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20 Years Strong: App State Hosts Another Successful Banff Film Festival Tour Stop

World-class climber Alex Honnold and veteran mountaineer and author David Roberts attend a book signing at the Schaefer Center in conjunction with the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour. Photos by Ken Ketchie

By Jesse Wood

The 20th anniversary of the Boone stop on the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour concluded this past weekend, and it was a doozy.

“It was fun. It was a big weekend. We had a great time, and it was fantastic having our special guests David and Alex. They really added a lot to [the event] and having these two iconic people here really kind of put it over the top,” said Rich Campbell, local festival director and Associate Director of ASU Outdoor Programs.

Beginning as a one-day film festival in I.G. Greer 20 years ago, the Banff event in Boone has turned into a weeklong, community-wide festival that is among the most popular stops on the tour in North America.d

The Appalachian Mountain Photography Competition is held in conjunction with the event. In addition to the two-day public screenings that swiftly sell out each year, special Banff screenings occur for sponsors and contributors and middle-school children. New this year was the local Banff banner competition, whereby the design by the winner (Lynn Willis) flew throughout downtown Boone. Also, organizers usually round up some special guests to venture into the community and to attend the public screenings.

“All of those things combined are really whatd we are trying to move the event to, and especially in big years like the 20th anniversary, where it really feels like a film festival and where you can go over to a small venue like Footsloggers and hear those folks talk about a variety of things, it makes it more of a true festival,” Campbell said.

This year, heralded climber Alex Honnold and veteran mountaineer and adventure author David Roberts attended the festival and held four events open to the general public at the Schaefer Center and at Footsloggers. The two were on hand to promote the 2015 book, Alone on the Wall, which depicts Honnold’s mountaineering prowess.

Honnold has accomplished some legendary feats and is known inside and beyond the climbing community for calmly climbing terribly difficult ascents – sometimes upwards of a half-mile in the air – without a rope.

“To have someone like Alex Honnold say the Boone outdoor community is one of the best he’s ever been to is pretty priceless and incredible,” Campbell said. “It’s something we know and we know we have a pretty cool community here, but when you have someone who literally travels the globe doing these types of events, it really means a lot and says a lot about our community.”

Campbell noted that it takes a dedicated crew of volunteers, staff and sponsors to pull off another successful annual Banff event.

“I am thankful everything went off without a hitch, and I couldn’t thank enough all of our sponsors and everyone who participated in the event for their involvement,” Campbell said. “It was a wild ride.”

Proceeds of the event fund the ASU Outdoor Programs to help fund scholarships for students to embark on their own adventures. The ASU Outdoor Programs’ mission and its connection to the local film festival meshes well with the Banff Centre’s mission to “inspire creativity.” And of course, Boone and Banff are both mountain towns with a population enthusiastic about the outdoors.

Here’s a look at the sponsors of Banff in Boone:
Appalachian State University | Appalachian State University Recreation | Footsloggers | Appalachian State University Recreation Management Program | Center 45 | High Gravity Adventures | Lost Province Brewing Co | Rock Dimensions Inc. | Appalachian Geology | VPC Builders | Bistro Roca | Appalachian Ski Mountain | Gideon Ridge Inn | Peabody’s Wine & Beer | Cobo Sushi Bistro and Bar | Regear Outdoors Co. | The Inn at Crestwood Restaurant and Spa | cricket trailer | Blue Ridge Energy Works, LLC

The Banff Film Festival banner in downtown Boone will be displayed through March 25, and the finalists – roughly 50 images – in the Appalachian Mountain Photography Competition will be one exhibit in the Turchin Center for the Visual Arts through June 4.

Local Scott Haynes talks with special guests David Roberts and Alex Honnold during the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour stop in Boone.


Alex Honnold


Alex Honnold and a fan.