Community Tidbits

Following you’ll find information on local events and programs, interesting people and a variety of opportunities from innovative organizations and businesses.

Kentucky Derby Fundraiser in Early May | The Spirit Ride Therapeutic Riding Center will hold its annual Kentucky Derby Fundraiser on May 4, 2024. This event is the main method of raising funds for the organization’s operating costs. Because Spirit Ride does not charge a fee for services, the fundraiser has a major impact on the group’s annual budget. Spirit Ride also welcomes in-kind donations for the event. “We need anything from Auction Items to Corporate Sponsors.” Spirit Ride is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that serves children ages 3-17 in Western North Carolina. They provide Equine Assisted Services (EAS) in an effort to achieve goals that enhance physical, emotional, social, cognitive, behavioral and educational skills for children with a wide array of diagnoses. To learn more, donate, or purchase tickets, visit

Art Opportunity at Fischman Gallery | Fischman Gallery announces a call for entries for “Regional Reflections: A Celebration of Glass Art,” a regional juried exhibition at Fischman Gallery in Johnson City, Tennessee. Artists are encouraged to submit glass work in any form, including hot and warm glass, blown glass, lampworking, slumping, casting, and fusing. Mixed media with glass dominant (at least 75 percent) is acceptable as are collaborative works. The Juror will be Mark Russell, professional glass artist at The Firehall Glass Studio, Greeneville, Tenn. Submission timeline: May 1 – August 1, 2024. Exhibition dates: Friday, October 4 through Sunday, October 27, 2024. For more information, see the artist call at

New Video Spotlights Village of Sugar Mountain Summer Stays | new summer promotional video created by the Sugar Mountain Tourism Development Authority in conjunction with Visit North Carolina has been released just in time for family vacation planning. The video creation began with three days of shooting in July 2023. It will be utilized by both local and state tourism agencies. The 2.5-minute video is also available for all local tourism-related businesses to embed on their websites and share on social media to assist with their marketing efforts. View the video on YouTube.

Heroes on the Mountain Veterans Event | The 8th Heroes On The Mountain event since 2013 honoring the service and sacrifice of our nation’s military disabled combat veterans was recently held at Appalachian Ski Mtn in Blowing Rock, NC. The event was planned, organized and sponsored by the Appalachian Ski Patrol. Over 60 Wounded Warrior military veterans from the national Wounded Warrior Project were treated to a day of complimentary skiing, snow boarding and lessons from the French Swiss Ski College, thanks to support from the Moretz family, owners of Appalachian Ski Mtn. A military style opening ceremony complete with ski patrol director and guest speaker comments, singing of the National Anthem, and a huge American flag skied down the mountain by 10 Appalachian Ski Patrollers while a bagpiper played Amazing Grace, welcomed and honored the Wounded Warriors attending. They also enjoyed a catered BBQ dinner with live music at Chetola Resort in Blowing Rock. The next Heroes On The Mountain event is tentatively scheduled for Feb 28 – Mar 1, 2025.

WAMY – Recognizing 60 Years of Community Action! | W.A.M.Y. Community Action is celebrating a major milestone—60 years of serving the Watauga-Avery-Mitchell-Yancey region! W.A.M.Y.’s mission is to break the cycle of poverty by partnering with families and communities to provide the disadvantaged the support and tools they need to become self-sufficient. They invite you to attend their Annual Event, Denim & Diamonds, on Thursday, May 23, 6-10 p.m in Banner Elk, NC. Enjoy music and dancing by Mohr Fun Entertainment, a live auction hosted by Jesse Miller, and award-winning food from Gadabouts Catering. Visit

Spring is for the Birds | With the spring season upon us, it’s time to think about our bird neighbors and how we can support them! As you begin to plant trees and shrubs this spring, consider planting natives. One non-native shrub to avoid planting is Nandina (Nandina domestica, a.k.a. sacred bamboo or heavenly bamboo), a commonly cultivated, ornamental shrub native to China and Japan. Nandina berries are known to be toxic to certain species of birds, including cedar waxwings (Bombycilla cedrorum).

With spring also comes more weddings and graduations. If your celebration includes balloons, please do not release them into the air. Once the balloons land, birds (and other animals) can become entangled in the strings. Downed balloons or balloon fragments are also often ingested by some wild animals who mistake the balloons as an edible food source. Simply put, released balloons can cause injury and death for birds.

Special Home Project Underway in Junaluska | Watauga Community Housing Trust (WCHT) works to preserve and develop permanently affordable housing. The organization was formed by volunteers in Fall 2021, brought together by the sharp increase in local housing costs. In summer 2023, WCHT’s all-volunteer team successfully raised more than $50,000 to acquire its first home parcel in the Junaluska neighborhood near downtown Boone. In a continuing effort to raise funds to complete the project, WCHT recently got a big boost from Mast General Store, who has been matching donations up to $25,000. Follow the project’s progress and consider a contribution—visit

Power of the Purse Returns | On June 27, the Women’s Fund of the Blue Ridge will hold its annual Power of the Purse luncheon.The Women’s Fund of the Blue Ridge (WFBR) is a collective giving organization formed and sustained by a group of women philanthropists striving to make a positive impact on the lives of women and girls in Ashe, Avery, and Watauga counties. WFBR believes all women have the right to equality, safety, opportunity, and self-determination in every aspect of their lives. The group is dedicated to providing financial support to aligned nonprofits; hosting educational workshops and seminars; bringing in renowned speakers at the Power of the Purse luncheon; and celebrating Women Events. “Together, we can build a brighter and more equitable future.” This year’s event will run from 10:45 a.m.-2 p.m.

Bicyclists, Save the Date! | Online registration is currently open for the popular event, Blue Ridge Brutal. This year’s event is scheduled for August 17. The Blue Ridge Brutal Bike Ride takes serious riders through some of the most beautiful scenery in North Carolina. Routes include 100, 70, 50 or 25 miles, and the start and finish point for all rides is the Ashe Civic Center in West Jefferson, NC. Blue Ridge Brutal’s proceeds benefit the group’s scholarship fund for graduating seniors. More information can be found at and on the event’s Facebook page.

Western Youth Network | Western Youth Network (WYN)believes that when people feel respected, it provides space for them to thrive. WYN is committed to providing a safe space for all, regardless of race, gender, age, religion, identity, ability, and experience. The organization’s biggest volunteer needs are for on-going commitments from adults to work directly with the youth they serve in their Community-Based and School-Based Mentoring Programs. According to WYN, stable relationships with nurturing adults help children to heal from trauma and build resilience to overcome adversity. You can make a difference by mentoring. Learn more at or call 828-387-7124.

See What’s New at The Museum of Ashe County History | The Museum of Ashe County History, Inc. is a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of the historic 1904 Ashe County Courthouse building, and serves as a county heritage museum open to visitors of all ages. From now until the end of the year, the museum will be open Monday-Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Exhibits include the Ashe County Victory Garden, Moonshine & Music, Ore Knob Mine, Virginia CreeperVeterans Hall of Honor, and Local Furniture, to name a few. The Museum of Ashe County History was one of just 34 organizations across the state of NC to recently receive a preservation grant ($12,500) from the Marion Stedman Covington Foundation. Learn more, or take a virtual tour at or on their Facebook page.

Plans are currently underway for a new joint county animal shelter between Mitchell and Avery counties. This joint shelter will help both counties continue their mission to help our community respond humanely to the sheltering needs of the animals, and will also aim to support Mayland’s Veterinary Assisting program. The joint shelter will be located on the Mayland Community College Campus in Spruce Pine, NC, and the target date for completion is summer 2025. The Avery Humane Society states,”With the launch of the new shelter our hope is to extend our collective reach and make an even greater impact on the lives of animals in our communities.”

Nighttime Pollinators | When we think of pollinators, we often think of bees and butterflies, flying insects we see during the day. But while we sleep, many species of moths are busy doing the important work of pollination, as well. According the NC Wildlife Federation, “moths as a whole are more prolific pollinators than their daytime counterparts. Some flowers emit their most pungent aromas at night, drawing these nocturnal pollinators to their nectar.” As nocturnal species, moths are extremely sensitive to light, and artificial light sources pose serious dangers to moths. Where possible, remember to turn all outdoor lights off at night. Learn more at

Coming Soon to Earth to Sky Park | The new Children’s Discovery Center will consist of two adjoining buildings that feature hands-on STEM education for children (and adults) of all ages. Possible exhibits include the following: Demonstration Bee Hive; Where Does Your Trash Go?; How does Composting Work?; Alternative Energy Sources; Scaled Remote Control Model of NASA’s Mars Rover; Robotic Arms; and many others! Interested in supporting the Children’s Discovery Center? Contact the MCC Foundation office at [email protected] for information on how you can help.

Tour the Historic Banner Elk School | The historic 1939 stone building in downtown Banner is home to the Town’s Cultural Arts Center and one of the many stops on the Blue Ridge Craft Trails ( Shop for local arts and crafts at BE Artists Gallery (, book tickets for live theatre performances at the Ensemble Stage Theater (, “bring a book, take a book” at the Banner Elk Book Exchange (, learn about the Lees-McRae student organization, Common Ground, at, and pick up an extra copy of CML at the CML Magazine “headquarters.” (

Let Us Hear from You!  Have an event or tidbit you’d like to share with CML readers? Send your information to the editor at [email protected].

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