Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Youth Sledding Hill - Now Open Daily

News Release
Story and Photos by
Craig Distl

Beech Mountain's Youth Sledding Hill has opened for the winter season.

Beech Mountain (elevation 5,506') averages more than 80" of snowfall per year, and the town has its own gun for blowing snow when Mother Nature isn't.

The hill draws families from across the Southeast for sledding on a daily basis. Conditions are generally very good throughout the winter. The Beech sledding hill is located next to the Chamber of Commerce. It is open daily at no charge for kids 12 and under, although parents may ride with smaller children. Plastic sleds are required. Folks are encouraged to bring their own sleds, or they may be purchased at stores on the mountain. "It's a free and enjoyable place for children to have fun," says Peggy Coscia of the Beech chamber. "They come from North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee. We get a lot of folks from Florida who are excited because it's the first time the children have seen snow." The sledding hill is operated by the Beech Mountain Parks and Recreation Department. It is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (weather permitting) with safety personnel on duty. A loud speaker plays music and hot chocolate is available at nearby restaurants. Parking and restrooms are provided by the chamber. People are encouraged to call the chamber at (800) 468-5506 to receive live updates on sledding conditions. "All I have to do is look out the window," says Coscia. "We're that close." Additional info on the Beech Mountain sledding hill is available at: http://www.beechmtn.com/.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Ski Beech Restores Oz Run & Debuts Second Terrain Park

October 31, 2009
Press Release by Craig Distl
Photo by Debbie Canady

The popular Oz run returns, while a second terrain park debuts this winter at Ski Beech at Beech Mountain Resort.

The Oz slope, named for its proximity to the old Land of Oz theme park, was closed last season to upgrade the chairlift. New, padded quad chairs have taken the place of outdated double chairs, while Ski Beech officials also installed airless electrical snowmaking hookups along the run so the slope can be blown in within 24 hours.

"The reopening of the Oz run is great news for skiers," says Ryan Costin, the resort's director of operations. "It has nice intermediate terrain and opens up another side of the mountain. This will help disperse skiers during peak times."

Ski Beech's second terrain park will be unveiled this winter. The opening of the park was delayed a year because of lift problems. However, the lift is now fully functional and provides access to a multi-featured park with rails, boxes and jumps for intermediate to advanced freestyle riders. The park will have full-time staff to maintain the features and ensure safety.

Also new this year is a private locker room for season pass holders to store their skis and equipment, while snowmaking upgrades continued during the offseason.

"In the South, snowmaking is something you have to improve every year," Costin says. "We've upgraded our product and want people to come see the quality of skiing we now offer."

Ski Beech is scheduled to kick off its 2009-2010 season on Saturday, Nov. 21, weather permitting. Season passes are currently available for a discounted price of $350 through Nov. 1. The regular price of $550 goes into effect Nov. 2.

For resort information, call (800) 438-2093 or visit http://www.skibeech.com/.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

No Place Like Beech Mountain for Autumn at Oz - This Weekend!!

September 29, 2009
Press Release by Craig Distl

There’s no place like Beech Mountain the first weekend of October as the old Land of Oz theme park comes to life for the Autumn at Oz celebration. This year’s 16th annual celebration takes place Oct. 3-4 and coincides with the 70th anniversary of the Wizard of Oz movie, released in 1939.

Over the years, Autumn at Oz has grown from a small reunion of former employees to a celebration that draws folks from near and far for a nostalgic stroll along the yellow brick road that was the centerpiece of the popular theme park during the 1970s.

“Each year, we probably see a thousand little Dorothys,” says event coordinator Cindy Keller. “They come in every assorted size, shape and color. It’s pretty much guaranteed to put a smile on your face.” However, children aren’t the only ones who flock to Beech Mountain’s 5,506-foot peak for the Oz festivities. “There are so many parents and grandparents who come back. Parents like the morals of the story and the lessons of having a heart, a brain and some courage,” Keller says. “It’s timeless. It is the American fairy tale.”

Autumn at Oz begins with a hayride or shuttle ride from the Town of Beech Mountain up to the enchanted forest. Once there, attendees are treated to live music, a tour of Dorothy’s House, a mini Oz museum, magic shows and face painting. The highlight for many is the panoramic view from the Judy Garland Memorial Overlook Gazebo and a leisurely stroll along the yellow brick road, which consists of 44,000 yellow bricks. A host of characters are on hand, including: Dorothy, Toto, Professor Marvel, Auntie Em, Uncle Henry, Glinda the Good Witch, Munchkins, the Scarecrow, Tin Man and Cowardly Lion. The Wicked Witch of the West makes a visit with her Winkie guards and flying monkeys.

Vendors provide plenty of food, treats, souvenirs and Oz memorabilia, while scenic chairlift rides are available, weather permitting. Autumn at Oz hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day. Tickets are $15 per person and include discount coupons for nearby Grandfather Mountain and lodging specials on the mountain. For information, call (800) 468-5506 or visit http://www.beechmtn.com/.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

September 6, 2009
Update on Kite Festival

I had the pleasure of riding the ski lift on the day of the Kite Festival to get a bird's eye view of not only the festival, but the bike and board races held at Ski Beech on Saturday and Sunday. What an absolutely gorgeous day to enjoy the mountains and these two events!

Approximately 1000 people attended the Kite Festival this year. There were several vendors and most have already asked about reserving for next year too.

The colors are always a pleasure to see and there were so many kites that we did not see last year. Can't wait until next year's event!

This little guy was attached to the big colorful dragonfly-looking kite. The big kite is so large that it needs its own stablizer kite attached above it.

As the end of the festival wound down, the kites were brought in but will reappear again in September next year.

August 25, 2009
Press Release by Craig Distl
Photography by Debbie Canady

Mile High Kite Festival – Fun Option for Labor Day Weekend

BEECH MOUNTAIN, N.C. –Looking for something different this Labor Day weekend? Go fly a kite. The seventh annual Mile High Kite Festival is a free event that takes place Sunday, Sept. 6, in the meadows at the top of Beech Mountain next to the Brick Oven Pizzeria. The festival allows children of all ages to fly a kite at an altitude one mile above sea level. It is sponsored by the Beech Mountain Chamber of Commerce in conjunction with the Richmond Air Force kite club from Virginia and the Winds Across Carolina Club and Okra Society from Charlotte. Hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. There is no charge for admission and free kites are given to the first 200 children under 12. There will also be a vendor selling a variety of kites, and folks are welcome to bring their own. Contests will be held for biggest, smallest and best-decorated kites. All participants receive an official certificate from Beech Mountain mayor Rick Owen that proclaims: “I flew a kite a mile high at Beech Mountain.” Two members of the Richmond Air Force – Terry Murray and Will Smoot – serve as announcers for the festival, sharing their knowledge of kiting while playing kite-themed music throughout the day. “The neatest thing about the event is when people drive up the mountain and walk into the field,” says Calder Smoot, the event organizer. “There is just this blast of color with all these kites flying everywhere.” The field is divided into two areas: one for exhibitions/demonstrations from the kite clubs and one for the general public. Other activities include: children’s races while pulling bol kites, face painting, and a variety of craft vendors. Festivities for the Mile High Kite Festival weekend actually begin Saturday, Sept. 5, with a special clinic for kite makers from 2-4 p.m. Folks are encouraged to bring their homemade kites, and members of the kite clubs will be on-hand to discuss the intricacies of building kites. There will also be an all-ages street dance from 7-9 p.m. Saturday in front of town hall. For information, call (800) 468-5506 or visit http://www.beechmtn.com/

Thursday, August 6, 2009

B.J.'s Dog Show 2009

July 18, 2009

The third annual dog show at Buckeye Lake Recreation Area turned out more entries than last year...and they all went home with at least an 'I Tried My Best' ribbon. Friends For Life was well reprented and benefited from the proceeds of this event.

Smokey with his owner, Sherry Goldstein.

Coby, an Akita, took 2nd place in the large purebreeds division

Sumo, a beautiful Bermese Mountain Dog, took 1st place in the same division. Sumo is owned by Jill Ezell

Clover, the Corgi, took 2nd place in the medium pure breeds
Clover is shown with her owner, Therese Barry, accepting the award.

Karma took 2nd place in the medium mixed breeds division.

Although not entered in the contest, Solei was happy just to be
invited to the party!

We were blessed with a beautiful, sunny day for this event.

We are not sure what part of the animal kingdom
this little one belongs to...sure was cute though!

Monday, June 29, 2009

A sad day today...

June 29, 2009
Normally, every day is a good day on Beech Mountain. We are blessed with good weather, even if it's raining. We live among the various creatures that are offspring of those that lived here when only the Cherokee shared their spaces. We have been entrusted to care for this area and keep it as pristine as we found it. We have failed. We have paved our roads and parking areas beyond what it takes to accomodate business patrons and our downtown area now appears to have more asphalt than green spaces.

The developers of this mountain envisioned a place where man could play and live in a natural mountain setting, in harmony with those creatures already here. It is inevitable that one of those creatures may be hit by a car or attacked by a predator or suffer from an accident that could not have been prevented. We could prevent much of this by taking it slow and enjoying the scenery and not put the creatures in jeopardy by barreling around corners and down streets to get somewhere 30 seconds earlier.

We could also have prevented the death of an innocent fawn this morning if the owner of the dogs, that attacked and caused this small creature such trauma that it died, had not simply opened his door to let his dogs run the mountain while he left for work but walked them, instead, and kept them penned or inside until he could return to walk them again. There is no leash law on Beech Mountain. However, there is a town ordinance that says all domestic animals must be under the control of their owners. Most people abide by this ordinance and the others which have been put into place to protect us, our properties and our mountain...including all inhabitants. Today was a sad day. Because one person has decided it is easier for him to ignore our ordinances and let his dogs roam free every day, a very small creature's life was cut short almost before it began. It never had a chance. A couple walking their dog...in accordance with the ordinance...came across two dogs sitting in the middle of the road and saw the fawn behind the dogs. The fawn was still breathing but not moving. They asked what they could do and I called Leslie Hayhurst, founder of Genesis Wildlife Rehabilitation Center. Leslie did not hesitate and immediately came to the location, gently assessed the damage and took the fawn to her hospital by Buckeye Lake. She placed the fawn on a heating pad and covered her with a blanket to try to bring her out of shock, caused by the dogs grabbing this tiny animal by the rear and shaking it violently. The damage to the little fawn was bad but not life threatening. However, the damage needed to be cleaned and sutured as soon as possible. The first step was getting her to recover from the shock. She never did.

These dogs will be allowed to run free tomorrow, as they have every day prior to today, unless something is done about it. Our ordinances need to be enforced to assure our quality of life, as well as the quality and quantity of life of those around us. One was not so lucky. With many tiny fawns roaming our streets, when will these dogs kill again? For my part, I plan on calling the Watauga County Humane Society if it happens again and have them picked up. This is not the first time these dogs have caused problems but maybe we can save some of our wildlife if we prevent it from happening again.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Come One - Come All...

June 20, 2009

Come to the annual Beech Mountain Yard Sale. Loads of good buys, treasures and heirlooms are waiting to be discovered. This event will be held in the parking lot across the street from Town Hall and Chamber of Commerce, next to the mini-golf course. Hours are 8am - noon

Once you've stashed your goodies found at the Yard Sale, pop across the street to the Chamber of Commerce or at nearby businesses, Brick Oven and Fred's General Mercantile, to pick up a packet of information to see many homes and condos which are currently listed for sale and will be available for viewing from 11am - 3pm.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Beech Mountain Bonanza

Mark your calendar for this Saturday,
May 23rd...

Beech Mountain Realtors will be having an open house, which will
include twelve homes/condos to tour and several others
available to view.

Stop by any participating Beech Mountain real estate office or the Beech Mountain Chamber to pick up information on where the homes are located.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Identifying Those Beech Mountain Blooms

Alice Russell was kind enough to send me some pictures a couple of months ago that vividly show the blooms that we are all now beginning to see here on the mountain. If you haven't been out for a walk lately, you need to get out (between the raindrops) and see the beautiful plants that are beginning to show off, even just along our roads. The following are Alice's pictures and the names of the plants. Thank you so much, Alice!


Cut leaf Toothwart

Halberd-leaf Violet


Carolina Spring Beauty

Red Elderberry

Red Erect Trillium

Yellow Trout Lily

Wood Anemone

Dutchman's Breeches

Squirrel Corn