By Jesse Wood
Oct. 21, 2013. Don’t put those shorts and flip flops in the back of the closet just yet because the winning woolly worm at the annual Woolly Worm Festival is brown.
Fuzz, the winning woolly worm that earned the right to forecast the upcoming winter, is perhaps the brownest woolly worm to capture the title in the 36-year history of the annual Woolly Worm Festival, according to Jim Morton, founder of the event that is one of the top festivals in the South.
The festival took place on Saturday and Sunday in downtown Banner Elk. Along with becoming the official predictor of the upcoming weather, the Fuzz, which was owned by Michelle Griffin of Ansonville, took home the $1,000 prize.
Local folklore has it that the woolly worm’s 13 body segments, which are brown or black in color, represent the 13 weeks of winter. More black segments mean a harsher winter; a majority of brown segments represent a milder winter. With the Fuzz winning the coveted title, official festival forecaster Tommy Burleson predicted that the upcoming winter in the High Country would begin with three weeks of average temperatures and wet snow, followed by five weeks of above average temperatures and finishing with five more weeks of warmer than normal temperatures.
Morton added that the forecast of a mild winter was “not welcome news” to the Avery County Chamber of Commerce, which was a co-sponsor of the event with the Kiwanis Club, because the Banner Elk is the skiing capital of the South.
This year’s prediction goes as follows:
Week 1: Average Cold Wet Snow and Rain
Week 2: Average Cold Wet Snow and Rain
Week 3: Average Cold Wet Snow and Rain
Week 4: Above Average Temperatures
Week 5: Above Average Temperatures
Week 6: Above Average Temperatures
Week 7: Above Average Temperatures
Week 8: Above Average Temperatures
Week 9: Warm Weather
Week 10: Warm Weather
Week 11: Warm Weather
Week 12: Warm Weather
Week 13: Warm Weather