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North Carolina State Parks:  100 Years Old and Going Strong

by Neill Lee

You probably know by now that the National Park Service is celebrating it 100th anniversary this year.  But you may not know that there is a State Park System that is celebrating its Centennial also.  And it is right out your back door.  Yes, the North Carolina Division of Parks & Recreation, including Lumber River State Park, is celebrating its Centennial in 2016.  And we are throwing a yearlong party to celebrate.

It all began in 1915 when a group of citizens sought to protect the summit of Mt. Mitchell in western North Carolina. ON March 3, 1915, at the urging of Governor Locke Craig, the General Assembly established Mt. Mitchell as the first NC State Park.  When the property was acquired by the state on Mt. Mitchell in 1916, the NC State Park System was off and running.  Fort Macon became the second state park in 1924.  Lumber River was established as an NC State Park in 1989 and was staffed and began operation in 1993, with James Sessoms as the first Superintendent.

Going back to the beginning of the NC State Park System with the establishment of Mt. Mitchell as the first park leads to a fascinating story.  Mt. Mitchell was named for Elisha Mitchell, who was a geology professor at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill.  In 1835, while completing a survey of the Black Mountain range in western NC, he determined that several mountains, including what would later be named Mt. Mitchell in his honor, were higher than Grandfather Mountain, which was then thought to be the highest in the region.  Measurements he made in 1838 and 1844 confirmed this and also that Mt. Mitchel was higher than Mt. Washington in New Hampshire, which had been thought at the time to be the highest peak in the eastern United States.  While verifying his measurements in 1857, Mitchell fell to his death at nearby Mitchell Falls.

Everyone has read that Mt. Mitchell is “the highest peak east of the Mississippi River” which it is, but the whole truth gives it an even higher distinction.  It is actually the highest peak east of the Black Hills of western South Dakota, where Mt. Rushmore is located, and the highland foothills of Colorado.  This is much further west than the Mississippi.

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Mountain Artisans Shows "Where all the good artist are" 

      The Mountain Artisans shows are famous for featuring just the biggest selection of authentic handcrafted art and craft in this area.

     Mountain Artisans promotes two events each year.  The "Summertime" show is held the last week of June  The "Hard Candy Christmas", a Mountain Christmas Tradition, is always the Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving. 

 Both events are held inside in the Western Carolina University Ramsey Center in scenic Cullowhee, North Carolina.

It is centrally located only 45 miles southwest of Asheville;  just minutes from The Great Smoky Mountains.

 In November ,the best chainsaw sculpture around will be  out there , skillfully shaping amazing bears and signs

.  Each exhibitor at these shows are carefully screened to be the best in their field.  

You can  purchase original art  and meet the artist who made it!

There is a wide selection of heritage craft . Several of the old time quilters still make them one at a time just for you.  Goat milk soap, pine needle baskets, white oak baskets, hand tied brooms and cotton woven rugs are hard to find and all we try to feature them all  from show to show .

Some of the most skilled  doll craft, leather craft, and master jewelers around exhibit with us. Many of the Gourd artists have won awards in competitions.

 Shoppers love the Folk Art , one of a kind birdhouses, and designer fabric  purses . We have just the best artists in  pottery and clay art.

  Ronnie Evans is our live guitar strummer. He plays the songs we remember  courting to . At Christmas , he brings good memories with carols that we do not hear much .  

It is worth the drive to get here.

You will understand why everyone who attends our shows just says : "Wow" when they attend and plan to come back next year! 


NC Spotlight:

Albert Green Hopkins (1889 – October 21, 1932)[1] (Al Hopkins) was an American musician, a pioneer of what later came to be called country music; in 1925 he originated the earlier designation of this music as "hillbilly music",[2] though not without qualms about its pejorative connotation.[1]

Hopkins played piano, an unusual instrument for Appalachian music.[1] The members of the band that brought him to fame (which was known by several names: The Hill Billies, Al Hopkins' Original Hill Billies, and Al Hopkins and His Buckle Busters[1]) came variously from Hopkins' own Watauga County, North Carolina, and from Grayson and Carroll Counties in Virginia.[3][4] Although the group formed up in 1924 in Galax, Virginia,[1] they were based in Washington, D.C.,[2] and performed regularly on WRC.[1] In 1927 they became the first country musicians to perform in New York City. They were also the first to play for a president of the United States (Calvin Coolidge, at a Press Correspondents' gathering) and the first to appear in a movie (a 15-minute Warner Bros./Vitaphone short released along with Al Jolson's The Singing Fool).

Hopkins was born in Watauga County, North Carolina, an area known for the richness of its folk culture. His father, John Benjamin Hopkins, a sometime North Carolina state legislator, built organs as a hobby, played the fiddle, piano, and organ, and had a good repertoire of traditional fiddle tunes. His mother, Celia Isabel Green Hopkins, sang old ballads and church music, among other tunes. Hopkins and his siblings all showed musical talent early. In 1904 the family moved to Washington, D.C., and Hopkins' father went to work for the United States Census Bureau. His sister Lucy later remarked that Al and his brothers and sisters also had plenty of exposure to the popular music of the time.

Read more at Wikipedia:


Al Hopkins' Buckle Busters on Youtube:


Join us for the 20th annual N.C. Peach Festival proudly held every year on the 3rd Saturday in July, downtown Candor, NC. The parade begins at 10:00 a.m. with a wonderful showing of local floats, firetrucks, and other fun parade entrants. Afterwards, stroll down to Fitzgerald Park where the rest of the festivities are located. Bring your lawn chairs, sit back, relax, and enjoy the best live entertainment around. There are always lots of fresh, sweet, local peaches, arts & crafts, and of course, the best homemade peach ice cream in the Great State of North Carolina!

Grown-ups and kids alike, can enjoy an abundance of vendors and activities including: Bounce Houses, Petting Zoo, Camel Rides, Gyro Ride, Mechanical Bull, Gaming Trailer, Bungee Trampoline, Pony Rides, Helicopter Rides, Rock Wall, Putt-Putt, and so much more!!!

This year, the N.C. Peach Festival will feature an awesome line-up of live entertainment including: Jim Quick & Coastline, The Sand Band, Rockin' Acoustix, and the McKenzie Brothers. We look forward to seeing you on SATURDAY, JULY 16TH, 2016 FROM 10:00AM - 5:00PM!

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In this week's newsletter, we continue our series featuring several excellent and entertaining documentaries that feature NC culture and folk arts.  These films are available to view online, for free, and recognize our unique culture and heritage.


When My Work Is Over: The Life and Stories of Miss Louise Anderson, 1921-1994

Louise Anderson (1921-1994), the gifted African American storyteller who played Dark Sally in Tom Davenport's children's classic Ashpet: An American Cinderella, tells her family stories and folk tales, and recites poetry in this film taped in Jacksonville, North Carolina, in the last years of her life. She presents a powerful portrait of courage, dignity, and lively humor in the face of serious illness. Her sisters Evelyn Anderson and Dorothy McLeod join Louise in recalling their experiences growing up in the South, working in restaurants and as domestics in white households, and struggling for civil rights in the early 1960s. Together they present a warm and engaging picture of an unsung generation of Southern black women.

When My Work Is Over is packaged on DVD with Tom Davenport's dramatic film Ashpet: An American Cinderella, in which Ms. Anderson starred as the fairy godmother figure Dark Sally. Her work in Ashpet has been described as "brilliant" and the film received major film festival awards including a first place at the Houston International Film Festival and "best feature film" at Rosebud Film Festival in Washington, DC.

View the entire film here:,95

Some of North Carolina’s greatest treasures can be found off the beaten path. You never know what you might find... an old-time general store, local artisan, or simply a picturesque view that takes your breath away. You’ll be swept away by the untouched natural landscape found on the backroads of this rural county.

In Anson County, you can discover all that and more. Come. Visit. Surround yourself with the beauty of North Carolina’s best kept secret.



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Hands Together is a nonprofit organization devoted to educating, inspiring and encouraging people to understand the importance of responding to the needs of the poor and disadvantaged. Our Mission, as we strive to build a more compassionate and human world, proceeds from the spiritual belief that we are all members of one, equal, interconnected family under a loving God.



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