Scenes from Fourth of July 2014

There were lot of activities over the holiday weekend, including parades in Boone, Banner Elk and Blowing Rock; Christmas in July in West Jefferson; and fireworks everywhere!

Grandfather Golf and Country Club Fireworks from Nelson Aerials on Vimeo.

Things to do on a weekend – Complete a triathlon

The High Country area is home to several annual athletic endurance events. It has fun runs, 5Ks, marathons, half-marathons, century bike rides, foot races up a mountain, and mountain bike races around one. This weekend features a nearby contest which combines more than one – the Watauga Lake Triathlon.

The race features a 1,000-meter swim in Watauga Lake, a 35-kilometer bike ride around Roan Creek, and an eight-kilometer run through a pastoral farm area back to Watauga Lake. It was first run in 2005. According to race organizers, it was “inspired by the picturesque countryside and pristine waters of Watauga Lake.” According to a 2011 race preview, it’s as challenging as it is beautiful.

watauga lake triathlon“It’s a challenging course, an international distance triathlon, in between a sprint and Olympic distance, but it’s a challenging course,” organizer Scott Vandiver said. …

“We try to tell people it’s a low-key race,” Vandiver said. “It’s not a really high-powered, competitive kind of race, though we do get a lot of strong competitors and a lot of first-timers and others back for a repeat competition.”

Participants, he said, are friendly, creating an atmosphere that’s free of the pressure commonly associated with races.

“We also do a lot of relays, which are always fun, because we always have at least eight or 10 relay teams come in … with two to three people on the teams,” Vandiver said. “The majority of people do it individually, but there are a lot of relay teams, as well.”

The race starts at Sugar Grove Baptist Church, located just outside Watauga County in Butler, Tenn.

Things to do on a Weekend – Watch people jump off a mountain

This weekend marks the end of the annual Tater Hill Open, a paragliding and hang gliding contest which dots the High Country skies with flyers of all colors and sizes. It can be breathtaking, minding your own business, driving down 421 in western Watauga County, when … suddenly! … the clouds have moving freckles.

The gliders loops and sway. Trace their descents and you can find their landing spot. Watching is free. Bring the kids and they may get to touch a handglider, and meet some men and women who truly know how to fly.

tater hillGoodman added that 65 participants are flying this year, which is slight above the number that flew the previous year.

“Every year, it has grown by just a few pilots,” Goodman, adding that the pilots come from all around the country to fly over the High Country.

For those who want to see gliders in action, Goodman said a great vantage point exists at Silverstone Road in Zionville, where the pilots land.

Independence Day in the High Country

The High Country has a well established tradition of wonderful community events. Independence Day is one of the busiest, with several parades, fireworks shows and family events planned.

Here is a roundup of a few of the great opportunities for fun this weekend, via High Country Parent website.

Fireworks from Bethel BlastBeech Mountain Roasting of the Hog
This year, celebrate independence day with Beech Mountain. An annual event, the hog is roasted all day to perfection and cut up right in front of the crowd. With music, moon pies, games, and fireworks, this is a family affair that you won’t want to miss! The roasting will take place July 6th at 6pm.

Downtown Boone Fourth of July Parade
Starting at 11 a.m. Wednesday, Boone’s business district will become the site of the annual Downtown Boone Fourth of July Parade.

Downtown Banner Elk Parade and ‘Party in the Park’
Banner Elk’s traditional Fourth of July parade will kick off at 11 a.m.

Bethel Blast
Bethel Baptist Church will hold its annual Fourth of July celebration, Bethel Blast, Thursday, free, and welcomes everyone to take part in the festivities.

Christmas in July in West Jefferson
Christmas in July is a one full-day, and Friday night free-admission event
 featuring the very best in traditional mountain music and 
handmade crafts from throughout the Northwest Mountains
 of North Carolina!

Blowing Rock Fourth of July Celebration
Blowing Rock will be celebrating with all their activities on July 6th.

Possibly the shortest 5K ever run

It started possibly as a joke. It became, though, a worthwhile event.

Jimmy Smith Park 5KThe humor centered on Jimmy Smith Park, a small by-the-highway grassy area in Boone. It’s comprised of three benches, three rocks and a wrap-around sidewalk. Several weeks ago someone posted to facebook a crude drawing of the park, with the words Jimmy Smith Park 5K.

It was funny. But, in a region known for a variety of great outdoor runs, it also became a viral hit. Why not have a 5K at the shortest track ever run? To further attract giggles, it was scheduled on the most appropriate day possible – April Fools.

And lo, runners ran it. Another indication of the uniqueness of those who call the High Country home.

I am proud to say I participated in the 1st ever: Jimmy Smith Park 5km in Boone, NC on April Fools Day! Many folks thought this was just a joke with humorous banter via Facebook for the last 4 weeks. Runners showed up doubting it’s existence= yet we thrived!

The event started out as a kinda joke, yet artistic director/race director Sean Dunlap, seized the interest and created a real fund raiser for a Math Scholarship Fund! …

Jimmy Smith Park is a itty bitty park with a few rocks, plaque, benches and not enough room for a trash can. The paved loop sidewalk equals .1 mile, so Sean calculated 31 laps would equal 3.1 miles! Makes sense!

Long live the short run! Let it soon rival other area events, like the Blue Ridge Brutal 100, New River Marathon, The Bear, and many more. The High Country has a variety of outdoor events, whether on a bike or on foot, or even for just .1 miles.

Things to do on a weekend – Enjoy some Mountain Home Music

Saint Patrick’s Day, and its music of the Irish, will be the theme of this Saturday’s Mountain Home Music. The musical event brings together a variety of instrumentalists in the area as a way to honor the diverse influences in the mountain area.

The St. Patrick’s Celebration is a particularly special event, with a talented cast.

David Johnson (fiddle, guitar, banjo, etc.) is a member of the Blue Ridge Music Hall of Fame and has twice been named National Studio Musician of the Year (in gospel music).

Mountain Home Music logoScott Freeman (mandolin, fiddle, guitar) is a member of the old-time band, Skeeter and the Skidmarks, and is the founder of The Fiddle & Plow, a concert series on “The Crooked Road” Virginia’s Heritage Music Trail.”

Mary Greene (piano, guitar, dulcimer) studied Appalachian music at Appalachian State University and teaches music in Ashe County. In 2011, she toured Ireland with a group from Mountain Home Music. Jacquelyn Bartlett (harp) has performed with The New York Philharmonic, The Rotterdam Philharmonic, The North Carolina Symphony, and many other orchestras and symphonies. She currently tours with The Fire Pink Trio.

Nancy Schneeloch-Bingham (flute, penny whistle) teaches flute at ASU. She also teaches each summer in Ireland and is a cofounder of the Celtic group, Sunday’s Well.

Joe Shannon (hammer dulcimer, concertina) is the founder and host of Mountain Home Music.

This weekend’s Mountain Home Music will take place at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in downtown Boone. Concerts are held in a variety of venues. Here’s a past performance featuring Upright & Breathin’ with Steve Lewis.