By Joe Johnson
The Carolina Snowbelles, a local precision dance troupe, will be bringing “Christmas in August” to the Town of Banner Elk on August 31 at 7:00 p.m. with a holiday themed, Rockettes-style performance in the Hayes Auditorium at Lees-McRae College. The Mayor of Banner Elk, Brenda Lyerly, has gone so far as to welcome the festivities with an official proclamation declaring the dates of August 30 and 31 “Christmas in August” in the Town of Banner Elk.
All weekend long, the Corner on Main Clock Tower will be playing Christmas music and Christmas trees will be decorated downtown to celebrate “Christmas in August” festivities. The Christmas trees will be displayed around the Town of Banner Elk during “Christmas in August” and a menorah will be displayed next to the tree on the corner of Main Street in order to include the Jewish members of the community in the celebrations. A Christmas Eve Dinner, which has been sold out by those who made reservations, will be served at Sorrento’s in Banner Elk on Friday, August 30. During the daytime on Saturday, August 31, there will be an opportunity to shop for Christmas gifts made by local artists at the Art on the Greene Festival at the Historic Banner Elk School from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
After “Christmas in August” daytime festivities have ended on August 31, it is time to prepare for the main event that truly makes the weekend feel like Christmas at the end of August: The Carolina Snowbelles! As attendees file into the Hayes Auditorium for the performance, they will discover Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus sitting on thrones in the lobby waiting to greet each and every person who walks in the door. The performance itself is separated into two different acts; the first act, presented by Dr. Janet Barton Spear, Artistic Director, will begin with a sing-along of both Christmas and Hannukah songs for the audience to join together in the holiday spirit. After the sing-along there will be performances by a male singer, a female singer, a clogging group, a comedy act, a hammered dulcimer, and a trio of young girls singing. The first act will span somewhere between 45 minutes to an hour.
Following the various entertainment included in the first act will be the main performance by The Carolina Snowbelles demonstrating their holiday themed show in the High Country; the same show that was demonstrated last year at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. During part of the show, the Snowbelles will invite audience members on stage to join in during the performance. Children will be invited onstage to learn about “The Kingdom of the Sweets” and receive a sweet treat before they head back to their seats. The audience will also get an opportunity to kick up their heels with the Snowbelles and learn a kick line similar to those done by the Rockettes!
The audience will be following along with the performance with the help of Brad Parquette, the narrator of the show, as he takes them through the adventure. The performance will include some of the Snowbelles’ signature routines such as Mary and Bright and Sing. Cheryl Cutlip, Director of the Carolina Snowbelles and former Radio City Rockette, is thrilled that the Snowbelles are be able to bring their performance to Banner Elk on August 31, “All the hard work that these Snowbelles put into creating a one-hour performance while we were in D.C., we’re really excited to bring it back home and present it to the community.”
Sandi Finci Solomon, promoter of partner dancing during the five months a year she spends in the High Country, saw the Carolina Snowbelles perform at Blowing Rock Country Club several years ago and was quickly enamored by the talents of the precision dance troupe. “I was immediately awed by them and said that they were such a diamond in this community,” said Solomon, “So, when Lees-McRae College named their stage after me, I said ‘if this is my stage then those girls are going to be on it!’ I was determined to make it happen.”
Solomon decided the summer residents of the High Country should have an opportunity to witness the talents of the Carolina Snowbelles even if it was not during the winter holiday season. Over the past year, Solomon has been working with Banner Elk Mayor Brenda Lyerly, Artistic Director Dr. Janet Spear, local businesses, residents, politicians, and Lees-McRae College administration to bring The Carolina Snowbelles to the High Country during the summer months. Solomon reached an agreement with everyone involved and was successfully able to bring the Carolina Snowbelles to Banner Elk on August 31. “The whole town’s excited, but not as excited as I am,” said Solomon, “I can’t believe this little idea I had two years ago has turned into something so incredible! In this world that we have today of such hatred and gun violence, we are bringing the community together in such a joyful way that I personally feel amazing about it. Just look at the difference; look at what is out there every time you turn on the TV and then compare it to what our little High Country is doing, we are coming together to celebrate with joy!”
There are 700 seats in the Hayes Auditorium at Lees-McRae College, and several hundred tickets for the “Christmas in August” performance featuring the Carolina Snowbelles have already been sold. About 200 tickets are left for purchase; if you or your family is interested in attending the “Christmas in August” festivities, get your tickets as soon as possible!
Tickets for the “Christmas in August” performances are priced at $30 for adults and $15 for children and students. Tickets are being sold at the Banner Elk Town Hall (check or cash only), at the door the night of the performance on August 31, or online at https://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/4251987.
For more information, contact producer Sandi Finci Solomon at email@example.com.