Story and Photos by Jessica Isaacs | [email protected]
Snow fell quietly around the Meadowbrook Inn on Tuesday as friends and colleagues celebrated the annual awards luncheon hosted by the Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce.
It may have been cold outside, but warm welcomes abounded as entrepreneurs and local leaders convened to recognize the hardworking folks behind some of 2015’s most active projects and campaigns.
Piedmont Federal Savings Bank served as the event’s presenting sponsor.
“Piedmont has been in this area of Blowing Rock for over 40 years. We were here back before it was a very popular place to be, and we’re committed to the area,” said Piedmont Federal President and CEO Ric Wagner. “It’s a great group of people and a lot of great businesses. To support the chamber makes sense.”
A team of regional leaders from Piedmont Federal joined the festivities in support of the chamber, its members and this year’s award-winners.
“I just love the entrepreneurial spirit and I think it’s great when these businesses are recognized for working so hard in the community,” said Piedmont Federal’s Ginger Salt. “It’s important to be a role model, and I think it helps other businesses to hear the positive message.”
Blowing Rock Chamber Awards
Chamber Executive Director Charles Hardin welcomed the crowd early in the day and was followed by a message from Wagner and an invocation from Mayor J.B. Lawrence.
Friends old and new caught up over a meal prepared by Chef Jay Nolan as Renaissance II Productions’ Blake Pace provided entertainment from the piano.
Chamber President for 2016 Melissa Pickett delivered an encouraging message, inspiring the group to look forward to continued growth through kindness and care.
The words “Pay It Forward,” which she has chosen as her overarching message for the upcoming year, were displayed on the screen behind her.
Tracy Brown then took to the podium and served as emcee for this year’s awards ceremony, which honored several local businesses and the men and women behind them for outstanding service in 2015.
“You always want to acknowledge excellence and people that go and achieve above and beyond,” Wagner said. “I think it’s really important, and it gives those of us who are trying to strive for those goals an opportunity to shoot for them.”
Among the award-winners were Bill and Jewel Magee and their daughter, Caroline, owners and operators of The Dulcimer Shop, which has been sharing the rich tradition of the instrument with folks visiting the High Country for many years.
“Bill’s mom and dad started the shop in ’71 and Bill and I have been involved in it for a long time. We were schoolteachers and we would come up in the summers,” Jewel said. “When we retired from teaching, we moved here and took it over. We have really loved it and we meet the nicest people from all over the world.”
The Magees are in the process of closing the store after 45 years of business in order to spend more time with their grandchildren. While closing the shop has been bittersweet, they are grateful for the time they were able to put into it and they were excited to know the chamber has recognized its legacy.
“It’s sort of like mission work, in some ways, in terms of getting the word out about that little instrument. Watauga County is very rich in dulcimer tradition and there have been some very well-known makers since the early late 1800s, mostly mountain dulcimers but some hammered dulcimers, too,” Jewel said. “A lot of people have come through the shop and learned how to play the dulcimer. It’s just a really wonderful gift to have the opportunity to meet these folks and share the instrument and its history.”
For more information on the chamber, visit blowingrockncchamber.com.
Check out this year’s Blowing Rock Chamber award winners below, followed by additional photos from the luncheon.
American Legion Hall
Commercial Renovation Award
Presented by 4 Forty Four, Inc.
Other nominees for this award, which recognizes an outstanding commercial renovation completed in 2015, included Rustique and Sunny Rock/Foggy Rock.
High Gravity Adventures
Commercial Construction Award
Presented by United Community Bank
Other nominees for this award, which recognizes outstanding new buildings completed in 2015, included the Blowing Rock School Playground and the Memorial Park Rotary Gazebo.
Blowing Rock Art and History Museum
Cultural Enrichment Award
Presented by Renaissance II Productions
This award recognizes the business or organization that has made a significant cultural contribution in the year 2015. Other nominees included the Blowing Rock Charity Horse Show and Ensemble Stage.
Rotary Club of Blowing Rock
Service to the Community Award
Presented by Blue Ridge Mountain Club
This award recognizes businesses or organizations that make a positive contribution to the Blowing Rock community through volunteerism, philanthropy and community service. Other nominees for this award included 4 Forty Four, Appalachian Ski Mountain and VPC Builders.
Winter Wonderland Lighting Award
Presented by Blue Ridge Electric Membership Corp.
Other nominees for this award included Samaritan’s Purse and the Inn at Ragged Gardens.
Jerry Burns Ambassadorial Award
Presented by First Citizens Bank
This award celebrates the enthusiasm of the community’s most ardent supporter and is presented to someone who gives selflessly and exemplifies the spirit of the late Jerry Burns. Other nominees for this award included David Rogers and Wayne Underwood.
Robbins also received an award for serving on the chamber’s board for more than seven years.
The Dulcimer Shop
Lifetime Achievement Award
Presented by Monkee’s of Blowing Rock
2015 Volunteer of the Year
2015 Business of the Year
More photos from the Feb. 9 awards luncheon at Meadowbrook Inn.
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