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Irish Band ‘Four Leaf Peat’ to conclude Summer Concert Series at St. John’s – Celtic Music Quartet Performs at 5 p.m. on Sunday, September 4th

August 29, 2022 “Tennessee’s Premier Traditional Irish Band,” Four Leaf Peat from Knoxville in the Volunteer State, will make their highly-anticipated return engagement to the High Country as part of the Summer Concert Series at historic St. John’s Church in Valle Crucis at 5 p.m. on Sunday, September 4, 2022. It will mark their first performance since they dazzled a standing-room-only audience in 2018.

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Grandfather Mountain to Celebrate 70th Anniversary of Mile High Swinging Bridge

August 24, 2022 On Friday, Sept. 2, the Mile High Swinging Bridge at Grandfather Mountain, the not-for-profit nature park run by the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation, will reach a major milestone. One of the most iconic destinations in North Carolina will be turning 70 years old, and the park is throwing a celebration with a mile-high slate of activities.

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Hidden Treasure Sale Saturday, August 27 at Holy Cross Episcopal Church Valle Crucis

August 15, 2022 VALLE CRUCIS, NC — The Episcopal Church Women of Holy Cross Church in Valle Crucis are holding a “Hidden Treasures” Sale in the church parish hall at 122 Skiles Way, Banner Elk on Saturday, August 27 from 9 am to 3 pm. Benefitting the mission work of the church, the sale is designed to be an organized, well-curated version of the rummage sales that the churchwomen hosted in the past.

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First Annual Banner Elk Firehouse Fundraiser to Premier in August Featuring ‘Always Nina’

June 6, 2022. The first annual Banner Elk Firehouse Fundraiser will feature a very entertaining musical, Always Nina: A Tennessee Story and Songbook. The show will be performed in the sanctuary of the historic Banner Elk Presbyterian Church on Thursday, August 25 at 7 PM, August 26 at 2 PM, and August 27 at 2 PM. While this one-woman show has been performed in several states, this will be the North Carolina premier. In 2018, the Connecticut Critic’s Circle named it “Best Musical of 2018” for the state.

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Ensemble Stage Announces Event Details for 2022 Summer Season of Premieres

April 19, 2022 Ensemble Stage is busy preparing for its 2022 Summer Season, which encompasses four Main Stage performances that are all various types of premieres. “We’re really excited about the fact that they’re all some type of premiere – with the two regional premieres, the international premiere, and then of course, the world premiere,” said Gary Smith, Artistic Director of Ensemble Stage. The lineup for the Main Stage shows includes “No Wake” by Erica Berman, “Catch The Butcher” by Adam Seidel, “Baby on Board” by Claude Montminy, and “Zaglada” by Richard Vetere. “I’m excited about all four shows because all four are completely different,” Smith said.  By Harley Nefe

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High Country Residents Bring Home Gold Medals From USASA 2022 National Championship Including Blake Broussard

April 15, 2022 The world’s largest snowboarding and freeskiing competition just wrapped up this week at Copper Mountain in Colorado, and some High Country residents were named National Champions. The United States of America Snowboard and Freeski Association (USASA) 2022 National Championship took place from April 2-13 with around 2,000 athletes competing from across 31 regional divisions nationwide, including the Southeastern Series from North Carolina. By Harley Nefe

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Ensemble Stage Presents ‘A Banner Elk Christmas’ Beginning Friday, December 3 with Multiple Dates Throughout the Month

December 1, 2021. Ensemble Stage’s traditional Christmas musical “A Banner Elk Christmas” returns to the theater on Friday, December 3 at 7 p.m. The show will be presented five times this month with additional dates on December 5 at 2 p.m., December 17 at 7 p.m., December 18 at 7 p.m. and December 19 at 2 p.m. The musical variety show has been a High Country holiday tradition for the past 10 years. The show is around 70 minutes in length and features 27 musical numbers including all or parts of nearly 40 yuletide songs that will invigorate everyone’s holiday spirit.  By Harley Nefe

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Community Carol Sing Hosted By Banner Elk Presbyterian Church

November 30, 2021. On Saturday, December 4, 2021, at 3 PM, join in a sing-a-long of familiar Christmas carols inside the beautiful sanctuary of the historic Banner Elk Presbyterian Church. The first annual Community Carol Sing is a 45-minute casual service that includes favorites for adults and children alike, ranging from Let it Snow to Joy to the World. The grand piano and pipe organ provide accompaniment. Soloists and special musicians allow the audience to take a few breaks. Afterwards, tour a display of nativities from around the world and see historic photographs of the area.

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The Woolly Worm Festival; From a Rainy Start on Saturday to a Beautiful Finish on Sunday

October 18, 2021. Big crowds gathered in Banner Elk for the return of the Woolly Worm Festival after last year’s cancelation due to the coronavirus pandemic. Not even some dreary weather on Saturday slowed down people from making their way out to the 44th year of the historic event. “I was so excited, some of the vendors made the most money that they ever had at the festival. All of the vendors were excited, even though it rained on Saturday, it did not stop people from coming out and we had great attendance on Saturday and Sunday,” said Anne Winkelman, Executive Director of the Avery County Chamber of Commerce. The Weather Channel even featured the event at 7:40 and 9:40 on Sunday morning, showing off the crowds that were around on a beautiful day. “It was fun and very busy, but I thoroughly enjoyed it,” Winkelman said.  By Nathan Ham

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Woolly Worm Festival Returns for 44th Year on Oct. 16-17; Vendors and Volunteers Still Needed

October 6, 2021. The color of leaves are changing, the seasons are shifting, and cooler temperatures are approaching, which means it’s getting to be time for the annual woolly worm winter forecast prediction. The beloved Woolly Worm Festival will be making a reappearance this year for its 44th annual event on Oct. 16-17 in Banner Elk, which will bring together many locals and visitors alike in attendance. “Everyone is excited that the Woolly Worm Festival will be back this year,” said Anne Winkelman, Executive Director of the Avery County Chamber of Commerce. By Harley Nefe

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Ensemble Stage Presents Wizard of Oz Musical This Weekend in Banner Elk


September 8, 2021. A re-creation of the 1940’s Lux Radio Theatre musical adaptation of “The Wizard of Oz” will be presented by the group at Ensemble Stage this Friday, Saturday and Sunday. As a tribute to the time of musicals and performances being broadcast live over the radio, the actors and actresses will perform a script similar to the original Lux Radio Hour script from over 80 years ago. The show will feature live music and on-stage sound effects just like how it would have been produced in the 1940s. The show will be approximately one hour and 15 minutes in length. Tickets are still available for each show this weekend. Tickets are $18 for adults and $10 for children ages 16 and under. Showtimes for Wizard of Oz are at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, September 10, 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, September 11 and a 2 p.m. matinee on Sunday, September 12.   By Nathan Ham

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ABC Stores Across North Carolina and the High Country Dealing With Liquor Supply Shortages

August 12, 2021. If you have ventured into the ABC Store in Boone, you might have noticed some empty shelf space over the last few weeks. It’s an issue that has been plaguing liquor stores all over the state, not just in the High Country. “When the truck comes, we’re not really sure what’s going to be on it. We make an order but that’s not to say we are going to get any of it. We try to keep our basics and get them in and hope for the best,” said general manager Ronnie Hayes. Most recently, the Boone store has been out of brands like Bacardi, Jack Daniels and Woodford Reserve. This has also trickled down to not only the individual customers that come in looking for products but also local restaurants that have to purchase their spirits at the ABC Store. “Restaurants have had to adjust what they get and I know that has been hard on them too,” Hayes said. By Nathan Ham

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Patti Turner Named Managing Broker of Premier Sotheby’s International Realty’s Banner Elk and Blowing Rock Sales Galleries


July 16, 2021. Premier Sotheby’s International Realty has named Patti Turner as the new managing broker of the company’s Banner Elk sales gallery, located at 3990 NC Highway 105 South, Suite 3 and the Blowing Rock office, at 1127 Main Street, Suite A. A top affiliate in the Sotheby’s International Realty® network, the brokerage is No. 1 in closed dollar volume year-to-date in High Country and has the highest average sales price among all competitors. Patti has served as a top-producing broker associate with the company’s Blowing Rock office since 2016. A seasoned professional who has called High Country home for 30 years, she is a skilled agent and passionate mentor who is deeply invested in her community. She is a member of the High Country Board of REALTORS® and the National Association of REALTORS®.

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Kiwanis Club Raises Over $10,000 from the Return of the Annual Duck Races in Banner Elk

July 9, 2021. After a year off from competition, the rubber ducks were eager to race once again during the Independence Day weekend in Banner Elk. The weekend was kicked off by the annual 4th of July Parade followed by the Kiwanis Club of Banner Elk’s Party in the Park and accompanying Duck Races at Tate-Evans Park. “It was exciting for Kiwanis to have the opportunity to raise some funds. After coming out of the pandemic, it was good to get back into a more normal swing of things. Thousands of people were in downtown Banner Elk,” said Jim Swinkola, who helped organize the duck races along with his wife, Ann. “People were lined up on each side of the road probably eight to ten rows deep for the parade. It was good to see downtown Banner Elk alive with folks who were there to celebrate the 4th of July.” This year, the duck races expanded to include prizes awarded for best-dressed ducks and tickets for the event were small toy ducks instead of the usual paper ticket. By Nathan Ham

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Lees-McRae College to host ‘A Conversation with Warren Daniel and Dudley Greene’

July 7, 2021. On Friday, July 23, the state senator and state representative for Avery County will participate in a free public forum on the Lees-McRae campus. Warren Daniel and Dudley Greene will answer questions from their constituents and address issues relevant to area residents. Daniel, a graduate of the United States Military Academy and the University of North Carolina School of Law, has served as a member of the North Carolina State Senate since 2013. Greene was elected to the North Carolina House of Representatives in 2021 after previously serving as the sheriff of McDowell County and the chief detective/chief deputy with the Avery County Sheriff’s Office. This nonpartisan event will take place in Hayes Auditorium from 6:30–7:30 p.m. and be moderated by Jim Swinkola.

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Star Spangled Banner Elk Fourth Celebration is Happening July 3rd

June 17, 2021. Banner Elk’s Independence Day celebration returns with a new name and a new date after a pandemic-forced cancelation last year. The Star Spangled Banner Elk Fourth takes place Saturday, July 3, combining popular activities from previous years. The day begins with the All-American Banner Elk Parade at 11 a.m., followed by the Party in the Park and the famous Banner Elk Kiwanis Duck Races shortly after 12 noon. Meanwhile, the second installment of this summer’s Art on the Greene fine art and craft show sets up shop on the lawn of the Historic Banner Elk School from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The parade is among the tops in the North Carolina mountains, with cars, trucks, people and pets decked out in red, white and blue, and proceeding down Main Street from the Lees-McRae College campus to Tate-Evans Town Park. “It’s a patriotic parade that makes Uncle Sam proud,” says Banner Elk tourism director Nancy Owen, “with lots of cars, floats, kids catching candy and more. We’re getting many calls asking about the parade. People really missed it last year.”

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Banner Elk’s Popular Summer 2021 Concerts in the Park Schedule Announced

June 7, 2021 The Banner Elk Chamber of Commerce is excited to announce the much-anticipated lineup and sponsors for this summer’s Concerts in the Park series of popular musical events. Locals and visitors look forward to this free concert series each year, with shows starting at 6:30 p.m. in the Tate-Evans Town Park Amphitheater (map). Outstanding local and regional bands play fun dance music suitable for all ages, from Southern Rock to Oldies and Soul/Funk. Food vendors are on-site and there is a raffle to support the series. Learn more about the Concerts in the Park on the Chamber website at: https://www.bannerelk.org/concerts-in-the-park.html

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Life Care Center of Banner Elk Nurse Wins Company’s Divisional Customer Service Award

June 3, 2021 Toby Guinn, licensed practical nurse at Life Care Center of Banner Elk, received Life Care Centers of America’s Eastern Division Whatever It Takes And Then Some Award on May 13 for his dedication to customer service. Life Care awarded Guinn a $1,000 cash prize during an awards ceremony at the facility. Facility leadership surprised Guinn, who was told he needed to watch a training video. When the video started, it was actually a video of fellow associates at the facility, as well as residents, talking about what they appreciate about him. “I’ve never been more surprised – I was blown away,” Guinn said. “There are so many deserving people that I can think of. The people you work with make you better, and I work with the best.” Guinn was chosen from among thousands of associates in the Eastern Division and was one of only eight associates from Life Care’s more than 200 facilities nationwide to receive the award.

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Avery County Farmers’ Market in Banner Elk Opens Today for the 2021 Season at 4 p.m.


April 22, 2021 Thursday marks the opening day for the Avery County Farmers’ Market at the Old Banner Elk School. The market opens at 4 p.m. and will remain open until 7 p.m. “It’s cold but some of us will be there anyway,” said Bonita Smith of Smith Family Farm, one of the vendors who will be at the farmers’ market. “We never know about April or May weather and sometimes June and July it rains every Thursday, but you can’t control the weather.” Throughout the year, Smith says that vendors will show up in small numbers and continue to increase as the years go on. “We have a good number of vendors, we’ll start out with four or five and then add on vendors according to when their produce or whatever they are selling gets ready,” she said. “The more vendors we have, the more of a crowd we will draw.” By Nathan Ham

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Banner Elk TDA Creates Video to Remind Everyone About the Beauty and Fun in Banner Elk


April 29, 2020 Tourism has taken so many huge hits for areas all across the country during this COVID-19 pandemic. Banner Elk is just one of many quaint mountain towns that are feeling the pain of having basically no tourism visits for the last two months. The Banner Elk Tourism Development Authority, along with the great artistic talents of local photographer Todd Bush, put together a video featuring still images and video clips of the many things that make Banner Elk such a popular spot to visit. “The idea came about right after the short-term rental ban went into effect. Craig (Distl) and I were talking about how to keep Banner Elk fresh on people’s minds so when they can travel, they will come here and have happy memories of it,” said Nancy Owen, the director for the Banner Elk TDA. Craig Distl handles public relations for Banner Elk tourism. He and Nancy decided to reach out to Todd Bush to see if he would be interested in helping create this video. By Nathan Ham

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Banner Elk Chamber of Commerce Donates Funds Collected at Inaugural Polar Plunge


December 26, 2019. Banner Elk Chamber President Jo-Ann McMurray announced the donation of funds collected at inaugural Polar Plunge to Banner Elk Fire Chief Tyler Burr. Pictured here, left to right: Megan Lewis, Joseph Silver, Tyler Burr, Jo-Ann McMurray, Carol Seitz and JC Steinbaugh. The Banner Elk Chamber of Commerce is located on 100 Main Street at the streetlight in downtown Banner Elk and is open Monday through Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. (Summer) and 11:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. (Winter).

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Lees-McRae College Signs Guaranteed Admission Agreement with Blue Ridge Community College


September 6, 2019. Lees-McRae College in partnership with Blue Ridge Community College (BRCC) will now offer guaranteed acceptance to all BRCC graduates as part of a recently signed articulation agreement between the two institutions. Called the Promise Program, the articulation agreement will enable eligible students from BRCC’s campus to complete their four-year degree at Lees-McRae. President Lee King and Laura B. Leatherwood, president of BRCC, signed the agreement on the campus of Lees-McRae on Thursday, Sept. 5 in the Dotti M. Shelton Learning Commons. Lees-McRae Vice President for Enrollment Management Erin Healey said, “Opportunity happens when people put their minds together to create positive change. We are working to remove barriers and are dedicated to making education accessible to our communities.”

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Lees-McRae College is Named a College of Distinction Earning the National Designation for the Third Year in a Row

August 7, 2019. Joining alongside 13 of North Carolina’s top institutions—including Appalachian State University, University of North Carolina Wilmington, and Western Carolina University in the public sector, and private institutions including Elon University and Wake Forest University—Lees-McRae is named a College of Distinction. Additionally, the business, education, and nursing programs were recognized for extraordinary professional programming. Colleges of Distinction, an online resource for students researching both private and public institutions across the U.S., reviews and compiles lists of colleges they believe to be the “best places to learn, grow, and succeed,” according to the website. 

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Lees-McRae College Community Members Gather to Unveil Renamed Frankie Ramsey Needham Alumni House


July 17, 2019. In the midafternoon on Friday, July 12, campus community members and alumni visiting for the Frolic weekend gathered to celebrate the legacy of Frankie Ramsey Needham ’55H and unveil the formerly-named Alumni House as the Frankie Ramsey Needham Alumni House in her honor. Having retired just a few weeks prior, Needham’s tenure of 47 years marked the longest-ever service in the history of the institution. After graduating from Avery County High School in 1972, Needham began at Lees-McRae under the guidance of then-president Dr. H.C. Evans Jr. as a secretary within the alumni affairs office. Working her way up the ranks since her start, Needham retired as the Director of Advancement Services. Both Lees-McRae President Lee King and Chairman of the Board of Trustees W. McNair Tornow shared their thoughts on Needham’s retirement and wished her the best.

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