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Banner Elk’s Popular Summer 2021 Concerts in the Park Schedule Announced

June 7, 2021 The Banner Elk Chamber of Commerce is excited to announce the much-anticipated lineup and sponsors for this summer’s Concerts in the Park series of popular musical events. Locals and visitors look forward to this free concert series each year, with shows starting at 6:30 p.m. in the Tate-Evans Town Park Amphitheater (map). Outstanding local and regional bands play fun dance music suitable for all ages, from Southern Rock to Oldies and Soul/Funk. Food vendors are on-site and there is a raffle to support the series. Learn more about the Concerts in the Park on the Chamber website at: https://www.bannerelk.org/concerts-in-the-park.html

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MerleFest Announces Full Lineup Including JOHNNYSWIM, The Milk Carton Kids and We Banjo 3

June 7, 2021 MerleFest, presented by Window World, is proud to announce the full lineup for MerleFest 2021, which will take place September 16-19. About JOHNNYSWIM: Much like families, bands go through it all together. As a unit, they face life’s ups, downs, highs, lows, trials, tribulations, tragedies, triumphs, and everything in between. They change, learn, and grow as one. However, Los Angeles band JOHNNYSWIM doesn’t just seem like a family; it is a family. At the core, husband-and-wife Abner Ramirez and Amanda Sudano translate the memories, moments, and milestones on their journey into spirited, slick, and soulful anthems steeped in singer-songwriter tradition, yet amplified by alternative experimentation, rock energy, and pop ambition. JOHNNYSWIM will perform on Friday evening. About The Milk Carton Kids: Listening to The Milk Carton Kids —Joey Ryan and Kenneth Pattengale—talk about their creative process, it’s easy to imagine them running in opposite directions even while yoked together. They dig at each other in interviews and on stage, where Ryan plays his own straight man, while Pattengale tunes his guitar.

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Mast Store Hosts Land Trust Day on June 5

June 4, 2021 On Saturday, June 5, the Mast Stores in Boone and Valle Crucis will welcome the Blue Ridge Conservancy (Valle Crucis stores) and the New River Conservancy (Boone store) to the stores in celebration of Land Trust Day. Volunteers will answer questions about the organizations and will offer information about the benefits of protecting land. Mast will donate 20% of the day’s sales to support conservation efforts. The stores will also support Blue Ridge Conservancy and New River Conservancy through a round-up effort that will encourage customers to round-up their purchases to benefit the conservancies during June 1 – 6.

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Brian Stokes Mitchell & Megan Hilty Added to An Appalachian Summer Festival Lineup

June 4, 2021 An Appalachian Summer Festival (AASF) is thrilled to announce that Brian Stokes Mitchell & Megan Hilty have been added to the lineup for An Appalachian Summer Festival., July 2-31, 2021 The Broadway stars will take the outdoor stage at State Farm Road Concert Lot for an evening of Broadway hits and unforgettable music on Saturday, July 17 at 8pm. Seating is configured in pods of 2, 4 and 6. Tickets for the Mitchell-Hilty concert and all other festival events are on sale now at www.appsummer.org or by calling the Schaefer Center for the Performing Arts box office at 828-262-4046. Brian Stokes Mitchell & Megan Hilty replaces the previously scheduled Leslie Odom, Jr. concert, which Mr. Odom had to cancel due to conflicts with his touring schedule. Anyone holding tickets to the Leslie Odom, Jr. concert may call the box office for a straight ticket-for-ticket trade to the Brian Stokes Mitchell & Megan Hilty performance, or to request a full refund.

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Downtown Boone Development Association Receives 2021 National Main Street Accreditation

June 4, 2021 Downtown Boone Development Association has been designated as an accredited Main Street™ program for meeting rigorous performance standards. Each year, Main Street America and its partners announce the list of accredited programs to recognize their exceptional commitment to preservation-based economic development and community revitalization through the Main Street Approach™. “We are proud to recognize this year’s 889 nationally accredited Main Street programs that have worked tirelessly to advance economic vitality and quality of life in their downtowns and commercial districts,” said Patrice Frey, President & CEO of Main Street America. “During an incredibly challenging year, these programs demonstrated the power of the Main Street movement to drive impressive local recovery efforts, champion small businesses, and foster vibrant downtown districts. I am inspired by their hard work and confident that these accredited communities will continue to help their downtowns flourish in the next stages of recovery.”

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Life Care Center of Banner Elk Nurse Wins Company’s Divisional Customer Service Award

June 3, 2021 Toby Guinn, licensed practical nurse at Life Care Center of Banner Elk, received Life Care Centers of America’s Eastern Division Whatever It Takes And Then Some Award on May 13 for his dedication to customer service. Life Care awarded Guinn a $1,000 cash prize during an awards ceremony at the facility. Facility leadership surprised Guinn, who was told he needed to watch a training video. When the video started, it was actually a video of fellow associates at the facility, as well as residents, talking about what they appreciate about him. “I’ve never been more surprised – I was blown away,” Guinn said. “There are so many deserving people that I can think of. The people you work with make you better, and I work with the best.” Guinn was chosen from among thousands of associates in the Eastern Division and was one of only eight associates from Life Care’s more than 200 facilities nationwide to receive the award.

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Avery County Heritage Festival to be Held June 26 on The County/Town of Newland Square

June 3, 2021. The highly-popular Avery County Heritage Festival will be held this year on Saturday, June 26 on the Avery County and Town of Newland Square, located across from the Avery County Court House in downtown Newland. Admission is free to the event, which will start at 9:00 a.m. and end at 3:00 p.m. Those attending can visit booths and vendors while tracing their ancestral roots from the county. “Excitement about the Heritage Festival is extremely high and I hope all who can will attend the celebration as it will offer displays, exhibits and many other interesting and fun things about, and related to Avery County and its heritage and history,” said Virginia “Tense” Banks of the Avery Historical Society. Nationally-renowned genealogists, artisans in a variety of media and traditional mountain musicians will gather on the square to collectively help celebrate Avery County’s rich and storied history, which spans 110 years. By Tim Gardner

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Grandfather Mountain’s May Weather Report Shows Near Record-High Temperature for the Month

June 2, 2021 Data recorded at the official National Weather Service reporting station at Grandfather Mountain’s Mile High Swinging Bridge indicated average May weather at the Linville, N.C., nature park. The lowest temperature observed in April 2021 was 31° Fahrenheit on May 8. The lowest temperature ever observed on Grandfather Mountain in the month of May was 15° on May 6, 1957. The warmest day recorded in May 2021 was 76° on May 25 and 27 — only 2 degrees shy of the mountain’s record May high of 78°, recorded May 19, 1996. The average high temperature for the month was 62.3°, with an average low of 45°, for a May 2021 mean of 53.7°.

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Watauga Habitat for Humanity’s Crowning of the Big Kahuna is Thursday, June 10 at Booneshine Brewing

June 2, 2021 Community members are asking for donations to support safe and affordable housing for Watauga Habitat for Humanity’s 2021 Big Kahuna Campaign. Local “movers and shakers” have volunteered to participate in a friendly, competition to see who can raise the most money to support Habitat’s affordable housing program. The winning team will be crowned The Big Kahuna on June 10th at Booneshine Brewing Company. With less than two weeks remaining, the 2021 Kahuna Campaign has raised $30,600 so far. Past winners include Linda Robinson of Premier Sotheby’s, Justin Davis of Blowing Rock Town Tavern, Jenny Miller/Community Volunteer, Crystal Smith formerly of Appalachian Mountain Brewery, Ginny Walker of Mountain Times Publications. In 2020, Watauga Habitat’s recruited Kahuna teams replacing individual participants and the winning team was Three Kahunas and a Guy (Jenny Miller, John Dean, Jane Meyers, and Susan Devine) raising close to $12,000. Over the past six years, Habitat’s Big Kahuna Campaign has raised more than $230,000.

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Avery County Memorial Day Ceremony Held to Honor and Remember Its Perished Veterans

June 1, 2021 On Monday, May 31, Avery County held its annual Memorial Day celebration to remember and honor its natives who perished while fighting for our nation. The ceremony was held on the Avery County/Newland Town Square which features its veterans’ monument with names of all county natives who served during a military conflict and in which war. The county/town square also highlights Armed Forces flags displays and gardens and the Fallen Officers, Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and Ten Commandments monuments. Avery County’s Memorial Day Ceremony is organized and conducted every year by the Veterans of Foreign Wars and Auxiliary, Pat Ray Post 4286, in Newland. Approximately 150attended this year’s event. By Tim Gardner

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New River Conservancy Hires New Executive Director, Elizabeth Saxman Underwood, Ph.D


May 31, 2021. The New River Conservancy (NRC) Board of Directors has selected Elizabeth Saxman Underwood, Ph.D to be the next Executive Director of the three state watershed organization. Elizabeth will succeed George Santucci, who officially stepped down from NRC on January 1 to become the Sustainability and Special Projects Manager for the Town of Boone, NC. Santucci remained Interim Executive Director while the Board of Directors searched for NRC’s next leader. Elizabeth will officially step into her new role as Executive Director on June 1, 2021. An avid paddler of both tandem canoes and whitewater kayaking, Elizabeth enjoys being on any river.  She and her husband enjoy multi-day expeditions in their tandem canoe.  Among their favorite adventures, they have paddled all 153 miles of America’s first National River: the Buffalo River.  In her kayaks, she also enjoys surfing on waves and navigating through rivers and creeks.   Elizabeth and Kristian have been active leaders with the Arkansas Canoe Club and often volunteer on river clean-ups.  In western NC, she is involved with the Riverlink Woodfin wave project and volunteered with Riverkeeper.

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The Art Cellar Gallery Continues 2021 Summer Season with a Show for Zoey Brookshire


May 31, 2021. Emotion is a driving force behind both creating art as well as perceiving it. Many artists seek to reflect certain emotions through their work. Some artists choose to leave emotion out of the creative results in order for the audience to foster their own response to a piece. The Art Cellar Gallery is proud to represent artists of various creative styles. Our 2021 Summer Show Schedule gives collectors the opportunity to explore the creative nuances that make each of our artists unique. This week, we will be hosting a solo exhibition for Zoey Brookshire. Zoey has made a name for herself over a thirty-five year exhibition history, which includes 22 solo and 45 group exhibitions. Her honors include a prestigious South Carolina Fellowship in Visual Arts as well as numerous project grants. Zoey’s work stands out with large, provocative-moody pieces that traverse themes of dark and light. Her paintings leave the door open for the viewer to generate their own emotional response to each piece; all are packed with abstract imagery inspired by marked experiences from her past and present.

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Southern Appalachian Historical Association to Host Daniel Boone Day Event at Hickory Ridge History Museum on June 5

May 31, 2021 In honor of National Daniel Boone Day (June 7), the Southern Appalachian Historical Association is hosting a special event at its Hickory Ridge History Museum Saturday, June 5. Daniel Boone, the Town of  Boone’s legendary namesake, was a folk hero in his own lifetime (1734-1820). He was also one of America’s first naturalists, cherishing the country he found as he blazed trails from North Carolina into the wilderness of Virginia and Kentucky.  He founded one of the first settlements west of the Appalachians, served as a militia officer in the Revolutionary War, was kidnapped, then adopted, by a Native American tribe, served in the Virginia legislature, supported his family by hunting and surveying, ran a tavern, and fathered ten children with his wife Rebecca. While journeying through the region of present-day Boone, NC, Daniel stayed in a cabin at the foot of Rich Mountain, and members of his extended family eventually settled here.

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Over 400 Class of 2021 High School Graduates Received Diplomas on Friday, May 28

May 31, 2021 Watauga High School seniors had plenty of reasons to celebrate making it through their final school year. To say the whole year was a challenge would be an understatement as students, teachers and staff members had to deal with COVID-19 changing so much of what they were used to. Teachers started the year with vacant classrooms. Students were learning remotely and taking exams online, all while missing those lunchroom conversations with close friends or attending sporting events that were all pushed back and rescheduled. This senior class earned every inch of these diplomas they received on May 28 at App State’s Holmes Convocation Center. By Harley Nefe

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App State Commemorates Memorial Day, Shares Reflections on its Mountaineer Military Community

May 28, 2021 Throughout the year, Appalachian State University’s Veterans Memorial serves as an ever-present reminder of the ultimate sacrifice made by those who served in the armed forces. On Memorial Day, commemorated on the last Monday in May, it holds elevated meaning as the Appalachian Community reflects on the importance of the occasion. Memorial Day is an American holiday celebrated on the last Monday of May to honor the men and women who have died while serving in the military. Originally known as Decoration Day, it originated in the years following the Civil War and became an official federal holiday in 1971. The first national celebration of Memorial Day took place May 30, 1868, at Arlington National Cemetery. By Megan Bruffy

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May Wildlife Rehabilitation Center at Lees-McRae College to Host Wildlife Presentations in Banner Elk

May 28, 2021 After a year-long hiatus, the Lees-McRae May Wildlife Rehabilitation Center will again be offering wildlife presentations to the public. Starting June 4, representatives from the May Wildlife Rehabilitation Center will be holding educational presentations at the Tate-Evans Park amphitheater in Banner Elk. Presentations will take place every Friday and Saturday at 1 p.m. throughout the summer and will end August 13. The talks are free to attend and feature a number of animals native to North Carolina. The May Wildlife Rehabilitation Center is situated adjacent to the Elk River on the campus of Lees-McRae. The center annually admits more than 1,500 injured and orphaned wildlife patients from the western part of North Carolina. The patients are individually evaluated and treated based on their medical needs, with the goal to release as many animals back to the wild as possible.

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High Country Community Events to Take Place in Honor of Memorial Day Weekend

May 27, 2021 Observed annually on the last Monday of May, Memorial Day is a holiday established to honor the lives lost while serving in the U.S. military. During this time, a lot of people pay tribute to those who have fought for the country by visiting cemeteries and memorials. It is also common to spend time with families or loved ones and even participate in community events. Many Memorial Day events had to be cancelled last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic; however, this year, some are beginning to make a return. Here is a compilation of 2021 Memorial Day Weekend events happening across the High Country. By Harley Nefe

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Dr. Anthony Zeiss to Serve as Guest Speaker at American Legion’s Annual Memorial Day Program in Blowing Rock’s Memorial Park on May 29 at 11 a.m.

May 27, 2021 Dr. Anthony (Tony) Zeiss will be the guest speaker at the American Legion’s annual Memorial Day Program in Blowing Rock’s Memorial Park on Saturday May 29, 2021, at 11 a.m. The community is invited to attend. Dr. Zeiss, one of the nation’s most outstanding educators, was the President of Charlotte’s Central Piedmont Community College for 23 years until his retirement in 2016. During his tenure, Dr. Zeiss built CPCC from one campus to six campuses serving 70,000 students per year. Under his leadership, CPCC became the nation’s most outstanding educational institution for workplace development. This focus on workplace development enabled Charlotte to attract many international and national firms to locate facilities in the area. This was a major boost to Charlotte and North Carolina’s outstanding economic growth during Dr. Zeiss’ Presidency. Dr. Zeiss’ advice is often sought by national leaders on educational issues.

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Former High Country Resident Julian Monroe Fisher Returns from Explorations for a Reunion at Woodlands Barbeque Restaurant on June 6


May 27, 2021. Many High Country residents may recognize the name Julian Monroe Fisher and will be eager to hear that he will be returning to Blowing Rock on June 6 for a reunion at Woodlands Barbeque Restaurant with a performance from the old-time string band The Corklickers. And for folks who are not familiar with the name, they are in for a wild adventure learning about Fisher’s life and experiences. Fisher is an explorer noted primarily for his exploration of the African continent and his knowledge about Victorian Age expeditions in Northern and Central Africa. He is also an Anthropologist, a photographer and a published author among many other accolades. Fisher is a fellow with The Royal Geographical Society with the Institute of British Geographers in London and an International Fellow with the Explorers Club in New York City. To date, Fisher has conducted expeditions in over 150 countries around the globe and has led six successful expeditions to the African continent. A review from National Geographic Magazine stated, “Fisher’s expeditions across the planet have done far more than tick off feats of mega-trekking prowess — they are essential aspects of his ethnological and geographic research.” And Fisher’s research and segue into his travels all began in the High Country. By Harley Nefe

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Keith Martin Receives 2021 Governor’s Volunteer Service Award; App Theatre Board Chair Recognized for Civic Contributions

May 27, 2021 The North Carolina Commission on Volunteerism and Community Service has presented the 2021 Governor’s Volunteer Service Award to Boone resident Keith Martin. The honor was announced on May 26 during the annual meeting of the Appalachian Theatre of the High Country and awarded to Martin by John Cooper, immediate past chair of the board of trustees. The Governor’s Volunteer Service Award honors the true spirit of volunteerism by recognizing individuals who make a significant contribution to their community through volunteer service. Since 1979, the award has been bestowed on North Carolina’s most dedicated volunteers, those who have shown concern and compassion for their neighbors by volunteering in their local community. Martin is the lone recipient from Watauga or Avery Counties. In addition to his work with the Appalachian Theatre, he has contributed time and effort in support of Holy Cross Episcopal Church, Hunger and Health Coalition, In/Visible Theatre, Valle Country Fair and the Valle Crucis Conference Center, among many other organizations on the regional, state, national, and international levels.

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Blowing Rock Art & History Museum Offering Summer Workshops for Everyone

May 26, 2021 Families should take note of the revamped weekly programs of Afternoon Art for ages 6-12 every Tuesday at 3:30, and Doodlebug Club for ages 2-5 Fridays at 9:30. Each program requires online registration up to two weeks in advance. Weekly youth programs are free for BRAHM members at the household level and above, or just $8 per session for the general public. Other youth programs this summer include the new Palette Pals, which is similar to our longstanding Cork & Canvas program, but aimed at child/adult pairs to work side by side on their own paintings. Palette Pals are scheduled for Friday, June 18, Friday, Jul 9, and Friday, Aug 6, 2021 1:00 PM – 3:00 PM. Cost per pair is $85 general admission per pair or $75 for BRAHM members

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Blue Ridge Fiber Guild Spring Into Summer Show Happening June 4-30

May 26, 2021 Residents and visitors to the High Country are invited to the Blue Ridge Fiber Guild’s exhibit, Spring Into Summer. The event is scheduled at the Jones House, located at 604 King Street in downtown Boone from June 4 through June 30, and promises to inspire both artists and crafters. The guild’s mission is to promote traditional craft and contemporary art in all fiber media and was chartered in the early ’80s with many of the original members remaining active. It seems that fiber is part of this group’s DNA and will be on display in the show. Members hail from Ashe, Caldwell, East Tennessee, and Watauga and meet monthly. Most recently, the guild has held its meetings on Zoom and looks forward to getting back to in-person meetings in the near future. No experience is necessary for membership and interested parties should visit the BRFG website at blueridgefiberguild.org for membership information, meetings and upcoming workshops.

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