Thursday, July 26, 2018

It’s Official: Woolly Worm Festival Earns State Recognition

News Release by Craig Distl

Entering its fifth decade as one of the Southeast’s quirkiest gatherings, Banner Elk’s Woolly Worm Festival has added a new distinction: Official State Woolly Worm Festival of North Carolina.
 
The festival garnered that honor when NC House Bill 425 was signed into law on June 25 after unanimous passage in the NC House and Senate.
 
The full text from the general statutes reads: “The Woolly Worm Festival, held the third weekend of October of every year in the Town of Banner Elk in Avery County, is adopted as the official Woolly Worm Festival of the State of North Carolina.”
 
Banner Elk Town Manager Rick Owen came up with the idea to pursue the designation last year after a brainstorming session with town officials. Owen mentioned it to NC Senator Deanna Ballard at last year’s Woolly Worm Festival, and Ballard got behind the idea with the help of local NC Representative Josh Dobson.
 
“I've been lucky to attend and participate in this festival for many years – as a kid and in recent years in my service as a State Senator,” Ballard said. “I'm excited to see Banner Elk will be home to NC’s only official Woolly Worm Festival and trust this investment and local support will continue for many years to come.”
 
That sentiment was echoed by Dobson, who said: “the Woolly Worm Festival is a special part of not only Banner Elk but all of Avery County.”

Photo courtesy of Todd Bush
 
The festival was created by Jim Morton in 1978 as a way to decide which woolly bear caterpillar predicts the winter weather in the NC High Country. Folklore says the 13 bands of fur on the caterpillar correspond to winter’s 13 weeks. Brown bands mean a mild week and black bands mean a cold, snowy week. Unfortunately, colors differ from worm to worm, so the festival determines the prognosticator by holding several woolly worm races on the main stage. Winners come together for a final heat, with the champion receiving the forecasting honor, plus $1,000.
 
The festival is run by the Banner Elk Kiwanis Club and draws an average of 20,000 people to Banner Elk during a prime weekend for fall foliage. In 40 years, it has raised more than $1.4 million to better the lives of children in Avery County.
 
“Getting this designation really shows Banner Elk’s commitment to the Woolly Worm Festival,” Owen said. “We recognize its importance and impact on our community.”
 
This year’s festival is Oct. 20-21. More info is available at: www.woollyworm.com.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

More Than a Feeling: Boston Lead Singer Headlines Mile High Fourth

Press Release by Craig Distl

The Mile High Fourth of July, a six-day celebration in the mountain resort towns of Banner Elk and Beech Mountain, features an impressive lineup of activities headlined by a concert by Tommy DeCarlo, singer of the legendary rock band Boston.

 Photo Credit: Kamal Asar


DeCarlo’s evening concert on July 3 in the Beech Mountain kite field will feature many of Boston’s greatest songs, along with other classic rock hits.

All told, the Mile High Fourth offers eight music performances, two barbecues, a wine & beer festival, mile high fireworks, live theater and a Main Street parade, from June 29 to July 4.

The festivities kick off Friday, June 29, with a folk-rock performance by Daniel Couper at Banner Elk CafĂ©. Friday also includes a presentation of The Wiz by Lees-McRae College Summer Theater and a presentation of Red, White & Tuna by Ensemble Stage in Banner Elk.
Photo Credit:  Todd Bush

Saturday afternoon is highlighted by the Avery County Wine & Beer Festival with live music in Banner Elk, followed that evening by the 47th annual Roasting of the Hog and fireworks show at more than a mile high at Beech Mountain Resort.

Sunday includes mile high yoga at Beech Mountain Resort, along with another Lees-McRae Summer Theater performance of The Wiz and Ensemble Stage’s Red, White & Tuna. Sunday evening is capped with a concert on the lawn by The Lucky Strikes at Beech Alpen Inn.

DeCarlo’s free concert on Beech Mountain is Tuesday at 6:30 p.m., then the focus shifts to downtown Banner Elk on Wednesday for one of the topJuly 4th celebrations in the mountains.

Banner Elk’s Fourth of July parade begins at 11:00 a.m. and draws thousands to the resort town. After the parade, there is a noon barbecue with live music and craft beers on the lawn of the Perry House Bed and Breakfast. At 12:30 p.m., Banner Elk’s Party in the Park is a popular option with lunch from several vendors and traditional games like three-legged races, egg tosses and sack races. Folks can also enter a duckie in Banner Elk’s Duck Race on the creek in the park.

Only four miles separate the North Carolina towns of Banner Elk and Beech Mountain, so visitors can easily enjoy the festivities in both locations.

“The Mile High Fourth is great excuse to beat the heat and escape to the mountains,” says Nancy Owen, tourism director for Town of Banner Elk. “We have a full slate of activities in two friendly towns in the Blue Ridge Mountains. What more could you ask for?”

For more details, visit www.MileHighFourth.com or call 800-468-5506 or 844-824-6777.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

June Family Month Provides 30 Days of Memory Making on Beech Mountain

Press Release - Craig Distl

This June, Beech Mountain encourages families to get outside, expand their horizons and make memories together. Family Fun Month includes a 30-day lineup of outdoor adventures, concerts, picnics, movies under the stars and a fireworks finale.

Photo courtesy of Todd Bush


Beech Mountain’s location in the North Carolina High Country provides abundant natural resources to hike, bike, paddle and fish. And its elevation at 5,506 feet makes for pleasant temperatures with low humidity.

Many of the Family Fun Month activities at Buckeye Recreation Center offer guided instruction. Take a mountain biking lesson or go on a guided ride, hit the hiking trail with a naturalist, try your hand at trout fishing, or learn how to play pickleball.

“These activities provide families an opportunity to connect and bond with each other, which is important for everyone to do but particularly for families,” says Kate Gavenus, tourism director for the town of Beech Mountain. “Some vacations can be so busy, but spending time in the mountains hiking, fishing and canoeing allows you time to relax.”

New this year, the Brick Oven Pizzeria in the heart of Beech Mountain will offer a full afternoon and evening of free activities each Friday of the month in the field next door to the restaurant. Friday field days begin at 2 p.m.with bounce houses and children’s games. A family-friendly concert follows at 5:30 p.m. Movies under the stars will take place in the same location at 8:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

On Saturday, June 16, the annual “A Cool 5 Race” begins at Town Hall. The challenging five-mile course tops out at 5,400 feet in elevation. A less strenuous option is the 1.5-mile fun run/walk or the 1.5-mile walk and wag for families with four-legged members.Family Fun Month leads right into Beech Mountain’s Mile High Fourth of July Celebration, which runs June 29-July 4. On Saturday, June 30, the famous 47th Annual Roasting of the Hog serves up some of the tastiest barbecue in the High Country at Beech Mountain Resort. Fireworks then light up the night sky above the mountain.

Several properties offer Family Month lodging specials, including three nights for the price of two. Some activities require Family Fun Month participation cards, which are available along with complimentary fidget spinners for kids 12 and under at the Beech Visitor Center.

For a full lineup of events and list of lodging specials, go to: www.BeechMtn.com or call 800-468-5506.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Rock the Casbah at Beech Mountain’s Retro Ski Weekend

News Update by Craig Distl


Ski back in time and rock the 1980s like never before during the Totally ’80s Retro Ski Weekend at Beech Mountain.


This year’s event takes place Feb. 22-25 with four days of throwback activities, including the best music lineup in the weekend’s seven years of bending the space-time continuum.

Saturday night’s headliner at Beech Mountain Resort is Charlotte’s Cassette Rewind, the hottest ’80s tribute band in the Carolinas. Born in the ’80s and raised on radio, Cassette Rewind cues up the ultimate high-energy new wave rock experience.

“We’re going to keep people completely engaged, fists in the air, singing as loud as they can and dancing the entire time,” says lead singer Brandon Kirkley. “We’ve added six or seven new songs just for the retro ski weekend.”

It’s such a rad weekend that Kirkley and his bandmates will arrive Thursday evening to take in many of the activities, which range from a dayglo ski parade to a Rubik’s Cube Contest to the widely-popular $500 Totally Retro Apparel Contest.

New events this year include an Over the Top Arm Wrestling Competition on Friday and a 1980s Name That Song Contest on Saturday.

“It’s a total immersion experience we don’t get at any of our other gigs,” Kirkley says. “We play a lot of ’80s shows, but having a full weekend dedicated to 1980s is incredible. We love the retro cars in the ski village, hearing the bands and seeing all the neon on the slopes.”

The righteousness starts Thursday night at Fast Eddie’s with classic rockers DeCarlo, featuring Tommy DeCarlo, lead singer of the legendary rock band Boston. On Friday night, the Mile High Tavern serves up the retro punk sounds of The Spazmatics from Charleston, S.C.

Other festivities include totally tubular snow tubing, retro karaoke, Ms. Pac Man contest and special guest appearances. Emcees for the weekend are Ace & TJ of the syndicated Ace & TJ radio show.

Everyone is encouraged to dress in 1980s ski clothes on the slopes and retro fashions off, so dig out those leg warmers, acid wash jeans, Members Only jackets and bandanas. Only Beech Mountain takes you back to a time when ski clothes featured shoulder pads, rock stars wore spandex, and video killed the radio star.

For details on the retro weekend, go to: www.BeechMtn.com, or call (800) 468-5506.