Kiwanis Club Holds Luncheon To Celebrate Late Jim Morton and Roy Krege, ‘Mr. Woolly Worm’

Published Wednesday, September 20, 2017 at 12:33 pm

Jason DeWitt, one of the Three Worm-a-teers who will be taking over promotions and announcing at the Woolly Worm Festival, shakes the hand of Roy Krege, who has served as “Mr. Woolly Worm” for the past thirty-eight years.

Approximately fifty people gathered at Grandfather Mountain on Tuesday to honor and commemorate two key individuals for their service on the Woolly Worm Festival for the past 39 years.  The Kiwanis Club of Blowing Rock held a luncheon to celebrate achievements of the Festival founder, Jim Morton, who passed away in April, and Roy Krege, who has served as “Mr. Woolly Worm” since the early days of the event and announced his retirement at last year’s festival.

The Woolly Worm Festival, scheduled for October 21-22, marks its 40th anniversary this year.  Framed copies of the festival poster, designed and produced by Nancy Morrison and Danica Goodman, was presented to the two honorees.  Jesse Pope, Executive Director of the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation, accepted on behalf of Jim Morton.

Upon accepting his award, Krege remarked, “I am thrilled with all of the lives we have touched, and all of the children we have helped through the Kiwanis organization with the funds raised from this festival.”

Pope added, “This all started as a hair-brained idea, and it has been wildly successful.  The Woolly Worm Festival is one of the things that Jim Morton was most proud of.  We miss Jim very much.  I know he’d be so proud of this day.”

Kathy Boone, chair of the Woolly Worm Festival committee, spoke of this being a “transition year.”  “We are so grateful for the partnership between the Avery County Chamber of Commerce and the Kiwanis Club, being able to achieve so much together.  Here we have an annual festival whose attendance exceeds the entire population of Avery County!” she exclaimed.

As “Mr. Woooly Worm,” Roy Krege has served as the race announcer, as well as appeared on multiple television shows and visited area schools and events to promote the festival.  His role will be replaced by the “Three Worm-a-Teers,” Jason DeWitt, Shawn Strickland, and Adam Binder.  DeWitt was in attendance at the Kiwanis luncheon, and unveiled his custom made outfit as the “Woolly Worm Dude.”  “No one could fill the shoes of Mr. Woolly Worm,” said DeWitt.  “So we had to do something a little different.  I’ve always considered myself a “dude,” he said.

To commemorate the festival’s landmark year, a “History of the Woolly Worm” booklet is being produced and will be on sale at the festival.  Tickets for the festival are available on-line, or at the gate, October 21-22, beginning at 9 a.m.

Roy Krege and his wife, Marion. Marion often dressed in the Merriweather mascot costume and accompanied Roy on television appearances, school visits, and publicity events.

The Woolly Worm Festival Committee

This year’s festival honors the retiring Roy Krege, “Mr. Woolly Worm” (left), and commemorates the founder Jim Morton, with the award being accepted by Jesse Pope, Executive Director of the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation (right.)

This year’s festival honors the retiring Roy Krege, “Mr. Woolly Worm” (left), and commemorates the founder Jim Morton, with the award being accepted by Jesse Pope, Executive Director of the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation (right.)

Jason DeWitt unveils is “Woolly Worm Dude” jacket, custom made for the 2017 Woolly Worm Festival. “Nobody could replace “Mr. Woolly Worm,” Roy Krege, he said. “So we had to do something a little different. I’ve always considered myself more of a “Dude.”

Kathy Boone, chair of the Woolly Worm Festival board, presents a framed poster honoring Roy Krege for his years of service.

Kathy Boone, chair of the Woolly Worm Festival board, presents a framed poster honoring Roy Krege for his years of service.

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