July 26, 2021. Many people gathered in Blowing Rock on Friday to attend the highly-anticipated event of the summer, the 34th annual Symphony by the Lake at Chetola Resort. The return of the beloved event after last year’s symphony was canceled brought forth lots of smiling faces to be seen as friends had the opportunity to reunite with each other. This year’s theme was Music from around the World, and uplifting music filled the atmosphere. With beautiful weather as well, it was hard to ask for a better day for the musical symphony. Longtime photographer Lonnie Webster captured some great photos of the event that he was willing to share with the High Country Press.
May 12, 2021 As Watauga County and the High Country continue to grieve in the wake of the events of April 28, the community has been displaying blue ribbons and shining blue lights in observance of Sgt. Chris Ward and K-9 Deputy Logan Fox. Here are a couple photos from Tuesday night showing the welcome to Boone sign and the Watauga County Administration Building.
February 15, 2021 Photo contributor Tara Diamond shared this photo of heart shaped rocks she has been collecting from the California coast for the past several years. For Valentine’s Day she arranged them for a photo to share with her friends – and now with our readers.
November 3, 2020 President Donald Trump stopped in Hickory to speak at a ‘Make America Great Again’ campaign event on Sunday, Nov. 1, which will be one of his last election rallies during his presidency. Trump Campaign officials made the announcement of the rally just a day before it took place. This event followed Vice President Mike Pence’s visit to Boone to attend a Sunday worship service at Alliance Bible Fellowship on the same day. By Harley Nefe
October 23, 2020 While there are some colors still hanging around in areas of the High Country, the place to be in the next week are areas with an elevation at 3,000 feet and below, according to the latest update from Dr. Howard S. Neufeld, Appalachian State’s own Fall Leaf Guy. “I think you will have one more good week and the next weekend to see good colors in the High Country. After that, you’ll have to focus on sites located at lower elevations, like Stone Mt. State Park, Chimney Rock State Park, Hanging Rock State Park, and Gorges State Park. The Smokies should also be good this week and next, as will be places north on the Parkway up into Virginia,” said Dr. Neufeld. “Once you get above 3,500 feet though, the colors quickly drop out and by 4,000 feet, most of the leaves are gone or barely hanging on.” Some leaves have been able to hang on to their color a little longer than usual due to the unseasonably warm temperatures this week according to Neufeld. By Nathan Ham
October 23, 2020 Ski season is just around the corner and the Alpine Ski Shop is ready for customers with the 23rd year of its annual preseason sale. The sale began last Friday and will continue through Sunday, October 25. “The response from our customers has been extremely positive and there has been lots of excitement about getting on the slopes this winter! We have made numerous changes this year to be COVID compliant to make things safe for our staff and customers for our preseason sale,” said Brenda Speckmann, who operates the ski shop. Each year, the Preseason Sale and Swap at the Alpine Ski Shop is located in the downstairs lobby at the base lodge. The sale offers customers some great deals on clothing, ski and snowboard equipment, and accessories. By Nathan Ham
October 19, 2020 In a winner-take-all virtual woolly worm race Saturday afternoon, it appears that we could be in for a cold and snowy start to the 2020-21 winter season. The two leading sponsors for the annual Woolly Worm Festival, the Avery County Chamber of Commerce and the Kiwanis Club of Banner Elk, each had one worm competing for the top spot, the Chamber Charger and the Kiwanis Kicker. Even with the annual festival being canceled because of COVID-19, the race had to go on. “We use this festival not only to raise money for the Kiwanis Club and Avery Chamber, but the winning worm is used to predict the winter weather,” said Adam Binder, who handled the play-by-play call for the race. “One of the most important things and one of the biggest reasons why it was so difficult to cancel this festival is that we raise about $125,000 and that goes back into the community. Half of that money is used by the Kiwanis Club and we give Woolly Worm grants and the Avery County Chamber of Commerce uses the funds to promote tourism in our area so losing a festival for a small county and a small town like this is very serious. Obviously, there was no question with what is going on, having that many people together was not the right thing to do.” By Nathan Ham
October 14, 2020 A new business startup created by an Appalachian State alumnus hopes to boost technology careers and help start businesses right here in the High Country. Robert Huddleston, a member of Appalachian State’s graduating class of 2000, moved back to Boone about two and a half years ago and brought along with him his own IT consulting company, Avoda Group, from Raleigh. “We moved it here because we wanted to see if we could chase App State students and bring them on board, train them up in Cloud Technology and get them in our consulting group,” Huddleston explained. Not long after this came the idea of Boone Underground, a 4,000-square-foot facility on State Farm Road with modern technological upgrades to offer clients meeting spaces, high-speed internet, private desks, and numerous valuable resources to develop business plans and ideas. By Nathan Ham
August 28, 2020 The App State football team led a peaceful protest against racial injustice through downtown Boone and the college campus on Friday evening that began around 5:30 p.m. Members of the team carried a sign at the front of the group that read, “End injustice together.” This is the same message the App State Football Facebook account posted on its page Thursday. The App State football team also posted a video on its Instagram page where App State defensive lineman Elijah Diarrassouba said, “And if we’re going to do it, we got to do it together, and I’m not just speaking about Black athletes, I’m speaking on behalf of the Black community because we are struggling right now.” By Harley Nefe
August 28, 2020 Beech Mountain’s recreation center has a new name honoring two of the town’s most avid supporters. The Buckeye Recreation Center is now known as the Fred and Marjorie Pfohl Buckeye Recreation Center after a surprise event honoring Fred and the memory of his late wife Margie. “It was a great surprise. There are a lot of other people that deserve similar and there are a lot of other people that got me to the point I got to. I’ll accept the honor for all of the folks that have helped make Beech Mountain what it is,” said Fred. “I’ve enjoyed the Buckeye Rec Center, I was around when it was built and I helped initially with a lot of different things. Fred remembers back to when the recreation center was completed, the parking lot doubled as a basketball court and they started adding landscaping and planting to make the area stand out even more. By Nathan Ham
August 28, 2020 A newly-paved scenic drive will connect people in Beech Mountain to neighboring Tennessee much quicker and easier than in years past after Thursday’s special ribbon cutting celebrating the paving of Buckeye Creek Road. The 2.7-mile road has 40 curves and takes drivers across the back of Beech Mountain into Tennessee near Watauga Lake. This project has been discussed multiple times in years past, but finally happened this summer. “At one time the DOT wanted to extend N.C. 184 through here and they said they’d pave it, but there were people that didn’t think that was best at the time,” said longtime Beech Mountain resident and business owner, Fred Pfohl. “Now it’s all done and it’s wonderful. We’ve got the town council and especially Bob Pudney (town manager) to thank for all of this. This road got paved in such a short period of time it was amazing.” By Nathan Ham
August 12, 2020 The Gamekeeper Restaurant will officially reopen on Wednesday night with a new deck, additional outdoor seating, and a beautiful new rock retaining wall to add to the rugged look that so many customers have become accustomed to over the year. Owners Ken and Wendy Gordon are excited to reopen and see their favorite customers and hopefully some new guests that want to venture out and try the unique food offerings at The Gamekeeper. “All the wonderful things we have wanted to do for 20 years, we finally did them,” Ken said. “It never seemed to be the right month and when it was the right month, it was always wet and rainy.” The downtime from the COVID-19 pandemic allowed crews to come in and be able to work through the spring and early summer to get the new looks completed. Nathan Ham
August 10, 2020 It took a little longer than expected, but the transition from the Louisiana Purchase to LP on Main in Banner Elk is finally complete for Laurie and Patrick Bagbey. LP on Main combines the storied history of the Louisiana Purchase restaurant and the Bagbey’s initials to create a new dining spot in the High Country. “It’s a spin on who we are and who we have grown to be and who we used to be,” said Laurie. “We have been a fixture in the Banner Elk community for three decades, going on four.” The Bagbeys previously owned Louisiana Purchase for 14 years and made the decision to close the location at the end of 2019 to focus on opening their new spot. LP on Main is located at 171 Main Street East in Banner Elk, which is about a block away from the old Louisiana Purchase location. By Nathan Ham
June 8, 2020 Once the crowd reached the Watauga County Courthouse, Raheim Andrews, a University of North Carolina at Charlotte student who organized the protest, led chants and spoke out to the group along with his family members and other individuals from the Boone community. Andy Le Beau, interim police chief of Boone Police Department spoke to the crowd and said, “It’s quite an honor to be asked to speak at a Black Lives Matter rally. It’s not only our duty, but our honor to facilitate all of you being able to express your First Amendment rights.” In addition to Le Beau, Reggie Hunt, pastor at Cornerstone Summit Church, and Toussaint Romain, deputy general counsel at Appalachian State University and civil rights activist also had their turns speaking to everyone. See the speakers of the event and the crowd’s reactions in the photos below. Photos by Ken Ketchie
June 8, 2020 Around 1,000 individuals including Boone residents, students, visitors, families and friends met June 7 around 5 p.m. by the library circle on Appalachian State University’s campus on College Street for the start of a Black Lives Matter movement protest for injustice and inequality. Nearly all individuals were wearing masks as a precaution to COVID-19 concerns. In addition, many protestors were carrying signs that displayed phrases that speak up to systemic racism and oppression. Phrases such as, “My black children matter,” “Stop killing us” and “White silence equals white violence” along with many others could be seen throughout the crowd. See more individuals and the messages they raised in the photos below. Photos by Ken Ketchie
June 8, 2020 The demonstration walk began on Appalachian State University’s campus at the library circle located on College Street. Then the crowd of hundreds of people made its way along the sidewalks of King Street going toward the Watauga County Courthouse. Along the path, the protestors were shouting chants, such as “Black Lives Matter, “Say his name … George Floyd” and “Say her name … Breonna Taylor.” The protestors marched across King Street at the intersection with Depot Street, and then law enforcement blocked off King Street from the point of Water Street to the Poplar Grove Connector for traffic in order for the crowd to gather in front of the courthouse. The amount of people present kept growing at the event. See the group’s journey marching along King Street in the photos below. Photos by Ken Ketchie
May 29, 2020 High Country visitors and residents have another way to experience the Blue Ridge Mountains with the Wilderness Run Alpine Coaster. Located at 3265 Tynecastle Highway near the Sugar Mountain Resort in Banner Elk, the coaster opened May 9 under Gov. Roy Cooper’s phase one reopening. The anticipated opening of the Wilderness Run Alpine Coaster was originally scheduled for early January, but was pushed back. By Harley Nefe
May 12, 2020 A note to readers who took time to send a donation our way.
May 5, 2020 Check out 15 years of High Country Magazine covers here and see how many you can remember . . .
Dec. 16, 2018. Mr Frenchy French spent his Saturday afternoon with his family making incredible rock sculptures at Moon Beam Beach. He searches for rocks along the beach that he balances with other rocks to create awesome looking art. The process is known as Rocky Road Balance Art and is quite popular back in France where Mr. French is from. Mr. French said, “There are four incredible rock balancers in the world and I hope one day to be the fifth.” For the most part the art is just a temporary thing as the wind and ocean waves will eventually knock down the balanced rocks. But not to worry Mr. French comes down to the beach most Saturdays to re-create his magic with balancing rocks. Photos by Tara Diamond
May 16, 2018. Starting soon, the Rock Dimensions Climbing and Outdoor Adventure Camp will be returning to the High Country, providing kids of all ages with the opportunity to climb, explore, learn and build a community with one another through the week-long sessions. By Katie Benfield – Photo Courtesy of Rock Dimensions
Mar. 5, 2018. On February 27, 2018 around 5:42 AM I was set up to photograph the Milky Way looking Southeast and noticed a bright satellite I believed to be the International Space Station (and later verified) coming through from south to north across the south eastern sky. As ISS was close to Jupiter (right side mid-photo), just out from the frame a bright falling star left a bit of a green and hint of red trail across a portion of the sky just west of the same region.
Feb. 26, 2018. Skiers dressed as their favorite 1980’s wrestlers, television show characters and movie characters brought the party to life at Beech Mountain over the weekend for the annual 80’s Retro Ski Weekend. A group of ladies dressed as the iconic Golden Girls took home the $500 top prize for the best costume, capping off a crowded final weekend of skiing at Beech Mountain Resort. “We had a really successful turnout, it was definitely the largest crowd we’ve ever had for the event,” said Talia Freeman, Beech Mountain Resort’s marketing director. “Considering we weren’t open for night skiing, I think it was super successful. We were really pleased.” By Nathan Ham
Aug. 29, 2017. The landscape in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina is beautiful all the time but especially striking in the fall. On October 14 and 15 Sugar Mountain Resort hosts the 27th Annual Oktoberfest Celebration from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. each day. Be sure to adorn yourself with traditional southern German attire for the Bavarian costume contest. Local & regional craft and fun food vendors sprawl out their wares on the lawn of the lower portion of the Flying Mile ski slope.
Sep. 13, 2017. The Watauga County Arts Council will be hosting its annual Artfull Palette to invite the community of the High Country to come out and celebrate the arts while also supporting the organization and the educational arts programs it provides to both children and adults alike. The event takes place at the Harvest House this Saturday, Sep. 16, from 6-9 p.m. By Katie Benfield – Photo Courtesy of the Watauga County Arts Council