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Wanted: Wiggling Woolly Worms for the Festival, Turn Them in By Friday, Oct. 14!

By Emily Willis

It’s that time of year again! Get ready for the 39th annual Woolly Worm Festival in Banner Elk by searching for woolly worms. Collect and bring them to the new Banner Elk school on Friday, Oct. 14 at 8:30 a.m.

Rebecca Perree of Palm Beach, Fla., and her woolly worm Twinkle Toes won the championship race in 2015. Photo by Jim Morton

The festival organizers will pay you $1 each for the worms you can contribute. Limit 25 worms per family. Festival organizers will only collect 1,200 worms, so make sure to take your worms early! You can start searching and collecting now, but make sure to properly care for your worms.


  1. Find a plastic container and poke holes in the lid.
  2. Fill the container with a small amount of dirt, twigs, grass and leaves.
  3. Search for the worms and place them in the container.
  4. Spray or sprinkle water in the container every three days. Add more grass and leaves if necessary.

“Collecting woolly worms is a creative and fun way for kids to get outside and make a little money,” says Melynda Pepple, the executive director of the Avery County Chamber of Commerce. “We’ve already seen kids outside searching for worms! It’s great to get families out of the house to enjoy the beautiful weather before winter kicks in.”

Not only is the festival entertaining for kids and families, it also promotes the community. Each year, the money from the festival is poured back into the community and schools. The festival also brings in more and more tourists to witness this annual tradition in the High Country.

The festival will take place on Oct. 15 & 16 at 9 a.m. Besides the woolly worm race, there will be inflatables rides, live music and dance teams performing. The winner of the woolly worm race on Saturday will win $1,000 and their worm will help predict the winter weather. On Sunday, the Corporate Race will be held. The business that wins will get to take home the Woolly Worm Trophy and bragging rights for its business.

Buy your tickets in advance online now or at the festival. Admission is $5.00 for adults, $3.00 for children 6-12 and free for 5 and under. There will be plenty of parking space at the festival, but it is first come, first serve. Also, no dogs are allowed into the festival.

Check out these photos from past festivals: