Wednesday, October 13, 2010

'Y'all here for the Woolly Worm Festival?'

True story.

Sherri and I were lost on Beech Mountain, N.C., three years ago this month.

We had rented a friend's vacation home, ostensibly to enjoy the fall colors, but could not find the thing.

It was 9 p.m., pitch dark, and I had  driven all day from Warner-Robins, Ga.

I was tired, hungry and what little patience I have was gone.

Upon arriving on the mountain, we had stopped at Fred's, the local grocery store and Sherri got directions to the place.

No dice.

We drove 'round and 'round and ended up back at Fred's.

This time we both went in.

I explained our situation to the fellow behind the counter.

My foul mood vanished after what he said to us:

"Y'all here for the Woolly Worm Festival?"

The whaaat?

We found out what he meant the next day, much to our delight, and we're going back this weekend for the 33rd annual.

It's a delightful fall folk festival in Banner Elk, N.C., complete with music and dancing and shopping for handmade items from Appalachia.

But the big deal are the caterpillar races.

They scoot up piano wires strung vertically on a portable wall in a series of elimination races.

The winner gets $1,000.

And the following week, the competition and festival are relived on the Mountain TV Network, a homespun cable outfit in nearby Boone, N.C., home to Appalachian State University.

It is hokey as all get-out, but it's a slice of Americana.

Woolly Worm Festival, here we come!

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