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Blowing Rock Chamber Hosts Annual Awards Ceremony; 27 Local Businesses, Individuals Nominated for Awards

Feb. 11, 2013. The Annual Awards Ceremony and Luncheon sponsored by the Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce will be held at noon on Feb. 12 at the Meadowbrook Inn. In total, 27 local businesses and individuals have been nominated for eight different awards. The following are all those who have been nominated for awards this year.

New Construction Award is given in recognition of the outstanding new building of a business space completed in 2012.


In 2011, Subway owners Rick and Kristin Sokolnicki lost their Subway location due to the construction of the new highway. And Blowing Rock missed them! But they hung on to their franchise while working elsewhere to make ends meet, all the while looking for a new locale. They persevered and finally found a new location – a rundown warehouse of sorts. They converted (really, they built from scratch) a beautiful new Subway with a lovely view of the area thus providing residents and workers an inexpensive, fast food option that Blowing Rock doesn’t otherwise have.

Marriott Courtyard

The new state-of-the-art lobby at Courtyard provides greater flexibility and choices for visitors. At the center of the hotel is The Bistro, offering a variety of breakfast and dinner options, an evening bar, and specialty beverages made with Starbucks® coffee. Plus, there are inviting, flexible spaces to work or relax, free Wi-Fi throughout and easy access to the latest news, weather and airport conditions via their GoBoard technology. There is also a well-equipped fitness center, indoor pool and whirlpool. The addition of this gorgeous hotel in the area definitely upgraded the hotel choices for Boone.

Reich College of Education – Appalachian State University

This new 124,547 square-foot, five-story and $35 million building includes 121 faculty offices, 17 classrooms, 12 conference and seminar rooms, administrative suites, a design lab, computer teaching lab, student computer labs, media production lab, a counseling training clinic and a reading clinic with tutoring and diagnostic rooms. The building is targeted to achieve a LEED designation. The building’s sustainable features include solar hot water heating, a vegetated “green” roof and other enhanced energy and water efficiency items. Other features are a 24-foot diameter mural by artist Brenda Councill and a gathering hall named in honor of former educators Bryce and Izoria Gordon located on the building’s first floor. With a seating capacity up to 300, the hall provides meeting space for receptions, conferences, workshops and catered events, and can be configured into three smaller classroom areas. A permanent display of Eric Carle’s work, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, is being installed on the 3rd and 4th floors, courtesy of the artist. Departments or centers within the college are the Math and Science Education Center, Department of Curriculum and Instruction, Department of Family and Consumer Sciences, Department of Human Development and Psychological Counseling, Department of Leadership and Educational Studies, and the Department of Reading Education and Special Education. The college also provides support to various partnerships and projects. The college employs approximately 120 faculty, 30 staff and administrators and serves about 2,600 students each year in its bachelor’s, master’s, education specialists and educational doctorate degree programs.

Camp Sky Ranch & Sky Valley Zip Tours

Camp Sky Ranch was founded in the 1940’s by Jack B. Sharp and ran for over 60 years, serving disabled children and adults. In 2011, Jack & Lori Sharp re-opened the property in an effort to preserve the heritage, vision and architecture of the original camp. They added Sky Valley Zip Tours to offer a one-of-a-kind zipline experience and Camp Sky Ranch Events now hosts one-of-a-kind weddings and events on the gorgeous 140-acre property. Conveniently located between Boone and Blowing Rock, Camp Sky Ranch has the rustic and magical feel of a mountain oasis, only a short drive from town. 

Commercial Renovation is given in recognition of the outstanding renovation of a business space completed in 2012.

Timberlake’s Restaurant

After a kitchen fire put Manor House restaurant out of commission in August 2011, Chetola decided to turn bad luck into something great and completely renovated the restaurant. The brand-new restaurant features a spectacular redesign offering waterfront dining on Chetola Lake. On Saturday, July 28, 2012, Chetola officially opened Timberlake’s Restaurant, featuring a menu inspired by North Carolina artist and designer Bob Timberlake’s culinary favorites.

During the reconstruction process, the kitchen was moved into the old Garden Room and the main dining room was expanded. Workers found a brick fireplace that dates to the turn of the century behind a wall in the old kitchen and it now has a mantle made from one of the mid-19th century timbers from the foundation of the Manor House. Now, Timberlake’s Restaurant is one of the most elegant restaurants in the High Country.

Samaritan’s Purse

Samaritan’s Purse purchased the Hayes Performing Arts Center after their stage went dark at the end of the 2009 summer season, and have since created a vibrant facility out of what would have been an empty ghost of a building on the Blowing Rock landscape. The building has been revitalized as a training facility, conference center and meeting space to support the Samaritan’s Purse relief and evangelism ministries around the world.

Award for Cultural Enrichment is given to the member business or organization that has made a significant cultural contribution to our community for the year 2012. This includes installation, development or production of visual or performing arts, a literary or written contribution, or for the development or preservation of an artifact, place, event, cuisine, garden, or way of life of historical or social importance to Blowing Rock.

Artist in Residence
In order to further enrich the area artistically, the Blowing Rock Historical Society created the Artist in Residence series. Local  painters, potters, mixed media artists, fiber artists and photographers display an incredible variety of High Country artistic talent at Edgewood Cottage in downtown Blowing Rock. Now in its fourth season, each artist or artist group selected features their work for a week and is available to discuss their work. 

50 Years of Art in Park

Back in the 1960’s, World War II Paratrooper and local businessman, Robert Snyder mentioned to Edith Carter, an art teacher at Caldwell and Wilkes County high schools, that there needed to be “something special” added to the town of Blowing Rock to bring in more tourists and activity. This was the seed of idea that Edith later grew into what she dubbed “Art in the Park”, one of the very first juried outdoor art shows designed to showcase local talent. The entry fee was a whopping $1.00 and the original artists from Lenoir and Wilkesboro set up in Memorial Park. The event is now host to 90 artisans at each monthly, May-through-October show, where some of the region’s best display and sell their handcrafted jewelry, pottery, fiber, glass, photography, painting and more. Art in the Park has an estimated $2.5 million annual impact on Blowing Rock and brings in an estimated 35,000 people throughout the season.

Watauga Education Foundation

As a non-profit, WEF supports educators who foster a love of learning and sponsor community oriented events that sustain student’s wonder, enthusiasm and perseverance. Their vision is to improve and enhance the success of every student in the Watauga School System, and their mission to enrich student learning for all Watauga County public school students by effectively promoting innovative educational experiences for children that inspire every student to achieve his or her highest potential. Their premier event, Shooting Stars is a fundraiser for the foundation. Each year hundreds of students from all nine Watauga County schools audition for a chance to be in the talent show. The show includes visual art and performing arts including dance, vocals, instrumentals, comedy and much more. This event brings students, their families, their teachers and their community of supporters and sponsors all together under one roof to celebrate the arts and some very talented kids.


The Blowing Rock Art and History Museum is a non-profit organization organized in 1999 in response to a generous offer of Elliott Daingerfield artwork. The museum opened to the public in October 2011. With six galleries totaling 4,500 square feet and more than 400 linear feet of hanging space, the Museum displays rotating exhibits along with selections from its permanent collection. It hosts the Third Thursday Speaker Series and an annual Art and Antiques Show. Educational programming and art and history classes are offered for all ages in a 1,500-square-foot Education Center. Mini-camps are sponsored for days that Watauga County schools are closed for teacher workdays and some holidays and summer camps and snow day camps are also available. Through its many exhibits, programs, workshops and classes offered throughout the year for both adults and children, BRAHM promotes visual arts and history and ultimately celebrates the rich heritage of the mountains.

Award for Service to Community is given to the member business or organization which makes positive contributions to the Blowing Rock Community through volunteerism, philanthropy, or community service. Nominees will have made a measurable impact toward the improvement of an issue of importance to the Blowing Rock Community.


We all know there is a strong sense of community in our “prettiest town” of Blowing Rock. But no one exemplifies the compassion and readiness to offer a helping hand for their fellow Blowing Rock neighbor more than Woodland’s BBQ. If you live in our small town, you know Woodland’s is going to hold a fundraiser when there is a need. Just this past year alone, Woodland’s held several such events where they donated the profits of their food sales in one night to worthy causes. There was the benefit for Blowing Rock native, Randy Ruppert, who had faced many surgeries, and was in the intensive care unit of Baptist Hospital. Ruppert, the owner and operator of Ruppert’s Plumbing, had his business in the area for over 50 years. During the busy holiday season, Woodland’s helped prepare Thanksgiving Dinner for the Hospitality House in Watauga County by preparing all of the turkeys and hams. Woodland’s was one of the area restaurants that participated in the seventh annual Celebrity Serve, in which local ‘celebrities’ worked a shift at area restaurants, serving food, fun and funds to benefit the Watauga Rescue Squad.

Blowing Rock C.A.R.E.S.

Blowing Rock C.A.R.E.S.’ mission is to help families in the greater Blowing Rock, North Carolina area that are in need with food, non-perishable items and clothing. Families do not have to go through a qualification process for help. They have worked diligently to raise money for families suffering through the illness of a child. They were also instrumental in creating the Adopt-A-Child program here in Blowing Rock for kids at Christmas.

Blowing Rock Methodist Church

The Methodist Church gave an unprecedented $72,000 back to community in 2012, including 12 charities. These charities included the Salvation Army, the Hunger Coalition, multiple schools and programs, Hospitality House, Watauga Hospice, Habitat for Humanity, Red Cross, Crossnore School, Tutoring Program for Blowing Rock Elementary, Wesley Foundation at ASU, Power of the Purse, OASIS and Grandfather Homes to name a few. From 2005-2012, Blowing Rock Methodist Church has donated $236,000 to local charities.

Jerry Burns Ambassadorial Award celebrates the enthusiasm of Blowing Rock’s most ardent supporter. This award will be presented to an individual who exemplifies the ambassadorial spirit of the late Jerry Burns.

Betsy Collins

Betsy is an ardent supporter of Blowing Rock having not only served on the Chamber’s Board of Directors for 5 years and chaired the Membership Committee But she raised $20,000 for Wine Festival and brought  Auto Trader as a sponsor. She also obtained Hendrick Automotive as a sponsor and recruited Patra Wansley to open a second business location in Southmarke, The Gilded Lily By Patra. In addition, she frequents many of area restaurants all the while “talking up” Blowing Rock and its businesses. 

Ginny Stevens

As founder and past President of the Historical Society, Ginny constantly promotes Blowing Rock in the county, in the region and statewide. She served as emcee for Blowing Rock’s 123rd birthday where she presided over the awards for historic significance to four buildings in the town. She has been instrumental in gathering photos, postcards and research for the Historical Society and area projects and to preserve the rich heritage of Blowing Rock. She was the powerful force behind restoring Edgewood Cottage into a museum and community center. Her latest project is the little white Blowing Rock History Museum next to the park. She is indeed the epitome of an ambassador for her “little town” of Blowing Rock.

Tarbutton Brothers / Greg & Kent

Kent and Greg Tarbutton have given back to the community in a big way this past year.  Their outstanding contributions have not only helped those in financial need but also helped to promote tourism, safety, and education throughout the High Country. Last summer, Greg and Kent organized a silent auction to benefit the family of William Mast Jr., a local deputy killed in the line of duty.  They worked tirelessly in asking local businesses to donate gift certificates offering goods and services.  The Blowing Rock Fire Department hosted the auction which made $24,000 for Mast’s widow and son who was born last August. There were many other community projects and organizations they supported this past year including: Hospitality House, Appalachian Women’s Fund, Crossnore School, Wine to Water, Local Cancer Causes, Middle Fork Greenway Association, BRAHM, Community Club of Blowing Rock, the Rotary Foundation, An Appalachian Summer, Samaritan’s Purse, High Country United Way, Appalachian Regional Healthcare and Watauga County Schools. Substantial support and contributions have also been made to several organizations that continue to support our area through tourism, publicity, activities and services.  Some of these include the Oasis Shriners, The North Carolina Sheriff’s Association, UNC-TV, The Nature Conservancy and The Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation. 

Business of the Year excels in areas of community involvement, business promotion, and teamwork. The Business of the Year will reflect the best of Blowing Rock, demonstrating high ethical standards and community spirit in accordance with the mission of the Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce

Sunset Tee’s and Hattery

When you think of Blowing Rock, there are only a few businesses that characterize the area that always come to mind. One of those businesses is Sunset Tee’s. They opened their doors in 1982 and really haven’t shut them since. When the night calls for a stroll down Main Street after dinner, you know with certainty that Sunset Tee’s will be open. They sell treasures that make visitors and locals smile from old-fashioned candy to coonskin hats. When autumn arrives, heirloom apples are offered for sale; when snow falls, there are sleds for the kids and snow shovels for the adults. If it’s raining, umbrellas are there waiting to be purchased. On top of that, there is their service to community – they formed the merchant’s association and they can always be counted on to provide a door prize for an event, support the Chamber or just lend a helping hand. They are perfect representatives of Blowing Rock.

Blue Ridge Mountain Club

Active would be an apt word to describe BRMC. They are actively involved in their community. They buy multiple tickets, they volunteer and participate in every Chamber event. This past year, they provided a $13,000 event sponsorship and allowed the Chamber to utilize their space for the Music Moves Mountain event. They cleared land, graded, planted grass and spent a great deal of money and time to create the space for the venue and the parking space.


Kilwin’s is another business that comes to mind when Blowing Rock is mentioned. Really, can you imagine the town if the majority of the population didn’t have ice cream cones in their hands as they browsed the stores and sat in the park? In addition to adding that special feeling of “hometown”, Kilwin’s gives back to the community, to schools and to non-profits. Kilwin’s encourages volunteerism and is always there to help the Chamber with a gift basket. They are very customer service oriented and a great provider of first-time jobs for students.

Volunteer of The Year

Ray Pickett
Ray has put in countless hours helping with events. He is a tireless participant on several committees including Winterfest, Wine Festival and Economic Development. He provides miscellaneous handy man work from trimming/planning door facings to checking electrical and plumbing needs for the Chamber’s office.  He does it for free. He has saved the Chamber thousands of dollars in repairs and rebuilds. He is definitely our “go-to” guy. 

Genie Starnes

Genie volunteers for every event – and then some! She serves on the Membership Committee and the Chamber’s board. She is a strong supporter of our partners – she actually comes in the Chamber office and rearranges the logos on the partners’ board to ensure that each one gets equal billing. She is part of the Ambassador’s program and regularly visits member businesses to see what they need. 

Lynn Hill

Lynn has been a fantastic supporter for Art in the Park. She served on the committee to organize the 50th year celebration in 2012 – and then did a fabulous job creating the art exhibit “Art Through the Years” in the American Legion for the September show. She has helped on the advisory board for Art in the Park. Her business Blowing Rock Homes and Land even sponsored an award to be given at each Art in the Park for “Best in Show”.

Customer Service Star of the Year

Jenn Phillips Carson of Timberlake’s Restaurant

Having been employed at Chetola for 5 years as a lead server in the restaurant, Jenn exceeds expectations on a daily basis. She is friendly, kind, honest, hard-working and loyal. She is an excellent trainer for new staff and welcomes all to our resort. Her loving and kind nature is appreciated by all guests and employers. If you visit Chetola, expect a warm welcome from her heart.

Mayra Lozano of The Last Straw

Mayra Lozano not only promotes The Last Straw to customers but is a huge advocate for the town of Blowing Rock. She goes out of her way to give special treatment to shoppers and makes sure that they know about any events or happenings in the area. Customers look forward to seeing her. Roger and Julie Robertson, owners of the Last Straw have this to say – “We love Mayra’s spunk, attitude and willingness to promote our business and product lines as well as the town of Blowing Rock. She is a kind soul that brings new meaning to customer service and is an asset to our business. We love her!”

Dana Addison of Airhaven Limo

Air Haven opened in 2000 and now boasts seven vehicles, one style of everything. The flagship of the Air Haven Limousine fleet is a 32-passenger trolley, which is a replica of an early 1900s trolley from San Francisco, CA. and outfitted with three air-conditioning and three heating units, removable walls and an additional braking system. Every Art in the Park weekend finds Dana transporting visitors around town in his trolley – he makes the trip extra special buy telling stories about the town and adding bits of history here and there. One such Saturday, he stopped his trolley at an unofficial pick-up site on one end of Main Street to give a lift to an elderly visitor to the opposite end of the street because he appeared to be having trouble walking. 

Lindsey Tester of United Community Bank

Nominated by J.B. Lawrence, City President, and Bob Moore, Regional Manager, they each have basically the same thing to say about Lindsey. “Lindsey is one of the most customer service oriented associates that we have ever worked with. She is pleasant with our customers, responds to their needs immediately and never lets their request for help or other inquiries ‘lie around’. She is loved by our customers and has been serving in a dual role for over 2 months without the first hint of being overwhelmed or dissatisfied. What makes her happy is keeping her customers happy. Blowing Rock would be an even greater place to live and shop if every business had a Lindsey. However, there is only one and United Community Bank is blessed to have her!”

Justus Hudgins of Outback Steakhouse

Justus Hudgins won the Customer Service Award in December for performing the Heimlich Maneuver on Patrick Williamson, son of Cathy Williamson, when he was choking. Wow! That is great customer service!

As of Feb. 10, tickets to the event were sold out. The winners will be announced tomorrow on the High Country Press website (HCPress.com). 

For more information, please contact Terri Bailey at The Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce, (828) 295-7851.