By Sherrie Norris
While the proceeds to benefit local charities are still being calculated, one thing is for sure: The 61st Annual Blowing Rock Tour of Homes was another huge success.
Crowds gathered early on Friday morning, July 26, with 1,245 tickets sold throughout the day — and over 130 volunteers giving of their time and talents, whether by driving, selling, serving, delivering water and ice, setting up or breaking down tents and tables.
According to Radie Armstrong, co-chair of the event along with her husband, Ron Armstrong, it was a perfect day with weather cooperating (for the majority of the day!) and patrons gathering in great anticipation at least an hour before the tour began.
A slight delay caused by a lightning strike on Main Street near one of the tour homes resulted in a small fire and detour, Armstrong said, but the police and fire department rerouted traffic quickly to keep the tour going.
“People were patient and good-humored, despite the delay,” she added.
In reviewing the event, Armstrong shared how St. Mary’s “notoriously good bakers and friends” set up a welcoming display on the church lawn of beautifully boxed and bowed pies, cakes, cookies, breads, cheese straws, empanadas, hand pies, and berry jam — along with vases of summer flowers, many of which were gleaned from local gardens.
“Carolyn Crutcher and her team enjoyed chatting with locals and visitors about bake sales and recipes, as white tents under blue skies made a perfect scene of southern elegance.”
The Timeless Treasure tent yielded a record presentation of fine glassware, handmade baby blankets, antique collectibles, jewelry, rugs, artwork, Christmas decor, and assorted “junque,” which left little remaining by 4 p.m.
“Rumple Thrift Shop scooped up the remaining items, so everyone benefitted from the hard work of Patty Patella and Gale Buchanan’s team,” Armstrong said. “It was a massive undertaking and so well presented on 16 tables. Kudos to those who worked on this committee.”
A wine auction and a special donation of dinner for 10 at the home of Bo Henderson and Ed Springs in Mayview was a big hit, Armstrong added, and promises to be a delightful evening for lucky winner, Joellyn Gibbons.
“Mary Ellen Raulerson and Cobb Milner sorted the wine donations and prepared them for auction in six bottle parcels. There was a donation of a giant bottle of Cabernet which quickly sold for $100, well below its regular value.”
Joann Hallmark headed up the hostesses at each tour home. “One home had 15 hostesses for each shift,” she said. “These folks are on their feet, guiding crowds, answering questions, offering cold water and cheerfully assisting visitors from 8 a.m.— 5 p.m. They add a special ambience to the homes, year after year.”
And, about the fabulous luncheon in the church café — chicken salad, iced tea and lemon bars were a few of the delights offered. “Loy McGill, Susan Schilson and the cafe team provided blue linen on the tables, with fresh flowers by the flower committee, lead by Nell Kline, for a cool respite from the activity outside.”
By 5 p.m., the tour homes were reclaimed by homeowners Karen Rice, Steven Price, Molly Northern, Ron Wootten and Tim Hamilton.
“Tour workers tidied up the grounds and slipped away to recover from a long and exhausting day, but happy in the knowledge that the mission was completed,” Armstrong surmised. “Many positive comments from the public were followed by unsolicited donations to the tour, to honor a friend or just in thanks for the event. A very special thanks to Bill Stroh, church Sexton, who worked before dawn to late in the evening, along with Greg Rhoads, to clear the church and the grounds for services on Sunday.”
The Armstrongs, on behalf of the church and tour committee, wish to also thank everyone who was involved.
“Kudos to the Blowing Rock Police who worked on hot pavement all day directing traffic, and Blowing Rock Fire and Rescue, who kept us safe by diverting folks away from potential danger. And, of course, we are most appreciative of our Tour of Homes patrons who stood in line, shopped our wares and cheered us on. Their support is what makes this event special and successful for the High Country each year.”
While the amount of net income from the tour is still in the hands of the accountant and the treasurer, the committee is optimistic about that sum and will announce it soon.
“Until then, we are grateful for the 61st Tour of Homes and what it can bring to the lives of High Country residents. Many thanks to all who contributed,” said Armstrong. “Now, the outreach committee of St. Mary’s will provide application procedures to High Country charities. Applications will be reviewed, accepted and presented to the church vestry for approval. They are evaluated (based on need) during the month of September, and will be announced in October.”
For applications, contact Gary Gloster via St. Mary’s Outreach Ministry at (828) 295-7323.
Photos by Lonnie Webster