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Email Announcements Received Today: See What’s Going On Around The Community

1) Join the Appalachian Trail Conservancy for Family Hiking Day Sept. 27

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) along with its Appalachian Trail (A.T.) Community partners and 31 trail maintaining clubs invite families to take a hike on the A.T. during the fourth annual Family Hiking Day on Saturday, Sept. 287. Held trail-wide on National Public Lands Day, Family Hiking Day is a program developed by the ATC to include and welcome families to the A.T. and all of the benefits that come from spending time outdoors. Families from Maine to Georgia are invited to enjoy the outdoors with volunteer-led hikes or plan an adventure on their own utilizing a list of family friendly hikes in their local area as well as trail-related games and activities. Guided hikes will be led by A.T. club volunteers, partners in A.T. Communities and health organizations like the YMCA near Asheville. RSVPs are required for guided hikes and carpooling is encouraged. For more information about Family Hiking Day including guided hikes, a list of suggested hikes by state and activities and tips visit www.appalachiantrail.org/events.

2) September High Country Trolley Wine Tour Held Sept. 25

The September High Country Trolley Wine Tour will be held on Sept. 25. There are still seats available for the September tour but don’t wait. When the trolley is full you’ve missed your chance. The tour begins at noon at Erick’s Cheese and Wine. Don’t miss this chance to join us on the tour. Tickets include sampling at each winery, lower LA and upper LA tours and a boxed lunch. Hear the facts of Avery County as you travel under the High Country skies. Tickets are on sale now. Participating wineries are Banner Elk Winery and Villa, Erick’s Cheese and Wine, Blind Squirrel Brewery, Plumtree Valley Vineyards, Grandfather Vineyard and Linville Falls Winery. Get your tickets at the Chamber office at 4501 Tynecastle Highway Unit 2 in Banner Elk or call 828-898-5605.

3) Autumn Train Excursions Return to the Most Popular Destinations

The N.C. Transportation Museum Foundation and the Watauga Valley Railroad Historical Society and Museum are again sponsoring Autumn Train Excursions, day trips by rail to two great destinations. This year’s excursions will return to some of the most popular past destinations. The “Virginia Autumn Special” departs for Charlottesville, Va. on Saturday, Nov. 1. The “Georgia Autumn Special” will head to Toccoa, Ga. on Sunday Nov. 2. Providing amazing views of the changing leaves and a rare journey by rail, getting there is truly half the fun. Departing Spencer at 7 a.m., Saturday’s “Virginia Autumn Special” will offer a second passenger pickup at the Greensboro Amtrak Station at 8 a.m., allowing those living in the Triad a more convenient boarding opportunity. Passing through the North Carolina cities of Thomasville, High Point and Reidsville, and the Virginia cities of Danville, Lynchburg and Oak Ridge, passengers will experience beautiful views of the piedmont and rolling hills of North Carolina and the western part of central Virginia offers spectacular views of the fall foliage crossing the Dan River. In Charlottesville, travelers will have nearly three hours to explore the historic downtown area. It is a short walk to the downtown outdoor mall, considered one of the finest urban parks in the country. Unique shopping and dining opportunities can be found in boutiques, specialty wine, coffee and tea shops and outdoor dining spots. Travelers may also enjoy relaxing walks under lush, leafy tree canopies. Departing Charlottesville at 3 p.m., the trail will arrive back in Greensboro at 7 p.m. and in Spencer at 8 p.m. Sunday, the Georgia Autumn Special will also depart from the N.C. Transportation Museum at 7:00 am with additional stop/pickup at the Spartanburg, SC Amtrak station at 9:00 am and will traverse what was once Southern Railway’s main line, running from Washington, D.C. to Atlanta, Ga. Passengers will enjoy the gala fall colors of Carolinas’ rolling foothills, before crossing the 100-foot Seneca River trestle spanning Lake Hartwell to arrive at Toccoa. Nestled into the foothills of the Southern Appalachian Mountains, the historic town will be bustling with activity during the 38th annual Harvest Festival. Passengers will have approximately three hours to enjoy the festival, which features handmade, handcrafted and home-grown items from more than 200 vendors, as well as delicious regional foods, great entertainment on two stages, children and youth activities, buggy rides and much more. Toccoa Falls, named for the Cherokee word “Toccoah” meaning beautiful, is a must see. Located on the campus of Toccoa College, the 186-foot falls are 26 feet taller than Niagara Falls. Shuttle buses will be making a continuous loop between downtown Toccoa and Toccoa Falls. Departing Toccoa at 3 p.m., the Georgia Autumn Special will return to Spartanburg, SC at 5:45 pm and back to Spencer, NC at 8 p.m. Three seating classes are offered for these Autumn Train Excursions.  Tourist class features the convenience and comforts of modern Amtrak cars. Each car has a center aisle with two adjustable seats and a wide window on each side. This seating area provides convenient access to the souvenir and cafe cars. Tourist class seating is $155 per person. Deluxe coach seating will be offered in vintage and Amtrak cars, featuring spacious seating with adjustable seat backs and leg rests, as well as large windows for better viewing. Lunch will be served in classic table and dining cars. Light snacks and beverages are also provided.  Deluxe coach seating is $190 per person. First class passengers will be seated in restored, vintage lounge or parlor cars. Each car is configured differently with a variety of seating options.  Compartment seating may be requested for small groups but is not guaranteed.  Fare includes continental breakfast, newspapers, light snacks and dinner.  First Class seating is $265 per person. Additional for those wishing to eat on the train to provide more time for sightseeing, an optional Gourmet Boxed Lunch will be offered. Delivered to your seat, the $15 meal will be served in a souvenir lunch tote, including chicken salad on a croissant, pasta salad, fresh fruit, homemade pound cake and a drink. This option is only available in advance and can be purchased with your ticket.  Served in a souvenir tote, the meal includes a half turkey wrap, pasta salad, tortilla chips and salsa, a cookie and drink. This option is $15 per person and available only in advance with ticket purchase. Travelers can also take home a souvenir T-shirt.  Featuring the “Autumn Rails” logo, these T-shirts will be distributed with passenger boarding passes.  T-shirts are $20 each and are available in green or rust. Photos of the T-shirt design are available at www.nctrans.org. Tickets are on sale and now can be purchased by calling 704-636-2889 ext. 237 or visiting online at www.nctrans.org.

4) Fall Open House to be Held Saturday, Sept. 20

High school students and prospective transfer students are invited to learn about academics and campus life at Appalachian State University during Fall Open House on Saturday, Sept. 20. The event is sponsored by the Office of Admissions. Activities begin at 9 a.m. in the Holmes Convocation Center with a Family Assembly, followed by an information fair from 9:30 a.m. until noon. The fair includes opportunities to talk with students, faculty and university representatives about admissions, financial aid, academic areas, campus support areas, student clubs and organizations, study abroad, The Honors College and other special opportunities that make up “the Appalachian Experience.” There will also be a special program for transfer students from noon until 1 p.m. Student Ambassadors will provide tours of campus. Residence Halls will be open for guided tours. Academic departments will also conduct open houses. The day concludes around 1 p.m. For more information and a complete schedule, visit www.admission.appstate.edu/visit/open house.