This post was originally posted on October 31, 2018.
Autumn brings an array of tourism to the mountains. North Carolina’s High Country boasts vibrant fall foliage, crisp temperatures, apple picking, pumpkin picking, parkway drives, football season, and annual fall festivals. These activities make fall in the high country not only beautiful, but eventful.
The Special Collections Research Center contains collections such as the Appalachian Regional Ephemera Collection, Appalachian State University's University Communications Records, and W.L. Eury Appalachian Collection clippings files that feature images, brochures, and papers about fall activities of the past in the High Country.
Photo credit: UA 5015, UNIVERSITY COMMUNICATIONS RECORDS
North Carolina’s wide variety of deciduous trees in the High Country make it’s fall foliage one of the most diverse expressions of colors in the country. Peak week in the High Country varies year to year, but every late September to mid-October, the mountains bring in tourists. “Leaf peepers” from around the southeast travel to get a glimpse of the beautiful fall colors. In the Appalachian Regional Ephemera Collection, there are postcards from the past that show images of the vibrancy of fall foliage in the area.
Appalachian State University football season begins in the Fall semester and brings people from all over the county to come enjoy the lively spirits of the University’s game day. Throughout the history of the University, Homecoming weekend has been filled with a large array of events. Students have hosted parades, concerts, dances, pep rallies, contests, and many celebrations. The Ephemera Collection shows the wide variety of events from past Homecomings and make it obvious to see why alumni from all over the High Country come to Boone for Homecoming weekend.
For the last 40 years, the High Country has hosted a wide array of Fall Festivals. The W.L. Eury Appalachian Collection contains a collection of newspaper articles clipped from major papers of the southern Appalachian region, with a concentration on western North Carolina newspapers. Under the subject heading of “Fairs and Festivals”, there are clippings about the Brushy Mountain Apple Festival and the Woolly Worm Festival.
Brushy Mountain Apple Festival began in 1977 and is a one-day festival held in downtown Wilkesboro. On the first weekend in October, there are art and craft concessions, live music called the “apple jam”, and apple-themed treats. It is known for bringing in one of the largest crowds to the High Country each first Saturday of October.
The Woolly Worm Festival began in 1973 in Banner Elk. It is held annually on the third weekend of October. It is centered around the legend of the Woolly worm and it’s ability to predict winter weather based on it’s coloring. Attendees of the festival race their worms to help choose which is used for the forecast. The events include the worm race, vendors, food, crafts, and live music.
Photo credit: Wooly Worm Gazette from 2016 in the W.L. EURY APPALACHIAN COLLECTION CLIPPINGS FILES
Cherokee Fall Festival
The Cherokee Nation considers the High Country their ancestral homeland. The Cherokee believe the Earth was created in Autumn. They welcome fall with their annual Great New Moon Festival in October. This festival marks the beginning of the Cherokee New Year. The festival contains a feast of corn, pumpkins, and beans. The women perform a religious dance and prayer. The Ephemera Collection contains a postcard that depicts the Cherokee Fall Festival with beautiful foliage in the background and the W.L. Eury Appalachian Collection has extensive resources available about the Cherokee Nation.
Trick-or-Treat for Tots
Halloween events in the High Country cannot be left out in the array of events for the fall. Since the 1970s, Appalachian State Housing Department sponsors trick-or-treating for local families at residence halls. This event is a fun way for the campus to interact with the community. Back in the 1980s, this event was called Volunteers in Service of the Youth. Students participating in the Volunteers in Service for Youth held a Halloween party for the children that included face painting and trick-or-treating through campus dorms. The image appears in the 1986 Rhododendron yearbook.
To access any of these collections, or for more information, please contact email@example.com or 828–262–4041.
--Blog post contributed by former student assistant Liv Winnicki