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Aspen Wins the 40th Annual Woolly Worm Festival in Banner Elk, Forecast Looks Like Winter

Joshua Grosser of Apex stands with official forecaster Tommy Burleson. Aspen, the winning worm owned by Grosser, is crawling on a card that Burleson is holding. Photos courtesy Avery County Chamber


Aspen is the winning woolly worm of the 40th anniversary Woolly Worm Festival in Banner Elk. Aspen’s owner, Joshua Grosser of Apex, took home the $1,000 bounty.

As tradition and folklore beckons, official festival forecaster Tommy Burleson predicted the upcoming winter’s forecast based on the color of the 13 body segments of the woolly worm. Each segment represents one week of winter; black segments represent a harsher winter, while brown segments predict a milder winter. According to Burleson, the forecast is as follows:

  • Week one through 3 below average temperatures with snow
  • Week 4 through 9 average temperatures, meaning 27 degree temperatures,
  • Week 10, average temperatures with Fleck light snow,
  • Week 11 average temperatures,
  • Week 12 and 13 below average temperatures with snow.

The festival is co-sponsored by the Kiwanis Club of Banner Elk and the Avery County Chamber of Commerce. All proceeds are given back to the community to enhance local schools, children’s programs, and to promote business and tourism in Avery County.

Grosser stands with his $1,000 in winnings.
Grosser holds Aspen.