up and uted 13,750 hours, savcoming nursing school in the ing the hospital well over South, The school is produc$200,000 in labor costs! ing much needed, well-trained Chuck Mantooth, presinurses for the region.  dent of the Appalachian The same member underRegional Healthcare Syswrote the cost of Lees-McRae’s tem, said at the time, “We Wildlife Rehab Center where students learn to implement are fortunate to have the all aspects of wildlife rehabilienthusiastic support of our tation. The students aren’t the second-home communities. only ones who benefit in this We could not afford to prowin-win relationship! vide the level of personal The High Country Charitable Foundation awarded a $30,000 grant to The gifts of one of Grandservice we do without our father Golf & Country Club’s Feeding Avery Families. In this photo are Bob Moss, Jim Ward (HCCF founder), volunteers, and we could Sandy Moss, John Cox (former director of Feeding Avery Families) founders, the late John Wilnot afford to support our and Barbara Smith. liams, made Lees McRae’s staff with the latest mediphysical education and basketcal equipment without the ball complex a reality. generous financial contriuted 746,000 pounds of food to provide Jim Ward, a member of the Elk River 622,000 individual meals. More than 350 butions of our seasonal friends.”  Club, founded the High Country Chari- volunteers, a large number of whom came One piece of medical equipment Mantable Foundation which focuses on finan- from the clubs, keeps FAF’s five pantries tooth was talking about was a $3.5 million cially supporting other organizations in running smoothly. There is no charge for plus “Image Guided Radiation Therapy” the county that help people and animals. the food; it is a gift. The local Food Lion (IGRT) piece of equipment for the hospi“In 2020, we distributed $670,000 to Av- and Lowe’s grocery stores donate gener- tal system’s regional cancer center at the ery charities, a record for us. We research ously to Feeding Avery Families, as do Watauga Medical Center in Boone. Friends who to give to and make sure the money is other nonprofit food suppliers.  at the Linville Golf Club raised the money used efficiently. One of our gifts last year “This is our way of giving back,” Ward in honor of a beloved member of the club.  was for vans to help the local food bank.”  said. “We use the resources and connecSeasonal club members have a dramatHigh Country Charitable Foundation’s tions of our club members to raise the ic effect on local businesses. One example most passionate cause is the Feeding Av- money. We are privileged to live in such is Avery Tire in Newland, owned by John ery Families (FAF) organization. During a wonderful place.  I live in Florida in the and Hank Phillips, both former star of2020, because of the damaging effects of winter, but my best friends are local resi- fensive linemen for Clemson. With respect COVID, Feeding Avery Families distrib- dents. Being able to give back makes me to their summer business, John said, “It’s 96


June 2021

Watauga County Benefits Greatly From Second-Home Private Golf Communities, Too


atauga has a great story to PHOTO BY TODD BUSH tell, and has for a long time! It should be included, too. Watauga has two private golf clubs, Blowing Rock Country Club, which celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2015, and the Hound Ears Club, which was formed in 1964. Boone Golf Club and its members are generous contributors to the quality of life of Watauga County also, but this article is focused on seasonal second-home owners in mostly private club settings. Hound Ears’ Chief Operating Officer and club manager Russ Curtis said philanthropy has been a major part of the club’s identity from the beginning. Brothers Grover, Harry and Spencer Robbins founded Hound Ears as well as Elk River, Beech Mountain (which is partly in Watauga County) and Linville Land Harbor in Avery chian Regional Healthcare System where Watauga Medical CenCounty. The brothers set a great example up front through their generous giving to many of Watauga ter’s Robbins Imaging Center is named in their honor. The club itself and its members have donated millions upon County’s most important institutions. The two most prominent are Appalachian State University and what is now called Appala- millions of dollars over time to help provide outstanding medical

Blowing Rock Country Club



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huge, monstrous. Our market triples. We add two or three people to our staff in the summer.” Philip Barrier is Avery’s county manager. He is grateful for the county’s golf communities and what they have meant to Avery, “Before the clubs,” Barrier said, “we were losing our young people because there were no jobs here. Now they can stay and have very successful careers, especially in construction and landscaping. The county has a work force of over 8,000, and about 9% come from our golf clubs. Our work force increased 4% last year, even during the pandemic, thanks in part to our clubs. “A good example of Avery County having good work opportunities is my son. He has an associate degree in engineering, and he returned home to work for Avery Electric. Now, he is busier than ever. Several

Next time you drive by an Avery County second-home golf community, take a moment to be grateful that they are there. of his high school friends have returned to very successful careers, In addition to good jobs, they have a wonderful quality of life here. We can drive up to an overlook or take a hike and have a picnic while looking out over an endless stream of mountain peaks. Not many places in the state can you do this. “We recently started a culinary arts program in our high school in partnership with our golf resorts to give our young people opportunities to stay home and make a very good living. With all our fine

restaurants and the clubs’ food service operations, our kids get the finest on the-job training. We are helping to meet their operational needs, too. This is one of many win win relationships we have with our clubs.” “We feel badly for the economic concerns other counties are facing during the COVID-19 crisis,” Barrier said,” but Avery County is fortunate and blessed to be thriving. Our sales tax revenues were up 26% for 2020 and property sales have exploded. I understand all our golf courses had record play this year, too. Our future is bright.”  Next time you drive by an Avery County second-home golf community, take a moment to be grateful that they are there. The county’s workforce, elected officials and nonprofit service organizations certainly are! t

Watauga County Benefits From Second-Home Private Golf Communities care for Watauga County residents as well as residents of surrounding counties. Its “Hound Ears Open” golf tournament raises over $100,000 annually for the Appalachian Regional Healthcare Foundation. The well-known Grover Robbins tournament was based at Hound Ears for years and has successfully branched out to also Hound Ears Club include several Avery County private courses because Linville’s Cannon Memorial Hospital is in the ARH System. Hound Ears members personally support Watauga’s Patient Emergency Fund to help those struggling because of mounting healthcare costs, the Broyhill Wellness Center, the Seby B. Jones Cancer Center, the Heart and Vascular Center plus breast canPHOTO BY TODD BUSH cer research and the cardiology and emergency room units. Some members generously support Lees-McRae College in Banner Elk. Several Hound Ears members have made transformational gifts to support Appalachian State’s athletic and academic programs. The club and its members are big supporters of the Hospitality House and the Health and Hunger Coalition. Russ Curtis said that in their planning process the club looked inward to analyze who they were. They came up with a list of four guiding principles, or values, that defined their membership. Each value is stated in one word: Unpretentious, Honesty, Respectful and Giving. Mandy Poplin, Blowing Rock Country Club’s Director of Membership, Marketing and Communications, said, “Before I came to the club, I was a merchant in Blowing Rock and managed the Doncaster women’s clothing store located on Main Street. From the 98


June 2021

outside, I saw Blowing Rock Country Club’s generosity to the community and its members’ personal involvement in worthy causes. “It’s members don’t just write a check, they also give generously of themselves. They have a ‘roll up your sleeves and get involved’ volunteer attitude. There is a close-knit relationship between our club members and the community. They are very generous to worthy causes throughout the area. Their gifts are from the heart. They care.” Blowing Rock Country Club has 363 memberships, which, including spouses, comes to over 700 members. The club itself is very helpful with its facilities to help local causes, but it is its membership which financially supports the club’s many causes. Most of their philanthropy is focused in three areas: Appalachian Regional Healthcare Systems, Appalachian State University and the arts (especially BRAHM -- Blowing Rock Art and History Museum). Several buildings at ASU are named after generous Blowing Rock Country Club donors. Blowing Rock’s giving also includes The High Country Women’s Fund, which helps women in need, the Humane Society and a scholarship fund for the club’s seasonal employees who are also ASU students. The club membership is also very supportive of the Blowing Rock Community Foundation. In conclusion, it would be hard to imagine what the quality of life in Watauga and Avery County would be without the heartfelt, generous support of the members of all our second-home golf communities. THANK YOU, our golfing friends, from all of us! t

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The 2019 WCCI conference, held at Watauga High School, was themed, “What’s Strong in You?” Almost 600 attended the conference, with dozens of presenters and classes including topics of helping kids cope with anxiety, preventing burnout among service providers, and activities to enhance mindfulness and reduce stress.

A Community of Compassion O

By Jan Todd

ver the past five years, a grassroots initiative has been germinating, taking root and growing — transforming the High Country into a trauma-informed and resilient community. The Watauga Compassionate Community Initiative (WCCI) is a group of volunteers — from social service agencies, education, law makers and law enforcement, the business community, churches, health providers, non-profits and others — who have gathered together to promote health and resiliency in the community. It is part of a movement happening all across the country. WCCI is one of 300 trauma-informed, resilient community initiatives in the U.S. WCCI’s mission is to build awareness and provides tools to recognize, prevent and treat trauma by creating safe, stable, nurturing environments and relationships — through education, advocacy and policy change. Beyond the leadership of WCCI, hundreds of people have been involved in the initiative, by participating in WCCI’s annual conferences, taking part in topic-based “Wednesday Conversations,” and attending educational presentations. Through WCCI, many are learning about trauma and its effect on long-term health and behavior — as well as evidence-based solutions that can make real differences in the lives of oth100


ers and in the entire community. Jennifer Warren, the executive director of Western Youth Network (WYN) — an agency dedicated to helping High Country youth reach their full potential

Each person who registered for the WCCI 2021 Conference, “Community is the Solution,” received resiliency kit, filled with tips and tools for relieving stress and regulating emotions. Photo submitted — said the mission of WCCI is a natural fit for Watauga County. “The great thing about the Boone area community is how we care about each other. The people here are just special. We excel at compassion

June 2021

— and that’s what we need to tackle our problems,” said Warren, who is a founding member of WCCI. David Jackson, president and CEO of the Boone Area Chamber of Commerce, agreed, saying, “This community is more philanthropically engaged than many. It is in our nature to use the time and money we have to serve others, and these activities are a huge part of our social fabric here in Watauga County.” “We have a saying about the three things people do when they move to Boone,” Jackson continued. “First, they buy a coat. Next, they buy an umbrella. Then, they find a non-profit to support. We go to fundraisers to meet people, socialize, and find meaningful ways to give and serve those in our community.” In the High Country, there are over 100 non-profit agencies involved in service work, Jackson said.

Tremendous Resources, Tremendous Needs Jackson said, “There are two versions of the community – the postcard version, and then the other side. I don’t think some are aware of the poverty and the difficult circumstances some in Watauga County are experiencing.” While the High Country is known for the philanthropy of both the full-time and summer residents, the area is also known

Denise Presnell has been a school social worker in

Watauga County Schools for 20 years. She has a Masters of Social Work from Appalachian State University, and is currently pursuing her PhD in social work administration, on the topic of trauma-informed schools. She is a founding member of WCCI, co-leads the Compassionate School Project and is the chair of the Faith Community/School Collaborative.

Jennifer Warren is the executive director of Western Youth Network (WYN) and founding member of WCCI. After attending a 2015 conference about compassionate communities in Asheville, Warren brought the idea back to Watauga County. She said anyone can make a big impact in the community. “Show kindness,” said Warren. “Truly, it’s that simple. You just never know when your smile or your patience or your compliment might be the only good thing that happens to a person that day.”

for its needs. Dr. Kellie Reed Ashcraft, a professor in App State’s Department of Social Work, said Watauga County has a high rate of income inequality, citing data from the Population Health Institute. Housing costs are high, with demand for student housing, vacation homes, and a growing population with limited space for new development. “There is a severe housing cost burden for a large proportion of county residents,” Ashcraft said. “One in four children in the county lives in a single-parent household, nearly one in five is in poverty, and approximately two in five children are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch,” she continued. “Not

Candis Walker is a school counselor and prevention counselor for Watauga County Schools, and is a founding member and chair of the events committee for WCCI. She also serves in children’s ministry at Boone United Methodist Church. “We have all gone through some hard things,” Walker said. “It is important to help the community understand there are helpful ways to manage ourselves and manage how we interact with other people. The hope is that by understanding, we’ll be more compassionate towards one another.”

only are these poverty-related needs evident in the county, but the AppHealthCare 2019 County Health Needs Assessment also identified mental illness and substance abuse as two of the top priorities for the county to address.” “Through WCCI, we have an opportunity to make some changes that have never been done before, in terms of how our systems work and how we support people. I am so encouraged by what we’re doing,” Ashcraft said. WCCI began as a way to address the trauma that stems from and contributes to these issues. At first, the focus of WCCI was childhood trauma, but over the past four years, the initiative has expanded to

Graham Aitken, a pastor at theHeart church in Boone, has a background in education and humanitarian aid, where he was involved in trauma work in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Myanmar. He serves on WCCI’s awareness committee, and said the resources and educational presentations of the organization equip people to have “hard conversations” with others. “The education and resources from WCCI have given me more confidence to enter into difficult places and walk with people through their stories,” he said. Photo submitted

address trauma that people experience at any age.

A “Lightbulb Moment” Launched WCCI Jennifer Warren, who has worked at WYN for more than 18 years, understands childhood trauma. Many of the children served by WYN are cared for by only one parent, other relatives or foster care. Many have experienced abuse or neglect, poverty and food insecurity. Some have family members with mental health diagnoses, substance misuse issues, or are incarcerated. For years WYN has provided after school care with tutoring, a mentorship

Dr. Kellie Reed Ashcraft is a professor in the Department of Social Work at Appalachian State University, and has been involved with WCCI since the beginning. She is passionate about social issues in the community and has volunteered with several non-profit organizations, including Hospice, OASIS domestic violence shelter, and WYN. Ashcraft has performed extensive research on issues in rural communities, childhood trauma, family preservation and social welfare. June 2021



Researchers Vincent Felitti, head of Kaiser Permanente’s Department of Preventative Medicine in San Diego, and Robert Anda from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDD) identified a list of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). Their study determined an association of ACEs with health and social problems across the lifespan.

What is Trauma?


veryone has most likely been through a stressful event in life. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, when a stressful event (or series of events) causes a lot of stress, it is called a traumatic event — marked by a sense of helplessness, serious injury, or threat of injury or death. Traumatic events affect survivors, rescue workers, friends and relatives of victims, and even people who have witnessed the event. Responses to a traumatic event vary, but can include feelings of fear, grief and depression, as well as physical and behavioral responses such as nausea, dizziness, and changes in sleep patterns and appetite. Most people feel better within three months after a traumatic event, but if problems become worse or last longer, the person may be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). According to The National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN), when children are exposed to multiple traumatic events, they may suffer complex trauma, with deep, long-lasting effects on their ability to think, learn and relate to others. The more ACEs (adverse childhood experiences) a person has, the higher the risk for issues including addiction, depression and anxiety, chronic health conditions, and self-harming behaviors. The good news is the effects can be mitigated, according to multiple research studies. The CDC’s guide, “Preventing ACEs: Leveraging the Best Available Evidence,” states that creating and sustain safe, stable, nurturing relationships and environments for children and families can prevent ACEs and help all children reach their full health and life potential. Locally, these stable relationships may come from a teacher, a school counselor, a mentor (such as one through the Western Youth Network), a youth pastor, a family member or friend. The Watauga Compassionate Community Initiative seeks to educate the community so that the effects of trauma — both from childhood as well as from other stages of life — can be recognized and those suffering are treated with kindness and compassion, while receiving the help and resources they need to heal.



June 2021

program and summer camps to nurture and empower children of the High Country. But a conference Warren attended in Asheville in 2015 brought Warren new insight. The conference — “Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) Southeastern Summit: Building resilient, interdisciplinary workforces, communities and families” — centered on the impact of childhood trauma, or ACEs. Research presented showed that when children are exposed to toxic stress stemming from abuse, neglect and household dysfunction, their brains develop differently. Different areas of the brain respond when a person is in danger, invoking “fight or flight” responses to keep a body safe. These responses are designed to be temporary, invoking a rush of adrenaline or automatic reactions until the body is out of danger. But when a child lives in an unsafe or unstable home, their brain gets “stuck” in the danger response mode. Over time, brain development is affected — similar to a soldier who comes home from war with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD.) Because of the way their brains are wired, children who experience a high number of ACEs may have trouble concentrating in school, may be easily angered, and may have trouble learning. As they move into adulthood, if the impact of ACEs is not addressed, the person is more likely to have health problems, misuse drugs or alcohol, become incarcerated, have employment issues, and have a shortened lifespan. About 67% of the population has experienced at least one ACE and 13% have experienced 4 or more — which is the threshold at which it can start to cause lasting health damage, Warren said. Warren continued, “As I listened to the presentations at the conference, I had a lightbulb moment. Suddenly, all of the challenges that our children at WYN faced made so much more sense. They were having a perfectly normal biological response to their abnormal life circumstances.” But Warren also said she was filled with hope. “Just like there are evidencebased stats about the damaging effects of ACEs, there is also evidence-based research on how to heal ACEs — both at the individual and community level. The presence and influence of a caring, stable adult can make all the difference

in the life of a child.” “I could not wait to share this with everyone I knew,” Warren said. “I felt like I had learned how to solve nearly every complex social problem in existence. There can be an easing of human suffering, and all we have to do is act together.” Warren emphasized that awareness and action across all community sectors is key to resolving social and health issues resulting from trauma. “I use the analogy that when someone goes to the doctor, the patient is examined and treated with medicine. If a child has asthma, for example, he’s given an inhaler and then just moves on with life. But maybe nobody asks why that child has asthma, so the root of the problem isn’t addressed.” “It’s the same with social issues,” she continued. “We need to find out why people behave the way they do and address the cause, instead of social agencies addressing one symptom, doctors treating another, schools and law enforcement dealing with behavior, yet no one solving the base issue. We have to all work together. If we have a fragmented approach, we get fragmented results.” When Warren returned home from the conference, she initiated a brainstorming session with several community leaders involved in the wellbeing of children. Among them were Crystal Kelly, who was then the Executive Director of the Children’s Council; Paul Holden, Director of Student Support Services at Watauga County Schools; Zack Green, the Executive Director of Mountain Alliance, Jennifer Schroeder, at the time with AppHealth; and Dr. Kellie Reed Ashcraft, whose research specialties include vulnerable children and families, and community programs and evaluation. The group realized the way towards lasting change was to bring all community sectors together, with each agency, business and government entity doing their part within their respective roles to change policy and practice. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has guidelines on enacting a community-wide initiative, creating a “traumainformed and resilient community.” The group just needed someone to take the lead.

Corinne Smith (on left) and Courtney Hartzog p resent at a break-out session during the 2019 WCCI conferenc Photo submitted

Dr. Kellie Reed Ashcraft led a break-out session during the 2019 WCCI conference, teaching the audience about childhood trauma and resilience. Photo submitted

Denise Presnell: A Change-maker Denise Presnell, a school social worker for 20 years, never pictured herself in a leadership role. She struggled in school, and said, “My brain wasn’t engineered for learning. I had a lot of trouble focusing and staying motivated.” Presnell enrolled at Appalachian State University after graduating from high school

During the COVID-19 pandemic, (from left) Denise Presnell, Elizabeth Kerley and Christille Marsh worked on planning the 2021 WCCI conference, which was delivered on-line. Photo submitted June 2021



“Branching Out” by Kat Dolan, an intimate study of the hardwoods of nature.


Artist Brooke Penley makes crafts, resin art and jewelry. These resin pieces are entitled, “Scarred.”

In this piece by Denise Presnell, she included a quote by Joshua Graham

“Faces of Aces: Thriving Lives” . . . Art After ACEs

CCI partnered with Watauga Arts Council to present “Faces of Aces: Thriving Lives,” art created by those who have overcome adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and other trauma in their lives. The exhibition, held in April at Cheap Joe’s Art Stuff in Boone, was part of WCCI’s efforts to educate the community about trau-

in 1986, but dropped out and worked in a restaurant for a couple of years before returning to finish her degree. She changed her major a couple of times before settling on social work. “It took me seven years to graduate,” she said. After earning her degree, Presnell was hired by Watauga Schools as a social worker. “I make sure kids are in school

ma and resilience. Art is one tool people can use to heal. Denise Presnell, one of the founding members of WCCI, said the exhibit — and everything else they do at WCCI — served two audiences: those who have experienced trauma, and those who are trying to understand and help people who have a trauma background.

and have what they need to be successful. My job includes everything from making sure the kids have a roof over their head, to tennis shoes on their feet, and food to eat. I do a lot of referrals to other agencies, run the school’s food pantry, coordinate holiday gift donations, intervene when children are homeless, meet with parents to assess needs, and monitor attendance,”

she explained. As a seasoned school social worker, Presnell was often asked to present in Dr. Kellie Reed Ashcraft’s social work classes at App State. Ashcraft regularly encouraged Presnell to pursue her Masters of Social Work (MSW), but Presnell said she hesitated because she had had such a hard time in school. “Kellie believed in

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The Effects of Pandemic Stress


any, if not all, have experienced trauma during the COVID-19 pandemic, ranging from changes in employment, childcare and education challenges, isolation, lost opportunities, screen fatigue, sickness and even loss of loved ones. In addition, political unrest and racial injustice in the news brought another layer of chronic stress and trauma. Denise Presnell, a school social worker in Watauga County Schools, said, “I’ve been in this job for 27 years and this is by

far the most stress I have ever seen. The pandemic really highlighted how much we need each other, how important it is to show compassion.” Dr. Kellie Reed Ashcraft, a professor in App State’s Department of Social Work, said the pandemic presented opportunities to address issues differently. “Everyone was in crisis mode, and the well-being of people came to the forefront. The pandemic caused us to form different patterns of behavior. People

needed flexible time to deal with work and family, and businesses had to adapt,” she said. “I am the type of person who sees the glass as half full,” said Ashcraft. “Anytime something affects the whole population — like the Great Depression, World War II, the civil rights movement in the 1960’s, and now the pandemic — that is when legislation has been most possible to make positive change for those who are most vulnerable.”

me even when I didn’t believe in myself,” school system and App State to plan a conference cancelled due to COVID-19 “State of the Child” forum in 2017. At restrictions. Each event was attended by Presnell said. Finally, at age 45, Presnell enrolled the conference — attended by more than several hundred people, and included in the MSW program at App State. 400 people — keynote speakers presented breakout sessions led by area professionals As part of her degree requirements, ACEs research and resiliency strategies, from healthcare, law enforcement, educaPresnell was required to complete an and attendees participated in small group tion and counseling. The 2021 conference, “Commuinternship, and chose to work at nity is the Solution!” was held virWYN — an organization she was tually in April, with the more than very familiar with through her work 25 breakout sessions covering topat Watauga Schools. ics such as social justice, the roles of Knowing her connections in the local law enforcement in the comcommunity and experience, Jennifer munity, the ideals of CompassionWarren thought Presnell would be ate Schools, creative approaches to perfect to launch the trauma-aware mental health, reducing racism and community initiative. racial trauma, and how to incorpoWarren shared some resources rate social justice in daily practice. with Presnell and sent her to watch Over 400 people tuned in to Crystal Kelly — the Director of Strathe 2021 conference, with several tegic Initiatives at The Children’s out-of-town attendees in addition Council of Watauga County — give to members of the local community. a presentation about Adverse ChildIn addition to the conferences, hood Experiences. WCCI deliveres a presentation “The information hit me like a about the impact of ACEs, other bolt of lightning,” said Presnell. “I trauma and resiliency to schoolhad a traumatic childhood and exteachers, university classes, busiperienced eight of the ten ACEs. I nesses, emergency responders and began to understand more about medical personnel. myself, and I also understood more In between conferences, WCCI about the people I serve on a daily Part of the Watauga County Compassionate School project hosts regular discussion forums basis. It revolutionized how I looked includes the use of “Calm Corners” in the classroom. Candis with speakers on various topics at myself and my family, as well as Walker, a social worker in Watauga County Schools, said teachers about recognizing and treating my clients.” have been trained to recognize “big emotions,” and students can trauma. Since the pandemic, the The resilience and healing poruse Calm Corners as a place to help calm down and self-regulate forums moved online to “Wednestion of the ACEs research was life-alemotions and feelings. Photo submitted day Conversations,” open to anytering for Presnell. She said, “While one with interest. Recent topics I can’t change the past, I can change how I react to it.” brainstorming sessions about how to raise included “Faces of ACEs, Thriving Lives awareness and address trauma in various Series,” a local law enforcement panel, presentations from Hospitality House Watauga County Becoming sectors of the community. and from WYN, and self-care as it relates The overwhelming response to the Trauma-Aware conference led to the formation of WCCI. to resilience. Presnell gathered a group of about The organization has also created a roSince the first forum, WCCI has hosted 40 volunteers from various agencies, the three annual conferences, with the 2020 bust list of resources and agencies in the 106


June 2021

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(LEFT) Heather Canipe (bottom right), director of Western Youth Network (WYN) after-school program, interacts with some of the kids in the program. Relationships with caring adults are key to helping mitigate the affects of childhood trauma, said Jennifer Warren, executive director of WYN. (RIGHT) In the Western Youth Network (WYN) after-school program, middle school youth are supervised in outdoor play. Time in nature and physical activities are two strategies helpful in managing stress and trauma, said Jennifer Warren, executive director of WYN. Photos by Jan Todd “We tell employers they never really not getting the job done,’ is short-sightarea to address health care, shelter, crisis assistance, conflict resolution and mental know what happens to their employees ed,” Jackson said. “You have to realize health, with some services provided at lit- between the time they walk out the door people have difficult circumstances. If you do that, those workers will tle or no cost. The list is availbe so incredibly loyal, because able on the WCCI website — Jennifer Warren, executive director of you’ve helped them.” www.wataugacci.org — along Jennifer Warren said the with educational resources and Western Youth Network (WYN), recently pandemic intensified circumresilience tools. wrote in a WYN newsletter about dealing stances for business owners. Presnell said, “I am seeing the with trauma in the community: “Employers had to consider community begin to use a comworkers who might be strugmon language, looking through “I believe each of us is stronger when we all reach out. gling with childcare or taking a trauma-informed lens as they Perhaps we have a conversation with someone while care of an older parent, even relate to one another. Rather waiting in line, compliment someone, or find a way to more so than in normal times. than saying, ‘That person is givoffer patience instead of frustration and understanding We’ve had conversations with ing me a hard time,’ people beinstead of judgment. It may not feel natural, but we can businesses about developing gin to say, ‘That person must be be sure these small gestures will make a big difference. policies that allow flexibility having a hard time.’ We’re learnA quote by an unknown author has been for family caretaking and about ing to support one another.” in my head recently: making sure they’re paying a “We don’t have to be certiliving wage.” fied or trained to make a dif“A physician once said, ‘The best medicine Graham Aiken, a pastor at ference,” Presnell continued. The Heart church in Boone and “Research shows the number for humans is love.’ chair of the Awareness Comone factor to offset trauma is Someone asked, ‘What if it doesn’t work?’ mittee for WCCI, said traumathe relationship with someawareness has grown commuone positive and caring. Any He smiled and said, ‘Increase the dose.’” nity-wide. “Within specific one of us can do that. Shifting pockets of our community, like community awareness to comwithin the hospital system and passion, warmth and empathy helps heal and change lives.” at the end of a shift until they see them the school system, the language of ACEs the next day. Being aware of some of the and resilience is so much more prevalent Progress Across The Sectors red flags helps the employer to be more than it was a few years ago. FamiliarizaDavid Jackson said WCCI has raised empathetic to staff and be mindful of the tion with the concepts, and our shared language has increased significantly,” he said. awareness among business leaders, en- “why” behind behaviors,” he said. “To say to an employee, ‘Oh, I’m gocouraging them to pay attention to trauWCCI has participants from law ening to have to let you go because you’re forcement who serve as educators within ma indicators in order to help their staff. 108


June 2021

the police force, helping officers understand about the effects of trauma and gain new perspectives. First responders are being trained to spot trauma as well, in order to share resources to those in need, Aiken said. Within the faith community, Aiken said they have tailored the WCCI ACEs and Resiliency presentation to deliver to church groups. “Within the church, we have a responsibility to hear people’s stories and respond well, and not to be afraid of outside resources that exist that can help. We need to equip churches to have difficult conversations about childhood trauma, racial injustice and some of these things happening around the country and in our own community,” Aiken said. “The collaborative spirit of WCCI — working together with a unity of purpose — is exciting to me. The representation and diversity of people and agencies involved continues to grow, to be part of this work that is so important to all of us,” Aiken said. While social service agencies, health providers and non-profit organizations have always had a cooperative spirit in the High Country, WCCI has fostered more GoodwillNWNC.org interaction among them. “Collaborations have definitely increased. Because we’re meeting together on a regular basis with WCCI, we’re able to share information and ideas and aligned our efforts between different programs. We’re figuring out policy changes needed at the community and state levels — for example, family-friendly policy changes in workplaces that will reduce stress and adversity,” said Dr. Ashcraft. Candis Walker, the prevention counselor for Watauga County Schools (WCS) and member of WCCI’s leadership team, said a mirrored movement to WCCI has been launched within the school system, called the WCS Compassionate Schools project. Teachers have been trained to understand any student could be vulnerable, and how to employ teaching and compassionate discipline strategies for better outcomes. Students have been trained how to regulate feelings and emotions when they are feeling upset. “We all go through hard times, and we all live through adversity,” Walker said. “The hope is as we interact with one another, whether it be in business or when we’re shopping or driving in traffic, we’ll remember we don’t know what other people are dealing with, and they might be having a hard time at the moment. And hopefully, we’ll be more compassionate towards one another in all parts of our lives.” t

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In Memoriam


Devastating Shooting Shocks Community and Sparks an Outpouring of Suppor

n April 28, 2021, the High Country experienced a tragic event like no other that left community members mourning the loss of neighbors, coworkers, friends and

family. Sgt. Chris Ward and K-9 Deputy Logan Fox responded to a welfare check and died in the line of duty. The individual suspected of killing the two officers, Isaac Barnes, is also suspected of killing Michelle and George Ligon. Barnes, who is the son and stepson of the deceased civilians, also died at the scene. The devastating news of the five deaths took the community by surprise, and for the days following the incident, everyone was at a loss of words. On April 30, hundreds of people stood in silence to see a police procession involving nearly 200 marked and unmarked units from the Boone Police Department, Watauga County Sheriff ’s Office and neighboring law enforcement personnel escorting the fallen officers back to Boone. The solemn days continued as thousands of individuals from all parts of the state and region came together on May 6 to honor the lives of the two lost officers during a funeral service at Appalachian State University’s Holmes Convocation Center. “Many of you knew our heroes well. Many of you didn’t know them at all,” said Chris Hatton, Chief of Police for the Sylva Police Department, at the funeral service. “But none of that matters here. We’re all here for a common purpose. Today, we are all members of the Ward and Fox family, and we are all members 112


June 2021

of the Watauga County Sheriff ’s Office family. So, today we are all family.” The lives of George and Michelle Ligon were then recognized with a private memorial service for family, friends and coworkers on May 8 at Boone United Methodist Church. “It was very obvious that there was a deep connection there and that they loved each other dearly. You could see that when they were together. George would come by the office every other Friday or so and pick Michelle up for lunch. They were just happy together; it made them both smile to be around each other,” said Wright Tilley, Executive Director of the Boone Tourism Development Authority. Michelle worked with Tilley at the TDA for 11 years. Even though these events were attended by many grieving people, an overwhelming silence consumed the atmosphere throughout the High Country. However, that didn’t stop folks from uniting and showing an outpouring of support for the affected families. Several local businesses, organizations and citizens rallied to create a Community Day of Remembrance on May 10, where members across the High Country connected in solidarity by wearing red ribbons and clothing to support the Ligon and Barnes families. In addition, homes and storefronts displayed blue ribbons and shined blue lights in observance of the Ward and Fox families. By Harley Nefe

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Proof 4 for full-page ad to run in CML’s Summer 2020 issue June 2021



Nationally Connected • Regionally Recognized • Locally Owned & Operated

Residential • Land • Commercial Development • Sales • Rentals Consulting • Property Management 7 Office Locations to serve all your real estate needs! Banner Elk

Blowing Rock



110 Main St. W Banner Elk, NC 28604 (828) 737-3100

1129-1 Main St. Blowing Rock, NC 28605 (828) 295-7777

895 Blowing Rock Rd. Boone, NC 28607 (828) 262-4646

2237 Hwy 105 Boone, NC 28607 (828) 263-8711



215 Church St. NW Lenoir, NC 28645 (828) 795-1122

3616 Mitchell Ave. #3 Linville, NC 28646 (828) 733-9694


West Jefferson

10 N Jefferson Ave. West Jefferson, NC 28694 (336) 489-3042 Top Producing Independent Office

Boone High Country Rentals Provides: Property Management Long-Term Rentals Student & Non-Student Housing Watauga, Avery, Ashe & Caldwell Counties In-house Maintenance & Accounting Leasing Team w/6 Licensed REALTORS® State-of-the-Art Technology 24-hour call service Multi-family, single family and commercial properties

Best of the Best

Contact Us 895 Blowing Rock Rd. Boone, NC 28607

Student Housing

(828) 262-4646 leasing@BooneHCRentals.com www.BooneHCRentals.com

Our affiliation of companies is locally owned and locally operated. Put our resources and technology to work for you and experience the difference. Exceptional service provided, with over 50 REALTOR®/Brokers and a team of over 40 employees. Offering a full range of real estate services, from Sales to Property Management and Rentals. Serving the High Country as the #1 Independent Real Estate Company in the Region!

Ashe County's Premier Long-Term Rental Agency

With rental properties in every corner of Ashe County, we know our area and are here to provide superior service for all your longterm rental and rental management needs. For renters, we offer complete accessibility to our tenants, with hands-on customer service, the latest technology and 24-hour emergency maintenance. For property owners, we manage single family homes, apartment complexes and commercial rentals. As public interest in Ashe County continues to grow, rental rates have increased by 71% in the past 3 years; if you are thinking of renting your home the time has never been better! Contact Us 10 N Jefferson Ave. West Jefferson, NC 28694

(336) 846-6800 leasing@AsheRentalAgency.com www.AsheRentalAgency.com

Profile for High Country Press

High Country Magazine June 2021 Issue  

Covering the High Country of the North Carolina mountains including Boone, Blowing Rock and Banner Elk

High Country Magazine June 2021 Issue  

Covering the High Country of the North Carolina mountains including Boone, Blowing Rock and Banner Elk


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