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Movie Review: ‘Lightyear’ Falls Flat with Action, Setting, Unfunny Jokes, and Characters

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June 23, 2022 The streak is over. For over a quarter of a century, Pixar has been turning out some of the most thoughtful, imaginative, entertaining movies on the planet. The studio’s annual output usually tops my year-end Best List, and I frequently hope that one of its movies will win an unprecedented-for-animation Best Picture Oscar. And even though I may not love every single one of their movies (“The Good Dinosaur” just barely scraped by), all have them have at least been good enough to warrant a recommendation from me. Until now. With “Lightyear,” I have to say for the first time ever that Pixar has let me down. A title card tells us that this was the favorite movie of Andy from “Toy Story” back in the 90’s. It was why he wanted a Buzz Lightyear action figure so badly. I have a hard time believing that this was ever a child’s favorite movie, and a harder time believing that any child who did see it would want a Buzz toy. All the outer space stuff in this movie? Fine, suspension of disbelief and all that. But that even one kid was sold on Buzz based on this movie Unswallowable.  By Bob Garver

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Tri-Cities Airport to Host Job Fair on June 28

June 23, 2022. The Tri-Cities Airport Authority will be hosting a job fair on Tuesday, June 28. To keep up with increasing travel demands, companies are looking to hire multiple candidates for a variety of available positions. The fair, which features some of the airport’s tenants and aviation partners, will take place between 12 – 4 p.m. at the airport, located on the mezzanine (upstairs, pre-security) in the main terminal. Pre-registration is not required to attend the event and parking is free. Attendees are asked to park in the short-term parking lot upon arrival. Hiring managers recommend bringing multiple copies of your resume along with your ID. For additional information regarding the event, please contact Trevor Rice, marketing and air service development manager at 423-325-6030.

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Doc and Rosa Lee Watson MusicFest ‘n Sugar Grove Returns After Five Year Hiatus

June 23, 2022. For many years, the Doc and Rosa Lee Watson MusicFest ‘n Sugar Grove was a tribute to one of the most important musicians to ever come out of the western North Carolina Mountains. Beginning as a local Doc Watson Day commemoration, the festival kept its hometown feel over the years while still bringing in the best talent found in the American roots music world. The goal was to show appreciation for Doc Watson and his wife Rosa Lee in their home region. As far as the outside world goes, music lovers know of Doc Watson as the 7-time Grammy Award winner, a National Medal of the Arts honoree and a member of the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) Hall of Fame.

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A Time For Celebrating Our Independence Is Upon Us Just Over A Week Away


June 22, 2022. Independence Day is a little more than a week away and I think we’re all ready for a little celebrating. I don’t recall a time in my life when I’ve been more aware of— or more grateful for — my freedom as a citizen of the United States of America.While I could use this entire column and all the space available to talk about being an American right now, I will focus on food and recipes. But, I do hope that we all take a moment to reflect upon the foundation of our country, the price that was paid for our freedom and to make a personal vow not to take it for granted. By Sherrie Norris

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Rachel Deal: Avery County Volunteer Extraordinaire Remembered for A Lifetime of  Service After Passing Away on June 14th

June 20, 2022 As news began to spread throughout Avery County on Sunday evening, June 12, of an auto accident in which one woman was injured, quickly extricated and airlifted to Johnson City Medical Center, few people realized just what an impact it would ultimately have on the entire High Country area. Rachel Deal of Crossnore was driving in the Hughes community when she apparently suffered a stroke which caused the accident. She suffered various injuries, paralysis from the stroke and the need for comfort measures, as little else could be done medically. Deal passed away two days later, leaving a gaping hole in the heart of Avery County. By Sherrie Norris

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Highland Echoes Music & Dance Company Performs its Full-Length Stage Show “Highland Echoes” at the Appalachian Theatre of the High Country July 7-10 as part of the Highland Games

June 20, 2022. Residents and visitors in the Watauga County area have the chance to witness a music and dance spectacle like none other when the international Highland Echoes Music & Dance Company performs its full-length stage show “Highland Echoes” at the Appalachian theater of the High Country this July. The Highland Echoes show features 26 of the world’s best Highland Dancers and Celtic musicians. Dance director Sandra Gribbin and producer Jennifer Licko are incredibly proud to have realized the vision of showcasing highland dance and music in a contemporary fashion. Our goal is to reach today’s audience by connecting them to their story rooted in North America’s rich Scottish heritage.

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Remembering Sonny Sweet, A True American Hero Who Left His Mark on The High Country 

June 20, 2022 When he was diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer in 2013, Sonny Sweet’s medical team estimated that he had no more than nine months to live. He proved them wrong in typical Sonny fashion, which surprised no one who knew him and his fighting spirit, his zest for life and his love for his family and friends. Still, with that death sentence looming over him for eight and a half more years, no one was ready to let him go. Born Worth Alfred Sweet, Jr. in Concord on July 14, 1939, he died June 13, 2022. A hero to many, his family shared: “He slipped into his final peaceful sleep at the tranquil High Rock Lake home – his Sweet Escape – a short drive from the High Country near Lexington,” where he and his wife, Bricca Sweet, spent the majority of their last happy years together. According to Bricca, Sonny didn’t so much “fight cancer” as “he ignored its menace” — and lived life to its fullest for those eight-plus years following the devastating diagnosis. “Years of cancer treatment so weakened him that his body simply failed his own expectations.” By Sherrie Norris

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Alysa Cantor and Waitsel Smith Share Edgewood Cottage as Artists in Residence June 20-26

June 19, 2022. Alysa Cantor, potter, and Waitsel Smith, watercolor and oils, share Edgewood Cottage as artists in residence from June 20 through June 26. Alysa Cantor is an artist and arts therapist living in the mountains of western North Carolina. For nearly a decade she primarily worked in the medium of clay, with a special interest in alternative firing techniques. More recently, she has explored photographic printmaking, experimenting with cyanotypes and lumen prints and would so enjoy meeting folks at Edgewood Cottage.

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Boonerang Music & Arts Festival This Weekend in Downtown Boone with Free Music, Beer Gardens, Food, Kid Activities and More

June 17, 2022. Town Mountain, Acoustic Syndicate and many more artists with ties to the High Country return to Boone for the free Boonerang Music & Arts Festival on Friday and Saturday, June 17 and 18. Presented by the Town of Boone and supporting partners, the event features live music at four stages, a kids zone, a vendor market, restaurants and food trucks, beer gardens, a silent disco and a film screening — all located in downtown Boone. “Boonerang is a community homecoming,” said Mark Freed, director of cultural resources for the Town of Boone. “Everyone who’s spent some time in Boone and has gone away loves to Boonerang back and spend some time in the High Country, and there’s no better time than the beginning of summer.”

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The Turchin Center to Host Variety of Visual Arts Exhibitions and Programs for Appalachian Summer Festival

June 16, 2022. An Appalachian Summer Festival offers unique and enriching arts experiences to audiences across the Southeast, combining world-class performing and visual arts programming in a spectacular mountain location in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains. During an Appalachian Summer Festival, the Turchin Center hosts a variety of visual arts exhibitions and programs that dovetail with the performing arts. The community is invited to a Summer Exhibition Celebration on July 1 from 5–9 pm. During this kick-off to An Appalachian Summer Festival, the Turchin Center will celebrate five exhibitions in grand style. This is a wonderful opportunity to meet the artists and gain an “insider’s view” of the featured exhibitions. This festive evening will include a gallery talk by Bart Vargas, live music by Ruby Goose, refreshments and a cash bar. The event is free and open to the public.  The celebration is generously sponsored by Allen Wealth Management.

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Ann Mellon Receives Girl Scouts’ Highest Honor

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June 16, 2022 Girl Scouts Carolinas Peaks to Piedmont is pleased to announce that Ann Mellon, Boone, has earned her Girl Scout Gold Award, the highest award in Girl Scouting. Mellon, a member of Girl Scout Troop 10492, created the Female Saints Badge Workshop- a series of four different sessions- and worked with girls ages 9-14 from across the United States to educate them on the lives and legacies of female saints in the Catholic faith. Through having conversations with others and making connections to these saints, the girls in the series felt more confident in their faith and everyday life. The Gold Award represents the highest achievement in Girl Scouting, recognizing girls in grades 9 through 12 who demonstrate extraordinary leadership through sustainable and measurable Take Action projects. Each girl must dedicate a minimum of 80 hours to planning and carrying out her project, which must benefit the community and have long lasting impact.

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Movie Review: ‘Jurassic World Dominion’ Proves There is Still a Place in Moviegoers’ Hearts for Man-Eating Dinosaurs

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June 16, 2022 Even among the crowded 2010’s box office, “Jurassic World” managed to be one of the most successful franchises of the decade, after “Stars Wars” and the MCU. This despite my worries that “Jurassic Park” fandom ended after the disastrous third film in 2001. The first two films of the new trilogy made a combined $1 billion at the domestic box office, proving that there is indeed still a place in moviegoers’ hearts for man-eating dinosaurs. Now comes conclusion “Jurassic World Dominion,” which is opening in the 2020’s where almost everything underperforms. But this movie is entertaining enough that I don’t see why it can’t be an exception. The movie picks up four years after teenage clone Maisie Lockwood (Isabella Sermon) let a cache of dinosaurs out of her grandfather’s compound and into the world. She now lives in an isolated cabin with former dino-keeper Owen (Chris Pratt) and redemption-seeking former exploiter Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard). She needs to be kept hidden away from bad people who want her clone DNA, but she wants to go on adventures and live life. She needs rescuing roughly one minute after striking out on her own, as she gets kidnapped trying to rescue a raptor, also captured for its DNA.  By Bob Garver

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Sherrie Norris Lovin’ Spoonful Cooking Column: Happy Father’s Day!


June 15, 2022. Father’s Day is just hours away and a time for families to honor “the big guy” around the house. If your father is still alive, please make every possible effort to spend the day with him — and make every moment count. Your time will prove to be the best gift you can give him. (Unless, of course, you also take his vehicle to the corner station and fill it up with gas!) Like most holidays, Father’s Day can be bittersweet for many, especially those children, regardless of age, who have lost a father this year, and those fathers who have lost a child. It is also hard for those who have not always had the perfect dad or a good relationship with their fathers. I dedicate this column to my husband, Van Norris, who has been —and continues to be — the greatest father that anyone could possibly have hoped for. He stepped up to the plate many years ago to be the dad he didn’t have to be. He has been, and continues to be, the best there is. Happy Day, Dads! By Sherrie Norris

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Watauga Arts Council Invites Folks to Discover the Arts at Boonerang Music & Arts Festival!

June 14, 2022. In just under three days, the inaugural Boonerang Music & Arts Festival will kick-off in Downtown Boone on Friday, June 17 and Saturday, June 18. In connection with Boone’s 150th anniversary, Boonerang helps to feature musicians and artists who live here or who have roots in the High Country. As part of their mission to support and facilitate arts initiatives in the High Country, the Watauga Arts Council is partnering with the Jones House Cultural and Community Center, the Town of Boone, Tourism and Development, and the Downtown Boone Development Association, and more, to host this celebration of our rich cultural heritage.

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NC Native Plant Society Announces Final Native Plant Sale of the Season in Boone June 18

June 13, 2022. Bring butterflies, bees and birds to your garden, while you add natural beauty too! This is the last chance of the season to participate in the Blue Ridge Chapter of the North Carolina Native Plant Society’s annual plant sales for 2022! The sale will be held at the Daniel Boone Native Gardens located at 651 Horn in the West Drive, Boone, on Saturday, June 18. The event will run from 8:00am to 12:00pm, rain or shine. If the event is cancelled due to severe weather, June 25 is the rain date.

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Amalia Yosefa and Karin Neuvirth Share Edgewood Cottage as Artists in Residence From June 13 Through June 19

June 12, 2022. Amalia Yosefa and Karin Neuvirth are sharing Edgewood Cottage this week in Blowing Rock as part of the Artists in Residence program. Amalia Yosefa’s passion is capturing the beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains in both watercolor and oil. She especially enjoys creating visual pieces that evoke a sense of nostalgia and a return to a childlike sense of wonder connected to a simpler time.

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY, BOONE! Blue Ridge Community Theatre Produces Original Play For Boone 150 to Premiere June 24th and 25th

June 12, 2022. Blue Ridge Community Theatre (BRCT), the area’s oldest community theatre organization, is producing a “once in 150 years” theatrical event as a gift to our unique town. Happy Birthday, Boone!  takes a multimedia approach to telling Boone’s story, past and present. This celebration combines live performance, music, and video with actors from three generations to honor our town with both humor and reverence. The show is created and directed by Ms. Trimella Chaney, Boone’s beloved high school theatre teacher of 30 years, and is being staged in conjunction with the Boone 150 Celebration, commemorating the sesquicentennial founding of the Town of Boone, North Carolina. Performances take place at 7:30 p.m. on June 24 and 25 at the Appalachian Theatre of the High Country.

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Valle Alive! Nature Education Series Takes Place on Sundays at Valle Crucis Park

June 9, 2022. Come join Park Naturalist, Paul Laurent, for one, or all of the exciting programs Valle Alive! has planned this summer. Valle Alive! Is a Free Environmental Education Program Series offered by Valle Crucis Community Park. The series is geared towards children, but all ages are welcome to take part in the fun. Just bring an inquisitive mind and a playful heart! Children can expect to learn about the many different types of flora and fauna that make Valle Crucis such an incredible place to live! The programs will take place on Sundays beginning June 5th – July 10th, 2022 from 3:00pm – 5:00pm. Children must be accompanied by an adult to participate. 

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Movie Review: ‘The Bob’s Burgers Movie’ is Predictably Funny with Creative Wordplay

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June 9, 2022 Since premiering in 2011, “Bob’s Burgers” has very quietly become an invaluable part of Fox’s Sunday night animation lineup. In fact, it has become the best part. By which I mean that current-era “Bob’s Burgers” is better than current-era “Family Guy” or “The Simpsons,” though 90’s “Simpsons” is something of an all-time champion. Now struggling restaurant owner Bob Belcher and his family have made the jump to the big screen, and the result is predictably funny and enjoyable. Bob (H. Jon Benjamin) and his wife Linda (John Roberts) are hoping to get an extension on a bank loan so they can keep their restaurant open for its best summer ever. The extension is curtly denied, and the family has just a week to make payment or they’ll be shut down. Bob will have to sell a lot of burgers to make the payment, but the start of summer means the start of tourist season, so they might just pull it off. But then a huge sinkhole opens up in front of the restaurant, blocking its entrance, which means the family can sell zero burgers. Bob’s friend Larry (Larry Murphy) tries to set them up with a cart so they can sell burgers at the nearby boardwalk, but they don’t have a vendor’s license the local carnies aren’t exactly welcoming.  By Bob Garver

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Avery County Native and Long-Time Coach Paul Johnson Nominated for College Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement

June 9, 2022 Avery County native and former Georgia Southern, Navy and Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson is on the ballot for induction into the College Football Hall of Fame, the National Football Foundation announced on Monday, June 6. Johnson is among nine coaches and 80 former players included on the 2023 Major College Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) ballot. “It’s quite an honor to be on the ballot and in my mind it’s a reflection of all the people I had a chance to work with,” Johnson said in a statement. By Tim Gardner

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Wayfinding Signage Installation Begins Around Boone; Project Funded by Watauga TDA

June 9, 2022. New wayfinding signage is being installed across Watauga County beginning this June to help visitors more easily Explore Boone. The Watauga Tourism Development Authority (TDA) funded the county-wide wayfinding signage program starting with 22 signs for the first phase. The Watauga TDA contracted with Destination By Design, a multidisciplinary firm in Boone, to design the signs, help select the sign manufacturer, and oversee the installation process. These signs incorporate Explore Boone’s brand elements, and will help visitors find popular locations within the county. “This project has been in the works for a few years, but Covid delayed the process for a couple of years. We are thrilled to finally get the new signage manufactured and installed this summer,” said Wright Tilley, Executive Director of the Boone and Watauga County TDAs. “The signage will help improve the visitor experience with easier, more recognizable navigation in various locations across the county.”

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Joe Shannon’s Mountain Home Music is Pleased to Announce the Return of our Matinee Series

June 9, 2022. Performers are booked for our 2022 Matinee concerts to be held on the second Tuesday of each month from June through October, from 2 – 3:15 PM. All programs are held in comfortable indoor settings, are easily accessible for folks of all ages and abilities and have ample parking. As in years past, these programs are free to attend with a suggested donation of $10 following the program. 
Founded by Joe Shannon, this concert series is in its 29th year. Its mission is to honor the songs, stories, and dance of the Appalachian culture and to provide comfortable venues for both musicians and audiences.

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Sherrie Norris Lovin’ Spoonful Cooking Column: Where’s The Beef?


June 8, 2022. How many of you remember the Wendy’s commercial in the early 1980s with the elderly lady asking the now age-old question —”Where’s the beef?” That phrase not only became the resounding slogan for the fast food chain, but is something still spoken and heard occasionally today among the older folks. I just realized that I missed National Beef Month, which was observed in May. But, any month at my house could be considered beef month, as grilled steaks and burgers, meatloaf, tacos, hamburger steaks and their closest kin are among our favorite entrees several nights a week. It helps, too, since we’ve been able, for the past few years, to purchase some of the best cuts of meat straight from the farm. Brown Farm Ridge, that is, owned by close friends who take the best care with all their grain fed-cows and products. Branching out more than a little from their mountain-top farm, the Brown family has recently assumed management of the former Jim’s Produce Market in downtown Deep Gap. Currently known as Corbett’s Produce, it has been renamed to honor the memory of Corbett McNeil, Blake Brown’s maternal grandfather and one of the area’s well-known farmers and cattle growers. In addition to the wide array of fresh products for which the neighborhood produce market has long been known, the Browns are incorporating their beef into their quickly growing inventory. And not only the beef, but also their signature rubs, seasonings and so much more. Anyone living in that area, or just passing through on your way home, can make one stop for dinner — all you need for the salad, sides and entrees are there for your convenience. You won’t regret it. But, back to the beef. We’ll have the entire summer to promote the produce. Beef remains a popular mainstay in many of our diets today, right up there with apple pie, ice cream and baseball on the list of America’s favorites. By Sherrie Norris

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