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Today’s Email Announcements

Coexisting with Wildlife: A Practical Guide to Common Human-Wildlife Interactions, 10/17

 Across North Carolina people are increasingly interacting with wildlife in their daily lives. These close encounters can be exciting, but too often they end in trouble for the animals involved.
This topic is the focus for the High Country Audubon Society program by Jessie Birckhead, Extension Wildlife Biologist for the NC Wildlife Resources Commission, at 6:30 on Tuesday, October 17, at the Holiday Inn Express in Boone.  Come and hear Jessie’s stories and practical advice for addressing interactions with wildlife–from helping cattle farmers deal with black vulture depredation to debunking the myth of “orphaned” fawns.   Jessie will share tips and resources to address problem situations, and provide ideas for how to talk to others about wildlife.
A native North Carolinian, Jessie received her B.S. in Fisheries and Wildlife Management from North Carolina State University and her M.S. in Wildlife Science from the University of Tennessee Knoxville. Prior to joining the Wildlife Resource Commission, she worked as an environmental educator, policy researcher, and biologist with state agencies and nonprofits in North Carolina and Tennessee. Most recently she worked as a science communicator for The Nature Conservancy. Jessie calls Durham, NC, home and can most often be found with her wildlife biologist husband and their mutt Sophie hiking, fishing, and birding around the Eno River.  For additional information, please see www.highcountryaudubon.org.
Be sure to bring questions with you.  After the presentation, we will have a Q & A session where you can ask all of your burning human-wildlife interaction questions!  

Music and History at the Wilkes Heritage Museum Saturday, 10/14

The Wilkes Heritage Museum will host music and moonshine history on Saturday, October 14, 2017 from 2pm until 8pm.  Tickets are $10 for this event.  Tickets may be purchased at the Wilkes Heritage Museum or on line at www.wilkesheritagemuseum.com  

Virginialina, the official Blue Ridge Music Hall of Fame House Band, will provide music in the old courtroom at 3pm, 5pm and 7pm.  This very talented band is comprised of David Johnson, Eric Ellis, Scott Gentry and Scott Freeman.  

The musical life of David Johnson began with his exposure to the sounds and sights of live acoustic music in the mountains of his native North Carolina home from the time of his birth.  David can play various instruments as if he were born doing it.  Guitar, Banjo, fiddle and mandolin are just a few that he plays with precision and ease.  Over the years, David has had the opportunity to perform in bands, especially Dixie Dawn, teach others to play instruments and pursue full-time recording work as a sideman, arranger and producer.  David is the 2008 Sideman and Regional Musician inductee to the Blue Ridge Music Hall of Fame.

Eric Ellis has been performing in various musical capacities for most of his life.  He grew up in the Mount Pleasant community of Wilkes County and strummed his first guitar at the age of 5.  He began playing the banjo at the age of 15.  Over the years, Eric has had the opportunity to perform with Tony Rice, Jim Shumate, Tim Smith, Bobby Hicks and Chubby Wise just to name a few.  In 2009, Eric Ellis was inducted into the Blue Ridge Music Hall of Fame as Sideman and Regional Musician.

Scott Freeman grew up in a musical family in Mount Airy, and today he makes his living performing, recording, writing, arranging, and teaching music from his home in Woodlawn, Virginia, and all around the region.  He currently has about seventy private students and an active waiting list. He works with the famous banjo instructor and musician Pete Wernick at workshops held at MerleFest. Scott spent more than three years teaching for the Junior Appalachian Musicians program in Sparta, and today he teaches for a program taught at the Blue Ridge Music Center in Virginia.

Born and raised in Wilkes County, music has always be a major part of Scott Gentry’s life.  With his dad a fiddle player and brother a drummer, it was natural for Scott to be a musician also. He would sit and listen and follow along on acoustic guitar at band rehearsals that his dad and brother played in. At the age of 12 they put him on stage with a mic playing rhythm guitar. In his early teens Scott started playing bass with the band and fell in love with the instrument. He played in that group, “The Highlanders” (a house band at a local restaurant/resort) every weekend throughout his teen years becoming grounded in traditional country music.  Leaving the house band Scott spent most of the 80s and early 90s in professional country bands touring the eastern United States.  Now, a cabinet maker by trade, Scott enjoys playing traditional country, bluegrass, and gospel music on the weekends with various groups of friends he has made throughout the years, but his favorite is playing upright bass with the choir at church on Sunday mornings.  “I consider it an honor and privilege to be a part of the Blue Ridge Music Hall Of Fame house band “Virginialina”.  Besides being fabulous musicians, Scott Freeman, Eric Ellis, and David Johnson are my friends. Theyʼre just a great group of guys to hang out and fellowship with even when weʼre not playing music”…..Scott Gentry.

Call Family Distillers will have a booth in the downstairs hallway of the museum.  Brad Call will host a talk on the history of moonshine in the Old Courtroom at 4pm.  

Call Family Distillers represents a deep rooted heritage of whiskey making, beginning in the 1800s in Lynchburg, TN.  Descendants of moonshiners and distillers that will live on through history, the Call Family today are producing spirits that carry unsurpassed flavor & smoothness.

Moonshine cars will be on display outside the museum throughout the event.  All exhibits will be open with the ticket price.  Join us for an afternoon of music, fun and history.

The Wilkes Heritage Museum is located at 100 East Main Street in historic downtown Wilkesboro. Wilkes Heritage Museum, Inc. is a private, non-profit organization dedicated to preserving the rich history and heritage of Wilkes County for future generations through exhibits and special programs. All donations go towards the operational expenses for the organization. Regular museum hours of operation are Monday through Friday, 10:00 am – 4:00 pm and on Saturdays by appointment or for special events. For more information, please call (336) 667-3171 or visit our website at www.wilkesheritagemuseum.com

Virginialina Photo


44th Carolina BalloonFest, 10/20-10-22

With less than a month away, the Carolina BalloonFest will celebrate its 44th year on Oct. 20-22. A favorite festival among many families, this three-day event held in Statesville, NC, is filled with live entertainment, attractions, and family-friendly activities. 

Celebrating with the festival this year, is Carolina BalloonFest’s new Executive Director, Bud Welch.

Welch has been an active volunteer of the festival for more than 10 years. With his hands on experience, Welch has led by example, serving as an active committee and board member while performing various tasks to ready the field for the festival each year.

“This festival has seen its best and worst of times, but through it all, it’s gotten into my heart and soul,” said Welch. “The balloons are great; but over the years, I’ve learned to not so much as watch the balloons as I have the people. That’s the ‘wow moment.’ To see what this festival does for the people.”

Carolina BalloonFest has brought families together for decades to view the sights and thrills of the festival. This year, the festival will host 58 balloons, the largest number of hot air balloons seen by the Carolina BalloonFest in many years. There will also be over two dozen food vendors, nearly 50 marketplace and artisan vendors, and an extensive line-up of live entertainment.

Don’t forget about the festival’s kids’ zone, filled with inflatables, a walk-in balloon and interactive shows. An NC Wine & Craft Beer Garden will also be on site, featuring nine vendors and over 50 samples.

The festival is also a place for many unique and eclectic stories; where pilots of all walks of life join together to celebrate the history of ballooning in Iredell County.  Stories such as that of Kaoru Kawasoe, a hot air balloonist from Japan, who will be serving as a second pilot with long-time Carolina Balloonfest pilot, Bert Padelt. The pair met while Padelt was building a gas balloon in an attempt to make a transpacific flight from Japan to the United States. Padelt is inviting this international pilot to Statesville, to thank him for his help and to let him experience the Carolina BalloonFest for himself.

Patrons can also meet long time couple, and Carolina BalloonFest pilots, Charles Page and Kristie Darling, who were not only married in a hot air balloon but also continue to bring that joy to willing couples at the festival. Over the last 36 years, the couple has officiated several dozen weddings and marriage proposals at the Carolina BalloonFest.

Or learn from the pilot couple, Marc and Ursula Klinger, about their secret flight with Miss America 2017, Savannah Janine “Savvy” Shields; a flight that was kept secret because the pageant titleholder had had little time to herself and wanted to experience an adventure with anonymity.

Meet our pilots at the festival’s Pilot Meet & Greet, held in the flight field from 2-3 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday of the festival.

So bring your cameras, lawn chairs and blankets to experience the Carolina Balloonfest, with the beauty of over 50 balloons ascending in unison, the entertainment of live bands, and the other attractions that provide family fun for all ages. But most of all, don’t forget to bring your smile knowing that any contribution given to the Carolina BalloonFest, as an incorporated 501(c)(3) charitable organization, is tax-deductible. A portion of proceeds raised through Carolina BalloonFest will be distributed to local nonprofit organizations in the area.


Visit CarolinaBalloonFest.com, email media@carolinaballoonfest.com, or call 704-818-3307.